Target: Arkansas House of Representatives
Goal: Do not ban forms of body modification including piercings and tattoos
A bill banning personal freedom of expression is up for vote in the Arkansas House of Representatives. The measure, already passed in the Arkansas Senate by a vote of 26 to 4, strictly prohibits many forms of body modification, including piercings and tattoos. This law sets in motion the possibility of reverse freedom and opens the door for underground, unregulated procedures.
All it takes is one fanatical senator loaded with misinformation to undo centuries of self-expression. Republican Missy Irvin is that senator and her goal is to remove all forms of body art that she finds offensive. Senator Irvin is on a misguided mission to outlaw what she deems “non-traditional body art.” The language used in her bill is vague enough to confuse fellow lawmakers and citizens, creating the possibility of wide interpretation resulting in criminal penalties.
The purpose of the bill is outlined as an attempt to “limit body art procedures,” but in fact will make the personal choice of body modification illegal. Piercing, branding, tattooing, and dermal implants all fall under the senator’s definition of ornamental and decorative body art. Instead of providing any medical data to back up her plea, Senator Irvin relied on gross-out tactics to sway the vote. Joining her cause, Health Department Attorney Robert Breech was also unable to provide any research on the negative health effects of body modification, making their claim of increased risk of infection laughable. Representative Irvin relies on outrageous claims to support her ignorance, comparing body modification to the involuntary female genital mutilation in Africa.
Introduction of this bill is an attempt at aversion by Senator Irvin to avoid her own level of discomfort with differences in the personal choices others make for their own bodies. Interestingly, licensed physicians and plastic surgeons are exempt from this act, leaving them free to perform permanent cosmetic procedures.
Allowing lawmakers to take away established, hard-earned freedom is a fearful opening to narrow-mindedness and dictatorship. Laws are set in place to protect and promote individual freedom. Spending time trying to undo these liberties is a giant step back for democracy and a warning to all, tattooed or not, that the freedoms they hold dear could be next on the chopping block. Send a message to the Arkansas House of Representatives that the retracting of rights will not be tolerated.
Dear Arkansas House of Representatives,
Recent introduction of Senate Bill 387 to limit body art procedures poses a threat to individual liberty. Making tattooing, piercing, and other forms of self-portrayal illegal is a disservice to civil rights. Health concerns are an invalid reason for this gross attempt at invasion of privacy.
Any further passage of this bill must be prevented. Do not set the precedent for repudiation of freedom. Allow your residents the right to self-expression without fear of governmental intrusion.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons