Restrictions on Tattoos and Abortion Prove America Is not the ‘Land of the Free’.

by Pitt Griffin on May 27, 2019 · 0 comments

in Civil rights, Politics, Religion

At the beginning of May, Kentucky proposed a ban on tattooing over scars. The state health department made vague references to cleanliness and sanitation. But the suggested rules left Kentucky’s inkers clueless as to what the proposed law would entail. The only reason offered for this rewrite is that the rules hadn’t been updated in 15 years. 

I am not aware of any health issues created by tattooing over a scar. There are some technical and aesthetic difficulties which reputable tattoo artists should discuss with their clients. But on the whole, it is an unremarkable procedure. The state’s need to weigh in on the issue can be attributed to nothing more than mission creep by bureaucrats.

Which brings us to a woman’s right to choose — an issue with profound ramifications for pregnant women. It is not the purpose of this diary to enumerate all the reasons why a women’s right to choose should be inviolate. But let me point out one thing. The anti-abortionists couch their bigotry in moral and religious tones. 

That is an argument made from whole cloth. The Bible is virtually silent on the subject. The custom of most religions is that ‘personhood’ wasn’t established until the ‘quickening’ or some defined period after conception. The Catholic Church historically saw abortion as a sin because it covered up evidence of adultery or fornication. But no crime was involved – and the fetus itself, before it was imbued with a soul, had no bearing on the matter

Conservative evangelicals have less interest in the moral outcome of their crusade against choice than in establishing governmental legal domination over women. An extreme example of mission creep if you will. 

But these two ends of the same spectrum aren’t the only examples of an assault on American liberty. The second amendment may be held sacrosanct by the gun-wielding constitutionalist – but these same barroom lawyers casually dismiss the first. 

Paradoxically, on the one hand, they believe that the answer to gun violence is more guns —  but on the other, that the best defense against ‘FAKE MEDIA’ is no media (except theirs). The ‘liberty’ wing of the far right even scorns Fox News for suggesting that Trump is not spotless.

Worse, Trump makes common cause with this rabid horde in an attempt to dismantle the protections of a free press. Is it working? It is. The organization ‘Reporters without Borders’ ranks the US #48 in press freedom, sandwiched between Romania and Senegal. We are 25 slots behind Namibia (or Nambia in Trump’s Adderall-addled imaginings) of all places.

We do better in economic freedoms, but still don’t crack the top 10 in the Heritage ranking. The United Arab Emirates has us beaten. Libertarians blame our lower position — #12 — on our social programs, saying that Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid, Welfare and unemployment work as an anchor on the economy. 

Try telling that to New Zealand #3, Australia #4, Ireland #5, Switzerland #6, the United Kingdom #7 and Canada #8.

It gets worse.

On the Freedom House ranking of countries by overall freedom — an index that measures civil rights and political liberties —  the US comes in 53rd. This time our immediate neighbors are Belize and Croatia. We are behind the Scandinavian countries, the rest of Western Europe, all  English-speaking countries, the Baltic republics, and the other first-world countries.

Experts can attest to why the US received such abominable grades. But I suggest that voting restrictions, gerrymandering, voter IDs laws, and disenfranchised ex-felons go a long way to explaining our restricted political freedoms. Add to that, our arcane parliamentary rules and an antiquated system of selecting the chief executive — as well as the disproportionate representation of small states — and you have freighted American politics with the tyranny of the minority.

It is an American irony that the country’s Constitution — which enumerated our freedoms — is pressed into service to restrict those freedoms. Conservatives say the document is as written and that the Founding Fathers intended the text to be interpreted literally. Then they tell you their opinion and claim that is what the Framers meant.

They do the same with the Bible.

And that leaves us with a country founded in soaring liberty and freedom from religion bound by religious doctrine and the shabby constraints of power-grubbing politicians — facilitated by a political party whose interest is not in keeping America great. They would rather sacrifice liberty on the altar of ambition to enable their bullying ways.

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