No shirt. No shoes. No service.
It's a sign that's hung on the doors of businesses for decades.
It serves as notice of a bare minimum dress code for patrons, and it's designed for the individual, other patrons and employees, and the business to ensure safety, maintain health standards and ensure some basic civility.
If you walk into a high-class restaurant and you don't have a jacket and tie on, they won't seat you. It's got nothing to do with safety and security, but more how they want to project their business to other customers.
There's nothing wrong demonstrating a little decorum when you go out in public and there's nothing wrong or unusual with companies setting basic standards for attire for its clientele.
So what is it with all the outcry over one local business in Schenectady establishing a basic dress code of its own?
Bombers Burrito Bar on State Street, in response to a shooting outside its business a few months ago, decided to impose its own rules for the safety and security of its customers and the business by establishing a dress code that prohibited people from wearing sunglasses, baggy clothes and pull-over hoodies, the ones with the middle pocket. It only applied to patrons entering the bar after 10 p.m.
We understand what the controversy is about. It's about the potential for discrimination. One could interpret the code as a subtle form of racial profiling.
But if you assume that the dress code policy is racist because it discriminates against a certain population due to the clothing they typically wear, isn't it also racist to assume that all people of a certain race dress that way?
The owner of the restaurant actually had legitimate reasons for prohibiting that particular attire. Baggy clothes allow people to bring in alcohol and hide weapons. Remember, a shooting outside is what prompted the dress code in the first place.
Hoodies with the hoods pulled up and the wearing of sunglasses (Why do you need them at night?) allow people to hide their identities.
In how many screen shots taken from security cameras during robberies of banks and convenience stores have you seen the perpetrator successfully hide his face with a hood pulled up and wearing sunglasses?
A lot of criminals — black, white, yellow and purple — use this disguise because it's simple, cheap, common and effective.
Banning that particular attire is a reasonable security measure, and to not allow businesses to ban it places political correctness above legitimate security concerns.
As long as the restaurant isn't allowing some people to violate the dress code while enforcing it with others, then the policy is legal and fair.
In response to public pressure, the owners of the restaurant have since watered down the language of the policy to address specific actions regarding hoodies and sunglasses (no sunglasses on, no hoods up.) And the restaurant still prohibits backpacks, although hikers and students are now likely to object.
Perhaps such dust-ups are needed occasionally to raise public awareness of potential discriminatory practices.
But they also might serve to perpetuate them.