Mar 182009

There is a new statute going up in the Illinois State Legislature that should be of concern to all of us.  While this is directed towards tattoo artists, it could potentially affect many of citizens in all types of careers.  The statute (below) is working towards revoking the license of any tattoo artist or studio that applies any work that could be related to gang membership.  Now, the problem with this, besides the obvious freedom of speech and freedom to adorn our bodies as we see fit, is the fact that there is no way to really define “gang related markings.”  Ok, so MS13 might be an obvious one, but is your favorite outlaw club’s colors gang related?  Remember, a motorcycle club is a club!  How about the Big Blue Gang?  Will a tattoo artist who puts a police related design or saying on someone lose their license?  How about other political activists?  Vegans, Anarchists, Libertarians, and other less mainstream groups?  How about a donkey or elephant?  Could the republican or democratic symbols be seen as a group that should be silenced?  And our men and women who dedicate their lives to military service?  Can they proudly display their designs even if some of them may have done things they are not proud of?  Could a tattoo artist lose their license for applying a work that could be seen as related to a radical religious right?

The problem, of course, is that everyone is going to interpret this differently and, if passed, you know the ordinance would spread.  It is easy to attack a sub culture like tattoo artists and tattoo enthusiasts, but after that is digested, will it be palatable to target graphic designers?  Maybe not at first, maybe they will silence the kids who put together fanzines and other literature that many angst ridden teens and young adults put out as they work their way into finding themselves. 

You know, the government serves its purpose, but infringing on personal freedoms is not one of them.  I am against seat belt laws. I am against helmet laws. I am against any law that keeps anyone from doing something that they want or forcing anyone to take actions that will not directly affect anyone else in the world.  Yes, if you don’t wear a seat belt or helmet and you die in an accident, your family and friends will suffer, but you being an idiot is not going to physically harm another… so I don’t think anyone should be in a position to tell you what to do in that instance.  Same with a tattoo of an organization.  You have the freedom to join any group you want and you have the freedom to adorn your body however you like.  The fact that you have a “gang” tattoo will not hurt anyone except maybe yourself.  I have never been harmed by someone else’s tattoo.

Ok, so my rant is about over.  I do need to say that I can understand why this idea came into being.  There are groups that harm the greater society and those in power are in a position to protect the masses by enforcing laws.  If the law can squelch the ties that bind these groups together, they might have more success in disbanding a group that regularly harms society.  However, taking away freedom of expression is not the way to do it.  In fact, it will not stop anything.  Members of all groups from hard-core gang bangers to glee clubs are brought together by experiences and just because they can’t wear the same t-shirt or have a club tattoo does not mean the group will become weak or fall apart.  We just need to be careful of our rights disappearing.  Every time a right is taken away it is presented to the populace as a way to help keep us “safe.”  Well, how safe are you willing to be?  Hell, there is no place safer than solitary confinement in a rubber room, where your meals are liquefied and spoon fed to you, but are you willing to live like that?  I sure as hell am not.


Love, Respect, and Ride Safe,




Statutes Amended In Order of Appearance

65 ILCS 5/11-60-3 new


Synopsis As Introduced

Amends the Illinois Municipal Code. Provides that the corporate authorities of any municipality may revoke or suspend the license of and impose a fine on (i) a tattoo establishment in which the owner or an employee applies on an individual any tattoo that contains gang-related names, symbols, or markings, or (ii) a tattoo artist who applies on an individual any tattoo that contains gang-related names, symbols, or markings. Defines “gang-related names, symbols, or markings”, “criminal street gang”, “tattoo”, and “tattoo artist”.

  2 Responses to “New Laws Could Affect Tattoo Artists and Any Group Member”

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