Freedom of expression could be under attack
Published: Monday, September 16, 2013
Updated: Monday, September 16, 2013 22:09
Well slap me silly, I did not know the brightly colored dragonfly tattooed on my foot could eventually lead to my employer firing me.
The tattoo was received as memorabilia for an individual in my family who was diagnosed with, and then later lost the battle to, colon cancer.
Since the beginning of time individuals have used tattoos or others forms of body art to commemorate loved ones, represent unity, inspire others, show expression, or maybe just to knock something off their bucket list.
However, all of these reasons will not be good enough to get a tattoo if the Arkansas legislature continues to pass restrictive legislation.
Recently, the state of Arkansas passed law that was originally Senate Bill 387 but is now listed as ACT 597. The Bill sets up definitions for what could be considered non-traditional tattoos, body art and piercings.
This Bill essentially gives the Arkansas State legislature the ability to impose further discrimination towards those pursuing freedom of expression.
While I am not covered in tattoos or piercing, some cultures find body art to be tradition, or even honorable.
This means that these individuals would face a high amount of scrutiny in Arkansas when trying to find a place of employment.
The Bill specifically banned any licensed professional in the state to practice branding, cutting of the skin to form non-ink tattoos, scarification, or any sub-dermal implants that are below the skin’s surface.
While many argued it was for health concerns, I feel as if it is still an individuals right to determine how they use their body.
It sets out clear definitions of what each form of body art, piercing, and tattoo is but has vague language on what would be considered traditional or nontraditional.
Harsh or vague language within a piece of legislation sets a precedent that future alterations can occur within that piece of legislation.
We have to be careful to ensure that our lawmakers are not supporting bills without clear bright lines that could leave room for discrimination in gray areas.
The rhetoric in the bill alone is enough to make me fearful of future laws based on appearance that could come from our Senate.
Words like “traditional” are clear signs that the bill will be oppressive to particular individuals within our community.
And what does tradition mean for the entire state? Do our legislators get to decide a one size fits all history for every Arkansas citizen?
These are questions you should be asking yourself every time you see bills that have the potential to discriminate against a particular subset of individuals.
One way to fix this atrocity occurring on Capitol Hill is to write the original author of the bill, Senator Missy Irvin.
Voicing your concerns allows the senator who wrote the bill to see how it is directly affecting his/her constituents.
If you feel as if a letter is not enough you can contact your local Arkansas Body Modification Association at 501-733-8962 for further information about freedom of expression and other related issues.