Do you have a permit for that tan?

John Kerry failed at tanning

I follow events on the political scene with a very broad lens. I particularly keep a close watch on our local scene because I feel it has the most immediate and larger impact on me, my family, my finances and job situation and our community. I’m not an activist nor do I believe that I will ever consider throwing my hat into the political arena because frankly, I just don’t have the stomach for it and I am much too skeptical of the process.

I confess that there are some political hot topics that I vacillate on depending on the climate, my digestive system and what is on my dinner table at night when I’m watching another debate or pontificating on a subject that I have a particular interest in and can’t contain myself. I love talking about the issues and getting a different perspective, particularly if it is contradictory to my own. I enjoy hearing and processing the views of various people whom I respect and whose opinions matter to me.

Sometimes I am indifferent and other times I’m deeply affected, but no matter what the issue, I find more and more that I am genuinely interested in the outcome. I wish I had always been this way but like most things that matter I feel it is better late than never and later in life has given me a more cultured and patient approach to the process.

Today I read about an issue that to me really isn’t an issue at all. I’m going to avoid the words ‘abuse’ and ‘power’ as much as I can, but this is one of those topics where I sense a lack of discretion and a deficiency in judgment. I read of these too often in our local headlines and it makes me wonder how politicians decide that this is going to be their cause – the “Alamo” where they make their stand against an injustice or a cause that deserves their attention.

Would you agree that there are some proposed (and some that have passed) bills or laws that just make you shake your head with bewilderment?

Well, this time I literally shook my head while reading a proposed bill by Senator Pat Jones will essentially ban minors from using tanning beds in Utah even with a signed consent from a parent. Laws like this one always raise a red flag and questions about its validity for me for a number of reasons:

1) What happened to my right to exercise my freedom of choice?

2) How does John’s and Jane’s tanning addiction affect me?

3) Why are we talking about the tanning habits of the individual when there are more pressing social issues to discuss?

My attitude towards sociology on most political issues is fairly unsophisticated and to a very large extent selfish. My personal code of ethics state that, “If people and the laws that govern them do not in any way inflict harm or impinge on my rights and/or the lives of those whom I love let all people choose for themselves and be subject to the consequences of their own actions.”

I know it seems a bit narrow minded. Though it’s not a hard and fast rule but it’s a basic premise for me that seems to work and allows me the flexibility to view any issue through the broad lens I mentioned earlier.

So why should banning minors from tanning be a conflict for me? Because it’s a health issue that requires a person to utilize his own decision-making skills, to make do the research in order to make an informed decision for himself and for the benefit of his family. If some guy wants his kids to look orange in the middle of a cold winter than that’s his choice. If there is a consequence to that decision and action then let them live with it but don’t take away their ability to make that decision on their own.

If your argument for banning minors from tanning beds is to protect them from harmful UV rays then shouldn’t your bill also include an amendment to ban everyone from the streets during the summer months or any time the sun is out? Or you also going to demand the recall of any light bulb that emits UV rays? Will you also insist that everyone have a bottle of sunblock in their possession at all times?

I know that people in political spheres want to save us from ourselves sometimes but in the grand scheme of things, laws (in my mind) are meant to protect us from criminals and criminal activity, not to regulate our decision-making power.

What do you think?

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9 Responses to Do you have a permit for that tan?

  1. Esther says:

    As much as I think tanning beds are superficial and teenagers who “fake bake” are ridiculous, I don’t see any reason this should be a political issue. Tanning beds are a health risk, of course, but it makes a weak argument unless the state has enough statistics in skin cancer and melanoma that directly link to tanning. One thing I’m wondering though, is if so many teenagers are tanning that the state senator feels the need to intervene, certainly there is an issue somewhere that should be addressed, whether it be political or maybe social or otherwise.

    • Seti Matua says:

      Superficial and ridiculous are good ways to phrase it and yes, these hardly seem like issues that should take precedence on the dockets at our State’s capitol. I think it is an issue and yes I do believe there is data to back it up but I still believe that tanning bed operators are already regulated and people should make the right decision for themselves.

      Thanks for your comments. It’s always good to see it from another perspective.

  2. Hema says:

    Well maybe the big “tanning bed” companies will have to go before a senate committee and tell them that UV rays are not addictive… oh, wait a minute… that’s big tobacco, I get them mixed up…. I know, I know… maybe lawmakers can increase the per tanning session tax tenfold and we can use the extra money to provide UV & skin cancer awareness in the schools… or… maybe some of the tanning salons should slip some free passes to the distinguished Senator under the table so he will pull his bill… wait a minute that could bring up some ethical issues… wait… that’s a non issue because the lawmakers can agree on any ethics reform… we’re screwed!

    • Seti Matua says:

      Bro, your comments though made jokingly show what a mockery the system often becomes. Lobbyist, special interest groups, super PACs, who can keep up? Ethics mean nothing sometimes and yet that’s all they talk about. What is it they say? Damned if they do, damned if they don’t!

  3. Lloyd says:

    What if I (assuming I were a minor who wanted to tan) got a note from my doctor to the effect that my northern British Isles ancestry, and the fact that my freckles block most of the effects of harmful UV rays so I can’t tan anyway, make the use tanning beds “safe” for me. Will that work?

  4. seems screwy to me too! Big bucks are thrown by lobbyists for companies that endorse smoking and drinking and they are not attacked but tanning teenagers are? lmao! what is wrong with this world? oh I know- greedy politicians with their own personal agenda is ONE of them. 🙂 sad to see. We really do have to be the ones to stand up and make a change. It truly does boil down to Ethics and Social Responsibility sometimes. I just taught that to my class last week in Intro to Business.

    • This is the problem…we are letting the government take away our freedoms little by little…one of the things that I LOVE (among a myriad of things) about the Savior, is that He never “ruled” by force. He taught principles, laid out the consequences (good or bad) then left it up to us to use one of our greatest gifts…the gift of agency! Bottom line…Do the right thing, let the consequence follow..otherwise, do the wrong thing and the consequence will most surely follow…either way, let us use our agency. This is a very slippery slope…great post and very timely. BTW…there’s a great new book out called, “Latter Day Liberty” by Conner Boyack…every LDS member should read this book. He covers this very type of thing. (Give Supermom a HUGE hug for me!!)

      • Seti Matua says:

        Great advice Mary and right on point. There are governments and dictatorships that have followed this path before and failed. Definitely not the way to go. I will pass your message along to SuperMom with a hug. Take care of yourself in your travels.

    • Seti Matua says:

      Though I obviously don’t agree with big tobacco, even something as minor as this really makes my head spin. Your classroom must be a very interesting place. Thanks Cyn!

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