Tattoos: Symbols of free speech

Today, I read in the Los Angeles Times that tattoos are a free speech issue for some people so that the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals had to adjudicate on tattoos. For me they always were an individual expression of free speech, and I myself have some tattoos since my student times.

When I studied I met a guy who studied dental medicine in Giessen. He was a few years older than I am and was born and raised in East Germany. In the early seventies he tried to escape from East Germany like many other people did, but he was caught and held in prison as a political prisoner for some time until the West German government paid a ransom for an exchange. This exchange happened quite often during the separation time of East and West Germany. After the West German government paid for the political prisoners the prisoners were able to emigrate to West Germany.

Michael told me while he was in prison tattooing became his pastime. I liked his tattoo that had a very strong symbolic meaning and after a while I felt like I wanted some tattoos with a special symbolic meaning to me, too. And so Michael tried his art of tattooing on me, too. The symbols on my skin bear a certain universal, symbolic meaning, and up to this day, I have always felt comfortable while wearing this kind of free speech.

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