I have a weird–what I feel to be moral–dilemma that I need y’all’s thoughts on.

And I’m guessing that by the fact that I am asking this question I probably know what my answer should be.

But, here goes.

I’m certain I’ve had other clients in the past who I didn’t agree with ideologically. But they weren’t wearing their beliefs on their skin. That I saw. Or at least they weren’t displaying them.

A client came in yesterday who wants me to redo and add to his sleeves and chest. So we are talking easily 30 or 40 hours of work.

This client is… different.

He has a large red swastika on his chest, and several other white supremacist tattoos in various places on his arms that I recognize. Very visible, as he came in wearing a white tank top.

He hasn’t said anything about covering up those tattoos with new tattoos, so I’m assuming he’s an “active” racist. Which is where my dilemma is: Have I judged him based on those? And tell him I can’t tattoo him because of those and my beliefs? Or do I ask him if those still mean something to him, and if so I can’t tattoo him, and tell him why?

Until next time...

11 thoughts on “Dilemma

  1. Only my opinions here …

    I’m not sure that you’ve so much as judged him as identified him. Judgment comes in if you think that his beliefs are wrong or right. You’ve implied this to us, but you haven’t actually said what you think about that, so you have not displayed judgment yet.

    Turning a client away because you don’t like what they stand for – whooie, what a biggie. Our laws in Alabama say that we can’t do that. I don’t know what your laws say. I get this with clients occasionally: I’ll have someone on my massage table who is spewing the most god-awful hate, and not really realizing they are talking to one of the people they’re spewing hate about. Curiously, I’ve gotten this about sexuality, religion, political leanings (I’m waaaay to the left of Jesus), and my shamanic practice.

    I have never fired a client because of this, but I *have* begun to more clearly express to the universe the type of client that I want to have appear in my therapy room. That’s somewhat “out there” for a lot of people, but … it works. Creating this kind of energetic template of what you are wanting via prayer, talking to the ancestors, speaking to the universe, whatever, is a gentle way of pre-filtering who walks in your door. I always ask for clients who support me exactly as much as I’m supporting them via my work, that our relationship be mutually beneficial.

    Really, that one little piece takes care of a lot. Even if you don’t believe in a sentient universe, you might be able to believe that you are creating your own energetic filter-thought-structure which enables some clients to find you easily and encourages others to go somewhere else. I certainly don’t want to put up with a client who in any way makes me feel bad about myself, my beliefs, or my choices. Spew hate all you want: that’s your right as given in our Constitution. Just do it elsewhere.

    When I do this kind of energetic work, I don’t have to deal with what you’re experiencing; it takes care of itself. (I didn’t really answer your question, did I? 🙂

    1. Yes, you do it. It’s not religion but the principle is the same. Maybe what you could do is display a picture or item that would be a clear signal to him that maybe he’d be happier with a different artist. It’s a tough position, I don’t envy you.

  2. By assuming something based on his tattoos I would say that, yes, you have judged him. It’s okay, we all do it on occasion. You want to move past that by talking to him and that’s good.

    I think instead of asking him if the tattoos mean something to him, you could just explain that they make you uncomfortable and the reasons why. It might be that they were from another time in his life that doesn’t reflect his current beliefs. Or he may decide he doesn’t want you to tattoo him because he’s not comfortable with you and your beliefs / lifestyle.

    Either way I think you owe it to yourself to discuss it with him as it is clearly bothering you.

    Good luck.

  3. You could discuss the ink with him. I would say it’s a assumable part that active or not, he has some qualities that make him display that ink. As for turning him away, I saw Raybob’s take on your state laws, but there is probably a loophole. Or you could keep the business and chat w him about your differences…….while YOU HOLD THE NEEDLE.

  4. You well know that one’s tattoos have special meaning and I seriously doubt that someone held him down and tattooed them on his chest… it’s a safe assumption that he holds those beliefs. You could start out a conversation about them with him without making a judgement on him, like; “those are interesting tats…” (non judgemental) and then let him take the lead on telling you his beliefs. If he gets into hate, like hating all gays, then you can let him know that you support gay rights (without coming out to him) and then see what he has to say about that. He may not want to give his time and money to a pro-gay establishment… or he may be ok with it. If he wanted you to tattoo something racist or offensive to you then you could tell him you have issues with them.

    Of course this is just my opinions and thoughts. Let us know how it turns out!

  5. Yes, this one is worth some thought.
    Yes you did or are judging him, but judging is normal. Stopping and thinking about it as well as discussing it with friends is what is not the norm in our fast paced instant reaction world. There is nothing wrong with that initial judging, it’s wrong if you do not question yourself before reacting. (My opinion). You are doing what is right in my opinion.
    Now what to do from here. I am of the lead by example genre. And here goes the possibly overused current example. If you are a baker and a couple comes in for a cake for their wedding that is, according to your religion or personal beliefs, amoral…..do you refuse them? (Not exactly the same a 40 hours with a tattoo in your face of a swastica and possibly someone who hates who you are, but similar in that wedding cakes are for some religious people on the more sacred side of things and they have deep feelings about what is right and wrong by their standards)
    So here I would lead by example. We all have different beliefs. We all have a right to those beliefs. What can be wrong is how we act on those beliefs. Is he acting on those beliefs? Hmmmm…..
    So if there is a way to be comfortable to ask and discuss the other offending tattoos (and yes they would offend and even scare me) this would be appropriate. Then if he is cooperative and open hopefully lead by example that although they are offensive to your beliefs and to you, that you can move forward helping to gain his respect of your beliefs. If he becomes hateful ……have witnesses…… and then refuse service to a customer who is uncooperative, not to a customer that has a different religion/belief/sexual ortiention/race/disability….etc.
    Wow…this one has me really thinking. So these are just thoughts but discussion helps us all. I’ll be chewing on this for a while.

  6. I wonder why he ended up in your shop?
    Hang a rainbow flag out front before he returns. That might be enough to make him reconsider.

  7. I can certainly understand why it is a dilemma for you. I’m sure you’ll make the right decision.

    My two cents: I would treat him the same way you treat any customer. The fact that you know this (or conclude this) about his beliefs is the challenge but unless you apply some kind of political correctness test to clients normally then I think you take him as a client. Someone may come in in with a cross tattoo. That doesn’t mean they weren’t out at the cemetery with a ‘God Hates Fags’ sign last weekend disrupting a funeral. You don’t know.

    I may be wary of this issue because we just had that “We don’t serve homos” law passed by our state legislature (luckily vetoed). I can certainly see refusing to add any white supremacist imagery to his ink but if you are comfortable with what he’s asking you to do and he behaves himself properly in your studio ……

  8. I hope I am not too late…
    As a professional, I am never obliged to do something I feel I should not do from personal or ethical reasons. I explain to the person matter of fact the matter; I tell them I can refer to a colleague.
    Keep in mind: when I feel I am in a damned if I do / damned if I don’t dilemma, I go for being damned for what I intuitively know is right.
    I hope this helps.

  9. I start out with asking myself, will this interfere with my ability to do my work to the best of my ability. There is a standard of ethics that a professional should not take on work, if the personal interests of the professional, will interfere with the ability to provide services, this includes strongly held beliefs. If I have a strong internal conflict, I tell the client that I don’t think I can do what needs to be done, and if appropriate, refer them to someone else.

    It is easier to turn a client away, if I can be the problem, if I can claim that I lack the knowledge, experience, or time and ability to concentrate that the client deserves.

  10. This is an interesting dilemma, on the one hand its business for you on the other this person is displaying offensive symbols, in fact they are the symbols of an ideology that is little understood nowadays and goes beyond White racist or supremacy beliefs. There is something very violent in those symbols since they advocate the death of those who do not believe or are different from the tenets of the ideology. Is this guy a violent person or just a loud mouth and or a person who has not really thought out what is ideological beliefs means. In other words those symbols are anti-human and by displaying them on his body this fellow is making a strong statement. I would be lead to think that this guy has some serious problems about who he is and where he fits in society. Sad really for him.
    However if you are not comfortable with this situation why expose yourself to it. There is no need to explain, just tell him you cannot do the work. No explanation required and no need to involve this person into a discussion about symbols or beliefs. Less said the better with people like that.

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