Allow Marines to have tattoos

April fool’s day was no joke for marines wanting new ink. Going to prison for getting a tattoo could be a possibility for marines as of April 1. Any new tattoos that are half, quarter or whole sleeve-sized will be scrutinized because of the Marine Corps’ new policy on skin art.

The Marine Corps is defining a sleeve tattoo as “a very large tattoo, or a collection of smaller tattoos, that covers or almost covers a person’s entire arm or leg.” They are defining quarter or half sleeve tattoos as “a very large tattoo, or a collection of smaller tattoos that covers, or almost covers, the entire portions of an arm or leg above or below the elbow or knee.”

“Getting a prohibited tattoo could constitute a violation of a lawful order, punishable by up to two years in prison and a dishonorable discharge,” Marine spokesman 1st Lt. Brian Donnelly stated in a March 31 Associated Press article. The Marines already had a policy against vulgar and anti-American tattoos. That, I can understand. I would be OK with the Marine Corps not allowing a tattoo that glorifies Osama bin Laden. The issue isn’t the content of the tattoos.

It’s the size of the tattoos. How can the Marine Corps decide that there is one too many tattoos on a marine’s forearm?

Also, why are they deciding this? Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James T. Conway, who announced the policy change last week, stated “Some Marines have taken the liberty of tattooing themselves to a point that is contrary to our professional demeanor and the high standards America has come to expect from us,” according to the Associate Press article.

If that’s so, then how in 2003, did a Harris Interactive poll did find that 36 percent of Americans ages 25 to 29, and 28 percent ages 30 to 39, have at least one tattoo? Also, 23 percent of college students have tattoos, according to a 2002 Mayo Clinic study.

If that’s actually the case, and if Americans are viewing marines who have tattoos as not meeting their expectations, then shame on them.

Shame on the non-tattooed person who would look down on a marine, out there fighting to protect our life and liberty, just because he happens to have a tattoo commemorating his fallen brothers. Shame on the single-tattooed person that would snub the marine that has a bigger tattoo or more tattoos then he. And shame on the Marine Corps too for creating this new policy.