…Aaaaannywho, that’s a rant for another post, I suppose. This is about the fact that I overheard probably not even 30 seconds of a news story over 5 hours ago, and my pissed-off-ness is still sizzling under the surface. Like a steak at Sizzler. Except probably a burnt one, by the time it stops sizzling.
It was a story about the following, summarized today by the Associated Press, and Wall Street Journal Online:
ALBANY, N.Y. — New York lawmakers have passed legislation that would require minors to get parental consent for body piercings other than their ears..
Before I proceed to further bash the Pathetic State of (what is supposedly) My Species, at least from a Western 21st Century societal perspective, I would like to also make note of Wikipedia’s information about what is referred to as “bodily integrity”:Sponsors say that about a third of people with piercings get them before they turn 18, and complications like allergic reactions, skin infections, scars and discomfort are common.Some piercing studios currently require written consent for minors. The law would require owners or operators to get a signed parental consent and keep that on file for a year.Sen. Joe Robach (ROH'-bahk), a Rochester Republican and sponsor, says he believes the new requirement will be supported by parents across the state.
The bill goes to Gov. Andrew Cuomo for signing or veto. A spokesman says Wednesday that Cuomo hasn't yet taken a position on the bill.
—Copyright 2012 Associated Press
So. Huh. While political activism is busy arguing and playing blame-games over the question of at which point in human gestation an embryo and/or fetus is determined to be characteristically, definitely, scientifically, morally, philosophically, whatever, human; and while many are ruthlessly, perhaps passionately, fighting for pro-choice-esque legislation from a more modest perspective – specifically, that female minors who seek abortion should be required to obtain parental consent to do so – we nonchalantly have a state (NY) passing legislation that would require minors to obtain parental consent for any bodily piercings besides their ears. Not as huge I guess, as a metaphysical question of whether or not a prenatal life is in fact a human one that has been granted all possible rights that all post-natal human beings have been assumed to have; it is nonetheless, the same ethical question re: bodily integrity. Only reason it receives less dissension, it seems, is because political activism is more concerned with an issue's emotional burden than the principle behind the very arguments made by said activists (hypothetical ones, that is.) It also implies that all bodily piercings other than those on the ears are questionable in taste, which, in keeping with the theme of comparison to bodily integrity as applied to 'women's rights' (or whatever you want to call the abortion-related stuff), as I see it is kind of like saying: "A woman looking to purchase a prom dress in high school, if at the time under the age of 18, by law must provide the store of purchase with parental consent, if she decides to purchase a dress of X shade of red, or black, e.g.; if she is to purchase a dress of less than X hem-length, or with more than Y skin showing of the lower limbs (aka legs, primarily upper region/thighs); or if she is to purchase a dress that exposes X amount of cleavage, or showing greater than or equal to Y precentage of tit...."Bodily integrity is a concept that refers to the inviolability of the physical body. It emphasizes the importance of personal autonomy and the self-determination of human beings over their own bodies. It considers the violation of bodily integrity as an unethical infringement, intrusive and possibly criminal….The Human Rights and Constitutional Rights project, funded by Columbia Law School, has defined four main areas of potential bodily integrity abuse by governments. These are: Right to Life, Slavery and Forced Labor, Security of One’s Person, Torture and Inhumane, Cruel or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Two key international documents protect these rights: the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Another analogy would be the fiasco that is the political controversy aurrounding male circumcision. Again -- that has become a big, controversial political mess, as has the abortion thing; female circumcision is outright considered inhumane and taboo; so, again -- this begs the question, how is this really any different, other than in the fact it is simply less emotionally weighted? How is this really any different in principle?
Umm… okay, all you mature, responsible, 13, 14…17-year-old teens in New York State (assuming you still actually exist and I’m not having a conversation akin to those of the main protagonists in films like Black Swan or Snake Pit): if Mr. A. Cuomo does not veto this piece of shit legislation, good luck going to your parents any time before your 18th birthday, and being all, “hey, can you sign this consent form for me so I can get my clit/dick/nipples pierced?” That’ll be a highly amusing scenario to hear about repeatedly on, for instance, social media outlets.
Here’s the problem I have with this, and it’s a lot less to do with abortion and pierced genitals or assholes or whatever else, than with the arbitrariness of this type of legislation (not that it’s the only type that reeks of arbitrary power!) And by “arbitrariness”, I am referring to the rationale (or, maybe irrationale….how is that not a real word in the English language, when one based on a term like ‘rational’ is??) for this kind of legislation. At its core, politics is really just morality. All political debates, or at least any of substance, are fundamentally disagreements over moral philosophy, ethics, etc. Now is probably a good time to reiterate an important part of the concept of “bodily integrity”: “…It considers the violation of bodily integrity as an unethical infringement…”
Now, under the assumption that political controversy and disagreement are in fact all moral in nature, why are we asking that minors be required by (state) law to obtain consent for all bodily piercings that are not on the ears? Because it’s immoral? Exactly what/where is the limit of personal choice to which those not of legal age of majority under the law, cannot consent?
Hmmmm…. the infamous grey area of moral politics we meet once again (it should probably start being called the ‘G-spot.’) I did some quasi-research on this issue in question*, and the statements below (from the URL as cited) are so far, I think, the most reasonable evaluations of such matters:
The majority of modification related legislation has little to do with speech or expression in its content or intent. Along with many school level bans it is claimed that the motivation is one of public health and safety. And while many people, modified and not, will support such measures as requiring autoclave testing, gloves, courses in cross contamination and the like it remains to be shown that it is the responsibility and province of the government to put such regulations into place. Such regulations can make the process of getting tattoos or piercings safer but they are also very often used to promote the interests of certain parties or views (i.e. manufacturers of certain products being mandated into use, requiring certifications and memberships from specific associations, or effectively banning tattooing by requiring it be done by a doctor or with a doctor in attendance).The government is not concerned with your health and well being as a matter of altruism. It is only concerned with your condition to the extent that a cattle rancher cares about the health of any individual or group of cows within his herd. And much like the rancher, the government takes action to regulate the procedures and hazards to which you are exposed because it owns you and feels that it is simply maintaining and protecting its property.
* 'quasi-research' by my own personal self-qualifications, means that I cannot claim to have actually ‘researched’ the topic, as I did not seek out peer-reviewed (academic) publications as my primary source of reference on the topic – I simply sought out what I considered to be the best information/analysis on the topic, a judgment which is relatively subjective in nature; In everyday terms, it basically means I did a ‘normal’ Google/internet search.You are government property. They have laid claim to you as possession and currency. The slogans may read 'Hearts and Minds' but it is the ass they're really after….…As such, governments are committed to the management and exploitation of this resource… However, none will abide the population willfully making its own decisions on matters that affect their value as a resource. Think of the rancher analogy and imagine what steps would be taken towards cattle that display self-destructive or herd disruptive behavior. Now consider government attitudes and actions towards …to a lesser extent…many ritual body practices and body modification…Look at the abortion debates, the bottom line has always been one of the government is going to decide what women can legally do with their bodies. The argument of whether or not a procedure is allowed only logically follows after it is conceded that the government gets to make that choice and they get to make that choice because they are the ones that own the bodies.
Granted, yes, this does come off as basically an anarchistic view of governmental institutions and the roles they play. However, if you are amongst the majority of us who believe there is a purpose for a governmental entity in civilized society (presumably; but presumably this is not highly presumptuous a claim to make, nevertheless), it is not any less reasonable a position. If you think about it, what we commonly hear referred to as a “constitutional protection”, or, less often, a “negative freedom” – i.e., a right to freedom from governmental coercion to concede (a) right(s) to government – is essentially a means of maximizing our protection from being treated like (dehumanized) herds of cattle in line for the meat packing plants. Or, on the other side of the same coin, it’s a minimization of governmental power that can potentially be utilized for this purpose. The line between order and abuse of power, between civilized, prosperous society and tyranny (in essence, mass disorder and destruction from the top down), is so small, fragile, sneaky, absolute, and thusly un-G-spot-like, that we need law and order to protect not only law and order in itself, but the abuse of it by its makers.
The latter is exactly what this body modification bullshit is all about. If there is any reason to think otherwise, I am yet to be enlightened.
Post-Script: Please note, I am neither a minor, a hardcore fan of body modification, prospects to become such, an advocate of piercings of publicly concealed body parts in particular, nor a woman or anyone who has ever had any personal involvement with, relation to, or acquaintance of a woman seeking out services for abortion, minor or otherwise.* I have ear piercings (count of 2 total), by choice, I got them both before I was 18 and my parents paid for it. My personal issue therefore in this situation has nothing to do with me, personally, at all. It is rather, a simple matter of principle, and in believing in a civilized society that is characteristically principled (perhaps that is too much to ask of Homo sapiens in this day and age, though.)
*And by that I mean family members, friends, peers, etc.; get your demoralized mind out of the gutter! ;)