More help parents don’t need

Published 7:32 am Monday, June 28, 2010

Any proposal to which the word “safety” can be attached is almost a sure thing to become law these days. Safety is a paramount concern for many people, and it’s a particularly safe backstop for lawmakers who want to do something for which they can’t be criticized. Unfortunately many such laws, such as the new new one that removes parents’ ability to decide whether their minor children can have tattoos, probably do a great deal more to impinge on Americans’ liberty and rights than they do to increase safety.

Although the new tattoo law will no doubt have an economic impact, it is not likely to do a lot for safety. What it will do is prevent parents from making a decision about whether their children are mature enough, and whether it is appopriate for them, to get a tattoo. The presumption is that the state knows best and parents don’t.

We are by no means endorsing the idea that teen-agers need or should get tattoos. But we do endorse the idea that the people who know them best and are responsible for them are best suited to know what is right for minors — particularly as it pertains to relatively minor life decisions such as tattoos.

At some point, Minnesotans — and all Americans — need to wake up and realize that well-meaning lawmakers and bureaucrats are slowly and surely eroding their ability to regulate their own lives.

“Safety” is a powerful selling point. But at some point, emphasizing safety over everything else will lead us to a place where no one is able to make decisions about their own actions.