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21 March 2011

Views on Tattoos

I'm not a big Twitter-guy, but a friend was visiting from out of town last week and mentioned that he was pretty big on it so I decided to pay attention to my feed really for the first time on Thursday while watching the men's basketball team from my alma mater, Belmont University, play in the NCAA tournament. This tweet came across during the game from the official BU feed:
@BelmontUniv: Announcer quote, "I believe this is the first team in Division I where I haven't seen a tattoo" #BelmontMBB
I remember hearing the announcer say this, and I thought, "What a meaningless observation." The fact that Belmont felt the need to tweet it, evidently finding pride in the fact that our players don't have tattoos, made me quite angry. I tweeted in response:
Tattoos or the lack thereof have nothing to do with basketball, morality, or education. #BelmontMBB
Belmont has been in the news a lot recent. I am proud of my alma mater for many reasons, but it is and has been an institution with an identity crisis. Belmont likes to tout its fairly unique religious identity, but most of her students matriculate because of the world-renowned music business and music programs. In fact, that is what initially took me there. You can imagine the tension that might be inherent between a group of progressive-leaning creative types and a bunch of conservative Evangelicals. (To the university's credit, there is surprisingly little dysfunction or open hostility on campus.) It is official statements like that quoted above, however, that highlight the problems unique to Belmont and more diffuse in our broader culture.
Why would an administrator proudly tweet about the absence of tattoos? Are those of us who choose to get tattoos bad people? Are we ignorant? Are we bad role models? I think that if this administrator had taken a second to think about what s/he was posting, s/he would have realized its absurdity.

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