May It Please The Court

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Quote of the Day - Don't know the reason, stayed here all season, with nothing to show but this brand-new tattoo. But it's a real beauty, a Mexican cutie. How it got it here, I haven't a clue. - Jimmy Buffett
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Are Tattoos A Constitutionally Protected Form Of Self-expression?

Johnny Anderson can't practice his chosen profession of applying tattoos in Hermosa Beach, California because the City has outlawed tattoo parlors.  In this federal court complaint, his lawyer says, "a person may wear his heart on his sleeve, and the government may not prevent him from wearing it on his arm," despite a City Ordinance to the contrary.  Like all red-blooded Americans, he sued.

The Complaint starts out like a novel, citing tattoos found on the Alpine "Iceman," Egyptian and Nubian mummies and "the Greeks, ancient Germans, Gauls, Thracians and ancient Britons."  Wow.  I never knew tattoos had such a colorful history.

Anderson fast forwards this history to the U.S. Constitution and claims tattooing is a protected form of self-expression under the First Amendment, which the City of Hermosa Beach can't abridge under the Fourteenth Amendment, as "communicative, artistic and decorative."  Art, in a manner of speaking.  The federal judge will decide this one without a jury since it's a question of law, not fact.

The Complaint claims some twenty percent of us have tattoos, supposedly including a tiger on former Secretary of State George Schultz's backside.  I wonder how his lawyer will get that one into evidence

Tattoos were once fashionable among Egyptian women, and have been used by tribes, including the present-day Maori in New Zealand, who wear full-face tribal tattoos.  Tattoos have a dark side, too.  Nazi prisoners had them on their arms, and after World War II, they became almost solely the province of tawdry waterfront locations, sailors and disreputable women, sometimes referred to as "tramp stamps," and now largely the bane of parents.

Unless, of course, you already have one, you rebel.

Posted by J. Craig Williams on Thursday, September 13, 2007 at 01:02 Comments (0)


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