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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Policy to ban ‘inappropriate’ tattoos an indecent proposal

    No visible tattoos are typical guidelines for any professional environment. Even fast food chains have guidelines about where and if tattoos can be appropriately visible on employees. A tattoo with an obscene message or explicit language should be covered at the workplace. However, more restrictions should not be placed on inked speech.

    The Bettendorf Park Board in Iowa is considering a ban on tattoos after a city pool staff member asked a pool patron to cover up a tattoo that another patron called “inappropriate.” The policy would create specific “decency” guidelines that guests of Bettendorf Park Board facilities would be required to follow.

    The ban would require anyone visiting the city’s parks or public facilities to cover up their body art. Such a ban would be extremely difficult to define. Tattoos on places where clothing is hard to reach, such as ankles or necks, would have to be covered if the ban was implemented. Getting a face tattoo in Bettendorf would also require the purchase of a mosquito-mesh net or a Darth Vader helmet to cover them up.

    City authorities argue that the ban’s goal is to protect the family-friendly environment of city facilities. But even though the little town of Bettendorf may have good intentions for the tattoo ban, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

    Telling people where they can go based on a physical characteristic is discriminatory, and decency guidelines for showing tattoos in public is just as much a violation of free speech as telling people what they can and cannot talk about in public.

    The First Amendment protects all forms of speech, and that should include tattoos. This ban would be a violation of the amendment that Americans hold so dearly.

    Proponents of the ban say it was drafted to try to limit the amount of obscenity seen by children and decrease public displays of derogatory language.

    Tattoos are considered artistic expression and should not be restricted in public, non-professional places.

    The Bettendorf ban is only a gateway to a series of restrictions that could easily follow. Although we have an obligation to morality, we also have a right to our expression.

    Deciding what to dress like in public should be a personal decision. Showing off or deciding to cover a tattoo when going outside should also be a personal decision, not a government-mandated one. If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen and if you can’t tolerate tattoos, don’t look.

    — Caroline Nachazel is a junior studying journalism and communication. She can be reached at or on Twitter via @WildcatOpinions .

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