Tickle Me Pink

by Jeff Alexander

Pink. Well, it was red and now it has faded. I colored my hair because I felt it was a good way for me to express myself. Sure, the stares and snickers follow me daily but I let it roll off my back. I’d say, from my own personal experience, that if you believe our society has become more tolerant of personal expression in recent years, you are flat out wrong. I do not see why I’m subject to daily taunts solely because I choose to express myself differently than others. Parents act so shocked once their child dyes their hair; they begin worrying their child is mixed up with a bad crowd or they're doing drugs, as far fetched as that assumption may be. Such generalizations of those that express themselves differently from the norm lead to a desire on the part of parents to restrict all such expression.

A recent bill filed by Brockton State Legislator Thomas Kennedy seeks to act on such broad generalizations and restrictive desires by banning the sale of hair dye to anyone under the age of 18. Retailers caught selling hair dye to minors face outrageous fines of up to $300. Once again our government will go through any means necessary to curb youth expression and if an absurd bill like this passes then what other ways can they spit upon our First Amendment rights? Will it not stop until we're all forced to walk the streets wearing matching uniforms?

Thomas Kennedy filed the bill earlier this year on behalf of a constituent. The constituent's 10 year old daughter purchased a hair dying kit, and the product turned the child's hair a fluorescent color. "The mother saw it and went ballistic, it was just an inhuman color," commented Kennedy. Kennedy said the child was subjected to the taunts of her class mates until the dye faded.

If one expresses themselves differently than the mainstream he or she shouldn't be subjected to taunting and ridicule. But the way to prevent such ridicule should not be through unconstitutional legislation restricting the free expression of the victim. Instead of viewing this as a negative experience for the 10 year old girl, perhaps we should all be looking at this as a positive learning experience where she sees first hand how wrong it is for society to be so demanding of absolute conformity in expression, and how cruel those in the mainstream can be to those that choose to deviate from the norm in any way. We at ROC ask why should this be the case? Citizens should be able to express themselves any way they see fit without having to look over their shoulders and face ridicule.

By making it a point to frown upon self expression, our government's actions here are seeking to condition the future children of America into silencing their self expression, fearing repercussions from the government, and into accepting the notion that government restrictions on their self-expression in some way serve to protect them. We at ROC summarily reject all facets of the given logic of what this bill is intended to accomplish.

We can't sit back and allow the government to frown upon self expression, because without it we are left with no outlet to express our emotions [from happiness to anger]. Everyone chooses to express their emotions in different ways, sometimes including some very non-mainstream styles of appearance. People who choose to express themselves differently from the mainstream are not the problem in our society - the people that pick on them and discriminate against them for doing so are the problem. We at ROC aren't advocating some kind of PC restriction on insulting speech, just some kind of acknowledgment from the government that the people doing the taunting are the problem, not the people expressing themselves in non-mainstream ways. How much lower can our government go in their desire to seek out supposed "victims" of freedom than to use this 10 year old child in this manner for the furthering of their oppressive political agenda?

The bill doesn't define what hair colors are "exotic" but it does outline fines to retailers caught selling dye to minors, and the fines range from $100-$300! President of MetroWest Chamber of Commerce Ted Welte said the current form of the bill seems un-enforceable. "It would be very unfortunate to put this on the back of the retailer," Welte said.

What exactly does Kennedy have to say in regards to his bill? "I'm not trying to preclude some teen-ager from following the practice of some rock band, I just want to protect these young children," commented the Brockton Democrat. Protect children from what exactly? This is not about the protection of children, this is about the unconstitutional restriction of free expression and the government’s desire to CONTROL children. Does Kennedy expect to receive support for a bill that will only serve to make America’s youth even more disgruntled than they currently are? Does Kennedy hope to set a precedent and have other states follow him in his pursuit for mass conformity? Who knows, if this laughable bill passes then maybe we can have a government official recommend what outfits we should wear when we wake up in the morning. "It's our own hair. We should be able to do with it what we want," said Stephanie Flynn, a cosmetology student that attends Assabet Valley High School.

We are the future and we will not go away! We will express ourselves in any way we see fit and we will make our voices heard. Because a person dyes their hair doesn’t mean they’re a threat and doesn’t make them less of a person than anyone else. There are many other issues that our government should address, instead they seek to control society and eliminate self expression. Are we a democracy where all citizens are free to express themselves as they see fit? Hmmm...I think we’re headed in just the opposite direction.

Write Thomas Kennedy:

State Representative Thomas P. Kennedy
Room 277
State House
Boston, MA 02133
E-mail: Rep.ThomasKennedy@state.ma.us

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