Americans are turning their bodies into representations of hell

And the voices of public opinion—including the churches—say nothing about it.

Paul K. writes:

I recently had reason to recall your discussion of tattoos, and the fact that a commenter was appalled to see nurses at the hospital with visible tattoos.

My wife called an ambulance to take her mother to the hospital because her heart was beating irregularly. The EMT that arrived at the house to attend to my mother-in-law and accompany her to the hospital had “sleeves”—tattoos completely covering both arms, which were exposed by his short-sleeved uniform. On one arm, the tattoos depicted the bones, muscles and veins that would be visible if he were skinned, as in an anatomical drawing by Vesalius. The other arm was festooned with hellish images of skulls with snakes coming out of their eye sockets and floating, disembodied eyeballs. My wife, who is much more liberal than I am, was shocked to think of the effect this morbid imagery would have on desperately ill people being taken to the hospital—they would feel as if they were being accompanied by Death himself. Has this EMT no sensitivity, or can nothing be allowed to interfere with his self-expression? Does his employer have no interest in how he presents himself? Why wouldn’t the employer at least insist he wear a covering garment?

LA replies:

This is very, very serious. This represents a new and horrible stage in the self-demonization of our society. First comes freedom—freedom from all truth, from all standards. But then, in the absence of any truth to restrain the freedom, the freedom quickly turns demonic—literally.

You should call the hospital and complain in the strongest terms about the EMT’s tattoos. And every one of us, when we see a nurse, or a police officer, with these horrifying tattoos, should do the same.

- end of initial entry -

Beth M. writes:

No fad lasts indefinitely. I wouldn’t be surprised if the fad for tattoos on females has already peaked.

I frequently see middle-aged women with tattoos, so it is no longer “edgy.”

If your mother and father have tattoos, then getting a tattoo for yourself isn’t really going to be a form of youthful rebellion.

LA replies:

I’ve had that thought too, that this can’t last. But the way you put it is funny.

Terry Morris writes:

I don’t know how much good it will do to complain to the employers of tattooed freaks about their freakishness when their employer is ultimately the government, which we all know is hell-bent on destroying everything traditionally “American” about America. But I support any effort to stop this insanity that has even the slightest possibility of success.

You probably don’t want to know my solution, because I’m more prone to confront this directly than through an “employer.” I’ve done so on many occasions.

LA replies:

If it does not involve something criminal, I’d like to hear it.

Jeanette V. writes:

I will be honest. I like some tattoos. My husband has one on each arm that is hidden with short sleeves. I like them, as they make him look manly. But I find it seems that people have lost their inner brakes. Just because one or two tattoos look good doesn’t mean that a whole body full of ink looks good. I have enclosed a photo I recently took of a police officer of indeterminate race. He had tribal sleeve tattoos.

LA replies:

I’m not posting the photo, as we’ve all seen these horrifying things.

M. Jose writes:

I was recalling a comic book I used to read (Spider-Girl, which detailed the adventures of Spider-Man’s daughter, who inherited his powers). One of the characters in that book had a full front and back torso tattoo and tattoos on his arms. The thing was, the tattoo was a symbol of his mental illness and related villainy. Once he got help and became a good guy, he would usually wear things that would hide the tattoo, and in the last issue of the original series, his complete reformation was symbolized by his tattoos being removed.

Tattoos like that are, to me, symbols of evil, and the only time it makes sense to see a good guy with them is when he is a reformed bad guy who got them before his reformation.

Jeanette V. replies to M. Jose:

Regarding the police offer whose photo I took, I assumed that the tattoos he had were from his past. I was mistaken. He informed me that he had been an officer for 12 years and got the sleeve tattoo while employed as a police officer.

LA replies:

I say again: citizens who have seen police officers with these tattoos need to bombard their police departments and say that this is totally unacceptable. The same with nurses or attendants in hospitals.

The way we’re going, police commissioners, mayors, doctors, and surgeons will soon have sleeve tattoos. The public has to speak up against this. That will have an effect.

Matthew Bracken (here are his novels at Amazon) writes:

As one more milepost on the road to hell, I would like to mention that only ten short years ago, the U.S. military would not accept recruits with “sleeve” tattoos or tattoos visible above the collar of a T-shirt. The only tattoos acceptable for new recruits were small arm tattoos. “Sleeve” tattoos, full-body tattoos, neck and face tattoos were considered to be indications of mental problems or anti-social attitudes. Now when I visit the local Navy base, which I do about weekly, I commonly see young sailors and Marines with lurid full-sleeve tattoos and neck tattoos. Even on women and officers.

I consider this to be a sure sign that we are getting to a major “reset point” in our history. The decadence of Weimar Germany, which was considered a harbinger of the Nazi era that followed, seems as innocent as “The Andy Griffith Show” or “Happy Days” in comparison with America in 2012. Or the USSA, as I now call her.

LA replies:

I can’t think of anything to add.

Jeanette V. writes:

Mr Bracken beat me to the punch. I was just about to write the same thing regarding the military and tattoos. My husband’s tattoos cannot been seen even if he is wearing a T-shirt. He got them as a young man in the Navy. Like I have said I like tattoos on a man and yet I’m always horrified when I see someone who has them up and down their legs and arms. I always felt that tattoos were something private. It is the same with piercing. For the life of me I can’t figure out why anyone thinks a face full of bolts is attractive.

JC in Houston writes:

I can recall a time when tattoos were definitely thought to be something characteristic of lower class males. Marines and sailors for years have commonly had tattoos like the globe and anchor or other not too extravagant or extreme themes. One thing I find totally repulsive is a woman with any type of tattoo. I don’t care how otherwise physically attractive she may be, for me the presence of a tattoo is a complete turnoff.

September 30

Rick Darby writes:

Every time the subject of tattoos comes up for discussion I can’t help flashing back to the first time I saw a person wearing a “sleeve”—I didn’t know the term then. It was not so long ago, but a billion light years away, in California.

I thought at first it was some kind of Halloween thing, except it wasn’t Halloween. (Which reminds me: although most of the children dressed up for Halloween still wear cute, or at least relatively tasteful, costumes in my neighborhood, each year seems to bring a few more grotesque and stomach-turning outfits on youngsters. Can’t their parents set any limits?)

Anyway, that first sleeve tattoo that swam into my ken was worn by a pretty young woman at the checkout counter of a Trader Joe’s in San Diego. To this day I wonder: why did she feel the need to despoil her skin that still had the glow of youth? What kind of peer group did she run with that she expected to impress?

Something’s gotta give.

A reader writes:

There’s an old prejudice that women with tattoos are more promiscuous. And that remains true—a study of Australians found that the frequency of tattoos was highest among the most whorish women, in fact nine times higher, when compared to the least promiscuous. Table 2 states that while 3.3 percent of women with 0-1 sexual partners have tattoos, the 30 percent of women with 11 or more partners have tattoos. Some other interesting points from the study:

The link between promiscuity and tattoos is weaker in men, with the most promiscuous men six times more likely to have tattoos than the least promiscuous. That figure for women is nine times higher.

Among people 50 and over, men are more than two and a half times more likely to have tattoos: 8.7 percent for men, 3.3 percent for women. But among younger people the trend is reversed; while 22.3 percent of men in their twenties have tattoos, 29.4 percent of women of the same age have them, a difference of 30 percent or seven percentage points.

Women with post-secondary education are more likely to have tattoos than similarly educated men, at 10 percent vs. 5.6 percent. This figure isn’t broken out by age, and the difference would be even more stark if one looked only at women in their twenties.

A greater portion of those reporting a history of venereal disease have tattoos, at 19.1 percent vs. 12.5 percent for women and 21.6 percent vs. 14.2 percent for men.

These points are important to keep in mind for when some old codger like Bill Bennett starts singling out younger men for not “manning up” and “getting serious” about the women in his life. The modern women of the West have appropriated male vices at alarming rates, often even outpacing the men themselves, be it drinking, smoking, fighting, gluttony, swearing, or tattoos. Invariably, feminism and prole drift has women aping men’s vices and ignoring their virtues. If one has any scruples, the self-degradation of modern women must be mentioned in any discussion of modern courtship / dating / mating. Of course the words “courtship” and “dating” are too … presumptuous, given what actually goes on.

The study sample consisted of Australians, not Americans. According to a study of Americans, it’s considerably more common here, with a third of 18-29 year olds sporting a tattoo.

PS: It’s interesting that technically the word “whore” is not obscene, but it is treated as such in modern discourse. The same goes for “slut.” Like accidental use of the word “Negro,” they indicate what passes for blasphemy in today’s West.

DMJ writes:

I was in Austin TX a few weekends ago. It seems that they have a very high per-capita tattooed population. And, never in my entire life have I seen so many tattooed women. I am liberal about many things but I draw the line at tattooed women. It looks trashy.

Several have expressed the idea that the fad has or soon will peak. All well and good. The problem for these people with the sleeve tattoos and the neck tattoos is that, unlike past fads, tattoos can’t be stored at the back of the clothes closet or put up in the attic with the Nehru jackets and the bell-bottoms. They are stuck for life.

Laine A. writes:

As someone in the medical profession who has seen countless people with tattoos, I must say there’s nothing more pathetic looking than a tattoo on aging, wrinkling, sagging skin. And depending on sun exposure and genes, skin can show noticeable deterioration in one’s thirties. That cute little butterfly looks anything but on a post pregnancy or obese abdomen with stretch marks. Laser removal of tattoos is incomplete with the more elaborate tattoos and costs over ten times the price of the original tattoo.

Truly the self inflicted uglification of youth in America using skin markings and piercings like primitive illiterate tribes in Africa is just one more indication of a degenerating civilization.

LA replies:

I’d say it’s more than just one more sign. I’d say it’s arguably the biggest sign.

D. Edwards writes:

A hat trick of degeneracy. In a Daily Mail story, “Rappers Young Jeezy and Rick Ross in angry fight at BET Awards which ‘saw shots fired in parking lot,’” we see a photograph of Rick Ross bare-chested and his entire overweight body is covered in tattoos.

October 1

Jeanette V. writes:

I went to bed last night thinking about tattoos. I feel somewhat out of step because I do enjoying looking at a nice tattoo on a man’s arm. So I pondered my repulsion to men who have the full body tattoos. Then it occurred to me that I see tattoos as underclothing. They are not meant to be seen in public. And the occasional glimpse of a man’s tattoo when he lifts his arms for some reason and the sleeve falls back is titillating (this is why gruesome, ugly tattoos even when hidden are also repulsive). My reaction to public displays of underwear is exactly the same.

And I think I agree with Laura Wood’s assessment. My husband was career military. He went from the Navy to the Air Force. I’ve spent most of my adult life around military men which might be where I made the association between arm tattoos and masculinity

James P. writes:

Matthew Bracken writes:

As one more milepost on the road to hell, I would like to mention that only ten short years ago, the U.S. military would not accept recruits with “sleeve” tattoos or tattoos visible above the collar of a T-shirt.

In An Officer and a Gentleman (1982), Richard Gere puts a bandage over a relatively tasteful small tattoo of an eagle on his arm before entering Officer Candidate School. When he gets there, the drill instructor removes the bandage, and ridicules the tattoo. He also mocks Richard Gere’s aspirations to become an officer, noting that the tattoo marked Gere as a prole and as enlisted material—“Officers don’t have tattoos!”

That scene would be incomprehensible today.

The first time I saw a sleeve tattoo was on a freak working at Tower Records. He also had tattoos on his face and a large number of rings in his face. For a long time, the only place one could see a person like that was at Tower Records, as I imagine they found difficulty obtaining employment elsewhere.

Howard Sutherland writes:

Mr. Bracken’s and James P.’s comments about tattoos on GIs put me in mind of my time in the military, which effectively ended in 1995. Even though it is fiction about trying for flight school, the anecdote from An Officer and a Gentleman that James P. relates rings true, at least of my years in the service. And I went to flight school (real, not the Hollywood version) around the time An Officer and a Gentleman was being filmed. In general, from what I saw in the Marine Corps and Air Force Reserve, only enlisted men had tattoos, and of course none had “sleeves” or tattoos that would show above a uniform shirt collar. The very few tattooed officers one encountered were invariably former enlisted men whose ink was a souvenir of enlisted days.

In 1981,we had one Private First Class in our unit (well, he kept getting busted back to Private; he was a very poor Marine), a Mexican who had immigrated—legally? I rather doubt it—to East L.A. We learned he was spending his weekends running with his gang up in Los Angeles. As you may imagine, we wanted a reason that would fly—even then one had to be careful about handling minority troops who were problems—to give this character an administrative discharge and get him out of the Marine Corps. One Monday morning he turned up, somewhat bleary and bruised (which was typical) and sporting tattooed teardrops running down from his left eye; no doubt a gang-tag of some kind. There was our reason: this fellow could no longer wear the uniform correctly, and out he went.

Interestingly, in my time the same general disparity also held true for smoking. It seemed that almost all enlisted men did, while almost all officers did not. (During the everybody-smoking days of WWII and Korea, and even Vietnam, that would have been less true.) Again, the few smoking officers were almost all mustangs commissioned from the ranks. Often they had picked up the habit in boot camp; in Marine boot camp anyway, smoke-breaks were often the only breaks on offer. No smoke-breaks in Officer Candidates School. As for tattoos and aviation, the armed forces’ shrinks had determined that having a tattoo indicated an unhealthy propensity to seek attention. Not, one may well imagine, a characteristic the armed forces wanted in pilots. Accordingly, the flight surgeons used tattoos as one mechanism to screen out applicants who might be inclined to “shine their asses,” as the saying goes, should Uncle Sam ever let them fly his airplanes. A tattoo was an automatic disqualifier for pilot training, I believe in all of the services. (Which means, of course, that in the real Navy Richard Gere’s character in An Officer and a Gentleman would never have made it to Pensacola in the first place. But that’s Hollywood for you … )

Is that standard still standing? I hope so, but of today’s armed forces I’m not hopeful.

LA to Howard Sutherland:
What does “shine their asses” mean? Crashing the plane?

Howard Sutherland replies:

To shine your ass is to show off in the airplane. In a fighter, for example, very low altitude high-speed passes, high-g turns down low over airfields, etc. If you remember the movie “Top Gun,” the Tom Cruise character is constantly shining his ass. In 1989, I watched an F-16 pilot kill himself by shining his ass and crashing during an over-aggressive simulated airfield attack in support of an operational readiness inspection. Some of the bits and pieces of his airplane nearly hit me where I was standing on our aircraft ramp. That pilot was a lieutenant colonel, so the temptation is ever with us.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at September 29, 2012 12:06 PM | Send

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