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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


Tattoos as a Rorschach

It’s almost as if “Professor” Harold Hill, as played by Robert Preston in the 1962 film “The Music Man,” is singing in the streets: “Trouble, oh we got trouble right here in River City.”

The difference in this version is that con man Harold isn’t singing about the moral dangers of shooting pool, but about how the presence of tattoo shops will lead to the collapse of the social order.

Preston’s character, of course, was appealing to the oldfangled fears of the population, just as Worcester County’s — and by extension Berlin’s — tattoo regulations reflect the concerns that are no longer valid.

These days, an estimated 40 percent of the Millennials, 25 percent of the total American population, around 30 members of Congress and even a few Disney Channel stars have one or more tattoos.

And the numbers continue to increase rapidly, which is why the tattoo industry in this country is moving toward $3 billion in revenue and why the segment of the population opposed to body art has dropped to just 36 percent, according to statistics compiled three years ago.

Predictably, opposition to tattoo art and shops breaks down along generational lines, with people 60 years of age and up being more inclined to disapprove.

This is the same generation that wrote Worcester County’s tattoo regulations in the 1980s and the same generation that continues to protect Ocean City from the perils of ink, preferring instead to send people to Fenwick Island — that rough and rowdy quiet resort — to get their art.

Meanwhile, Berlin’s tattoo regulation quandary is in the hands of county officials, who mistakenly believe their hands are tied by Ocean City’s “River City” thinking.

It makes no sense to adhere to a standard that most people no longer even think about, much less embrace, and it’s time this county’s regulations reflected current attitudes, no matter what Ocean City officials believe.