Caving in to the degradation of moral character so evident in the other 49 states, Oklahoma has finally legalized tattooing, passing legislation last week that ended a forty-year-old state ban on the practice. Surprisingly, Oklahoma was the only state in which tattooing remained illegal.
The governor signed the bill on Wednesday, May 10, saying that "Regardless of one's personal views about tattoos, the plain fact is that tattooing is prevalent." My own personal view is that I wish the low-rider-jeans fad did not make the prevalence of tattoos all too plain, but maybe it makes more sense to address that by banning low-rider jeans in the first place. Those are "prevalent" too, though, so I guess our hands are tied if "prevalent" = "legal," but I see an interesting slippery slope ahead on that one.
The state's health department endorsed the bill, saying that despite moral objections to tattooing (apparently originating in the Biblical condemnation of Mary Magdalene's lower-back tattoo) it was more important to legalize and regulate it in order to prevent hepatitis or other diseases that can be contracted by "unsanitary tattooing practices."
The bill does make it illegal to tattoo anyone younger than 18.
Oklahoma has a history of restrictive social legislation. According to the Wikipedia article on the state, Oklahoma continues to have some of the most restrictive liquor laws in the country. Prohibition was not repealed there until 1959 and about half of the state's counties still do not allow alcohol. Last year, the state House of Representatives passed a bill banning "happy hour" promotions, which has led many bars and pubs in the state to use alternate phrases such as "hour of happiness" or "hour of joy." I like "Hour of Joy" a lot better anyway.