The little town of Kerstonville became the first in the nation to outlaw pantyhose when the city council passed an ordinance banning the garments yesterday.
"We've had a rash of convenience store and service station robberies in the last six months where the robbers used pantyhose pulled over their heads as a disguise," the local sheriff said. "We can't allow this to continue, so we have made the wearing and possession of pantyhose in this city illegal in order to discourage this type of criminal activity."
Opponents of the new ordinance were quick to disagree. Pauline Quaid, President of the local chapter of Panty Hose Equality for Women (PHEW) told reporters that "banning pantyhose will not keep them out of the hands of criminals and perverts. It will only make criminals out of law-abiding housewives." She passed out bumper stickers that read: "Pantyhose Don't Commit Crimes. Criminals Do." There is a $2 charge for each bumper sticker, which Ms. Quaid says goes to the national PHEW organization to support the fight against this kind of unjust legislation.
In a countywide poll conducted by the Puckett County Register, the Kerstonville weekly newspaper, criminals preferred pantyhose by more than five to one as the most desirable disguise. Ski masks, paper bags, and Halloween costumes--in that order--were rated as the next best choices.
"The thing about pantyhose is that they're cheap, easy to get, and easy to get rid of," we were told by a local criminal who asked to remain anonymous. "You can get pantyhose in any drug store or supermarket, and even if they catch you with them in your pocket it isn't evidence of anything."
Barry Manning, the lone dissenting vote in the council's action, takes a little different view of the situation. "What we have to be careful of here is that we don't abridge the rights of the citizens in our zeal to prevent crime," he told reporters. "If we ban the possession of pantyhose entirely, then we are punishing the normal, law-abiding citizen for the illegal actions of a few criminals. I don't think that's right."
The sheriff doesn't agree. "If we allow people to sell pantyhose to just anyone who comes in off the street, we won't have a chance of stopping these robberies," he said. "Our first duty is to protect the citizens of this city, and I think tonight's actions are a giant step in that direction."
Mr. Manning said that he favors registration of pantyhose instead of the outright ban the city council supports. "It would be a simple matter to have a serial number sewn into the waistband of each garment, and the buyer would register that number within 24 hours of the purchase. Then anyone caught with a pair of unregistered pantyhose would be considered a criminal."
When asked what could be done about criminals stealing used pantyhose out of the garbage and using them, he said, "garment disposal would have to be the responsibility of the original purchaser. They would be required to burn them or rip them up so that they couldn't be used for illicit purposes. If a pair of pantyhose registered to you is used in the commission of a crime, then you're liable. Pantyhose are no different than guns."