Military tattoo?

Guess which one is the killer.

I know I’m hardly likely to win any sympathy on this one. But since I’ve been shoving my opinions down your throats none too subtly, I might as well continue the trend.

The prime minister has asked the police to reconsider a clause in recruitment conditions which bars applications from people who wear tattoos – see www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20120613/local/tattoos-ban-on-police-recruits-being-reconsidered.424142.  I wasn’t even aware that this ban is in place; the knowledge that such petty red-tape found its way in the police regulations just makes me see red.

I realize that this cause is hardly up there on the list of things that need fixing in our lives. Compared to, say, the scourge of racism, the problem of homophobia  or even the antics of some of our MPs … the statement is hardly likely to merit the high priority tag.

Still, I find that the fact this regulation exists  is, to a certain extent, a reflection of the intolerance of the society we live in. And an obvious manifestation of the facile way many of us do not bother to look beyond the stereotypes we have been fed all our lives.

This idea to ban tattoos is wrong on many levels.  If we’re after improving the image of the corps, it’s not body ink that we should be looking into. It’s things like police officers drinking on the job. Or maybe taking cuts on the side. Or even officers with anger management issues. None of these problems require the presence of ink in the body.

When I posted the link to the above report online, some of the reactions shocked me. Someone said that police-officers sporting tattoos look unprofessional. A rather subjective word to use, and I don’t think that I’d like our regulations to be based on a subjective interpretation of the word “professional”. After all, corporate workers and public officials in other European countries are not required to hide tattoos and they tend to look professional enough.

Someone else went to the extreme of likening tattoos to “vandalism”. Right. Because adorning my own body in the way I like is exactly the same as defacing public property.

Of course common sense needs to be exercised. I’d hardly be likely to accept someone with visible tattoos that are offensive/obscene/hatred-inducing in any position, public or otherwise. Then again, the same goes for anyone who sports an offensive/obscene/hatred-inducing tee-shirt. It’s really not that difficult to employ some common sense.

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Comments

  1. Safety Pin says:

    Ramona, such a clause (although not written on paper) is in force in many places of work. Some even enforce “normal” hair colour as a criteria for employment! (Yes its happened to me once!). Even in places where it will not affect your employment chances, visible tattoos and non-traditional piercings have to be covered with a plaster or bandage.

    • “Normal” hair colour eh…that’s a new one. Though having said that I doubt I would be welcomed with bright blue hair at the office. I’ve always wanted bright blue/purple hair. Ah well…

      • Safety Pin says:

        Why should it make a difference? How is hair colour/tattoos/piercings offending others? Some people can have none of these and still look unprofessional and shabby, and vice versa. Unless it proves to be infringing health and safety rules (ex long hair in a restaurant kitchen, rings on a hair dresser etc etc) it shouldn’t make a difference.

        And yes, during an interview to work in a drug agency, I was told that my unnatural hair colour would put me into the stereotype of the client group. To which I answered, wouldn’t I be encouraging the opposite of what you are so unhealthily doing – ie encouraging the stereotype that if you’re different then you have to be an addict?

        No answer was given except – that’s our policy.

        Effing ridiculous.

  2. Safety Pin says:

    Maybe they should enforce things like not being senile or overweight while being courteous and willing to help people as criteria among the police force. Would certainly be more useful.

  3. David says:

    I’m half with you on this one. I was a bit surprised when I read the article in the Times about the tattoo ban. I can sympathise with the notion that -for example – a facial tattoo worn by a police officer sends out a rather ambiguous message. However, if you took a head count of Maltese people in their twenties, I think you’d find that at least 25% of them have some type of body art, and that’s a large chunk of potential recruits you’re eliminating. I don’t think an unobtrusive/concealed tattoo should bar anyone from joining the force, as tattoos today don’t have the same connotations or stigma as they used to.

  4. KatZ says:

    I don’t know what reasons behind the ban on tattoos that this particular prime minister had, but here is a reason why it is not so good for police to have tattoos or anything else that marks them out for that matter ( based on the conversation with a friend who is in fact a policeman). The reason is simple. The police is a person who works with criminals on daily basis. The criminals are not the easily forgiving type, so any distinct mark on the policemen’s body, such as tattoos or easily seen piercings, are the great identifiers for this criminal’s friends to find, kill or hurt this particular officer. This is ever more important for the police who work undercover. The “standard” they look, the better. As per my friend, the best police officer to send undercover is the one whose face you forget just a millisecond after seeing it. That also goes for the clothing and accessories, such as piercings and tattoos.

    On the other hand, I agree with your point that people should be free to choose if they want to decorate their bodies with different types of ornaments or piercings. It’s their choice and shouldn’t stand in the way of their professional career. However if it will make them easy target for criminal vendetta, they have no one else to blame either.

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