“Paternalism” American Sentinel 10, 23, p. 178.

A PROPOSED ordinance has been presented in the Chicago Council forbidding female persons “to ride or attempt to ride any bicycle or tricycle or to publicly promenade in the streets, avenues, or public highways of said city while dressed or arrayed in costumes commonly known as bloomers, knickerbockers, baseball attire, or trousers.”

The reasons given in the preamble for the passage of the ordinance, are:—

WHEREAS, this craze [for wearing bloomers] has assumed such proportions that it menaces the public morals of this good city; and

WHEREAS it is unhealthy, un-American, and unlady-like to appear in such costumes.

We are not so much concerned about this so-called bloomer “craze” as we are with the craze among would-be statesmen to make of the State a kind of foster mother, whose business it is to feed, clothe and catechize its citizens. There was a time in the history of England when the government prescribed certain apparel for its citizens on the ground of protecting their health, but we supposed we had outlived such paternalism. But it seems that in this matter we were mistaken, for one branch of the Minnesota Legislature actually passed a bill compelling men to act patriotically on Memorial Day. But a law forbidding women to wear bloomers on sanitary grounds, and a law enforcing patriotism are less unreasonable than is a law compelling all citizens to act piously on Sunday. The first two are unreasonable and un-American, the last is not only unreasonable and un-American, but positively unchristian. [178]

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