The Colin Kaepernick Tattoo Controversy: “Ick,” Not Ethics

How can he pass with a back that looks like that?

How can he pass with a back that looks like that?

The new star San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is tattooed all over. Does this mean that he is unqualified to be a leader, a role model, an ethical exemplar, as NFL quarterbacks are supposed to be? The Sporting News’ columnist David Whitley argued in a column that indeed Kaepernick’s tattoos do mean that, and as you would expect, the number of coherent points he could mount in support of that position equaled exactly zero. He did, however, give everyone a terrific example of how people who don’t comprehend ethics make what they think are ethical arguments.

His column is about ethics, because ethics is central to leadership. Whitley believes that Kaepernick’s tattoos undermine his ability to lead by compromising the values he represents to those who must follow him. And those values that tattoos undermine are??? Well, Whitely doesn’t really explain that. He says that tattoos on a quarterback send the wrong message because prisoners get tattoos in the Big House. This is a man who is hostage to cognitive dissonance. Presumably if Stephen Hawking or Barack Obama showed a tat, he’d be fine with Kaepernick’s decorations. When I was kid, it wasn’t prisoners but sailors who we identified with tattoos. I knew a Pearl Harbor survivor with a big one—this neither convinced me that he was a rotter instead of a hero or made me want to get a giant anchor needled into my arm. Popeye had a tattoo, and we all loved Popeye. He also ate spinach. We didn’t.

Whitley can pack a lot of faulty logic into a small space. He writes, “NFL quarterback is the ultimate position of influence and responsibility. He is the CEO of a high-profile organization, and you don’t want your CEO to look like he just got paroled.” Presumably you don’t want your CEO in spikes and shoulder pads either. A quarterback is like a CEO in that he is the leader of an organization, and needs to represent the very best values and virtues relevant to what that organization does. Tattoos, at least for the nonce, carry stigmas in the business world at certain levels and certain industries, and thus it can be fairly argued that a CEO may be acting irresponsibly by encouraging those who follow him or her to defy the norms of the business world. But playing NFL football isn’t like running Bank of America. On the football field, where you work, literally nobody cares what you look like. Does Kaepernick’s body art have any impact on his performance at all? Would any team in the NFL reject a quarterback of his abilities because they didn’t like the picture on his chest? No.

Whitley tells us that he doesn’t have a tattoo, and doesn’t like them. Good for him: he admits his bias. But why should the opinion of a man about that which he is negatively biased about make any difference to anybody? He has stated that he is incapable of objective thought on the topic. Great. Then shut up.

“Did Sammy Baugh, Johnny Unitas, Doug Williams or Joe Montana have arms covered in ink?” he asks, as if this matters in 2012, when those people are dead, in diapers or retired, and virtually every popular actor, actress and singer under the age of 45 has a visible tattoo. “Do Tom Brady, Drew Brees or Aaron Rodgers?”

Did John Wayne have a tattoo? Clark Gable? James Dean? Rudolph Valentino? Edwin Booth?  George Washington? Robin Hood? Joan of Arc? John the Baptist? So what? This is an “everybody does i”‘ argument with an anachronistic twist:  “Everybody used to do it.” That’s not ethics. That’s nostalgia.

The “Ick Factor,” which we encounter on Ethics Alarms with some regularity, occurs when conduct that is just different or strange is designated as unethical out of fear or stupidity. It is an echo of how societies governed by religious or strict moral codes react when they encounter new ideas or conduct the original code writers didn’t think of. That dance is weird—it must be evil!  That music is different—it must be the work of the devil! Tattoos are fashion, that’s all. They are no different than eye-liner, lipstick, hairpieces and clothing. Before Jack Kennedy refused to wear one, hats were required of respectable men and dignitaries in public. JFK had great hair, and said to hell with it. You know what happened? Men stopped wearing hats. If Colin Kaepernick shows great leadership ability on the football field, the significance of his tattoos will be that kids who admire and want to emulate his legitimate leadership qualities will want to get tattoos, too, and if they emulate their hero by showing courage, sacrifice, diligence and responsibility, what their backs looks like at the beach shouldn’t make any difference at all.  Then, after a few generations, some dim-witted sportswriter will write that a new star quarterback with bare arms and no pictures on his neck is a disgrace.

And no, my opinion on this issue has nothing to do with the fact that my son just got a full calf tattoo this week.

I hate tattoos.

______________________________

Pointer: Fox News

Sources: The Sporting News 1, TSN 2

Graphic: SF Gate

Ethics Alarms attempts to give proper attribution and credit to all sources of facts, analysis and other assistance that go into its blog posts. If you are aware of one I missed, or believe your own work was used in any way without proper attribution, please contact me, Jack Marshall, at  jamproethics@verizon.net.

68 thoughts on “The Colin Kaepernick Tattoo Controversy: “Ick,” Not Ethics

  1. I’ve always thought tattoos, body piercing, etc., has to do with low self-esteem. I feel the same way about Kaepernick as I do about Brian Wilson and his ridiculous beard. They might be at the top of their game, but if they have a need to announce to the world that they don’t think very much of themselves, who am I to argue with them?

    • Do you know what I think shows a low self esteem? Feeling the need to throw out your cockamamie idea that having a different style from you implies a low self esteem.*

      * I don’t actually believe this, but it’s just as sane as your statement.

      Disclosure: In the last couple years I have had a ridiculous handle bar mustache and an even more ridiculous beard. Self esteem didn’t have anything to do with it. I just thought they were fun.

  2. I wish to take issue with the CEO designation for the QB, but not necessarily his role as leader.The QB runs essentially one half of the organization’s basic function: playing football. He has no hiring-firing authority, he determines no one’s salary or benefits and cannot even control his own tenure in the job. He is like the foreman, a foreman, in a more traditional industry. I was once a shipyard worker and the place had a machine shop and a plate shop (where the structural portions of the vessels were fabricated) and each had a foreman… there was also a “yard superintendent” who was the boss. Neither foreman dictated the business direction.

    In the sport world the CEO is the owner or the general manager, not the QB or the catcher. If the QB was really the CEO he would not need the radio in his helmet, he would call his own plays, not wait for his boss to tell him which one to run.

    However, this would all be the case whether or not someone had tattoos. Maybe the GM has a tattoo.

  3. Jack; it’s one thing for a sailor to have a tattoo on his arm. It’s something else again for someone to cover his (or her!) entire body with illustrations. For a lot of us, that amounts to bodily desecration and leads one to wonder on the stability and character of one who would do so. Not without reason, either!

    • Well, you may legitimately wonder about those things — for him on a personal level. However, that’s not the actual issue, which is: Can he play quarterback at the NFL level? That’s the question GM’s and coaches are asking and they don’t care whether he has zero, one, or a thousand tattoos. To some degree, in fact, they don’t care so much about his stability and character unless it’s going to impact on him doing his job or embarrass the team or league.

      On a personal basis, when I was growing up I cannot recall ever seeing anyone I knew who had a tattoo. I don’t have one, I don’t particularly care for them. However, they are a fact of life today and I have learned to mostly ignore this aspect when evaluating people (especially sports figures on teams I root for). For some reason, the world is not run to suit my own personal preferences. I don’t know why that is……

      • It’s a question of character, Diego. I’m not condemning him. But when you see someone covered in body ink, with body pierce ornaments all over his face or a bone stuck through his nose, you naturally have to wonder where the guy is coming from. Guys don’t usually make an exhibition out of themselves in such a manner unless they’re trying to “fit in” somewhere. True leaders don’t generally need such devices. They let their deeds speak for them.

        • I’m not condemning him, but when you see someone wearing a suit, with wingtip shoes, or a fashionable haircut, you naturally have to wonder where the guy is coming from. True leaders don’t need such devices.

          • Was that intended to convey an intelligible point, TGT? If a man appears in clean cloths, is well groomed and is polite to others, most people tend to see this as an indication of good character. It may not be, but the likelihood is that he’s what he appears. Likewise, if someone is apparently attempting to act or appear as a freak, one tends to believe it until he proves otherwise. People tend to project their natures in their exterior. You may not be able to judge a book by its cover, but you often can a person unless he’s engaged in “role camoflage”… which is rare.

            • You assume that someone in tattoos is not polite to other people. That they are attempting to act like and/or appear to be a freak.

              My point was that your pop psychology BS can be applied to other outward appearances. It’s nothing but rationalization for a position you already believe.

              • Noooo… you didn’t read carefully, TGT. As I said at the beginning, I’m not against tattoos. I just pay attention to those who are obviously using freakish means of body “ornamentation”, as it can often be symptomatic of a freakish character. How is it that I even need to explain this to you??

                • Since “freakish” is the most relative of words, it seems clear that having body art is fast approaching the point where the “freak” is the one without it, at least for those under 35. In the 60’s, long hair made you a freak. In the 70’s, a shaved head did it. Just wait til biting the heads off of live chickens comes into vogue.

                  • Jack: When someone covers their body in strange designs, I’d call that a little freaky, wouldn’t you? In those examples of the past you gave, people (mostly young and brainless) did what they did with the deliberate intention of celebrating their freakishness against a country and culture they had been indoctrinated into hating. For myself, I’m proud to say that I was never a damned hippie. I kept my hair clipped because I didn’t need it getting in my way. I bathed regularly, drove responsibly and kept away from drugs (and drug users) because I didn’t want to end up in a morgue before I had to. It’s about having your head together and not being a weak willed follower of some stupid, passing fad which carries the seeds of personal destructiveness. I don’t know what Kaepernick’s reasons were for his “body art”. If it was just a standard “Death Before Dishonor” tattoo on his right arm, I wouldn’t raise an eyebrow. This, however, goes way beyond that. When you see that, you have to question the motives behind it.

                    • I don’t know—I had long hair for a while because I had great, think, wavy hair, and knew, based on my genetics, that I wouldn’t have it for long. I grew a beard for a while because I hate hate hate shaving,and was working at a university where nobody cared. I shaved my head for a job, and decided it looked better than the Friar Tuck look. When I see the facial hair men wore in the 1860s, I wonder what the hell they were thinking. Are toupes stranger than tattoos? Giant breasts? 17 inch biceps with bulging veins on girls? Nobody had washboard abs until at least the 70’s, and a woman with them would have been called a freak. It’s just fashion, as far as I can see. The only problem with tattoos is that they’re so hard to get rid of. But then, so is a pot belly. If I could trade 50 pounds for a tattoo, I’d do it in a heartbeat.

                    • You can make all due allowance for changing styles, Jack. But you don’t have to follow them if they’re stupid, debilitating or obviously some transient concept that someone managed to push on a dumbed down youth culture to pad his bank account. (I almost bought a Nehru jacket when I was young. Honest!)

                      But we’re talking about essentially defacing your body in a manner that’s reversible only with great travail. You don’t cover your body with subcutaneous ink stains unless you’re trying to make some permanent point. What’s Kaepernick’s? “Look at me, I’m cool”? It’s juvenile, at best.

                      At best.

                    • You’re saying you have no problem with tattoos, but then you go on to list all the problems you have with tattoos.

                      The first part is you denying X directly while all your other comments support X.

                      The racist comment was a direct parallel of what you are doing.

                  • Obviously, you had another bad night. Since you’re incapable of comprehending the totality of my remarks, you resort to that favorite “strawman” of liberal thought- the racial allegation. You can do better that that, TGT.

                    • I made no racial allegation.

                      Comments about the “totality of your remarks” is a standard copout. In this case the totality of your remarks is someone who doesn’t like tattoos.

                    • No. It was a deliberate dodge. You cherrypicked my comments, presented a false permise, then added a racial element to the picture to complete the falsity. Jay Carney’s got nuthin’ on you.

                    • It was a direct attack on your statement and there was no cherry picking.

                      Your racial component comment is only vacuously true. Yes, I mentioned race. No, I did not play any kind of race card. Race is just the most obvious example of the flaw you made. Here are some others: “I’m not sexist, I just think that women shouldn’t make decisions on their own”, “I don’t dislike midgets, short people are just meaner than regular people”, and “I’m not anti-preppie, I just think that wearing a sweater vest and loafers shows poor judgment.”

                      There’s no gender/height/preppie element being brought in with these statements.

                    • I’ll just let my own words (which contained no hidden allusions… as your’s so often do) speak for themselves. If anyone wants to subscribe to your Rachel Maddow style rewrites, they’re welcome to do so.

                    • SMP,

                      I point out what I think is an the error in your words, and your response is to ignore my comments. If you actually believe your words are right, tell me where my words were wrong please.

                      Your general accusation (that I have hidden allusions) and poisoning the well (“the Rachel Maddow rewrites” comment) are, as always, bunk.

        • Even if — as you folks have been arguing about — the tattoos (or lack thereof) lead one to question his character, it is an irrelevant question.

          The questions that the NFL has are how accurate can he pass the ball, how well can he read the defense, how nimble is he in avoiding a pass rush, how well can he absorb the play book and offensive schemes……

          If you have the talent, NFL coaches could care less if you are Gandhi or Bundy. Their job is to put a winning team on the field. Look, for example, at Jim McMahon or Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth or, if memory serves, Bobby Lane. In professional sports, if you’re good enough they hand you the ball and say “Play nice.” For that matter, look back at Joe Namath.

          • I’d say that leadership skills can be important for a QB, but the leadership skills only have to apply to the other offensive players…where tattoos are commonplace.

          • It all comes down to one’s duty to one’s fellows, Diego. The point is this: Once a person achieves a celebrity status and a following among his fellow citizens for outstanding achievement in some field, he likewise becomes a role model; often enough for children who would take inspiration from his works. You may not consider it “fair”, but it’s the reality. It is a challenge that such a person must acknowledge and accept. No one expects a perfect, unflawed image to emerge. But they SHOULD expect- for the sake of the kids who watch, if nothing else- the attempt to be made. This is a matter of citizenship and civic virtue. These things are not well taught to young people these days; either in classrooms or by personal example. It’s the basic reason why the state of our culture has deteriorated so horrendously.

            • You just said that having tattoos is against citizenship and civic virtue.

              Also, Kaepernick’s tattoos predate his celebrity status.

              • 1. I said nothing of the sort, TGT. I said that extreme tattooing (i.e. body illustrations) naturally raise questions about one’s character.

                2. AT LAST- you say something relevant. I wasn’t aware that he’d gotten himself “illustrated” when he was a bit younger. HOW much younger, though? And what does he think about it, now?

                • 1. “This is a matter of citizenship and civic virtue.” when talking about why you don’t like Kaepernick’s tattoos. You have been consistent in talking about considerably large area of tattooing, but you haven’t said how much or how to draw the line. I didn’t mean to imply a change. I was just using shorthand.

                  2. Don’t know. He had at least most of them when he came into the NFL. I expect, like the people I personally know with multiple tattoos, he’s had them done over time.

                  • TGT: It’s not a matter of a few individual tattoos. Look at his picture. His entire back is covered in one continuous skin illustration. Why did he do this? What point was he trying to make? Maybe it was just some youthful folly. I’d like to think so. However, he’s obviously not adverse to displaying his self-induced condition. Again: When someone defaces his body to such an extent, you naturally have to wonder about the mentality behind it. That he displays it also suggests that he is incognizant or uncaring about the influence that he, as a noted professional athlete, has on the young men and boys who follow his exploits. That I consider to be unethical behavior on the part of a public figure.

                    • Still not sure how you connect large tattoos/lots of tattoos with bad citizenship and lack of civic virtue. You don’t explain that, you just repeat it.

                      You don’t like large tattoos, but you can’t list a reason why they are negative.

                    • TGT: Large and extensive tattoos are generally considered to be part of a “gangsta” subculture. Again; I’m not accusing this man of subscribing to it. What I’m concerned with is his flaunting it- as a popular sports figure- to impressionable young people. These things have consequences. Kaepernick should understand this, but apparently fails to. Neither do you, it seems.

                    • Large and extensive tattoos are generally considered to be part of a “gangsta” subculture.

                      I think you’re projecting your beliefs upon the general population. If Kaepernick were white, would you be referencing “gangsta” subculture? I don’t think so.

                    • This was the first comment that actually accused you of making a comment based on race. I stand by this comment, as tattoos on white people are linked with bikers, and there are clear racially overtones in your usage of ” ‘Gangsta’ subculture”.

  4. People get tattoos for different reasons. Some do it simply to be seen as ‘cool,’ and statistics show that the number of people with tattoos has increased dramatically over the years. Others do it to memorialize a special event or person, such as the birth of a child. Most of the people that I know that have tattoos see it as body art. They spend much time and thought in determining what design they would like to have inked into their skin and they use very talented professionals to do the job. To them, it is art, not a desecration, and the people that I know have no self-esteem issues. I think it’s rather presumptuous to say that those with extensive tattooing either have low self-esteem or stability issues and character flaws. At least in my experience, many are perfectly delightful individuals, fathers, mothers, daughters and sons, who have a particular way to express themselves through body art.

  5. Tattoos have such a broad scope in history from sinister to dignified justification. ( http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/0412/online_extra.html )

    Personally, I don’t condone piercing/tattoos/etc, however I don’t care what others do — this is my choice, and so long as they don’t try to push me to get one — I don’t push them to stop !

    There are logical reasons for this such as they get wrinkly, and fade with age (like life itself), and there is a risk of even the best tattoo parlors from transmitting blood borne disease/viruses — just takes one person to be careless once. Then there is the issue with the ink itself — most of this ink comes from China (i have a buddy who sells decent tattoo kits, and even when looking around at the competition for him, or what parlors use, made in china) — nothing against China, but I am a bit sketchy about consuming something into my body if there is not a proper list of ingredients.

    From what I can tell tho, it does seem to become an addition — once you get one, you want more, more tats, more piercings … and so on, until you don’t look like you anymore. I do find it difficult to hold a conversation with someone whose face looks like a tornado of ink and re-inks — tad bit distracting, especially if you can’t really SEE the person underneath all that.

    • Personally, I don’t condone piercing/tattoos/etc, however I don’t care what others do — this is my choice, and so long as they don’t try to push me to get one — I don’t push them to stop !

      That’s nonsensical. If you don’t that other have “piercing/tattoos/etc”, then you are condoning it. I think you picked the wrong word there.

  6. SMP – why you are letting him bait you, I don’t know. He is refusing to understand any part of what you are stating for the express purpose of irritating you. I agree with everything you have written. tgt says “You don’t like large tattoos, but you can’t list a reason why they are negative.” Deliberately ignoring all of your discussion as to why they are negative. I am in wholesale agreement with you about people who have most of their skin covered in tattoos. They are permanent. They reflect something of what you value at the time you got them. I believe that the extent of this QB’s ink extends to body desecration/mutilation. He DOES have a responsibility as a celebrity/sports hero to portray an image that parents would love their children to emulate – like Michael Jordon or Tiger Woods. (pre-scandal) What is problematic is that these kids will want to get tattoos all over to look like CK, and they will not grow up to be a professional NFL player. They limit their opportunities w/ regard to careeer choices when they have tatoos that are visible. I have been an executive at a Pharmaceutical giant for 30 years. Our field representatives make 6 figures. We have a “no visible tattoos” policy. If my kid wants to emulate a sports figure, I would much rather he confine his interests to golf, tennis, swimming, polo, soccer, and baseball. What we are seeing in the NBA and now the NFL is lowest common denominator behavior. I heard that much of what the guy has inked is from the bible. I thought that was pretty neat but ironic since it is not consistent with fundamental Christian teachings to desecrate your body because it is the temple of the Holy Spirit.
    If I were him and found myself in the limelight after years of obscurity when I made decisions to blanket my body in ink, I would regret it and as SMP said – would not flaunt it and take every opportunity to make a statement about how – looking back from where I am now – I wouldn’t do it again. I would never let my daughter date a man who was into body art. In fact, I wouldn’t even like my sons hanging around with people who are tatted up. But I am an upper middle class WASP graduate of an Ivy school, and that demographic I represent has a negative opinion of tattoos. Wow, I have never posted a comment on one of these blog-things EVER. I couldn’t stand the back and forth with tgt obviously trolling.

    • Thanks for chiming in , SLM. I personally agree with your post. The only reason I didn’t mention previously the part about the body being a temple is because I was saving it for a Sunday punch if TGT kept the party going. He really goes into a tizzy when someone references Christianity in any facet. Don’t worry about him “baiting me”, though. He’s the one who usually ends up squirming on the hook! God bless.

      • As noted in my response to SLM, (1) faith is not a valid reason to dislike something, and (2) If it applies to full tattoos, it applies to small tattoos.

        1 Corinthians would back Kaepernick’s bible verse tattoos. It’s only in combination with Leviticus that people could create a problem… and that would apply equally to small sailors’ tattoos.

          • “I thought that was pretty neat but ironic since it is not consistent with fundamental Christian teachings to desecrate your body because it is the temple of the Holy Spirit.” — SLP

            “The only reason I didn’t mention previously the part about the body being a temple is because I was saving it for a Sunday punch if TGT kept the party going.” — SMP

            That’s a reference to the bible. Claims to the contrary mark you as a either a complete idiot, or somone ignorant of the underpinnings of their faith.

            • In the first quote, I was responding to another’s post. In neither did I actually make a biblical quote. You CAN reference the body as a temple in this. The main point, though, is regarding the mental state of those who do. The secondary point is the example it sets for impressionable young boys.

              • Nobody said you quoted the bible.

                You said that I was the only one “raising a biblical point.” I pointed out that SLM raised the point, you backed it up, and what I did was take the already raised point and show why it doesn’t help your side. SLM raised the point. I knocked it down. You

                Your last two sentences are junk. As written, they refer to the mental state of people who make biblical points, and the example it sets when people make biblical points. Not topics of this thread so far. As I assume you intended (referencing getting large swaths of tattoos and the example that sets), it’s irrelevant to this subpoint about the religious reasoning set forth by SLM and backed by you.

                You said something that was blatantly false and are unwilling to admit to it.

    • tgt says “You don’t like large tattoos, but you can’t list a reason why they are negative.” Deliberately ignoring all of your discussion as to why they are negative.

      Where is the discussion about why large tattoos are negative? Can you point it out to me, please? Maybe quote it? All I see are circular arguments that tattoos are bad because they show bad character or deliminate freaks.

      Despite the long comment, there’s nothing that says why tattoos should be considered negatively. You note some people who see them negatively, you say that you see them negatively, but there still isn’t any reason for that.

      You almost say large tattoos are negative because of the bible, but you don’t actually make that case. Good for you there, as aside from the bible not being a valid reason to make such a claim, it would equally apply to smaller tattoos.

      If you’re going to accuse me of trolling, it’d be nice if you could back up your comment with some evidence.

      • What he’s saying is that you seem to dismiss “body art” (not individual tattoos) is being benign expression. I’m not saying that it is necessarily not. I’m not necessarily saying that a kid addicted to violent video games is going to murder a school full of kids, either. But both cases raise questions as to character from an historical perspective. I believe this case has been made well enough. You, however, seem to take the position that any bizarre behavior is a matter of civil rights… until the subject in question commits a crime. Then, I assume, he’s not responsible! I don’t expect that the “Illustrated Quarterback” will do something crazy, but I also note that he has offered no apology for his self-inflicted condition. Just the opposite, in fact. When you’re a public figure, your actions have consequences, particularly with young people.

        • 1. Protestations to the contrary, you’re still saying that you have an issue with body art, and you still haven’t given a reason why it’s bad, just more things that you think are bad about it.

          Please point to one location where you gave an actual reason that body art should be seen negatively.

          2. Violent videogames do not actually raise sane questions. Hasn’t this stupidity been put to rest yet?

          3. “You, however, seem to take the position that any bizarre behavior is a matter of civil rights…”

          Not at all. I take the position that unless something does harm, it should be protected. That’s a completely different thing.

          4. Why would someone apologize for something that’s not bad?

          • BECAUSE, TGT, people rarely cover their entire torsos with indelible ink unless they have some real personal issues. Is that so difficult to grasp? And if you think that a steady diet of graphic violence and pornography don’t effect the mentality of young people, you’re whistling past a graveyard. It’s your definition of “harm” that’s in tragic error.

            • BECAUSE, TGT, people rarely cover their entire torsos with indelible ink unless they have some real personal issues

              What’s your evidence for this? Any reason to believe that these people are significantly worse off than the population at large?

              And if you think that a steady diet of graphic violence and pornography don’t effect the mentality of young people, you’re whistling past a graveyard. It’s your definition of “harm” that’s in tragic error.

              Pornography wasn’t in your comment. I’m ignoring that attempt to move the goalposts. As for violence video games, unless you actually have a connection between them and random violence, you’re just blowing smoke. Studies have been done. I haven’t seen any that make a valid link. Did playing cowboys and indians make yesterday’s kids violent?

          • I must say, I don’t comprehend this dispute at all. How can how one chooses to decorate or enhance one’s own body for appearance purposes be unethical, if there is no deception involved? Long hair isn’t unethical, nor are wild beards, blue lipstick, Elton John glasses or plastic surgery to make you look like Barbie or Felix the Cat. Ditto with tattoos. Stupid? Sure. Unwise? No doubt. But unethical? How? Such things can violate various moral codes, but moral codes are prone to go out of date and often have no moorings in common sense or reality.

            • I don’t think SMP differentiates between ethics and his religious beliefs. I also don’t think he’d agree that moral codes can go out of date or that they aren’t tethered to reality.

              • TGT, give it a rest. You want a single reason why tattoos are viewed negatively even though ample have been provided. Here is just one: it LIMITS career opportunities for those who get visible ones and are not already in their career of choice. The only millionaires with massive body art are professional sports stars, celebrities, or artists. In the matter of Joe Everyman, presenting himself at a business interview with ink showing would get him a ticket home in many instances and on a sliding scale: the higher on the career ladder the more likely he is to be snubbed.

                And I agree with all of you that this thread has nothing to do with ethics. But your statement about how “morals can go out of date”. It depends on what you BASE your morals on. I have an absolute standard of morals because they are based on the biblical standard. So, in my case, my morals will never go out of date. I have a compass that will always point true north. Most of the rest of humanity base their morals on their own ideas of right and wrong, and since those ideas are not based on anything but their own compass, their morals will change with time and or for convenience. This is called “moral relativism.”

                Your comment about large tattoos vs small ones is semi-cogent. I agree with you that if a whole body covered in ink is considered as not respecting the body as a temple, than neither is a small one. However, for me, there is less culpability in getting small ones because they don’t serve to make the same type of statement that the large ones do. I would draw a comparison to drinking alcohol or even to gluttony – one would agree there is a difference in getting drunk once in a while and living your life as a drunk. Although my compass would tar each with the same negative brush, it is a matter of degree.

                To be completely honest, every one of us is a hypocrite – it comes down to a matter of degree. One would hope to continue to strive for less hypocrisy in ones life.

                • This is an impressive collection of confidently asserted fallacies.

                  1. “It LIMITS career opportunities for those who get visible ones and are not already in their career of choice.” Agreed, but that does not address the original post in the least, which responded to the assertion that it was wrong to have tattoos, not that it was bad employment strategy because of pervasive bias. Tgt correctly says that there is nothing intrinsically wrong with getting a tattoo or dozens of tattoos. Your argument: “it’s wrong because a lot of biased people like me think it’s wrong.” Circular reasoning at its worst.

                  2. “I have an absolute standard of morals because they are based on the biblical standard. So, in my case, my morals will never go out of date.”
                  Unbelievable. “My morals are based on a 2000 year old code lacking the benefit of the human experience and knowledge accumulated over more than 20 centuries, so it can never go out of date.” Do you listen to what you’re thinking? Read what you write? This is insane on its face.

                  3. “This is called ‘moral relativism.'” No, this is called “ethics,” the study of right and wrong, based on philosophy, analysis and experience. Morality merely short circuits the ongoing inquiry, which has the benefit of certainty for the lazy, the stupid, the fearful and the compliant, admittedly a large portion of the populace, but has the far more oppressive disadvantage of forcing people to make life decisions based on old biases, superstitions, traditions and outright mistakes enshrined in a moral code attributed to a deity by human authority figures who didn’t want to lose any arguments.

                  4. “I would draw a comparison to drinking alcohol or even to gluttony.” Then you don’t comprehend the basics of Analogies 101. Drunkeness is behavior that has consequences to others. Gluttony is behavior that involves taking more than one’s fair share of a limited commodity. A tattoo, no matter how large it is, effects no one but the wearer of the tattoo. There is no shortage of tattoos, or a finite amount of them. Getting tattooed is like putting on make-up, growing a beard or having a hair transplant, and it is nobody’s legitimate business but the tattooee.

                • Jack kind of nailed it, but i’ll pile on in a couple places.

                  Moral relativism
                  You claim your morals are absolute because they are based on the biblical standard, but there are uncountably many different Christian sets of morals based on the biblical standard. Why are your morals right and other Christian’s morals are wrong?

                  Your “absolute morals” are what you decided the morals should be. You’re guilty of the same “infraction” that you accuse us of… We at least are honest about what we’re doing.

                  Although my compass would tar each with the same negative brush, it is a matter of degree.

                  So where’s the line? Where do tattoos go from “not that bad” to “unethical”? A certain percentage of the skin? A total size? Gross area or net area? Do the actual tattoos themselves matter?

                  • And this is so obviously a regional, ethniccultural behavioral norm, rather than a moral one. Body piercings and tattoos were and are common in many cultures, the norm even, with religious significance too. If we stipulate to the existence of a Creator/God, it makes little sense that He would condemn so many cultures just to comply with predominant cultural norms in the Middle East.

              • It’s just that I HAVE a firm code of morality- that’s what you can’t tolerate. And that’s because you yourself have none, having no god. However (with your anti-Christian bias aside) this question does not fall into that realm except, perhaps, for the “body is a temple” consideration. As I’ve mentioned, I don’t personally think that a tattoo here and there is necessarily objectionable. But again; we’re talking about widespread body illustrations here.

                • And again, you have not explained the difference between widespread body illustrations and “a tattoo here and there”, or why there is an actual ethical difference.

                  You also appear to agree with my response to Jack. You don’t differentiate between religious morality and ethics.

  7. I remember the way Jim Brown,one of the greatest runnings backs in the NFL ,would just hand the ball back to the ref after scoring a TD. No Hip-Hop,dirty dancing clubbing moves,NO group “WAR DANCE”in the end zone.No taunting. A class man all the way who stood up to racisim . All the dancing,taunting, and yes all the tats too. So silly and juvenile. Yawn!

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