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Two Tiny Scandals

Two stories this week will, I think, generate some comments from readers. One has a zero tolerance theme, and the other is a minor political scandal. They’re both from True‘s 19 February 2012 issue.

First, the zero tolerance offshoot, where school officials demand to have a say in a kid’s outside-of-school life:

Tats for Tots

After Malik Napier, 12, of Acworth, Ga., was hit by a car and killed, his brother, Gaquan, 10, made a request. “My son came to me and said, ‘Mom, I want to get a tattoo with Malik on it, rest in peace’,” said his mother, Chuntera. “It made me feel good to know that he wanted his brother on him.” So, Chuntera took Gaquan to get a tattoo with his brother’s name and basketball jersey number. But Georgia law prohibits tattoos on anyone under 18, and when school authorities spotted the artwork, they called the police and Chuntera was arrested. Police are also trying to locate the artist who gave Gaquan the tattoo, but say Chuntera is refusing to cooperate. “What do I say to a child who wants to remember his brother?” she says. “It’s not like he was asking me, ‘Can I get Sponge Bob?'” But Acworth Chief of Police Michael Wilkie disagrees. “The tragedy of this is that the child’s tattoos are some sort of memorial to a sibling who was lost in a car accident a few years ago,” he said. “It may be that professional or religious counseling for their/her grief would be more helpful than anything.” (MS/ABC-TV) …And here we thought “the tragedy” was the kid being killed by a car.

And on the local political scandal side, there’s this one that made national headlines when it broke:

The Most Fun You Can Have in Uniform

Pinal County, Ariz., Sheriff Paul Babeu, 43, has resigned as the Arizona campaign co-chair for Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, even though Babeu says it’s “completely false” that he threatened his now ex-boyfriend with deportation if he revealed their sexual affair. Babeu now acknowledges he is gay — “In America, we celebrate our differences. That’s what makes America exceptional,” he says — but insists neither he nor his lawyer threatened his ex-lover, known only as a Mexican named “Jose”, who was a campaign volunteer for Babeu’s own political ambitions. Babeu is running for Congress as a hard-line border security Republican. (RC/Arizona Republic) …Finally, a clear explanation of what Republicans mean when they demand a “hard line” on illegal immigrants.

Oh, sorry: was I supposed to warn you to put your coffee down before you read that tagline? Oh well.

The Tattooed Kid

Really, school officials in Acworth, Ga.: you felt it necessary to call the police because a kid showed up with a memorial tattoo for his dead brother? Really? OK, maybe there’s a “must report” issue here, but is it then really up to the cops to diagnose grief issues and recommend treatment? Really?

And once the police were called in, they felt it necessary to ignore that they have a thing called professional discretion and instead felt it necessary to arrest the mother of the kid who got a memorial tattoo for his dead brother? Really? Talk about a nanny state. Really, Georgia: if a kid really wants a tattoo, and the parents say it’s OK, what business is it of yours? Not to mention that if there’s ever a good reason for a kid to want a tattoo, the kid in this case has one. Yeah, I know tattoos are a big gang thing, but how about using some brains to deal with it, rather than a zero tolerance attitude, especially when a parent OKs it for a good reason?

Yeah, the kid getting a tattoo is a “tragedy”, but his brother getting run over and killed is a statistic. Pull your brains out of your butts, gentlemen.

The Tattooed Sheriff

I’m trying to grasp the concept of an arch-Republican who has kept his sexual orientation hidden suddenly saying that “In America, we celebrate our differences. That’s what makes America exceptional.” So, his constituency bought that and agrees whole-heartedly? Really? Or is his political career over, now? It’ll be interesting to see.

“But wait a minute,” I know some of you are saying at this point. “What do you mean by ‘The Tattooed Sheriff’?”

Yes, well, there’s more to this story. In my summary, I pretty much necessarily had to concentrate on one of several factors. Another twist is that Sheriff Babeu not only took photos of his liaisons with Jose, but emailed at least some of them to Jose. Here are two that have made the rounds — presumably these are some of the less risque, but one shows that indeed, Babeu does have tattoos:

Babeu and his boyfriend, JoseBabeu in his underwear, enjoying himself in the mirror

 

Babeu and his boyfriend, Jose, and Babeu in his underwear,
enjoying himself in the mirror.

So What?

Indeed, so what: who cares what Babeu does on his own time? Isn’t it his business? Indeed I agree: it is — unless….

Longtime readers know I enjoy pointing out the hypocrisy of holier-than-thou types, and the honest ones know I do it no matter whether they’re from the left or the right. In this case, it’s not Democrats who demonize gays and their supposed “homosexual agenda“. Perhaps I’m just a naive straight guy, but the only “homosexual agenda” I’ve ever seen is the organized and longstanding efforts of the far-right, who have been working like crazy to deny human beings the right to exist, to marry, to be full citizens. (No one, by the way, argued this more persuasively than Republican Thedore Olson, the former Assistant Attorney General [Office of Legal Counsel] for the Reagan administration, not to mention he is also the former U.S. Solicitor General under George W. Bush. Olson led the successful appeal of California’s anti-gay-marriage Proposition 8, so I’m certainly not saying all Republicans are hypocrites on this issue!)

But really: didn’t Babeu learn anything from (for two examples of many) Republican Mark Foley’s “Congressional Page” scandal or Democrat Anthony Weiner’s …uh… weiner scandal? The lesson that should have been “Don’t circulate electronic copies of things you’re trying to keep private”?

Babeu had the Weiner thing covered (no, not his underwear! I’m talking about Anthony, pervert!), noting he isn’t married, and he isn’t lying about the photos — he admits they’re real, and of himself.

“These were photos that are mine, that I sent to an individual, that was meant only for their observation,” he said. “Not to be splashed on the Internet or on TV or anything like that. There still needs to be some bounds for privacy.”

Except when one’s a public figure running for office, and of course someone is going to circulate them for political reasons, dummy! And of course commentators and columnists are going to point and laugh — which is what my story is, after all. But hey, at least he’s out of the closet now, and can revel in how in America “we celebrate our differences.” Good luck with that theory when asking the far-right for campaign contributions, Paul.

Anyway, when I finished writing this week’s stories, I posted on Facebook that I predicted “some whining — ‘anti-Republican!’ — about the last story. Sadly, Republicans seem to be a lot more whiny than Democrats, even though I’ve had complaints from them, too….” (Such as when I did an entire special issuenine stories and a headline — slamming one particular Democrat.)

Just saying that brought out some whining (such as “you are steeply slanted in your coverage. If you would spend as much time pointing out the lies of the Left as you do mocking the foibles of the Right, I doubt you’d get many complaints.” — yet that is exactly what I’ve done over the years!), and one bald truth in retort to that complaint: “It seems to me that This is True is anti-stupid.”

Exactly. If you really want to whine about my treatment of Babeu, start with telling me how he wasn’t stupid. And certainly I would have run a story on him if he was a far-left-winger! Just like I did when that Other Guy did stupid things. So quit whining, and just admit that your guy was stupid.

Comments are open….

Babeu Update

Sheriff Babeu dropped his bid for Congress, and instead ran for a second term as sheriff. It took 7 months to investigate, but on 31 August the Arizona Republic reported that the Arizona Attorney General’s Office cleared Babeu of any wrongdoing. Very unfairly to Babeu, those results came three days after the primary election — but Babeu did win nomination in a “landslide” against three Republican challengers, the paper reported. He faced two challengers for his office, a Democrat and an independent, in the November election, but won the election.

“There is no indication [Babeu] misused any authority or misused public money to harass or intimidate Jose Orozco,” announced Assistant Attorney General Todd Lawson. Orozco, the sheriff’s former boyfriend who originally said he was threatened with deportation, was also not charged with any crime.

“During a news conference on Friday,” the paper reports, “Babeu said his only regret was not disclosing his sexual orientation earlier.”

(Update source)

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60 Responses to Two Tiny Scandals

  1. John, Virginia February 20, 2012 at 3:05 pm #

    My prediction: in their sputtering over the second story, right-wingers won’t even notice how much the first story slams left-wing ideas, like (as you say) that government officials (which is obviously what a principal is, not to mention the cops) think they should have a say in how families grieve over their loved ones. I’ve been a reader for many years, and think it’s remarkable how balanced you really are.

    Thanks for noticing, and I’m sure your prediction will prove to be accurate. -rc

  2. Bubbe, Washington February 20, 2012 at 3:22 pm #

    Ditto Randy; you’re more fair and balanced than Fox News! And I’m a conservative (I do NOT self-identify as a Republicn for many of the reasons you mentioned above 🙂

    Thanks, Bubbe! -rc

  3. Mark, Texas February 20, 2012 at 4:34 pm #

    Randy why do you bother commenting on the “whiners” at all? You seem to do this a lot and I find it to be a waste of time for all of us.

    Others disagree quite strongly. Example — not to mention all the comments that follow. -rc

  4. Dennis, Colorado Springs February 20, 2012 at 4:37 pm #

    Didn’t you mean “repeal” instead of “appeal” in: “Olson led the successful appeal of California’s anti-gay-marriage Proposition 8”?

    Nope. They’ve won the appeal in the appeals court. Next stop is very likely the Supreme Court. -rc

  5. Thomas, Philly February 20, 2012 at 4:41 pm #

    Babeu seems to have been consistent in his own position on gay rights. He’s never publicly denied being gay, nor signed on to anti-gay initiatives (besides his party affiliation) and was out in his hometown in Massachusetts (some say he left their because knowledge of his orientation probably hampered his Republican political ambitions).

    The other thing is that Babeu’s photos seem to have been sent to a willing recipient, which hasn’t been the case with some of the recipients of junk shot/chest shot political scandals this year.

  6. Joe, New Jersey February 20, 2012 at 4:45 pm #

    Sorry to say this, but the mother should have been arrested. For starters, it is illegal in pretty much every state to give a minor a tattoo. On top of this, allowing a 10 year old to get a tattoo shows extremely poor judgment on the part of the parent. She broke the law. She got arrested. That’s what happens when you break the law. Simple as that. The school was right and correct to contact the police over this. A 10 year old does not possess adequate maturity to make the decision to get a tattoo. A good parent would have found another way for the child to express his grief. The tattoo artist should be arrested as well when they catch the person. Clearly the artist put money above common sense. They should not only have refused to do the art work, but they should have contacted authorities themselves to prevent the parent from making a stupid mistake. If the kid turned 18, then would have been the appropriate time for him to get the tattoo, not before.

    “What do I say to a child who wants to remember his brother?” Make a donation to a charity, paint a memorial on a wall, construct a memorial where he was killed, anything except a tattoo.

    I appreciate your clearly stated view. -rc

  7. Jaimie, Newark, DE February 20, 2012 at 4:51 pm #

    As a tattooed mother myself, i’m kind of torn. While I don’t really agree with mom taking her 10 year old to get a tattoo (regardless of the reason — it’s still permanent body modification that 10 year olds really don’t grasp) — I agree with you entirely about the nanny state. The only other thing i’m torn on is that yes, it is potentially a reportable “abuse” type thing. Regardless of the reason it was still illegal. Arresting her on the other hand is going overboard.

  8. Kevin, Indiana February 20, 2012 at 4:57 pm #

    You’re right, the sheriff’s actions do appear stupid, but for a gay man trapped in a conservative lifestyle it’s an elaborate escape plan. Having left himself with no other options, he must now live his life as himself, instead of who he was supposed to be.
    I’d say the plan worked.

    I have a hard time believing he planned for this to happen before the election, but stranger things have happened…. -rc

  9. Sean, Deltona Fl. February 20, 2012 at 5:32 pm #

    Thank you again for your thought provoking articles.

    As to the ten year old with the tattoo, obviously the mom made some really poor judgement calls that day. But as a grieving parent, I’d say she’s earned herself a share of stupidity. I’ve been an active law enforcement officer for 23 years, and I can’t even imagine arresting mom for this.

    Is letting your ten year old get a tattoo a really dumb idea? Of course it is. Is it worth tying up limited tax dollars trying for a conviction? I don’t think so.

    Just because someone does something dumb doesn’t mean they need to go to jail.

    A nice restatement of my point, which I didn’t make very clear. Thanks! -rc

  10. Henry, Morris Cove, CT February 20, 2012 at 5:36 pm #

    You write: “I’m just a naive straight guy, but the only ‘homosexual agenda’ I’ve ever seen is….”

    Well, there is in fact a Gay Agenda, and you can find a copy of it right here, from 1999.

    Come to think of it, I have seen that one! I sit corrected. -rc

  11. Mike from Dallas February 20, 2012 at 5:38 pm #

    1st story: I’m unaware that tattoos on minors is illegal in nearly every state. They ARE usually illegal if not explicitly permitted by a parent. But my daughter asked to get one when she was 12. Myself, I have no issue about tattoos. I have some, myself. (Notably my wife’s portrait on my left shoulder blade. Good thing we’ve been married for more than 20 years, but I got it after only a couple years after getting married.)

    But, for a minor, it IS a permanent issue. But rather than a flat out NO, I wanted to see the tattoo, and approve of the area for it to be applied. Both were reasonable in my estimation, and I granted permission. Now 30, my daughter has no regret. I’m appalled at a government that purports to demand a say-so in EVERY facet of me raising my kids.

    2nd story: Hypocrisy is hyprocisy, Left or Right, liberal or conservative, Republican or Democrat. I typically vote Republican, but that does NOT mean I agree with every item of their platform. In fact, I’m still wondering why the Equal Protection clause has not been used as a challenge in Supreme Court for equality in sexual orientation. Lawrence v. Texas has already set the precedent. Whatever two people do in the privacy of their bedroom is not going to have the slightest effect on what happens in mine.

    However, I’d make a LOUSY politician since I refuse to sell my integrity for votes. But if I didn’t, I’d never be elected by EITHER side. So, Left or Right, I’m wondering how much hypocrisy we citizens DEMAND from our politicians to even run for office, especially if they believe in the greater good of the People over personal convictions.

  12. Anne, Mariposa, CA February 20, 2012 at 5:58 pm #

    It’s great to see Babeu coming out in more ways than sexuality — he’s saying he’s pro-same-sex-marriage, pro-lesbians/gays serving in the military.

    Hopefully he didn’t actually threaten to deport his lover if the lover exposed him; if not, he could be a great advocate of lesbian/gay rights from the republican side.

    (cracking up over the “gay agenda” link – love it!)

  13. Geoff, Calif. February 20, 2012 at 6:02 pm #

    Hi, Randy. As you know, I am an out gay man. (Randy and I have met and have corresponded often. I’ve also had my entries in the Tagline Challenge used on more than one occasion.) I have been told by many that being out would hurt my business, hurt my standing in the community and be more trouble than it was worth. I disagreed with them by being out. It makes life much more manageable.

    I also know that any photo that is posted anywhere over any electronic device becomes public by default. Because of this (and because of a basic level of taste and decorum… ahem…), I have never posted an untoward photo of myself anywhere. In fact, to my knowledge, no such photos exist. What wasn’t said in your coverage but has been reported elsewhere was that the good Sheriff belonged to at least one gay dating site where he posted pictures of himself that he most likely wouldn’t show his mother. That is plain stupid and he deserves ridicule for having done so then being amazed that the photos became public. It is not a private issue when 1) you are running for office and 2) you posted the stupid pictures of your own free will.

    This is not a Republican/Democrat issue so much as a “does he have the judgement required of an elected official” issue. I say, no. I do think we tend to peek into our elected officials’ bedrooms a bit too much, but he left his door open and the lights on. Who could blame anyone for taking that glance?

  14. Mike from Florida February 20, 2012 at 6:05 pm #

    As a bereaved parent myself, I know quite a number of other “BP”s who have gotten tattoos as a way of remembering and honoring their child. I have not seen discussions of tattooing underage children, but I can say that such a tattoo is probably one of the LEAST likely to be regretted by this child.

    Since child loss is so much less frequent now than, say, the 1800’s, most folks are unaware of the extraordinary traumatic nature of parental grief (with sibling grief coming right behind). To some extent, the child and his mother are going to be remembering (and periodically grieving) the brother/son’s loss for the rest of their lives. It may be illegal (at least in Georgia) and perhaps inappropriate to tattoo a minor, but I would argue that if there were to be exceptions made, this is one of them. It’s not like he got tattooed with Spongebob Squarepants.

  15. Kathy at Grandview, WA February 20, 2012 at 7:45 pm #

    Thank you, Randy, for the thoughtful (and laugh) provoking articles. The story concerning the child being tatooed was interesting. First, I’d hate to see children be allowed to get whatever tattoo they want — they’re just not mature enough to make that kind of decision at 10! If I’d gotten the little rose tatoo on my chest that I had wanted, It would be a long stemmed rose now.

    Second, I agree that the school’s zero-tolerence reaction was once again way out of line. Almost any zero-tolerence decision has the potential to be a very bad thing! Rather than call it zero-tolerence, these typical school programs should be called zero to 120 with no in-between.

    Special circumstances call for special consideration. Parental involvement in their children’s life is slowly being stripped away, and this is just another instance of such.

  16. Daniel, Chandler, AZ February 20, 2012 at 8:00 pm #

    Needless to say, the Babeu story is big news here in Arizona. But the more egregious issue is not the sheriff’s sexual orientation. It’s the allegations that, once the relationship with Jose (who is allegedly a Mexican immigrant here on a legal visa) ended, Babeu had his lawyers try to get Jose to sign an affidavit swearing he would not reveal the relationship, and that when Jose refused, Babeu threatened to have his visa revoked.

    Although he’s never been “out” about his orientation, he’s also never engaged publicly in anti-gay rhetoric, so no one can accuse him of hypocrisy there. But he has been vehemently anti-immigration, which makes the fact that he’s literally in bed with an immigrant interesting, at the very least — and the fact that he’s accused of abusing his position as a LEO very questionable.

  17. Pete, Virginia February 20, 2012 at 8:31 pm #

    I too am one of those torn by the inked 10 year old. On the one hand his IS a minor and therefore is likely not mature enough to make those kinds of decisions, but on the other hand his decision to get a tattoo commemorating his brother rather than (with some people who have gotten inked) a drunken or otherwise intoxicated whim to get something trendy or something just to say “I got inked” (yes it does happen) shows a level of maturity not in keeping with his physical age. And like Sean in FLA said the mother has earned a bit of stupidity — if that’s what one wants to refer to it as — in allowing him to get the ink. I have a feeling the artist saw this the same way and agreed to do the work.

    As for the inked sheriff, I cannot say I’m surprised by a politician’s hypocrisy. I’m usually more surprised when one sticks to their word.

    As usual Randy thanks for the interesting discussions! I look forward to reading more responses to these stories.

  18. Camille, Montana February 20, 2012 at 8:36 pm #

    As I commented on your Facebook page, I don’t really see anything particularly biased in the story about the tattooed sheriff. Pictures live forever, especially digital pictures. He was really really stupid to have taken those photos, sent them digitally, and then go through what sounds like a very unpleasant breakup while holding a public office & being part of a political campaign where those photos would have been embarrassing.

    I tend to be conservative when it comes to wanting less government (which is part of the reason I love your focus on the insanities of Zero Tolerance). From that perspective, I am APPALLED at the allegation that Babeu tried to use government coercion to keep his boyfriend quiet about their relationship after they broke up.

    I’m not as conservative regarding lifestyle choices. As far as Babeu’s personal life goes, I don’t see how his being gay has any effect on his ability to run a campaign, be a sheriff, or serve in Congress.

    If the “keep quiet or you’re deported” allegations turn out to be true, that’s a FAR bigger concern regarding his ability to hold public office.

    Regarding the tattooed kid, I can’t really add anything that others haven’t already said. Arresting the mom was a severe overreaction, far more than the situation called for. But at the same time, the mom could have told her son Gaquan he could have a tattoo of his brother — when he got older, and in the meantime they’d find some other way for him to remember his brother Malek.

  19. Don from Cambridge MA February 20, 2012 at 8:48 pm #

    Well, I’m not so sure about the child’s tattoo. Nowadays we see tattoos everywhere (particularly on athletes, and his brother was an athlete); they’re no longer the outliers they used to be. So I’m not so sure why a 10-year-old shouldn’t have one, given a strong desire and a good reason. 12 was when I was supposed to join the church — isn’t that a bigger decision than getting a tattoo? [My parents held off a couple of years, assuming I was too young to understand the decision — as if 14 was any better….] As far as I’m concerned, parental consent is the most important point. And tattoos *can* be removed if he ever changed his mind.

    As to Babeu, interesting that he was from Massachusetts. You’d think that would be the one state (well okay, and California) where he’d have a real chance to get elected as a gay. Maybe it was just that he’d have a hard time getting elected as a *Republican*. I’d wonder if it was while we had a Mormon governor that he moved, but given that he is (was) now working on the campaign for the same guy, I’d doubt it. However, given the antagonism of the Mormon Church toward gays, I’d say he has a great capacity for dealing with cognitive dissonance.

  20. Sheila, Calgary AB Canada February 20, 2012 at 8:51 pm #

    As another tattooed Mom I also struggle with this a “little” bit. The boy is honoring his brother’s death, which is also PERMANENT. My tattoo is in honor of my son who will always be my son.

    I gave my son permission to get his first tattoo at 15 and I have never regretted it. Let the family grieve, what would you say to your grieving son who asked to get a tattoo LIKE you to honor their dead relative.

    Also tattoos are definitely not equal to gangs in any way.

  21. Jim TN February 20, 2012 at 9:10 pm #

    I can see reason for tattoos to be illegal on minors, specifically since the tattooer and the tattooee have a very intimate relationship. I can also see health reasons since a good many tattoo parlors/artists have been known to use unsafe practices such as reusing needles, using substandard ink that can eventually poison the blood, and diseases which can be spread easily such as hepatitis, tuberculosis, etc.

    Having said that, I also believe government is overstepping itself in civil and personal rights way too much. They have pretty much said ‘Your children are not your children’. Case in point, my child has had a very hard time in school from the start, and we have fought for 7 years to have him held back in an attempt to give him time to catch up. The school fought us tooth and nail on it, and even said the decision is not ours to make. Now that we’ve given up on it, they’ve changed their mind and are saying any child who doesn’t make the grade WILL be held back. Too late to help my child, but I think it’s ridiculous that they make the laws on a whimsy with no real planning or reasoning or even any real theory behind their decisions.

    It just seems they meddle when they want, and turn their backs when they want; like really big, really old toddlers. Or bullies, maybe.

  22. Katie, Oregon February 20, 2012 at 9:51 pm #

    As usual you are right on both points, plus (I think) bonus points for,the whiner issue. And a big Pfffft! at the agenda! That’s an oldie but a goodie. Keep fighting the good fight.

  23. Cheryl Rochester, NY February 20, 2012 at 10:08 pm #

    Ten years old is way, way too young for a tattoo and the mother was foolish to allow him to get one, but she shouldn’t be punished too stiffly. Like she said, her boy wasn’t asking for SpongeBob, he wanted to memorialize his brother. I think she should have said he could get it in a few years, when he’s better able to understand that tats are Very Permanent. He’s also far from being done growing, so I can only imagine how the tat is going to end up being stretched and distorted when puberty hits.

    As for the sheriff, he’s just one more name on the list of hypocritical politicians who are to blame for why people don’t trust the government or those who are supposed to be representing us in it. When you’re in the spotlight, expect your private life to be poked and prodded and pried into and, for the love of all things that involve the sense God gave a three stump, DON’T PUT ANYTHING ON FILM YOU DON’T WANT THE WORLD TO KNOW! *shakes head sadly* I have no idea if he was helping to promote anti-homosexual propaganda, but judging from the accusations against him, I get the idea he was, which doesn’t surprise me in the least. When it comes to politicians these days, it’s a safe bet that if they’re GOP, they’re a hypocrite.

    I’d say that slightly differently, actually: It’s a safe bet that if they’re a politician, they’re a hypocrite…. -rc

  24. Ben of Houston February 20, 2012 at 10:22 pm #

    I’ll agree that it is a really bad idea to have a ten year old get a tattoo. Both the mother and the tattoo artist should have known better and refused. However, I think that the correct punishment in this case is a stern talking to. No harm or no public benefit can be anticipated from imprisoning anyone, but I see a lot of harm in making a brotherless child a temporary orphan as his mother is pointlessly hauled through the legal system.

    As for Babeau. Sorry, not seeing the story here. He was accused by is ex-lover of making threats. He denies making these threats. Lover releases pictures of them together in an attempt to embarass him. Still not seeing anything worth reporting.

    I’m a card-carrying republican, and I see nothing wrong with him being Gay. If his lover was legally in the United States, then that’s fine as well. Being anti-Illegal immigration has nothing to do with being anti-immigrant (aside from the cases involving stupidity or racism, but that’s another story). Finally, there seems to be no problem with him being a republican or supporting Romney. You don’t have to agree with your favored candidate on every issue, and Romney is far from an anti-gay crusader.

    Is there something I’m missing here?

    Only the stupidity of a political candidate (and office-holder: sheriff is an elected position too) recording photos of himself doing something he doesn’t want public, and then transmitting same on the Internet and still expecting it all to remain private, and complaining when (duh!) it all gets released in public. -rc

  25. Ron, Israel February 20, 2012 at 11:11 pm #

    On the kid, all I can say is he has probably ruined his chances of becoming a republican sheriff some day.

    I see the case of the sheriff as evidence of the inherent problem of the two party system. This guy may be a fiscal conservative, or a firm believer in small government, or any of half a dozen other opinions held under the title of “Republican”.

    Should this guy abandon everything he believes in simply because his party is also the “anti gay lifestyle” party?

  26. Phillip, Nottingham February 21, 2012 at 1:32 am #

    1. Your commentary says “but is it really up to school principals to diagnose grief issues and recommend treatment? Really?” I can’t see anything in the story as presented about school principals doing that. All I’ve read regarding anyone at the school is “school authorities spotted the artwork, they called the police”. The article does not say that the school did anything else, so I can’t see that that is diagnosing grief issues and recommending treatment.

    2. Obviously, if the school officials recommended treatment, then that would be outside their remit. However, surely school officials have the right — nay, maybe the duty — to enquire after the people in their care, and if they thought that a child is having problems, and if they thought that the child’s problems were to do with grief, then they probably should say that, to someone.

    Finally, I cannot see that the school has done anything wrong regarding the reporting of the tattoo. Obviously I do not know the law of the state, but you say that “maybe there’s a “must report” issue here”. Well, if there is, then they must report it.

    1. “It may be that professional or religious counseling for their/her grief would be more helpful than anything.” is the principal determining (diagnosing) what is “wrong” with the kid and what the family should do about it.

    2. Yes, if school officials are worried about a kid, they should talk to the parent about the issue — and then back off.

    And yes, I discussed that, too. IF they “must report” it, then there is no law that says police “must” arrest the parent or file charges. This entire story is about the lack of thinking, and rather just following “rules” no matter what the circumstances — also known as “zero tolerance mentality.” -rc

  27. Don in Arizona February 21, 2012 at 6:30 am #

    Concerning the school reporting the kid’s tattoo:

    Consider a mother who loved her older son but thought the younger one was worthless trash and told him so constantly. The younger boy soon feels he’s nothing compared to his older brother. The older one dies and mom decides to have his image forever inked on the younger son because he was somehow responsible and the young boy is too brainwashed and scared to argue. Is this impossible to imagine? When you don’t know the facts you have to err on the side of child safety, don’t you?

    No! Government officials making up worst-case scenarios and then prosecuting families based on their imaginations is tyranny. That is, indeed, much of what’s behind zero tolerance rules. What is the problem with finding out what the facts are, and then proceeding based on those facts? You know, thinking! -rc

  28. Ed, Pittsburgh February 21, 2012 at 9:17 am #

    I personally am opposed to children being tattooed. I’m even opposed to my 27-year-old daughter having tatoos. But she is an adult, so what can I say? However, these decisions, like ALL other child rearing decisions, should be left to the parents, not the nanny state. If my child wants a beer, whose decision is that to make? That’s right, it’s MY decision, not the nanny state’s, and the answer will be yes. Allow the children to smoke? My decision, not the nanny state’s. I could go on….

    Mandatory reporting = mandatory meddling in what is none of the “reporter’s” or state’s business.

    The assertion that having children tattooed in most states I suspect is wrong. I’d like to see some documentation on that, like a list of states where this is illegal, or at least the number of them. Here in Pennsylvania, it is legal with signed parental consent. It would be my guess that that is the case in most states, but that would only be a guess. So how do these people know that the tattoo was done in Georgia? Perhaps the mother took her son to a state where it is legal? Would she then be forbidden to return to Georgia? If it was any of their business (which it is not), there is still no evidence that a law was broken, and the burden of proof should not be on her to prove it was done legally in some other state. The burden of proof should be on them to prove it was done in Georgia. And without any evidence that it was done illegally, there never should have been an issue.

    I had the same thoughts, but had to stop my rant somewhere. Thanks for pointing this out! -rc

  29. Mike from Dallas February 21, 2012 at 12:37 pm #

    “Government officials making up worst-case scenarios and then prosecuting families based on their imaginations is tyranny.”

    As so (comically) demonstrated by Groucho Marx in the 1933 movie, “Duck Soup”.

  30. Kraig, Coeur dAlene, ID February 21, 2012 at 2:13 pm #

    I appreciate all the exposure you bring to the hypocrisy of the “Do what I say, not what I do” people in positions of authority.

    As a man who has a tattoo on his forearm of one of his stepsons last drawings, I have found it to be very healthy in my grieving process. My problem is with people who object to the parents decision to allow the child to have a tattoo. The parent is making a responsible decision, not the child. I think the hypocrisy is that the majority of people who object to the tattoo probably support the socially acceptable mutilation of childrens ears (piercing), even without their consent. A second point is that the parent helping the child to grieve in a way that is suitable for both the parent and the child might alleviate the need for drugs to help the child to cope. (Another socially acceptable method).

    Randy, Again, thanks for keeping me stimulated.

  31. Mike from Florida February 21, 2012 at 5:15 pm #

    Following up on “Phillip, Nottingham”‘s comment:

    In “The Tattooed Kid”, you attribute the idea of unsolicited bereavement advice to school officials. But in “Tats for Tots”, you appear to attribute the words to the Acworth police chief.

    In one or the other, the source of the statement is misattributed. Who said it, an unnamed school administrator or the police chief? I think that’s what Phillip was trying to clarify.

    Thanks for helping to clear that up, and pointing out my error. The story is accurate, not my recollection as I was replying to a comment later. As the very first comment here points out, the bottom line is these are government officials countermanding what a responsible parent has decided for her child. -rc

  32. David, Sydney Australia February 22, 2012 at 5:02 pm #

    I was going to post a comment re the tattoo, then I saw that Joe from New Jersey has pretty much covered it.

    Definitely wrong and all authorities concerned acted appropriately.

    I know: let’s ship mom off to a penal colony. -rc

  33. Mike from Dallas February 23, 2012 at 5:49 pm #

    Still commenting about the kid’s tattoo, I’m reading another story elsewhere that sex change operations for minors is on the increase. Talk about PERMANENT! But if it’s okay for parents to consent about THAT, why not for a lousy tattoo?

    Oh, wait, is it because a doctor is involved for the sex change? Come to think of it, that GA law also makes it legal for a DOCTOR to approve a tattoo, just not the parent. So WHY is a doctor given such high priority OVER parental decisions? The opportunities for a “Slippery Slope” are so numerous here.

  34. bruce, arkansas February 24, 2012 at 8:29 pm #

    Malik? Gaquan? Chuntera? What country are those people from? Those are not American names.

    Yeah they are, pal: America is the land of immigrants — including your family and mine. -rc

  35. Dave, Minnesota February 24, 2012 at 8:57 pm #

    As to the tattoo story: yes, there are laws against minors getting them (at least without parental consent) almost everywhere. But there are laws against thousands (at least) of act or thought or intention which each of us violates on a regular basis, probably without knowledge since none of them are enforced. Much could be accomplished, I believe, by each state legislature spending at least one entire annual session doing nothing but reviewing the statutes of that state and slashing those that no longer have any purpose (or never did).

    The law notwithstanding, this is a situation where the boy asked his parents and they approved. Is that not how family matters should be handled? He wants to remember his brother — and chances are he will throughout his life. He did not ask to have a woman’s name tattooed on his butt or to be “inked” with a massive “Mother” emblem. If he had, his parents would not doubt have refused and the “incident” would never have occurred.

    It may well be, as a poster suggested above, that this is a “mandated reporter” situation. Whether it is or not, is this honestly the best use Georgia school employees and police have for their time? I seem to recall a time when teaching and protecting the public from crime were given priority.

  36. Mike in Arizona February 24, 2012 at 9:46 pm #

    Paul Babeu’s political base that overwhelmingly control Pinal County are illiterate, racist (anti-Latino), Christian (anti-gay), tea-publicans. He’s definitely history.

  37. Kyle, Kansas February 24, 2012 at 11:47 pm #

    I’m bothered that you seem to be purposefully ignoring (or negligently unaware of) the reason Sheriff Babeu is actually in trouble. It’s not because he’s gay or has a legal immigrant boyfriend. Although those factors help to sensationalize the case. The problem is that he threatened to use his political office to have that boyfriend deported. The story isn’t about hypocrisy, (because I haven’t seen you quote anything he said that is anti-gay or anti-legal immigration) it’s about abuse of power.

    Assuming that’s true — he should be drummed out of office, brought up on charges and sent to jail for that reason alone. You suggest that someone who wouldn’t vote for him now is a bigot and that’s really unfair on your part.

    You think I’m unaware of what I reported in the story? Hardly. And are you seriously unaware of the anti-gay stances taken by Republicans? The Republican platform in Texas has language to exclude gays from the Americans with Disabilities Act (because that would “reduce abuse” of the ADA), calls for marriage to only be between a “natural man and a natural woman,” and demands that anal sex be outlawed again (the law there was overturned in 2003). This wasn’t the platform in 1912, it’s the platform now. While the language in Arizona isn’t as inflammatory, you see no hypocrisy in so strongly supporting a party that denies your own basic civil rights? Really? -rc

  38. Annette in Coolidge Arizona February 25, 2012 at 3:43 am #

    As someone who just started voting during our wonderful time of Evan Mecham, I find myself rolling my eyes at ANYTHING political in this state. There is so MUCH controversy to choose from here in Arizona. I started voting 26 years ago. I don’t see any improvements.

  39. Laura from Florida February 25, 2012 at 8:38 am #

    The mother in the first story (“Tats for Tots”) shouldn’t have been arrested, but she definitely should have been fined, and the fine increased if she continued to withhold the identity of the tattoo artist (which is obstruction of justice). And the tattoo artist should have known better, even if the mom was unaware of the law. That particular law — prohibition of tats on anyone under 18 — is on the Georgia books for a reason. Suppose the day comes when the kid regrets having had it done, which is unlikely but certainly possible? All he’d have to do is make a phone call and the tattoo artist could be in a heap of trouble; the law would back the kid up all the way. Neither the child nor his mother were in any emotional shape to make the decision for something so permanent as a tattoo, and doing so showed extremely poor judgment on the mother’s part. There was no reason why that particular memorial couldn’t have waited until the boy was of age. But the school authorities probably did the right thing by calling the police, since they (the authorities) could have been in legal trouble if they had failed to do so and the boy’s tattoo was reported by someone else.

  40. Dave from Melbourne (formerly from Washington state) February 25, 2012 at 8:43 am #

    Mandatory reporting laws can be pretty draconian. When taking my teacher training at University in Washington state, our professors made sure we understood just what mandatory reporting laws required. At that time (1999), teachers were required to call an appropriate authority if we witnessed anything that caused us to consider abuse in any way. Further, if it was later discovered that there was abuse and we witnessed something that “reasonably should have led us to suspect abuse”, we were liable criminally. In other words, we could be second guessed right into jail.

    Thus, I have no problem with the school reporting the tatoo if there was such a reporting law in Georgia. Now, the cops arresting mom…that’s another story, and the image of “bubba” is stuck in my brain.

  41. Lynne, Troutdale, OR February 25, 2012 at 10:55 am #

    Thanks so much for the photo of the hunky sheriff. I love seeing a fit law enforcement officer in his underpants with my morning coffee (and thanks for the warning about the tagline!)

    As a heavily tattooed person, I want to weigh in on Gaquan’s tattoo. I find the tattoo as appropriate as the decision to have it done was bad. Given those wacky names, just hope it was spelled right!

    I wonder about the size and placement of the tattoo, and how the child felt about the pain he chose to endure. We don’t ask little boys if they want to be circumcised (another tribal ritual) but, if one asked for circumcision at age ten so as to be like the other boys, might a parent consent despite the pain? I also wonder whether it was done in a licensed shop or by a friend at home, because doing this was a huge risk for the artist.

    I have several memorial tattoos, two in honor of my late husband and one in preparation for the loss of my beloved canine. I was 42 when my husband passed away and didn’t want to deter a future partner by putting a man’s name on my skin, so chose to be subtle and honor him with a turtle and some Popeye cartoons. Bruce had no tattoos whatsoever, but had only one suggestion for me: nothing below the elbow, so as not to compromise my ability to cash checks at banks. (Little did we know how quickly banking would change!)

    To answer those with questions about how the tattoo will age, it depends on what body part it’s on, but it can be touched up as needed…as he grows older and the memory of his brother fades, the tattoo will become even more meaningful, trust me.

    My own tagline: Gaquan’s tattoo musta created quite a stir at school at Show & Tell, ’cause obviously someone told!

  42. Jerry from Hurst, TX February 25, 2012 at 12:15 pm #

    In the case of the tattooed child, I’ll leave out my opinions on the (over)reactions of the school/police as I think it’s been well covered. But the many people who didn’t think it was bad to tattoo a child are missing out on a vital point — at 10 has the boy stopped growing? By the time he’s an adult, the tatt will be a stretched out and ugly (we do not grow “evenly”) piece of artwork. Then he will face the horrible choice of living with this ugly and distorted ink, or to cover/remove the tattoo which he will see (subconsciously at least) as betrayal of his brother’s memory.

    I think that depends on the design, and where it is, and the mindset of the kid — the changes could well be a reminder of how memories get distorted over time. -rc

  43. Ginny, Utah February 25, 2012 at 6:26 pm #

    Wow. I don’t know why I keep being amazed at how intrusive and hypocritical people are, but I am. The kid was ten and had parental permission. It’s okay to give kids piercings or circumcise babies, both of which are likely going to be permanent, but it’s not okay for a boy on the cusp of adolescence to be able to decide, with his mother’s help, that he wants a thoughtful memorial to his brother?

    I don’t even like tattoos generally, don’t have any, and never plan to get any, but it’s not my place to say that this kid can’t have it nor should it be the government’s. We’re not even talking about something that could potentially pose him a danger, like some sort of gang sign, we’re talking about his dead brother’s name! If ever there was a reason to get a tattoo, this seems to be it. So for mom to get in trouble at all, let alone arrested, is just ridiculous beyond measure.

    I just read a book last night about how many orphans in China are treated. Can we please start worrying about actual danger and abuse to children instead of this stupid busybody intrusion into peoples’ affairs that’s going on in this country?

  44. Stacey in Ohio February 25, 2012 at 6:58 pm #

    To clarify, most states have laws against minors getting tattoos without parental permission. A quick internet search led me to the National Conference of State Legislatures, where they list only 8 states that forbid it outright. 31 others require parent or guardian permission, and many of those states accept written permission without requiring parents to be present (and I somehow doubt that the average tattoo parlor is able to verify who actually signed it).

    Also, the Georgia law appears to only state that it’s illegal to put a tattoo on a minor, not to allow one — unless she had a tattoo gun and did it herself, I’m not seeing how she violated the law. It is vague enough that one could try to stretch it, but the intent of the law seems fairly clear. I couldn’t find anything that stated that a minor couldn’t already have a tattoo. As others have mentioned, there’s also the exemption for having an MD or DO give the tattoo (or direct someone else to give it). Between that exception and the possibility of traveling out of state to have the tattoo done, I have a very hard time envisioning any sane person deciding to arrest a parent for this supposed crime.

  45. Jim, Garland, TX February 25, 2012 at 7:39 pm #

    There are many commenters who say the school and police were correct; that a “10 year old does not have the mental maturity” to make a decision about getting a tattoo AND, it is noteworthy, WITH the permission of his parents — so arrest the parents and send the kid for some therapy.

    Most interesting… a “child” of age 10, does NOT possess the mental maturity to get a tattoo, WITH parental consent, but, in many states, that same child DOES possess the mental maturity to have an abortion on demand WITHOUT any parental notification, let alone, consent.

    I fail to see anything but hypocrisy and inconsistency in that. Perhaps I am missing something in your arguments.

    Please explain:

    How can a ten-year-old NOT possess the mental maturity to consent to having sex, and yet DO possess the mental faculties and maturity to have an abortion on demand, without the parents even being notified or consenting? Perhaps modern medicine, with the Divine aid of Planned Parenthood, have found a way for people to have abortions without having sex first?

    Is not the choice of whether or not to get a tattoo covered by the “choice of what to do with one’s own body”?

    And to these same commenters, exactly at what point IS parental involvement required in a child’s life? Where does parental authority take over from that of the governmental bureaucrats (administrators), or does the government have supreme authority without any accountability, while requiring parents to be “responsible” for the child’s behavior until the child graduates college?

    Isn’t the tattoo a “freedom of choice” issue, especially since the child did it WITH parental consent AND participation?

    What, you’re expecting common sense and consistent logic out of government? -rc

  46. Kim, Japan February 25, 2012 at 9:42 pm #

    I don’t have tattoos — in fact, I’m very uncomfortable around needles. (For years, I said I was phobic, I had to get over it when I got pregnant and had to get blood work-ups and the like to assure the health of my baby.) However, I agree 100% with one of the “tattooed moms” who commented here.

    I don’t agree with giving a tattoo to a kid. They don’t understand the ramifications that come with permanent body modification. (For instance, living in Japan, I realize that in this culture tattoos are VERY STRONGLY associated with criminals. Whether they are or aren’t is moot — people will be uncomfortable.)

    HOWEVER, I don’t agree with arresting a mom over her son getting a tattoo in honor of a dead sibling. It’s a “nanny state” issue because it’s clear that they aren’t acknowledging the spirit of the law, merely the letter, and are wasting time and money over something that is potentially FAR more harmful to a kid than a tattoo — taking away a parent and putting the family through stress and anguish. This isn’t a case for a court. I hope to heaven that a judge will take one look at this case, throw it out, and tell the mom she should’ve had a little better judgement, that’s all.

    I am sure the intent behind the law against tattooing minors is to keep tattoo parlors and others from giving kids tattoos because they just wander in and decide “hey, this is a good idea!” without realizing the ramifications of what they’re doing. Badly-done tattoos are inexpensive, well within the range of a kid’s pocket money. Getting said tattoo removed is well out of the range of a kid’s pocket money, and can have very long-term ramifications. American culture may not be as uptight as Japanese culture, but plenty of places will look at someone with obvious tattoos and say, “I’ll hire someone else”, whether it’s right or wrong.

    Adults understand this. Kids do not.

  47. Paul, Davis CA February 26, 2012 at 6:35 pm #

    My Dad was in the Army and I spent a significant amount of my childhood in Germany. We often saw children — 10 year olds and up, mostly — having a few sips of wine from a family carafe at restaurants. I had a small glass or two myself at times. The attitude seemed to be “If the parents want the kid to sip a little wine at dinner who are we to interfere?” Forty years later and it is reversed in the United States: “Who are YOU to decide who to raise your kids?” I would never let my daughter get a tattoo — when she’s an adult, I will have only my advice to give her. In the meantime it’s “No.” If her sister died in a car accident I might reconsider. But that is OUR decision — not some official’s.

    There are out-and-out cases of child abuse and neglect, and much incompetent parenting. But shouldn’t we deal with the people who are beating their kids half to death or starving them before we go after a mom who let her kid get a tattoo? I think she was dumb — get him a shirt with the same message (they are quite common out here) and get the tat when you are fully grown. Dumb — but not criminal. Really, all the school should have done was to check to make sure the kid didn’t get an infection.

    As for the gay sheriff. I have never understood why a gay person would want to vote Republican, but so? The anti-gay stances of some pols are vicious, but there are Republicans whose conservative approach leads them to stay out of people’s business. No problem there.

    Sheriff being gay or a fool to post pictures? It was to a consenting adults site. So what?

    Sheriff using his position to threaten his ex? Abuse of Power. BIG problem. If true, it is a huge violation of civil rights and the FBI should investigate.

    I get older and older, but the country seems never to grow up.

  48. Peter, Alabama February 27, 2012 at 8:27 am #

    @ Geoff, Calif. on February 20, 2012 — What Geoff said.

    Babeau – My first thought about the whole “out of the closet” headline was, “so?” I hadn’t heard about the alleged threat to revoke the visa. If that is true that is the true issue that should be addressed. But given the situation, I would take that with a block of salt. This seems a bit like a political hatchet job, I rather hope it is. I have heard Babeau speak, online, and he seems like a reasonable chap.

    As many have said, don’t take pics that you don’t want seen. As Geoff said, decorum would dictate what one’s choices ought to be, especially if you don’t want the results of those choices to be made public.

    As a fairly conservative, yet libertarian, straight guy, I don’t care what happens in someone else’s bedroom between consenting adults. Doesn’t have a bearing on my choice of sheriff (or whatever). Lapses of professional judgement, that’s a whole ‘nother ball o’ wax.

    Tattoo – While I don’t think the mother made a fantastic choice to allow the tattoo of her 10yo, who am I to say how she raises her kid? I agree with many that the state’s reaching into our lives to usurp our parental authority is the most egregious part of this story. OK, there is a law prohibiting the inking of kids; there are consequences. I think those should be borne more by the artist, who should know the law, rather than the mother, who likely wouldn’t have known. Nonetheless, it is stupid for the school authorities, the child services, and the police to have reacted is such a way. I rather suspect that there would have been less hullabaloo if the mother had shot someone. And I’d feel this way EVEN if the kid HAD wanted a tat of Spongebob, if the mother agreed (stupid, yes, but that’s her call, not mine).

  49. Don, Ontario, Canada February 28, 2012 at 3:15 am #

    Many, many people are saying that “a (10 year old) child doesn’t have the mental maturity” to decide to get a tattoo.

    How many people saying this remember being 10? Have you also lost a loved one at such an age? It’s the kind of thing that makes you grow up fast.

    We “adults” seriously need to get over ourselves and stop putting other human beings on the level of pets until they reach an arbitrary, magical “age of reason”.

    If kids are supposed to be making career decisions by that age, maybe they should get to make a few others as well.

    Plus, the decision was reviewed by, and approved by, his mother. Yet the state still stepped in. -rc

  50. David, Connecticut March 1, 2012 at 2:51 pm #

    Tattoos are against the law for people under 18. If you don’t agree with a law you can choose to break it (civil disobedience) but you must be willing to pay the price. If you don’t like a law CHANGE IT. But saying that the police should have left them alone is dangerous. Laws that are not applied in a uniform matter lead to abuse. It leaves open cries of favoritism. This story makes you feel sorry for the boy, but the line then becomes blurred. Can he get a tattoo for a brother that lost a leg? For a pet cat? For the loss of his frist tooth? Somewhere along the list it goes from “that’s probably ok to get a tattoo, to “that’s just ridiculous”.

    The problem is, who gets to draw the line. If we don’t enforce the laws we make, we create a lot of inequality.

    Going 1 mph over the speed limit is also illegal. Do you demand that anytime a cop sees you doing that, he pull you over and cite you? How about if you’re safely speeding because you’re taking your child to the hospital in critical condition, after being told there were no ambulances available?

    I said it in the original post, and this is true: the police have discretion. They have the ability to consider whether it’s reasonable for people to “break the law” and decide not to file charges. Same with prosecutors. Anything else is zero tolerance, and can easily cross to ridiculous. Now consider that there are no known witnesses that can testify that this happened in the state; the tattoo could have been applied in another state where it is legal to tattoo minors with parental permission. To pursue this case under all of these circumstances is a step down the slippery slope between prosecution and persecution, from a benevolent protector to a nanny state. Where is the line? I’m saying the line has already been crossed. You’re saying it’s not — but where is it? How far are you willing to slip down the slope? That’s what this story is trying to get you all to think about. -rc

  51. Don, Ontario, Canada March 2, 2012 at 4:52 pm #

    Sorry to comment again, but I really wanted to say…

    “Change it” is so much easier said than done that it’s gone from a noble sentiment to a blunt weapon to be applied to anyone who disagrees with the law. It’s said as if it’s actually a viable option.

    Trust me, if it were a simple matter to change a law, things would be a lot different now.

  52. Sue in Bremerton March 2, 2012 at 5:21 pm #

    re: Don in Ontario.

    I think you are right on getting laws changed. Every once in a while I come across a list of obsolete laws that are still on the books, but no one is ever charged with breaking them. except….

    I guess that means all laws can be enforced or not, depending. It is so amusing sometimes.

  53. Teresa, Shreveport, LA March 6, 2012 at 3:50 pm #

    People keep commenting about the location of Gaquan’s tattoo. It’s on his upper arm and seems fairly simple in design.

    As far as my opinion, that’s a difficult call to make. Did the mother spend time discussing this decision with her son? Did the tattoo artist? As for Gaquan’s level of maturity, who has the knowledge to make that call if not the mother? I’ve known kids who were 10 going on 30, as the saying goes. I’ve also known 50 year olds with all the mental capacity of your average bar of soap. I leave the decision to the mother, as she knows her son best.

    Thanks for the link to the photo; I didn’t go looking for one, but glad to see it. Pretty subdued. -rc

  54. Scott, Chicago September 1, 2012 at 2:38 pm #

    I think that the kid ought to have been permitted to get the tattoo — the day of his eighteenth birthday, and not a minute before.

    But the mother ought not to have been arrested: there are other ways to initiate charges against someone than handcuffing her or him. And I don’t think it ought to have been criminal charges, anyway, though an investigation into child abuse/neglect appears called for, given the obviously questionable judgement the mother had in causing her child to be permanently disfigured.

  55. Linda - Virginia September 1, 2012 at 3:02 pm #

    I wonder how the school would react if the child chose to daily wear a necklace pendent woven from his brother’s hair (a common mourning ritual in Victorian times). Would that be a hygiene issue? Societies develop rituals to deal with difficult situations, and in early twentieth century America, a commerative tatoo has become such a ritual.

  56. Ron, Upstate NY September 1, 2012 at 3:56 pm #

    From the article the picture is embedded in, they apparently figured out they couldn’t charge her directly, so they are going after her for child abuse instead.

    Too bad the police and prosecutor can’t be charged with the same. Any reasonable person would, I think, agree that this prosecution is doing more harm to the boy than the mother agreeing to let him be tattooed.

  57. Nancy of Houston Area September 1, 2012 at 5:36 pm #

    I want to mention that I’m about to turn 68, but only because I am trying to make a point of how much of life I’ve seen. When I was young, people thought it was extremely rude to be “nosy” or a “busybody” as we called it. Even movie stars kept their lives private, and most people appreciated that. Over the years I have watched as people became more and more concerned with other people’s lives as though they have no life of their own.

    I know people do stupid things, and I love that you point that out because it should teach us all to be more careful. I was always taught that you don’t put anything in writing or in a picture that you don’t want the world to see, and it amazes me that people do it anyway, and then whine when they get caught. Unfortunately, our various governments have become the biggest busybodies of all, and feel they have the right to do something about it. I consider myself to be an independent conservative, and appreciate officials who are honest (rare) and simply try to do what is best for the country (also rare). Even in some of the comments I’ve made here, I often said I believe people should be as free as possible as long as they don’t step on someone else’s freedom, and that applies to both of the stories here. The sheriff should be allowed to have a personal life as long as he doesn’t abuse his office in doing so, and the mother should be allowed the same. I can’t say I like the idea of a child getting a tattoo, but why is that my business? The same with a person’s sexual choice. I may not like it, but why would that be my business either? I’m much more concerned with the ways politicians spend our money, and the laws they create to restrict our personal lives than what someone else does in their personal life that doesn’t affect me. This is why this new “nanny state” we live in really concerns me.

    Keep up the good work, Randy. I really appreciate your facebook posts and your newsletters. Stupidity should always be pointed out and learned from.

  58. Mandy from Minnesota September 1, 2012 at 8:17 pm #

    I can’t help but wonder: If the mom were white, or otherwise conformed to ‘standards’ (aka, no dreds and the like) would this even be an issue?

  59. Lynne, Troutdale, OR September 2, 2012 at 2:08 pm #

    Thanks so much for the link to the photo. I love tattoos and have a great many of my own — that’s a GANGSTA tattoo, people. And poorly done. The message seems to be the giant 3 rather than Malik/RIP. This work will be a hot mess by the time the kid’s 18 and grows into it.

    There’s no law against people getting bad tattoos or even tattos they later regret, but I’d put this particular one right up next to forcible circumcision as a questionable thing parents do to children.

  60. Brad, Texas September 3, 2012 at 7:51 am #

    Tat issue: I agree with most here that there was some bad judgment by several parties involved. Mom chose to break a law, AND allowed the child to get a tattoo on a part of his body that would CERTAINLY be spotted by various authorities including the ones at school (Why not some less obtrusive location that would be covered by clothing???). The tattoo artist certainly knew that he/she was breaking the law, unless mom went out of state, and there’s no indication that she did or she would certainly have offered that fact in her defense. Likely the school authorities were in a “required to report” situation, and as a teacher already pointed out here, they would have left themselves open to ruining their careers if they failed to report. The police, in my opinion, failed to wisely use their discretion on when to enforce and when to warn. Plenty of poor-judgment calls in nearly every direction there.

    As to Sheriff Babeu, since he was acquitted of abuse of his office, I’m pleased to see that despite dire predictions by other posters here, he won reelection in a landslide. Apparently, even the allegedly “illiterate, homophobic, anti-immigrant” (according to a previous poster) voters in his county think he’s a good sheriff and that’s more important to them than who he has sex with. Had he been convicted, on the other hand, it’s likely that such a conviction would have made him ineligible to hold a law enforcement office, and that would have been appropriate too. How he handles the cognitive dissonance of being a Republican in today’s Republican Party is a personal problem.

    The sheriff has not won re-election, in a landslide or otherwise. He won his party’s nomination in a landslide. The election isn’t until November. But I think we agree apparently false charges shouldn’t be the reason for defeat. -rc

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Thought-Provoking Entertainment Since 1994

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