Diatribe: Michael Smith’s 9 mm Pistol Tattoo.
Last Tuesday, Michael Smith of Norridgewock, Maine, who works the nightshift was woken at 10:00 a.m. by workers contracted by Central Maine Power to clear trees near power lines on his property. Smith, shirtless, opened his front door to tell the workers from Lucas Tree Experts to leave. The workers mistook Smith’s life-size tattoo of a 9 mm pistol on the right side of his stomach for a real gun, felt threatened and called the authorities who quickly arrived with assault rifles and asked Smith through a megaphone to come outside.
Smith’s story quickly went viral and fueled debate and discussion across the web about everything from gun rights, civil liberties, personal freedom and expression, the police response and the actions of the tree trimmers.
“It’s gotten a lot of attention and I don’t understand why. I don’t even know why this happened to me. I’m not someone with views about guns that I want to rattle off. I don’t know what the big deal is.” – Michael Smith.
Of course, I can’t help but wonder if this isn’t exactly the sort of response that Mr. Smith hoped to receive when he tattooed a life-size gun on his right hip. On the other hand, I believe a man who owns a properly licensed and registered 9 mm pistol is certainly well within his rights to stand in his own doorway with it tucked into his belt.
I’ll never understand why some people get the tattoos that they do and I don’t think I’m necessarily supposed to. The addition of body art is an extremely personally decision and I’m starting to learn that it’s one that I shouldn’t question. Of course, there are still some tattoos that might keep one out of Fortune 500 board rooms and I seriously believe that many people become obsessed with their “ink”, but I’m learning to appreciate the beauty of carrying meaningful artwork with you at all times.
I try not to judge. The commemoration of a precious memory as a tasteful and well-placed tattoo can truly be a beautiful thing … but a picture of a gun on your hip could be hazardous to your health.
What do you think? If you were trimming Smith’s trees, would you have called the police?
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