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Government should butt out of a business’s dress code

By February 22, 2019No Comments

(This post originally appeared on The Guardian)

There aren’t many places to find a definition of anal cleft. I’ve tried. So I’ll have to rely on this description in Wikipedia which says that the anal cleft – otherwise known as the intergluteal cleft – is “the groove between the buttocks that runs from just below the sacrum to the perineum, so named because it forms the visible border between the external rounded protrusions of the gluteus maximus muscles”.

This controversial and somewhat vague definition of what most of us consider the butt crack is the crux of a federal lawsuit and please, do not crack any jokes. The decision could have a significant impact on the livelihood of Jovanna Edge, the owner of the Hillbilly Hotties café in Everett, Washington.

The argument is centered around whether the city’s dress code – which instructs outfits to not fall below the “bottom one-half of the anal cleft” – is reasonably understandable and whether what’s considered to be inappropriate violates an individual’s rights.

It’s no secret to many of the local residents that the baristas at Hillbilly Hotties serve up coffee dressed in scantily clad outfits. Many in the community weren’t thrilled and complaints were made. Things became even more agitated when in 2014, two of those scantily-clad baristas were arrested for allegedly offering prostitution and other illicit services, according to previous reports from local paper Daily Herald.

Finally, in 2017 the city passed a dress code ordinance that required employees at fast food restaurants, trucks and coffee stands to wear a minimum of tank tops and shorts with what it considered to be very clearly understandable rules regarding the anal cleft. Hillbilly Hotties sued on the grounds that the rules were too vague to enforce and infringed on their first amendment rights.

A federal judge agreed and approved a preliminary injunction on enforcement of the dress code while the issue was litigated. So, earlier this month, a three-member panel of judges from the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit heard arguments to determine whether the city’s rules were “well-defined or reasonably understandable”. In other words, what exactly constitutes an anal cleft. Who said the life of a federal judge was boring?

While attorneys for the city contend that anyone would know what “anal cleft” means (do you?), Edge and the baristas working at Hillbilly Hotties argued that their outfits are “works of art” and that they’re “exercising their free speech rights to share a positive message about their bodies while earning a living,” according to a more recent Daily Herald report. No ifs, ands … or butts.

What do you think? Should the government infringe on a business owner’s dress code? Should an employee’s first amendment rights to expose part of their anal cleft be determined by the state? I’m going to assume that, like everywhere else, there are plenty of shops serving coffee in Everett, Washington, and residents there have the ability to pick and choose. Assuming no laws are being broken I, for one, would prefer to see the Hillbilly Baristas left alone.

But for now, we can all take solace that the country’s anal cleft issues are in the capable hands of the federal appeals panel to resolve and that our taxpayer dollars are once again being wasted. In the meantime, Robert Wilson, a writer for promises us that he will “stay abreast of the story” and even offers to “fly out to Everett and personally investigate this controversial issue”. No thanks, Robert. I’ll just head to Starbucks.

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