Georgia Upholds the Basic Right to Tattoo



As an American and a patriot, there are three things I loathe: taxes, tyranny and not being able to get tattoos. Deprivation of the freedom to get tattoos is as un-American as monarchy or soccer. That is why I heartily applaud and endorse Georgia Governor Brian Kemp’s plan to allow some of his states’ businesses, including hair and nails salons and tattoo parlors, to reopen.

Governor Kemp is correct and righteous to uphold his oath of office and honor the citizens of the great state of Georgia. He understands he can no longer brace the dams constraining the tidal waves of humans who demand to exercise their rights to life, liberty, and tattoos.

Hair keeps growing, polish eventually chips and my solar plexus ain’t gonna tattoo itself. For the past six weeks, to stave off stir-craziness, I have given myself several stick and poke tattoos, but my drawing skills are lacking. Plus, my household’s supplies of butane and isopropyl alcohol are extremely limited at this time so I can no longer properly sterilize my needles.

Like anyone who has had to shelter in place for an extended amount of time, I relish the opportunity to periodically leave the house. Visiting the supermarket is a welcome respite from soft house arrest, but that can hardly be considered recreational; it is not only human nature, but a human right to pursue happiness. Self-quarantining is necessary when a pandemic threatens our health and ways of life but being responsible can have deleterious side effects. Many of us are simultaneously bored out of our minds as well as anxiety ridden. Some people, to relieve stress or to maintain physical and mental health, go to gyms, or enjoy the great outdoors, or socialize at bars and restaurants. A great portion of the population frequent tattoo parlors.

You could argue that these are non-essential businesses, and that people can cut their own hair and trim their unsightly cuticles, but being prevented from getting fresh ink from a licensed tattoo artist in a sterile environment is to have one’s fundamental civil rights violated.

The government mandated lockdown has not only been a violation of my rights to assemble and free speech/self-expression, but also of my rights to freedom of religion and to bear arms. My next planned tattoo before my local parlor Inkin’ Thinkin’ was shuttered was going to be Moses brandishing an M1917 American Enfield bolt-action service rifle (I support Israel’s right to exist, you got a problem with that?!).

What someone does with his own body is crucial to the vitality of the American spirit. This right to self-determination is unseverable from the right to self-improvement, which includes grooming provided by hair and nails salons, but which especially extends to the tattoo industry (but not, however, to piercing, which is merely self-mutilation and an abomination and affront to God akin to not speaking English or Shinto-Buddhism).

Look, I understand these are difficult and confusing times. It is frustrating to have to self-quarantine. Americans want to work, and we also want to get tattoos whenever and wherever on our bodies we so desire! Members of my family fought and died in at least three or four world wars to preserve my freedom to get tatted up, and I refuse to entertain the idea that their sacrifices might have been in vain.

I have no problem with compromising with government a little to trade some freedoms for security for the collective good, but forcing me to social distance from my favorite tattoo artist is a complete erosion of my God-given right to bodily autonomy, and is an assault on my self-determination that I can no longer abide. I refuse to submit the temple that is my body to these unconstitutional demands any longer! This is the sort of tyrannical government leading lights of liberty Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and Mitch Daniels warned us about.

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Dillon Eliassen is a former Managing Editor of Being Libertarian. Dillon works in the sales department of a privately owned small company. He holds a BA in Journalism & Creative Writing from Lyndon State College. He is the author of The Apathetic, available at He is a self-described Thoreauvian Minarchist.


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