Missy Irvin image

  • DAVID RAMSEY
  • One of these two people knows something about the topic at hand

Sen. Missy Irvin believes that part of how body-art professionals make a living is too weird for the government to allow. Yesterday, to their shame, the majority of her Senate colleagues agreed. The unnecessary, intrusive, mean-spirited and poorly drafted bill passed 26-4.

Here’s some background on the bill, which bans scarification and dermal implants. (Scarification is a non-ink skin marking that forms scars for decorative purposes, while dermal implants refers to placing ornamental objects beneath the skin.)

Props to the four Senators, all Republicans, who voted nay. In fact, while we may not associate Republicans with outré body art, it’s hard to reconcile this nosy Nanny State bill with the conservative principles Irvin claims to stand on. Indeed, when I asked Rep. Nate Bell, one of the most conservative members of the House, for his take, he tweeted “I would vote against it in its present form.”

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Irvin claims that she is concerned about staph infections, but her bill would increase the safety risk by sending the body art practices underground. She has made no compelling case for prohibition of scarification and implants, instead offering breathless busy-body accounts of a “tongue-splitting” operation that has nothing to do with the bill. I was at the Senate committee meeting when Irvin brought forward this bill and it was clear as day what was going on. In Irvin’s opinion, these practices are gross and weird. So she wants to put a stop to it, which means the government putting a ban on small businesses in this state safely offering something that adult consumers want.

Basically, she thinks it’s disgusting. What I find disgusting is the ease with which legislators would attempt to control the harmless behavior of a small group of people different from themselves. Irvin is basically acting as the high-school bully, picking on the freaks.

I should note here that I have no interest in tattoos or piercings personally. Indeed, this law would likely have no impact on the legislators or the media that covers them. That’s precisely the point. It’s easier to stomp on principles if it doesn’t affect you. Rep. Bell, to his credit, had the right answer: “none of my business.”

The bill will head to House committee this week. For an explanation of just why it’s such a bad idea, see a statement after the jump from Misty Forsberg, a licensed tattoo and body piercing artist from Fort Smith. Worth noting that Forsberg is a fierce advocate of stronger regulation of her industry to improve safety and training, she’s simply opposed to clumsy prohibition. In fact, despite Irvin’s attack on her industry, Forsberg today spoke in favor of another Irvin body-art bill focused on regulation and professional standards.

As for the prohibition bill, please read Forsberg’s eloquent take-down after the jump…