Recently Terry Robert Hardy, a gymnastics coach at Park High School in Cottage Grove, Minn., was accused of tattooing a 15-year-old student without the permission of her parents. Fuck this guy. Hardy was arrested and charged with two counts of misdemeanor assault for allegedly tattooing the minor. Not only did Hardy not have permission from the girl’s parents (at the time of the tattooing it was legal in the state to tattoo a minor with parental permission, the law has since been changed to completely ban minors under 18 from being tattooed) but he also tattooed her without a license.
We’re sick and tired of idiots like this giving the tattoo community a bad name. It is only in recent years that tattooing has been able to shed all of the negative connotations that were once associated with the art. Artists aren’t forced to work illegally out of a shady apartment any more; instead they can work in enormous studios in plain view and subject to governmental regulation to ensure safety. When it comes to sterilization and sanitation the modern tattoo shop is as clean as a doctor’s office. This is progress, this is a good thing.
This doesn’t even address the idiocy of tattooing a minor. As a rule of thumb an adult should never do anything — and we mean anything — with a minor without first getting some form of consent from the parents. A high school coach is a position of authority; giving a minor a tattoo is unseemly on top of illegal in that situation.
While it is pretty easy to just dismiss this story as one moron doing a stupid thing but the reality is that stories like this always make the news and cast a bad light on the entire industry. If you are pursuing an agenda against tattooing, for example arguing at a city council meeting against a tattoo shop moving into the neighborhood, incidents like this can be held up as examples of the criminality related to the industry. There are too many people doing amazing things by the book in this industry to have their reputations sullied by an asshole like Hardy charging 15-year-olds 40 bucks for a shitty tattoo.