Bountiful Screws Body Modifiers

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The city of Bountiful, Utah, recently approved a ban on visible tattoos and piercings.  City employees who have tattoos that predate the policy can keep their jobs, but if they choose to get more tattoos they're "deemed to have resigned their employment from the city."

There's not much one can say when a privately owned company openly refuses to hire people with neck and face tattoos (a big deal in the news segment, for some reason), or forearm tattoos, or rare facial piercings, but local governments should think twice before blatantly rejecting current and future employees for representing a certain, distasteful subculture. 

In addition to smacking of social conservatism run amok, the policy seems to have some exploitable legal weaknesses. Allowing women but not men to pierce their ears sounds a lot like sexual discrimination (or something so antiquated that I don't have a label for it in my Gen Y paradigm), and grandfathering in tattoos but not piercings assumes that tattoos cost more—to get and/or to remove—than piercings, which is sometimes true, sometimes not. Can workers cover up with tattoo concealer? Can they use clear spacers in their labret piercings? And what if a woman has a large gauge ear piercing? Does the policy speak directly to size? What's the cut-off? Why there?

And if all those charts and blood and needles and pieces of cold, stainless, surgical steel are just too damn confusing and upsetting for the Ma and Pa councilmembers who pushed this through, why'd they get involved in evicting tax payers from the jobs they created?

I can't imagine a big coastal city pulling a stunt like this—Philly without its inked, drilled, scarred, and needled city workers just wouldn't be Philly—but Utah ain't coastal, and it sure as hell ain't big city.

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  1. That’s totally what Jesus would do.

  2. Jesus would fucking smite anyone with the mark of a devil on them…you know, a tattoo or piercing. goddamn satan worshipping heathens.

  3. Now if only I can get my local Dunkin Donuts to adapt a similar policy. I find nothing as obtuse or inpenetrable as a young’un dropping half their disposable income on ascribing the cosmetic attributes of modern primitivism onto their person, and working at a chain coffee outlet to earn the scratch.
    I wouldn’t let an actual aboriginal prepare me a cup of coffee, let alone a fake one.

  4. Tons of preppy girls around here have those little studs on the side of their nose. Do those count as facial piercings?

  5. Are people born with the desire to tattoo and pierce, or is it a choice?

    Why are we talking about this again? The free market will work this out.

  6. Why are we talking about this again? The free market will work this out.

    ROFL. Yes, the market will make us all prettier, the girls’ boobs fuller and the guys’ dicks longer.

  7. It’s their city. They should be able to do whatever they want. People who feel otherwise can move.

  8. It’s their city. They should be able to do whatever they want. People who feel otherwise can move.

    In other news, Anytown, USA has voted by majority to erect a giant fence around the town perimeter to prevent people from entering or leaving.

    Responding to minority complaints, the Mayor noted: “It’s our city. We should be able to do whatever we want. People who feel otherwise can move.”

  9. I don’t like visible tattoes on policemen. It makes them look like the criminals they are supposed to arrest.

  10. It’s their city. They should be able to do whatever they want. People who feel otherwise can move.

    Dan, we’ve missed you.

  11. In other news, Anytown, USA has voted by majority to erect a giant fence around the town perimeter to prevent people from entering or leaving.

    Responding to minority complaints, the Mayor noted: “It’s our city. We should be able to do whatever we want. People who feel otherwise can move.”

    With the correction, I don’t have too much of a problem with this philisophically. If I were a resident of Anytown, I’d vote against it. If it passed, I would probably move. And as a practical matter, it would be a complete disaster to Anytown. But, if that’s what they want to do, well, they should be able to.

  12. This will work itself out – if they can’t get enough pristine employees. I’m guessing they can’t. I’m visibly tattooed. I started at 18 and had my most recent a month ago. I haven’t had any problem getting a job. I work for the DOE, security clearance and all, and am paid very well. As well as my non-tattooed colleagues.

  13. And I’d say there’s even more of a case for the govt to ‘discriminate’ in its employment policies.

    why’d they get involved in evicting tax payers from the jobs they created?

    Govt employees are, by definition, net tax receivers, not payers. (disclaimer: I’m one myself)

  14. I suppose you could be a net tax payer if your someone like Henry Paulson.

  15. ROFL. Yes, the market will make us all prettier, the girls’ boobs fuller and the guys’ dicks longer.

    Well, yes.

    The free market has created cosmetics, orthodontics, teeth whiteners, face lifts, rogaine, photoshop, silicone & saline implants, viagra, enzyte* and penis enlargering pumps**

    *ok, these and all the rest of the ‘natural enhancement’ products are probably all scams

    ** like * this could be worthless, but I have no idea, this sort of thing ain’t my bag, baby.

  16. Kolohe —

    It was a joke. You know, riffing on the obvious conflict between having a fence that doesn’t let you leave and some yahoo-in-charge saying you can leave any time.

    Anywho…I have a strong problem with the notion that any polity can by majority vote do arbitrarily stupid things to members of that polity. Limited government is limited precisely because something should be out of reach of the majority. Now, I don’t think banning tattoos for city employees is one of them, but the general attitude leads to things that are actually really serious problems.

  17. Well, yes.

    Well…no. Your thesis fails because it elides snugly over the word “all” in my original sentence.

    Sure, people working in a free market have created devices, products, and techniques that are accessible to some. But the market isn’t a magic machine for making everyone prosperous.

  18. Thank god I live in North Dakota, where the worst that can happen is I get busted for tainted spit…

  19. LMNOP, did not pick up on that.

    I have a strong problem with the notion that any polity can by majority vote do arbitrarily stupid things to members of that polity.

    I’m a big fan of limited govt myself, but get slightly more ‘liberal’ as you go lower down in scale (because of the idealistic notion that you have more relative influence the local you go, and that the people that run to govt generally have more of a chance to personally see, or even live with the results of their positions.

    My opinion is that there is a difference between doing stupid things to specifc members of the polity (e.g. we can’t let a black guy drink from a water fountain, or we’re going to pick on a billards club owner because he was a romantic rival and/or you want to redevelop the strip mall) and doing stupid things to the polity as a whole – or to every single individual.

    The later case the consequences (remember consquentialism? I think it was you) of the polity doing stupid stuff to the entire community will result in either a net exodous of commerce, people, or most likely both. – and thus is self correcting.

  20. But the market isn’t a magic machine for making everyone prosperous.

    OTOH, it’s damn close, and better than everything else ever tried.

  21. OTOH, it’s damn close, and better than everything else ever tried.

    With that minor alteration, you could squeeze out a full agreement from me.

    I’m a big fan of limited govt myself, but get slightly more ‘liberal’ as you go lower down in scale (because of the idealistic notion that you have more relative influence the local you go, and that the people that run to govt generally have more of a chance to personally see, or even live with the results of their positions.

    I like to think I believe that too (and I often trot it out in arguments I have with more statist interlocutors) and on optimistic days I do, but even my own experience bears out the rather more depressing notion the even the most petty official can be an unshakable tyrant. Sometimes local control *cements* rather than loosens the grip of a tyrannical individual or faction.

    The later case the consequences (remember consequentialism? I think it was you) of the polity doing stupid stuff to the entire community will result in either a net exodus of commerce, people, or most likely both. – and thus is self correcting.

    So long as the harms in the meanwhile are piddling I agree. Sometimes they are not. This consequentialist approach has not driven out drug laws, nor did it historically drive out segregation.

  22. consequentialist approach has not driven out drug laws, nor did it historically drive out segregation.

    I tried to acknowledge that segregation, and really, any action by either the majority and/or the government that targets a specific person or group of people, is different, and generally requires outside action to fix (e.g. Ike’s Nat’l Guard troops in Little Rock, the A-Team in every podunk town west of the Rockies)

    And drugs laws are the same everywhere*, so there is no differential pressure that would drive them out.

    *in North America, with the possible exception of medical MJ. which is under federal assault.

  23. Sounds like the Mormons are putting the squeeze on the non-believers.

  24. “Bountiful Screws” would be a great name for a bod-mod shop…

  25. This will work itself out – if they can’t get enough pristine employees. I’m guessing they can’t.

    I bet they can. We’re talking about Bountiful, Utah. I’ve been there. The town has a Mormon Temple in it, and is probably about 80% LDS, like most of Utah outside of the Salt Lake City area. The place is full of Morbot women who wear just a single pair of modestly sized earrings because The Prophet told them to do so, and Elder Bednar gave a General Conference speech criticizing those women who didn’t immediately comply when the authoritarian edict wise counsel of the Prophet was given.

    That being said, I support the right of employers, including public employers, to set whatever the hell dress code they want, including banning tattoos and piercings, or for that matter making them mandatory. If you don’t like the oppressive dress code, don’t fucking work for them. Tell them if they want you, they have to either change the policy or get you an exception to it.

  26. Aren’t tattoos a custom in the military? I guess they’re willfully leaving former servicemen looking for public service employment out of a job. I mean, you can’t expect this to extend to firefighters as well, right? Those guys are always all tatted up.

  27. I don’t see anything wrong with appearance standards for employment, even in the public sector. If you don’t like it, quit and go elsewhere.

    Rules against wearing moth-eaten Black Sabbath teeshirt: no problem.
    Rules against ragged ungroomed beard: no problem.
    Rules against multiple facial piercings: no problem.
    Rules against office nudity: no problem.

    I hate to use the term “community standards”, but I think that applies here. I just don’t see the problem with an employer requiring a professional and discreet appearance based on the community’s dress custom.

    If you don’t like it, quit. No really, quit and get a job elsewhere.

  28. Brandybuck —

    So long as it is part of the agreement for hire *at the time of the hiring*, fine, and grandfather everyone else in. You negotiate a hiring and a wage based on the agreement and the policies at that time. Smart employers would include a clause in the contract/employment agreement saying that the employer may establish (and change) standards for employee appearance. Not every employer is smart.

    Either way, a law is *not* necessary.

  29. Agreed, a law is not necessary. But I’m sick of human pincushions whining to be recognized as a minority group deserving of official coddling.

  30. Elemenope:

    Why do you want every place to be the same?

    Some towns will do things YOU disagree with. You could be mature and get over that.

  31. Why do you want every place to be the same?

    What in blood-soaked Ysgard are you talking about?

    I do not wish for every place to be the same. That sounds incredibly boring. But if I did have a hope, it would be that on balance places would respect the dignity and freedom of their members to the extent practically possible.

    Is that so terrible?

    And, pointedly, is it so terrible to voice criticism of those things one finds objectionable?

  32. Either way, a law is *not* necessary.

    Agreed, but it’s their state. They’re welcome to bugger it up however they want, within the constraints of the fed and state constitutions, and we’re free to steer clear of them and find a state with laws to our liking, or at least one with the least objectionable laws.

  33. Agreed, but it’s their state.

    Agreed, but of course nothing precludes us from criticizing/mocking them for it. 🙂

  34. but Utah ain’t coastal, and it sure as hell ain’t big city.

    Ahh, yes – flyover country. We’re so diverse and cosmopolitan here on the coasts that we can’t accept that some people have different lifestyles and values than we do.

  35. Indeed, it appears that this particular town does not wish its representatives (city employees) to appear as if they are moonlighting twice nightly in a freak show. It’s their town. And comparing it with Philadelphia might not have been the wisest choice, tactically.

  36. Coincidentally, this is the exact same policy found in Mormon culture and its institutions like BYU. Wait, scratch the coincidentally part.

  37. Brandybuck wrote:
    I don’t see anything wrong with appearance standards for employment, even in the public sector. If you don’t like it, quit and go elsewhere.

    Rules against wearing moth-eaten Black Sabbath teeshirt: no problem.
    Rules against ragged ungroomed beard: no problem.
    Rules against multiple facial piercings: no problem.
    Rules against office nudity: no problem.

    I hate to use the term “community standards”, but I think that applies here. I just don’t see the problem with an employer requiring a professional and discreet appearance based on the community’s dress custom.

    If you don’t like it, quit. No really, quit and get a job elsewhere.

    Brandybuck, I’m not sure what exactly your point is or how exactly it’s supposed to go. But what does look pretty clear is that your point would go equally well for rules against Catholics, or rules against women, or rules against blacks. This is a seriously unacceptable consequence, so there must be something seriously wrong with your point.

  38. I’d like to see a Maori sue the city for religious discrimination.

    I suspect, however, that there aren’t a lot of traditional Maori tribespeople living in Bountiful, so my wish is likely to be unfulfilled.

    Actually, though, I wonder if there are any other laws in Bountiful that are designed to dovetail with this one, in order to (when taken together) ensure that only Mormons can work for the government?

  39. Back when I intended to become a lawyer, I always said that if my career really worked out, and I ended up getting appointed to SCOTUS, after being sworn in I would show up for my first day on the bench with Maori tribal patterns tattooed all over my face. Just to piss everyone off, once it was too late to fire me.

  40. Fuck you, All you god loving fucks you can go to hell there isn’t a damn thing wrong with getting a tattoo. Or piercings, Its all you god damn mormons and your fucked up rules so have a pretty god loving fucking. Comunity. Your the reason that this state is the most hated of the other 49. And if you had it your way you wouldnt even be part of the USA.
    Go the hell you fucking mormons.

    All you mormons send your minions out to get others to join your occult. When your population drops each year. When are you mormons going to drink your magick punch and go to your mother ship. The world would be better off with out you.

    There isn’t any reason you should be here unless you enjoy trying to make other people feel like shit. The flds keeps to them selfs why cant you. There are other people in this world that arent mormon and dont want to be. Leave us alone and go fuck your self with your book up your ass.

  41. I agree with you this State is their own continent. They have their own little rule and their own ways it’s Fucked Up!
    I live here and I am not going to move just because they want to control people, my family lives here and I am a family person so Fuck that. I have no Tattoos or Major peircings but my husband does and he has had a hell of a time finding a job. One Interveiwer called him a freak, That’s Fucked UP!!!!!! It’s Discrimination and that is what this is, It’s DISCRIMINATION!!!!!!!!!!!! Soon they will go after people who have a disability,age, race , or if you are not MORMON!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am sick of this Shit and I will take a STAND!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I work at a job that is going through some changes and dress code is one of them. Since this has came into affect more than 50 people have quit or got fired for their tattoos and peircings, it’s crap.

    I have talked to many business people out of this state about this topic and they all feel this State is fucked up and have their own little rules and they refuse to come here because of all the DISCRIMINATION and PREACHING of the “CHURCH”…..

    God loves everyone and doesn’t care what you look like all he wants is poeple to do Good Deeds and HONOR YOUR NEIGHBOR!!!!!!!!!!!!

    This stuff has to STOP. Before it turn out to be World War Three in this State. So lets all get along Black or White, Pierced and Tattooed or Not OK!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. I just want to say. Good for you. Really! I live in Cleveland, Ohio. Tattoo’s are popping up everywhere. Everyone wants one, well…a lot of people do. They’re are so many tattoo parlors too. Jobs arent throwing people out because of them but are becoming more accepting. I work at a health food place, most of my coworkers have a ton of tattoos and piercings and no one stops coming into the store because of it. Its crazy. And for people saying only criminals have tattoos?!? Thats crazy. God isnt going to reject you because of a tattoo. What about the tattoo’s that are for god, the Bible verses, the crosses, the angels, etc. HAVING A TATTOO DOES NOT MAKE YOU A BAD PERSON.

      Fight for this! It’s a good cause.

  42. I can’t imagine a big coastal city pulling a stunt like this-Philly without its inked, drilled, scarred, and needled city workers just wouldn’t be Philly-but Utah ain’t coastal, and it sure as hell ain’t big city.

    The costal states are too busy destroying food trucks and banning human egg sales.

  43. This is stupid, we are born with our bodies, why should someone tell us or limit us to what we can and cannot do. In most countries tattoo’s and scars are looked upon as a positive. Here in American its negative? Its the sign of the devil? Are you nuts? God gave us people artistic abilities and FREE WILL to do what we please. Tattooing is a form of art, I feel that no one should tell me what I can put on my body. As long as it isnt causing panic or anything against to law.

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  45. You’ll need your tin foil to keep your prozac in

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