November 1, 2006
Some say it’s an art. Others say it’s a sin. But nobody can say tattooing is illegal in Oklahoma after Wednesday, when the state becomes the very last to permit it.
The moral tangle is over. The win goes to lawmakers who argued that tattooing is inevitable, so it may as well be regulated for safety.
The win is also claimed by the state’s tattoo artists, who can now ink most anyone 18 and older without fear of handcuffs and fines.
The law that passed after much foot-dragging has earned praise and criticism, but either way, it has an effect.
It looks like today, one state becomes the last one to finally realize that people are capable of making their own decisions about their body. I do think that a lot of people are surprised by this, though. Not that they’re surprised that Oklahoma is changing the law, but surprised that Oklahoma had the law until 2006 in the first place.
But this isn’t an isolated case. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. One of the most egregious flaws of government is their tendency to restrict freedom and enforce the prejudices of the majority by law. You see it here in the south, where you can’t buy alcohol on Sunday because it offends too many religious people. You see it happening all over the country now, as cities and states try to ban smoking in all public places because it’s now widely regarded to be a faux pas.
I’d like to say that this change in the law is Oklahoma’s realization that outlawing behavior that they simply find unappealing, which does not infringe on anyone’s rights, is bad policy. But it’s not. This is them retreating from one restriction of freedom that no longer has a lot of public support. I’m sure they won’t be shy about keeping those restrictions that exist, or enacting new restrictions, as long as the majority supports it. After all, that’s what government is for, right?
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