No Tattoo For You!

For the last few months, I’ve been scrimping away money to restart my tattoo collecting. I currently have three altogether, all from different shops in my area, and out of the three who did the work, I decided to return to one in particular. I liked the artists that worked there, and trusted their professionalism so much so that I’ve unfailingly recommended this tattoo parlor to everyone that would ask me where to go for quality artistry.

That all changed this morning when I received a response to an inquiry I’d sent a week ago. now, I’d already contacted the shop prior to the message I received this morning, and even had a Saturday appointment set. The email said the following about the piece I’d requested to be done:

 

“What on earth did you request to be tattooed?” , you might be wondering. Take a look for yourself, and keep in mind where the turtle is, I was wanting a stack of holy books instead. You know, the Bible, the Qur’an, and probably the Talmud. Essentially a sci fi Alice in Wonderland being depicted as having conquered religious fantasy. I really wanted her as a centerpiece to my science fiction themed sleeve I planned to create.

 

Now, I found his response to my original design inquiry to be preposterous. Especially as this refusal is on behalf of the entire shop, and not just a particular artist not wanting to do it. Even more frustrating is the fact they’ve already done an anti religious fashioned tattoo for me a few years ago, and Alice is a sweet picnic in a park compared to the previous tattoo I am talking about now. Check it out.

madonna_with_child_tattoo_by_ashcraftgirl-d3km0c1

 

So, I responded as civilly as I could muster. I mean, I felt my anti religious attitude was being equated to racists or gang behavior. I was angry and confused at the change in standards. I wanted to know why anything anti religious was taboo, and more importantly, why this shop didn’t recognize the hate inspired by crosses, bible verses, and so on. All I got for an answer was a whole lotta avoidance.

At this point, I realized it was hopeless to argue, but I called out his obvious discrimination, and made it clear this kind of supported societal “correctness” flew in the face of the freedom of expression that is intrinsic to tattoo art. And of course I said I’d quit crediting his shop.

Now, in my mind this discussion has ended. And frankly, I am the one ending it, so this is a business owner’s dream scenario when disappointing a customer. He wasn’t going to really explain why he lumps anti religious material in with gang art or racist propaganda. I was wrong about that. In fact, Godwin’s Law came into full display. Yes. He played the Hitler card! Insert the Reductio Ad Hitlerum.

Sci fi Alice in Wonderland conquering dogma? Bad.

Hitler…because…history? Acceptable.

See this big pond full of what looks like excrement? It’s a mile deep, and he went for a dip in it. Hitler, as a historical reference is okay, he claims. Alice stepping lightly on neatly stacked holy books is a no go.

Just…wow.

 

I could understand if she were resting a foot on the executed corpse of Christ, and you have Allah laying on the other side of the ground with his head cut off while she towers over them both with a gun in one hand and her trusty light saber in her other. I just wanted holy books, but you’d think I was asking for the head of John the Baptist.

Even more insulting is he then turns it around like he is doing me a favor for refusing to do the work. He is somehow protecting me from the bad things people do because of images and words they are exposed to. He is saving the entirety of northern Kentucky from my anti religious inspired blood bath by insisting he will not create my requested art. I guess he figured how ridiculous that sounded because he ended the whole poorly thought out philosophized excuse by declaring we all are entitled to our own opinions.

 

So, here is my opinion that I am entitled to. This wasn’t a professional denial of service at all. It was a personal one. I would bet money he started perusing my social media profile and didn’t like it. It has nothing to with being worried about offending the public or going against whatever barely believable social correctness he wants to follow. Look at the tattoos this shop has gladly put to skin over the last eighteen months.

 

I see anti religious content.

I definitely see gang related art.

Oh, and the politics he claims to not like tattooing? Funny. Seems there is that too.

The bottom line here is that I was blatantly discriminated against on a personal level. There’s no other way to ice this cake, but I did manage to sweeten the frosting to something I like. I went to four other equally rated shops in the area, all of them agreed to do Alice, no problem. THEN, I showed them this shop’s bullshit refusal. Now the competition has a nice little edge in competition to show clients who considered this “politically correct” shop.

Now, in the spirit of not trying to create another Memories Pizza incident, I am not naming the parlor that has caused me so much disappointment. I think my sharing with other parlors what has happened will be good enough. And to the tattoo shop owner who believes in opinions over how the world really works?

Yeah, I ‘ve got a right to my opinion, and I hope your business feels its bite, pal.

 

 

 

I Dream Of Mayberry

blog-0460848001427939459“I miss the good old days. You know, when things were simpler and more pure. Like Mayberry.”

This is probably one of the most absolutely ridiculous notions in America today. Seriously. What makes it worse would be the fact that everyone wants things to be like Mayberry. They wish for Mayberry whenever they hear news about legislation that favors quicker immigration is being considered. They cry for Mayberry’s Christian family values whenever they hear yet another state is willing to acknowledge and offer benefits to married gay couples.

Even politicians use the good ole times excuse when passing discriminating legislation. Take Asa Hutchinson, governor of Arkansas for example. He was just about to sign into law one of those Religious Restoration Acts, and after seeing the backlash in Indiana, has become nervous about what he is about to do, deciding to send the legislation back for revision instead. His public statement? “….in ordinary times this bill would not be controversial, but these are not ordinary times.”

Which basically is saying,”Why can’t we be in Mayberry again?”

I hate to break it to you, but the circumstances of Mayberry never existed in America. Never, ever. Never, ever, never, ever, ever, EVER. People see that 1960’s family show and treat it like an honest representation of the all American family. God, common sense, and small government. This governor I was mentioning grew up watching the show, and others with similar themes. He doesn’t understand that Mayberry, while set in the 60’s expanding economy, was based on the simpler times of the 1930’s. There was a desire for nostalgia to be brought into the show, and that is why folk music, church, and focus on family were incorporated.

So, what? Then let’s go back to the 30’s then. They were good times, right?

You tell me.

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The only thing good about the 1930’s was the increased desire for simple living, and that’s mostly because they didn’t have a choice back then. With the desire for simple living came an increased demand for folk music and art. Jobs were scarce thanks to the Depression. Add the agricultural disasters like the Dust Bowl on top of it? Food was scarce too. Tradition became king during that decade before WWII broke out, and so did a tough as nails attitude when faced with desperation to survive. Mayberry never bothered with any of that. It had the lush economy of the 1960’s story setting to keep the ugly struggles of the Depression away.

The Andy Griffith Show was brilliant in its almost seamless meshing of our cultural past with the modern reality of the 1960’s. Writers of the show used the traditions of the past and the modern conveniences of the future to show an ideal situation for us all to admire and look toward for our own lives. But in reality, it was an illusion. It was used to cushion the depressing news of Vietnam’s bloody loss of lives. It was an escape from the torrid television coverage of news coverage of the draft, desegregation, and outright riots in the streets at major university campuses.

Mayberry never truly existed in our history. The good ole days, depending on which generation you look to, never had it as good as Mayberry. The entire purpose of the Andy Griffith Show wasn’t to highlight reality. It hid the ugly racism that demanded blacks sit at the back of the bus. The show didn’t touch on sexual revolution that was occurring in America of the 60’s, preferring to focus on what would be seen as wholesome and Christian like in nature. And that is what a television show is supposed to do. Provide a feel good atmosphere to distract its viewers from the harsh reality of the world around them for a little while.

I doubt the writers ever intended for its young audience to actually twist their story into an unconscious remembrance of actual time and place though, but that is what has happened. Certainly the producers never intended for their little imagined town of impossibility to become an actual goal for modern society. It just won’t work.

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Yet, that is what many who long for the good ole days want. They want modern convenience, traditions of the past, and all the issues of the world to magically go away and just follow their desired story line. Keep things simple by making everyone follow the same structure of reality. If you don’t want to play along, go away and be quiet so everyone else can be comfortable. If you don’t be quiet, then they’ll legislate you away. These ultra conservatives refuse to accept Mayberry’s perfect store fronts, comical barber, and admired sheriff as the illusion they truly were. Much like their bibles, conservative Christians cling to the idea that simpler times are a panacea for all the sin in the world. That in a Mayberry setting, who can say no to God? After all, there is less temptation, less opportunity wander off the divine path to Heaven.

And if everyone is godly, then society will automatically improve. This is something that Mayberry never ever even remotely insisted upon.

Ironically, Mayberry has several characters that never quite fit in. Even more ironic is that, despite not fitting in, or even truly conforming, one character really did have a positive impact on the town. I think you all know who I am referring to in particular.

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Yes, Ernest T. Bass is who I’m talking about. Deputy Fife saw him as a nut. Myself? Ernest was an innovator. He showed ingenuity, determination, a knack for making people think outside their own interest. He even managed to garner support from Sheriff Taylor himself. All the while he completely clashed with the fundamental principles the town operated on. And he wasn’t the only one that showed doubt about the moral reasoning of his fellow townsfolk. I particularly enjoyed an episode where Barney and Andy get into a bit of a debate about psychic phenomena.

Again, there is wiggle room, and even a willingness to understand where the other is coming from, as you see Andy completely indulge Barney’s agnosticism about Aladdin’s Lamp. While this particular scene is meant to be humorous, it shows a willingness to meet in the middle, and at least discuss why a person feels a certain way. On top of that, you also see it is okay to just agree to disagree. This is how society has to work in order to succeed. How all these truly wonderful examples of functioning society have been blatantly ignored in favor of an impossible one size fits all lifestyle is beyond me.

Many evangelicals are simply banding together because they share a common belief structure, with little care of how crude and divisive their behavior is to the society around them. They are removed from the rest of America’s citizenry. Rather being pit against the entire world than be willing to compromise, this mentality will cost them dearly in the future. Someone needs to effectively demonstrate that strength isn’t necessarily in just numbers anymore, but in that of overall unity. Being contrary simply because of cultural differences is both foolish and costly for our future.

Will they ultimately decide to leave our shores and found their own country like the Pilgrims or Puritans? I hope not. The Pilgrims at first found England too corrupt, so they left to Holland. In Holland, their children were assimilating to Dutch culture, and they found that unacceptable and then left again, this time to America. The Puritans left England and started over in America later. What happened once in America? They started to divide against each other, and formed their own separate churches. You had witch trials. Heresy charges. Adultery? Capital charges that could get you jail time, public whipping and more.

The bottom line here is that Christianity has to quit running away from the world and consider picking up a few lessons from other cultures. This doctrine, and its leaders, obviously can’t handle it out there on their own, constantly running away from problems or insisting everyone else must conform to their standards. It’s time for them to make reasonable accommodation for the world around them, not the other way around.

There isn’t a land large enough or a television show’s interpretation well written enough to give these zealots the perfect Christian theocracy they desire. They are the authors of their own destruction, even when on their own with only the same ilk around them.

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Brother Jeff Responds to Brother Jacob

Brother Jacob contacted me today via my Religion is Bullshit Page on Facebook. He had this to say:

“You have obviously never read the bible so you have no room to dis it. Religion is not bullshit, ISLAM and Obama are bulshit. You dumb fuck. Think independently for once”

I can just feel the Christian love! Glory!

Here is the rest of our glorious conversation:

Me: Jacob, thanks so much for your kind, considerate, and well thought out message. I have indeed read the Bible and I am thoroughly familiar with its contents. I agree with you that Islam is bullshit, but so is Christianity. The Bible is bullshit too, and I’ll dis it all I care to as often as I care to. President Obama’s legacy as one of the better presidents we have had in recent times has already been sealed. Overall, he has been an outstanding president and I wholeheartedly applaud the job he has done since he as been in office. Have a nice day. Glory!

Brother Jacob: You are stupid and no nothing about Obama or religion because if you did read the bible you would not think it was bullshit.. You sir are bullshit

Me: Jacob, thanks once again for your kind and considerate response.

I know a great deal about both the Bible and the Christian religion. If you had read this Page or my www.religionisbullshit.me website, you would know that.

Brother Jacob: No I have read it and its a bunch of lies. You sir have done nothing good for this world… Go die in a hole

Brother Jacob: If you did know anything about Obama you would not say he is a better president. Do you know anything about Iran or israel

Me: Yes, I have some knowledge of Israel and Iran, though I am not overly interested in the affairs of either country. However, I am not open to having a discussion with you on the subject unless you can manage to do so in a civil manner. I am done responding to you if you insist on addressing me in such an insulting manner. Once again, have a nice day, and thanks so much for sharing the love of Jesus with me in such an awesome way. Glory!

Me: Everything published on my glorious website is 100% accurate and true. If it wasn’t, it wouldn’t be there. You are welcome to disagree with me, but you are not welcome to continue to insult me and my work.

Brother Jacob: Jesus is my savor and Muhammad is my enemy. Their is a holy war going on in the middle east and you side with the oppessors?? Obama is the bible villian HAMAN. Do you have any idea what that means

Brother Jacob: Who is haman then smart guy????

Brother Jacob: Exactly you are stupid and are.not interested in those affairs because it connects so deeply to the bible. Fuck you

Me: Fuck you too, Jacob. And, once again, thanks again for sharing the love of Jesus with me in such a glorious way. Glory!

Brother Jacob sent me a few more messages which I chose not to respond to because I’ve got better things to do with my time than argue with a fundie Christian asshole. He claims to be Libertarian rather than a Republican, but it’s obvious that he subscribes to some weird right-wing conspiracy theories involving President Obama, Israel, and Iran… which I also do not have time for…