Tuesday, September 24, 2013


I'm not a fan of tattoos. That's why I don't have any. But, neither am I a fan of stopping others from getting tattoos. I know plenty of people with them.

Once, most of the people I knew with tattoos were military, or ex-military, mostly Navy or ex-Navy. Later, a number of people sporting tattoos included people who got drunk in or near Savannah one weekend. That's because you had to go to Savannah, Richmond Hill, or Hinesville (Ft. Stewart) to get a tattoo. Unless you were in Reidsville, but Georgia State Prison wasn't normally a place you left after just one weekend.

But, in recent years, tattoos are sprouting up all over the place. And now, the Army is reacting to that. The oldest branch of the U.S. military is looking to ban some tattoos from being visible:
Under the new policy, new recruits will not be allowed to have tattoos that show below the elbows and knees or above the neckline, (Sergeant Major of the Army Raymond) Chandler told troops. Current soldiers may be grandfathered in, but all soldiers will still be barred from having any tattoos that are racist, sexist or extremist.

Once the rules are implemented, soldiers will sit down with their unit leaders and “self identify” each tattoo. Soldiers will be required to pay for the removal of any tattoo that violates the policy, Chandler said.
I'm still not a fan of tattoos, but I kinda have a problem with the new Army policy. It goes against history. At least, Georgia History.

Let me tell you a story. Back in the early 1940s, the governor of Georgia -- I heard it was Ellis Arnall, but it could have been Eugene Talmadge -- was meeting with a bunch of soldiers before they headed off to war, either in the Europe or Pacific campaigns in World War II. One of the soldiers spoke up and asked him why 18 years old was old enough to go fight in a war, but not old enough to vote for the people that send him off to war. The governor told him, "You're right. We'll do something about that."

By the end of 1943, Georgia had become the first state to allow 18 year olds to vote. In 1955, Kentucky did the same. The rest of the U.S. joined in 1971 with the passage of the 26th Amendment.

Here's another story. In the 1970s and 80s, when states were starting to raise the drinking age to 21, Georgia put in an exception for active duty military. That exception no longer exists -- the state does allow parents to give alcohol to minors in their own home, but that's the only exception (O.C.G.A. § 3-3-23) -- but, as you can see, where I come from, we have a history of allowing things specially for or because of the military.

This new Army policy is counter to that, and I don't like it. And I don't want the Navy, Marine, or Air Force to follow suit.

Of course, in my time in the military, a lot of soldiers had tattoos, but none were tramp stamps. Well, not many.

What's your take on this?


  1. I especially like people that have had tattoos for 30-40 years - where the ink is all smeared together; and you can't tell if the tattoo is a flower or a dog and it just sort of looks like abstract dark blue blobs. Nice. Sounds like a First Amendment issue to me - freedom of expression. This sounds like major lawsuits waiting to happen.

    Me? I had to get tattoos when I was being treated for cancer so they had permanent markers that could be used to line me up under the linear accelerator. I have no urge to get more tattoos...

  2. I'm content to let any branch of the military set its own dress code.

    I don't have any tattoos myself, even though I spent 6 years in the Navy. I don't have anything against them, but unless you're a prisoner, a biker, or a sailor, having a tattoo probably says something about you that you'll regret eventually.

    Why do 20-somethings get tattoos? They don't like anything that they thought was really cool 5 years ago, and yet they think it's a good idea to put a picture on their body that they think is cool right now, expecting they'll think it's cool for the rest of their lives?

  3. I have a tattoo, it's tasteful and easily covered by a short sleeve shirt. My issue is how do they identify if it's considered racist, sexist or extremist? Barring something blatantly obvious anyway. Is a pinup girl sexist? Is Molon Labe extremist? Would a Georgia boy with a confederate flag be racist? What happens if one person gives it the OK, but another complains? How long under Obama before a cross is labeled offensive?

  4. You know what's just awesome? When agents of the government tell me what to do or not do.

    I sure love that. And people who support that... well, they're just terrific.

    Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got some styrofoam to burn.

  5. It is more of a discipline issue. When you enlist in the military, you are voluntarily offing your body and life to service of your nation. If you can not follow a simple rule not to get a visible tattoo then you you do not belong in the military. You are being given the responsibility of taking someones else s life, in time of war, but you can not be trusted not get a tattoo?

  6. Awww heck and darn. HTML has foiled my inflections again!

    [FIFY - B.]

  7. Tattoos that are not visible while short-sleeved uniform is on == who cares, there should be no regulation concerning those.

    Tattoos visible outside the uniform: these strike me initially as equivalent to allowing soldiers to accessorize their uniform with "flair" like at TGI Friday's, or personal-statement stickers on their equipment and vehicles. Not helpful to uniformity and discipline. If the military can dictate your actions, your clothing, and your hair, why would skin ink be exempt?

    But there should not be a "zero tolerance" policy. Tattoos like Buckhorn mentions -- medically necessary -- leave them alone. If the person can present a persuasive reason for the tattoo, let the commanding officer decide.

  8. Once upon guys in the military got tattoos that were fairly innocuous: globe & anchor, American flag, heart with girl's name - maybe a hula girl for the devil-may-care guys. Those tattoos were generally restricted to areas that don't show most of the time - chest & upper arm. The forearm was not uncommon but it was always frowned upon. Men with tattoos that showed when in uniform (excepting PT uniform) were - and probably are still - not considered officer material.

    I don't think it is the military that has changed so much as the tattoo culture. When they didn't show it didn't really matter. Expectations were always pretty well understood among service members and tattoos on new recruits weren’t really an issue until the last decade or so. But now people put them everywhere. The visual impact of a line of fit and sharply dressed enlisted men is ruined when one of them has a picture of Garfield stamped on his neck.

    Gang affiliation is another modern problem that the military has to deal with. Many – perhaps most – urban gang members have the sign of their loyalty inked on. It is intolerable to military discipline that a member should have loyalties above their country and their service – excepting religion and family. As well it should be. Anyone sporting gang affiliation tattoos anywhere on their bodies should barred from service until they have the tattoo removed.

  9. The Armourer encapsulates the idea: Garrison Sergeant Majors. The Sergeant Major of the Army probably started pounding his head on his desk when he heard that the lead-free bullets were going forward, and this idea popped out. Feel free to write your representatives in Congress, especially about the cost twice as much bullets. Mention to them that most of bullets are going to go right back into the ground where no one will ingest them and thus get poisoned by them. (Current bullets are full metal jacketed so they aren't going to corrode nor expose people to the lead very quickly anyway.) Mention how much more they'll going to cost. Mention how many fewer will be fired in training as a result of the cost. Mention how many fewer bad guys will get killed on the first shot, which means more Americans will die because someone thought it was necessary to use a lead-free bullet.

  10. I love tattoos. With some exceptions (generally a low number (like 1) of small and significant pieces), they instantly communicate that someone has bad decision-making skills. This is very useful to know as soon as possible on meeting someone.

  11. Aw man, I thought this was going to be a Fantasy Island thread. Color me disappointed.

  12. all soldiers will still be barred from having any tattoos that are racist, sexist or extremist

    What's the point of having a tattoo that isn't one of those three things?

  13. It is unconsitutional to force people to wear a sign around the neck that says "Idiot." So we have tattoos.

  14. Growing up, I had friends whose parents had tatoos they got as kids in germany and poland. I don't think I want one of those.

  15. Comrade Chairman ObamaSeptember 24, 2013 at 11:45 AM

    I believe Special Ops-type military units have regulations against tattoos, but those are for obvious reasons. Otherwise, I believe Uncle Sam doesn't, or rather shouldn't, have doodly-squat to say about what tattoos people get or where they get them (unless they in some way clearly affect the ability of a soldier to perform their duty ), or even what they are, even if that means racist, sexist, or otherwise offensive.

    What about choice? Don't they (Liberals) have heart attacks about women getting to choose what they do with their own bodies? I guess that only applies to Liberal females who want an abortion; everybody else can apparently go to hell.

    Anyway, I see tons of people of every kind sporting tattoos of every kind, including some that are offensive (to me) --- big deal. If someone with an "offensive" tattoo wants to serve their country, fine, let 'em.


    By the way, I do not have a single tattoo. Pa Comrade Chairman Obama impressed upon me, as a teenager, the importance of not getting one: if I got one, I was out (and that included piercings). I complied; I liked the free room and board...and the love.

    And also by the way, "tramp-stamps" are exactly that; nothing says "I'm easy" like a big, beautiful ostentatiously colored designed shaped like an arrow right over your lady parts.

    I also think people who are covered with tattoos looks like absolute freaks; many are actually nice people. They just made, IMAO, a horrifyingly bad life lifestyle choice.

    Peace, Love and Free Shtuff for All,

    Comrade Chairman Obama

  16. Uh-oh: here is how the AP and MSNBC will edit the comment above: " . . .IMAO, a horrifyingly bad life lifestyle choice."

  17. There's a new slogan: "IMAO, more than a blog...a way of life."

    Let's see some modern primitive type tatt that across their back or above their nether region.

    Very Sons of Anarchy, eh.

  18. I think if people are putting their lives on the line, doing a dangerous job to protect our freedom, then they should be able to enjoy that same freedom. And that includes the right to have a tattoo!

  19. @18 - As a veteran, I gotta disagree. While they're under contract, soldiers agree to be bound by the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which places restrictions on rights and freedoms they would otherwise enjoy under the Constitution.

    It's not pleasant, but it's necessary in order to accomplish the task of defending the nation.

    When your hitch is up and you become a civilian again, THEN you can enjoy those freedoms you spent all those years protecting.

    See also: @5

  20. @18: When in the service and uniform of this country one is not an individual, able and allowed to act unilaterally. Appearance and action are as an identifiable part of a whole. Heavy ink and modern primitive body modifications go, starkly, against that uniform, united whole.

    Tatting a checkerboard or leopard skin pattern upon one's face or entire body, grafting goat horns upon one's head, getting one's tongue split in two...all of which have been done by those envelope-pushing people wishing to be ever-so individualistic...are a bit too much for undisrupted close-order and discipline in the armed forces.

    Not to mention that it is highly doubtful that any orders would come down from higher eschelons permitting mission-specific modified grooming standards calling for a Ranger-qualled company of horned or antlered goat or elk-people to HALO jump behind enemy lines.


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