Nanny State: Controlling Piercing Controls Self-Expression

28 April 2007

Controlling Piercing Controls Self-Expression

While a war rages in Iraq, and thousands die of AIDS and starvation in underdeveloped countries, Americans are debating piercing. According to Leigh Carter of The East Carolinian, body piercing is an ancient practice; even Otzi the Iceman had an ear piercing. Furthermore, in the Bible, ear piercing and nose piercing are mentioned. In ancient Aztec and Mayan civilizations, tongue piercing was evident among the affluent — though in their case it was a blood ritual.

Clearly, America's current fascination with piercing is nothing new. From a historical perspective, it is merely a continuation of practices already ingrained in our society. It is a form of self-expression, and a part of certain cultural identities. Women in India, for example, have been practicing nostril piercing for centuries. So if piercing is as common as history (ancient and current) suggests, why would lawmakers in New York consider banning certain piercing?

Supporters of the ban claim that it's meant to protect consumers. It's a simple fact that there are health risks involved in piercing. Complications such as infections are the most common, but obviously anything could go wrong. But the government cannot expect to baby consumers. Since most states have laws that require minors to have parental consent for piercing, any further legislation prohibiting certain types of piercing would be challenging an adult's ability to make a decision. Which means people eighteen years of age or older are capable of deciding who can lead America as President, but cannot be trusted to make an intelligent decision about decorating their bodies.

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