05 March, 2013

Playing The Puck In The Corner




presented by
Mystic Metals Body Jewelry




Playing The Puck In The Corner
3.5.13



Chaos and anger and general crankiness. That's been my last couple of weeks. Sorry for missing last week with the blog, but the aforementioned crankiness has married my ass to my couch. I've only really left the house to see my wonderful and beautiful girlfriend, and to gig with my dysfunctional cover band. So forgive my sloth and hope with me that this week is slightly better.

I don't like the phrase 'tattoo gun.' I don't think gun is an appropriate description of the tool. And it only sort of resembles a gun. An airbrush looks more like a gun that a tattoo machine, and that's called a brush. Tattoo brush? That's an interesting idea. Also, guns in the right (or wrong, I suppose) hands kill people and animals. Tattoo machines have never killed anything, so the implications there are a little sinister. And with the current administration dodging the real domestic issues and focusing on misinformed and overreaching gun control policies, the word 'gun' has gone from a three lettered word to a four lettered word. Vocabulary and terminology is important in painting the perception of a thing to those who are unfamiliar with that thing. It helps our culture greatly to shed positive light on our behaviors, and the easiest way of doing that, in my dumbassed opinion, is to use pleasant vocabulary to describe what we do. So let's try to get away from 'tramp stamp' and 'frat tat' and 'tattoo gun.' The question I have is this: Is a tattoo machine a dangerous instrument?

If someone were to say 'dangerous instrument' to me, the first thing I'd think of is a tambourine. Have you ever been at a gig trying to play a song correctly when some woo girl all fuct up on something-tini and Miller Lite demands possession of the tambourine and then just smacks the shit out of it in a grossly amorphic interpretation of rhythm which can only be described as the twitching death throes of a dying sparrow? Now that's a dangerous instrument. And I think I made up amorphic. I guess I'm spelling dangerous. But the question is, is a tattoo machine a dangerous instrument. According to Kentucky it is, and James "Bud" Johnson knows that better than anyone now. Bud was arrested recently for knowingly tattooing a minor without parental consent. There's no law specifically for that, so instead, they got Bud on Kentucky Revised Statute 508.020 which states "a person is guilty of second-degree assault if they intentionally cause serious physical injury to another person, intentionally causes physical injury to another person by means of a deadly weapon or a dangerous instrument or wantonly causes serious physical injury to another person by means of a deadly weapon or a dangerous instrument." He's on a ten grand full cash bond. He also had a weed possession charge when they picked him up which adds another grand to his tally. So forgetting the weed for a second, Bud is guilty of second degree assault with a dangerous instrument. Is this just?

I'm a law and order guy. No, I don't mean that show that's been on TV since year two. I mean I am into justice. You break a law, you go to the joint for a while to cool off. Society's time out chair with optional dude rape. I think pretty black and white that way. For example, I get pissed off when I talk to someone who was stopped for one crime and pleads down to another. This happens with DUIs a lot. Get a good lawyer and suddenly it's reckless driving. But what about Bud? First the weed thing is silly. I'm a legalize kind of cat. I don't smoke the junk myself, but as a libertarian, I think there are plenty of other more constructive ways to spend our tax dollars than going after some idiot who just wants to sit on his couch, watch "Super Troopers," and eat a whole pizza while choking down a blunt. But this Bud guy got pinched for tattooing a minor. I'm very against modification of minors with or without parental consent. It's bad for the culture, it's bad for the person modified, and it's a welcome mat for a blossoming tattoo removal and plastic surgery industry. I don't think a fifteen year old can make a well thought decision about modification. Or anything, really. I'm off the point. Did Bud assault the kid he modified?

Details of the crime were not in the report I read, so if the kid was kicking and screaming, or if Bud had to strap him down like a camper in World War II, then yeah; that sounds like assault. But if the kid were a willing and active participant, then does that have any bearing on the ruling? I'm not defending Bud here, I'm just postulating if someone in a cell next to Bud with the same crime on his record is actually in the same criminal category as Bud. According to the law, yes he is, and in most ways that's good enough for me. A crime is a crime. Sorry, Bud. The question is (which I've written like nine times already) why isn't there a statute to govern specifically the modification of minors rather than placing the offender in the category of others who have committed second degree assault? This is a good opportunity to create one.

Heading back to the first point, is a tattoo machine a dangerous instrument? That reads intentionally vague. Anything can fall into that category if you hurt someone with it. A protractor is a dangerous instrument. At least the shitty thin metal ones I had in school. A wire hanger, a guitar string, a countertop dish drying rack. Anything, really. So I suppose with the 'anything goes' idea, yes, a tattoo machine can be a dangerous instrument. But does it matter what the specifics of the crime are? Does that put all of these things and the acts that utilized these things into the same column on the form?

If that's what the law says, then yes. Is it unfortunate that people like Bud are legally in the same crime boat as a wife who loses her shit and smacks her man with a frying pan, or a weirdo cat who accidentally chokes his lover during some sexy role play? According to the law, it's not unfortunate at all. It's what the law says. And again, I'm not defending Bud; he's a scumbag pothead who is bad for the culture. Following a ruling like this, however, it places another unjust moniker onto the tattoo machine. The machine is an instrument of creation and art. To implicate the machine as dangerous or even a weapon fuels the animosity of some toward our culture of healthy modification art. That is unfair to those of us who see not the machine as a device of pain, but rather one of creation and beauty.

I said earlier that I am a black and white law thinker. Does the law say you're a criminal? That's good enough for me. Enjoy the Grey Bar Hotel. I do think that certain laws and regulations make for better, more honest, and civil behavior. That seems to be a strange thing for a libertarian to say, but the theory is that if a law is made to govern certain behaviors that we've as a society decided are not good behaviors, then eventually that behavior will not exist. It's like in hockey. A rule was made that said the goaltender could only play the puck inside the trapezoid behind the net and not in the corners. The year that the rule went into effect, there were quite a few delay of game penalties because goaltenders were not adjusted to the new rule and continued instinctively to play the puck in the corners. Now, years after the rule, the instances of those penalties are rare, and when they do occur, they are either incidental or arguably close. Rules of society work similarly, or at least they can. If we advocate for a just law to dictate the resultant penalty of modifying a minor, then willing modification of minors will diminish. Again, it's strange for a libertarian to say that, but it makes sense. I'm not talking about crazy kind of 'you can't drink soda in New York City' kind of laws. That is overreaching of government. I'm talking about instituting laws that properly enforce and penalize already unlawful behaviors. Modifying a minor is already illegal. Now we need to penalize justly for that crime instead of branding it as a different crime, such as second degree assault. I have repeatedly said justly, if you've noticed, because that is important as well. We live in a society where if you get a DUI, it takes you three to completely lose your license. Three. Is that just? I don't think so. Two, maybe. I'll give you the first one as a dumb mistake. But how many times do you have to fuck up before they decide that you can't lawfully do this thing? So modifying minors? A monetary fine, loss of health department licenses for a time (maybe six months), and community service. Second offense, jail time, bigger fine, revocation of licenses for three years. Third offense, longer jail, bigger fine, etc. That seems fair, right? I like fair. Again, Bud broke a law, was charged, and that's that. I hope he stays put in the clink for a while. I don't defend him or his behavior at all, but I think it sheds some light onto some things that can help our community be a better one. Health code requirements weren't always a part of our community, but they have made it better and healthier and more acceptable. Isn't that a good thing? Trust me, I'm a small government guy. Laws and regulations often interrupt normal and sensible behavior. However there are times when just regulation can help an industry or community see its flaws and eradicate them. Eventually, no one will even go into the corner to play the puck and the law will become antiquated because common sense and responsible behavior will supersede the imagined benefits of law breaking. Stay beautiful, kids.




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