Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Think Before Doing Something Irrevocable

A San Antonio apartment complex has a policy against renting to people with lots of body piercings and tattoos. Not surprisingly, a couple that has been refused an apartment is screaming discrimination. From September 25, 2007 WOAI:
It's against the law for landlords to discriminate based on the color of a person's skin. But can they reject you because of what's on your skin?
Some San Antonio apartment complexes are refusing to rent to people with tattoos and body piercings. News 4 WOAI Trouble Shooter Jaie Avila investigates the case of one couple who says that policy is unfair.
Gilbert Carrillo thinks tattoos are an artform. He's been to tattoo conventions and one of his tattoos was featured in a magazine. "Ever since I was 18, to now, 25, bit by bit, covering up here, covering up there."
But last month, Carrillo's tattoos kept him and his wife, Melissa, from moving into an apartment complex called the Villas at Medical Center. "We liked the apartment, we brought them a check for the deposit and a check for the application fee," says Melissa.
Later, Gilbert went by to look at the apartment wearing a short sleeve shirt. The next day, the Carrillos were told they didn't qualify to live there, because the tattoos on Gilbert's arms violated the policy on personal appearance.
"For them to be so judgmental on a person's appearance, and for them to judge someone based on them having a tattoo is just ridiculous, you know," says Melissa.
The Carrillos were also upset that the manager refused to refund their full $70 application fee. But mostly, they feel the policy is discriminatory.
Yup, it's discriminatory. And that's a problem because? "Discriminating" used to mean that you were somewhat demanding--that you didn't like everything, no matter how vulgar or repulsive. The evils of racial discrimination, and the campaign to end it, made the concept of "discriminating" suspect--even though almost everyone engages in discriminating behavior. I don't eat anything and everything that appears on supermarket shelves. I discriminate against animals because I don't treat the same way as people. I discriminate against rude and vulgar people because I find them irritating to be around. Democrats discriminate against Republicans at election time, and vice versa.

I will tell you that my first reaction to people who have tattoos, especially those who have them everywhere, is, "Short-term thinker, are we? Have you thought about how ugly those tattoos are going to be in 30 years? Have you thought about how that tattoo on your breasts is going to look in 20 years, when gravity changes the aspect ratio of that design? Have you considered that instead of looking 'cool' in 20 years, those tattoos are going to make it difficult to get a job?"

I am even more repulsed by a lot of the body modification stuff. I think the piercings everywhere are ridiculous, and mostly show that someone loves pain more than money, but what really repulses me are the "gauges"--when someone isn't content with an earring, but has to keep enlarging the hole until you can put a pencil through it. And then there are the extreme body modifications, with foreign objects under the skin, and the crowd that thinks that making themselves look at least somewhat like non-humans is so cool.

A lot of the tattoos and piercing crowd claim that they are just "expressing themselves." Fine. We're just expressing ourselves when we refuse to hire people or rent to people who want to look like a freak show, or a New Guinea native from a the 1950s National Geographic.

I have never known someone who went down the multiple piercings, tattoos all over path who felt good about themselves. It reminds me way too much of Michael Jackson's continual plastic surgery--an odyssey of pain for no purpose except to avoid confronting what is clearly a very damaged person.

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