23 September, 2010

A Very Important First Thing

A Very Important First Thing

9.16.10



The views and opinions expressed in this article are those only of the author and may only coincidentally reflect those of Mystic Metals, its employees, or associates. All responses should be posted as comments here, or mailed directly to the author, A. Robert Basile, at ihatebasile@gmail.com. Mail sent directly to Mystic Metals will not be read.




Let me first make this public service announcement. A-hem. Ladies and gentlemen...Wait, I’m going to use caps lock. A-hem. LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, OLD IS NOT HANDICAPPED. FAT IS NOT HANDICAPPED. LAZY IS NOT HANDICAPPED. SOME OF US REAL CRIPPLED PEOPLE NEED THOSE PARKING SPOTS, SO WHEN YOU CATCH ME KEYING YOUR CAR AS YOU SAUNTER UNHINDERED INTO THE COFFEE SHOP, DON’T BE ALARMED. IF YOU’D LIKE TO BE HANDICAPPED, I CAN ARRANGE IT.

I’m sick of fake-capped motherfuckers taking up my parking spots. I earned those spots by a lifetime of pain and a shitty youth of getting stabbed in the dick and spine with needles which inevitably resulted in the doctor shrugging his shoulders and saying that he doesn’t know what’s wrong with me. Old I may be able to excuse. Fat? Sorry. Just because you crippled yourself doesn’t mean that we legitimately disabled people ought to give our spots up to your inability to exercise self-control. Or your plain inability to exercise. I had to get that out.

There’s good news in the world of modification. That doesn’t happen very often. And...the power just went out at the bookstore, so I’ll have to finish this later. Here’s to you, cliffhangers!

OK. I’m back. In the bookstore. In the dark. But I’m going to continue to write for you guys because that’s how much I care. Send me gifts and chocolates. Dark chocolates. So what was I saying? Oh yeah. Good news in the world of modification via Judge Jay S. Bybee from the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Before we get to Judge Bybee’s ruling, let’s talk about how we got there.

In the city of Hermosa Beach California (which sounds like some kind of drink with an umbrella in it), municipal codes prevented the establishment of tattoo shops. Artists had a beef with this, so they took it to court with the argument that the same municipality allowed porn shops, gun shops, and fortunetelling joints. So why not tattoo shops? Isn’t it awesome that our culture is often in the same unmodified mental category as those other places? That’s a different rant for a different day when there’s power in the bookstore. Long story short, the tattoo artists won the day, and our friendly appeals circuit judge, Jay Bybee, ruled that tattoo modification is protected by our teflon First Amendment.

This is awesome news for the culture, as well as being incredible for our freedoms. According to Judge Jay Bybee (which I keep spelling out because I don’t know if Jay is a dude or a broad), “a form of speech does not lose First Amendment protection based on the kind of surface it is applied to.” Damn right. The recognition that tattoos are a form of First Amendment expression and therefore protected by the amendment, takes a step toward acknowledgment by the unmodified community that the expression of modification is indeed an art form. Too often our culture is incorrectly recognized as rebellious or in some type of misrepresented scene. With this acknowledgement, we are closer to legitimizing the art form as one on the same tier as painting, sculpture, and photography.

How many pieces of art are hanging in galleries across the country? Innumerable. And I guarantee you can find something hanging in some gallery somewhere that courses your sensibility toward decency. But those canvasses and sculptures and photographs are protected by our wonderfully amended Constitution. And now our skins. Of course there is going to be some jerrgoff (and I spelled it that way for Dan) who is going to be wearing a modification that you may not agree with. The easiest example is the Bombshell McGee “WP” and swastika tattoos. To be fair, she claims her “WP” tattoos mean “wet pussy,” and not “white power.” So there’s that. Even still, there’s some judgement there, and as we’ve talked about it before, there are no laws against bad judgement. With that said, people are going to modify on themselves messages or images that you may not like or agree with. Like naked ladies, hate symbols, religious icons, or profane language. Or the most offensive, shitty tattoos. Kidding. Slightly. But people are going to walk around with art that scrapes against what you think is appropriate. Isn’t that in some small degree the purpose of art? To illicit strong emotional response? If so, then tattoo art benefits from these reactions as it gains another quality akin to what is already accepted in other art forms.

The First Amendment is a wonderful thing, and it’s a frustrating thing. It’s wonderful when we need it to be, and it’s frustrating when we don’t agree with whatever is utilizing it. I support one hundred percent freedom of expression. If you want to walk around the mall with a t-shirt that says “The President Is A Cunt,” go right ahead. Just because I may or may not disagree doesn’t mean that you ought to be restricted as to how you express your views. I think tits should be on TV. Not just because I love tits, but because creators of television programs ought to be unrestricted in their expression. We have a certain, selective freedom of expression. We don’t patently have the ability to freely express. And before any of you kids who agree with restricted expression come at me with the, ‘it’s important in situations like yelling fire in a public place,’ that’s totally not what we’re talking about. Yes, we can’t yell fire in a public place. That is a restricted expression, but anyone with an ounce of sense wouldn’t do that anyway, and because we coexist with fucking morons in this society, we have to tell people that yelling fire in a public place when there’s no fire is a no-no. I don’t believe in preventing people from seeing a movie if they don’t meet an age requirement, and I don’t believe in preventing people from buying a record if they don’t meet an age requirement. These things, things like movie ratings, ought to be a heads up to parents and not preventative laws for which people can be penalized for not enforcing. Eighteen seems like an arbitrary age anyway, and as a completely unrelated side note, isn’t it funny that we have so many laws that utilize a ‘three strike’ policy? I mean, basing penalties for breaking laws on a rule in a sport seems absurd.

Back to the point. The freedom to express is vitally important to our persona as a nation and as a race of people. We have built into our society a caveat that allows us so to do, and it is the easiest amendment to use to exemplify a point. We all ought to recognize its importance, and we all ought to recognize the responsibility that comes with it. There’s another side to the coin as well. I mean, if you get a tattoo on your forehead that says, “I H8 Blacks,” and you take a stroll in Camden (Wikipedia Camden, NJ), then you deserve to get your ass beat. Responsibility. We all need to express ourselves to the fullest, but we also have to not cry First Amendment when someone expresses his opposing view. Sure, the First Amendment protects your stupid forehead tattoo, but if you’re putting yourself in a position to get your ass whooped because of it, don’t lean on the shoulder of the founding fathers because that isn’t what they had in mind.

I’m completely off the point. We ought to celebrate the ruling of Judge Jay Bybee. We ought to also use our freedoms with a demeanor that is a positive reflection on what it means to be an American, what it means to have freedoms like these, and show the world an example of freedom of self. Maybe they’ll take us seriously when we finally prove to them that we utilize our freedoms and not use them. Do your part. Be responsible, enjoy your freedoms, utilize them and be a good representative of American culture and modification culture. I’m in no position to be making demands. I’m such a dickhead. Stay beautiful, kids.






Talk to A. Robert Basile on AIM at Basilephone
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