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Think then ink

Posted on 09.25.2013

I am not a fan of tattoos, piercings and other body alterations. I am not dead-set against them and the people who sport ink, by any means, but I am just … not into them.
Personally, I cannot fathom the people who cover three-fourths of their body in tattoos, especially if the artworks they choose are promising contenders for submissions. And if you read the news lately, I am guessing that neither are legislators in Washington, D.C.
According to a Sept. 8 story from, the city’s health department proposed a law that would force body art businesses to “ensure that no tattoo artist applies any tattoo to a customer until after 24 hours have passed.”
Customers who request a tattoo or piercing would have to wait the mandatory 24 hours, during which time they would have to fill out a questionnaire disclosing conditions that would affect the healing process, such as pregnancy, diabetes and herpes.
Tattoo artists also would  have to show that they have been vaccinated against hepatitis B and undergone biohazard training.
The issue is being debated between tattoo artists and their customers in Washington, D.C. — who see it as hurting the businesses and an “overreaching of a nanny state” to save customers from themselves — and parenting experts who think that the mandatory waiting period could be a benefit for parents and their children to talk about decisions.
Bo and Ty, two artists with Artistic Skin Designs in Indianapolis, thought the proposed legislation was missing an important point.
“There’s an industry that sells the equipment necessary—needles, ink —for setting up a parlor anywhere,” Bo said. “An unskilled person could set up a parlor in their home and let’s say a drunk guy does come in here and we say ‘no,’ he could easily go over to his friend’s and get the work.”
This loophole also leads to other issues that the legislation is trying to protect.
“And that’s where the health issues are likely to come in,” added Ty. “We have regulations as a parlor that we have to go by. A private individual doesn’t, and that’s where most of the health problems come from.”
In America, we can argue that there are two kinds of legislation: effective and symbolic. We could joke that Washington, D.C., has not been doing so well with producing actual legislation lately, although the city council has provided awesome comic relief during the high-crisis time of Syria.
I could even say that perhaps a few on the council recognized a constituent on and thought, “Hey now! I have some photo ops coming up performing community service in that part of town.
I’m trying to prove my district is the middle-class families, not just roughnecks. I can’t let a man with a random Chinese symbol on his face stand in the background, lest voters think poorly of my district!”
Knowing what I do and what I have shared about the higher incidence of health issues arising from private, unskilled individuals working from a foggy basement, I will assert that this legislation is largely symbolic as long as there is not much that accounts for the unregulated “businesses” in the foggy basement.
Unfortunately, there will always be people who will not conduct themselves wisely, especially when they are intoxicated. But it cannot be a tattoo parlor’s problem or the city health department’s. It can’t even be the problem of the person with them who uploads their  sad choice in artistry to


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