I know I’m hardly likely to win any sympathy on this one. But since I’ve been shoving my opinions down your throats none too subtly, I might as well continue the trend.
The prime minister has asked the police to reconsider a clause in recruitment conditions which bars applications from people who wear tattoos – see www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20120613/local/tattoos-ban-on-police-recruits-being-reconsidered.424142. I wasn’t even aware that this ban is in place; the knowledge that such petty red-tape found its way in the police regulations just makes me see red.
I realize that this cause is hardly up there on the list of things that need fixing in our lives. Compared to, say, the scourge of racism, the problem of homophobia or even the antics of some of our MPs … the statement is hardly likely to merit the high priority tag.
Still, I find that the fact this regulation exists is, to a certain extent, a reflection of the intolerance of the society we live in. And an obvious manifestation of the facile way many of us do not bother to look beyond the stereotypes we have been fed all our lives.
This idea to ban tattoos is wrong on many levels. If we’re after improving the image of the corps, it’s not body ink that we should be looking into. It’s things like police officers drinking on the job. Or maybe taking cuts on the side. Or even officers with anger management issues. None of these problems require the presence of ink in the body.
When I posted the link to the above report online, some of the reactions shocked me. Someone said that police-officers sporting tattoos look unprofessional. A rather subjective word to use, and I don’t think that I’d like our regulations to be based on a subjective interpretation of the word “professional”. After all, corporate workers and public officials in other European countries are not required to hide tattoos and they tend to look professional enough.
Someone else went to the extreme of likening tattoos to “vandalism”. Right. Because adorning my own body in the way I like is exactly the same as defacing public property.
Of course common sense needs to be exercised. I’d hardly be likely to accept someone with visible tattoos that are offensive/obscene/hatred-inducing in any position, public or otherwise. Then again, the same goes for anyone who sports an offensive/obscene/hatred-inducing tee-shirt. It’s really not that difficult to employ some common sense.
The raison d’etre behind the ban remains a mystery. The regulations cover even those tattoos that are normally covered by clothing. So no, it’s not just a question of image – it’s more a question of misplaced morality or even of the powers that be not liking tattoos and deciding to impose this dislike on everyone else.
I realize that not everyone likes tattoos and that is fine. Diversity is what makes the world an interesting place. However, I confess to getting a bit confused when people say they “don’t agree” with them. If you don’t like body ink, you don’t get inked – simple. There is nothing to agree or to disagree about. Unless by “disagreeing” what you actually mean is that you’d like to interfere with other people’s choices for their own bodies.
The problem is that this kind of “disagreement” very often leads to other, more serious forms, of “disagreement”. Such as “disagreement” with same-sex relationships, or with offering migrants a decent quality of life.
After all, one stereotype is as good as another.
Parting shot – the above photo has become quite an online hit. It shows a tattooed police-officer restraining Anders Breivnik. The mass murderer with the virgin skin. As someone else put it online, I know which of them I’d rather lunch with.
What price stereotypes?