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Some Good Reasons to reject Claire Chalmers' proposals.

It is my opinion that because there is no threat to the health of the community, from a public health perspective, no action should be taken on Chalmers' policy proposals, but a policy of wait and see is justified before a large amount of time is dedicated to this cause.

If anyone were even thinking of pursuing her suggestions here are a few specific reasons to oppose these policy proposals calling for stringent expanded “control and management of tattoo and body piercing” (T&P).

1. The cost -- millions per year plus millions locally and provincially, likely growing to more than half a billion over ten years to regulate “tattooing” which will encourage criticism that will have no measurable outcome. Chalmers argues that we would not expect to see a reduction in infection rates, even if there were such a statistic, which there isn't. She herself admits that infections are not caused by the procedure.

2. Some of the hardest to employ will face disruptive loss and be unable to  participate in the economy being forced out, for language, educational attainment,  or background reasons, going from self-employed to unemployed jeopardizing the health and welfare of their families and a likely drain on public resources to support those displaced.

3. Laws restricting certain T&P placement, and censorship of certain content against the will of the client, will spark heated debate about the proper role of government and massive opposition by the body arts - perhaps all creative arts will be up in arms.

4. Requiring college education for tattooists and piercers in anatomy, physiology, risk-assessment and a likely expanding list of other “worthwhile” courses can be seen as favoring advantage white males, and who is to say that is not its purpose.

5. The proposal to psycho-analyze practitioners as part of licensing, and to train them to psycho-analyze clients will wind up in civil highly publicized court venues.

6. The author lacks knowledge of the subject. For example, the technique of tattooing, copied from di Folco, is mis-parsed so that she describes the technique of tattooing as getting the ink into the epidermis without going into the dermis.

7. The article has many examples of

  • false, muddled, confused statements,

  • questionable "paraphrasing" techniques,

  • injecting words never uttered by an author,

  • using a children's book rejected by libraries as a significant reference,

  • myth, written as fact, though exposed as false by her own reference,

  • history conceived as a few random examples,

  • anecdotal cases considered as proof of association,

  • and the list goes on, which will be amply demonstrated.

8. Chalmers goal or purpose of expanded regulation is to reduce prevalence because T&P are antithetical to Western heritage, culture and religion. These reasons as the driving impetus are out of step in the 21st Century.

9.  Stringent, one-dimensional top-down enforcement of rules as policy to control and manage T&P is likely to breed discontent and hostility in spite of her speculating that T&P will roll over and play dead after time. Considering the type A personality that dominates these activities such a speculation is hardly likely.

10. A “stringent” prescriptive approach if instituted could spawn an intractable underground activity, as a sign of resistance to government intervention, symbolic of “Taking it to The Man”, and “In their face”. The same historic reaction that doomed the Christian missionaries in the Pacific awaits implementation of new and expanded controls and rules.


These good reasons and more are detailed in the following examination.

Westley Wood
February 2011