I’m not a piercing or tattoo kinda guy. No problem if others have them, just not me. I’ve never understood the appeal, and I’ve yet to see anyone on whom any artwork or attachment beyond earrings made them more attractive.
That doesn’t mean that I’m opposed to anyone getting a tattoo, a piercing, or anything else they want on or in their body. You want to paint your ears purple, shove a number two pencil up your right nostril, and go about your daily life, that’s none of my business. And it’s none of the government’s business, either.
Yet, the Illinois legislature is in the midst of passing a bill that would prohibit one particular type of body modification: tongue splitting. It seems that the genius polticians in Springfield have fixed every other problem in the state, and now they’re getting around to this.
No one knows for sure how many Illinoisans (or Americans, for that matter) have had the procedure performed, but to those opposed to it, if it’s any number higher than zero, it’s too many.
One of those who had this procedure done was James Keen, a 19-year-old from Scottsville, Kentucky. He couldn’t get a surgeon to agree to slit his tongue up the middle, so he went to a local body piercer, who didn’t use any anesthetic but did sterilize the scalpel by heating it with a blow torch. In other words, a professional. Now James literally speaks with a forked tongue — and a lisp.
I probably didn’t have to tell you his age. You could have guessed it with a margin of error of 5 years. It takes until you’re about 25 to grow those red-light brain cells that say to yourself, “Hold on there, pal, you’re not going to do that with our body!” Which is why you don’t hear about a lot of retirees lining up to have their tongues split.
Like tattooing, I’d guess that a lot of body piercing is done under the influence of alcohol. You party all night, pass out, wake up the next morning, go splash some water on your face, check yourself in the mirror and, “What the hell? I seem to have a serpent’s head printed on my forehead and my tastebuds are occupying separate time zones!” Let’s see that in a Smirnoff Ice commercial.
As stupid as this may be, we still don’t need a law against it. Interestingly, the same people who push this kind of legislation are the same ones who are always screaming that we need government to be smaller and do less. “There are too many regulations! Wait, there’s a kid running with scissors! Let’s make a new law! And increase funding to the Department Of Intruding On Individual Rights!”
In James’ case, his parents not only sanctioned the split, but coughed up the $500 for him to do it. This will not be the case in my house. I’ll admit freely that my “it’s no one’s business but yours” attitude does not apply to anyone listed as a dependent on my tax forms. If my daughter decides in her teen years to come home with her tongue split — on purpose — the next stop will be the emergency room, where the sutures will fly.
Although you never know how a teenage girl will act, especially under peer pressure, I think we’ve given her the mindset where extreme body modification is unlikely. Several years ago, when she was about 4, we were dining at an outdoor cafe. The waitress happened to have a nostril stud, and my daughter couldn’t take her eyes off it. After we had ordered and the waitress had gone to get our drinks, our little girl leaned over and asked, “Mommy, do you think it hurt to get that thing in her nose?” My wife said, “When she comes back, why don’t you ask her?” A minute later, the waitress brought over our beverages, and my daughter did ask her if getting the stud was painful. The waitress, without a moment’s hesitation, answered, “Yes, it did hurt. A lot!”
I tipped her twenty dollars.