“Police said the 45-year-old Martin was obsessed with Bieber and has a tattoo of him on one of his legs.” – USA Today
This detail has been mentioned in nearly every report I’ve read about the plot, by an Arizona prisoner and two cohorts, to castrate and murder Justin Bieber. While the foiled (thank God!) plan is scary, disturbing, ghastly, and all, I’m concerned about a potential backlash against a group of innocent individuals in the days to come. Please, let’s not all leap to judgment about everyone who has the Biebs tattooed on their leg, OK? There is nothing inherently wrong with having a tattoo of an 18-year-old Canadian pop idol on your lower limbs, or anywhere on your body. As a grown man, I’m allowed to ink whatever image I want into my flesh, and if it’s the singer of megahits “Baby,” “Boyfriend,” and “As Long as You Love Me,” that’s my own damn business. If I had such a tattoo, I shouldn’t have to explain to anyone why it’s there. It could be because Justin Bieber is the biggest thing to happen in pop music since the Beatles or Michael Jackson. Or because he’s sold over 15 million albums, has 30 million followers on Twitter, and was named by Forbes, in 2012, as the third most powerful entertainer in the world. Or maybe I got the tat because he’s a gifted musician, touched by God at an early age, a singing and dancing angel, who is also, amazingly, a pretty solid drummer (as seen at his televised concert in Central Park). Or because, as I just read in a moving tweet by a Belieber, “he sings the words every girl wants to hear and every boy is too afraid to say.” Maybe it’s because I love Justin so much -- he’s like a son to me -- that I always want to keep him in my sight and protect him from harm. Or maybe I got this likeness of the teen phenom emblazoned on my inner thigh as a postmodern commentary on our celebrity-obsessed culture -- did you ever think of that? And how do you even know it’s Justin Bieber? Maybe it’s really someone else, say the character Derek Wildstar from the late-'70s Japanimation series Star Blazers, a childhood favorite of mine. Maybe it’s supposed to be Shaggy from Scooby-Doo, sans beard. Or maybe it’s an abstract design that just happens to look like Justin Bieber to you, decorating the skin over my sartorius muscle. Maybe you’re reading too much into it. But let’s just say my tattoo is of Justin Bieber. Even so, that wouldn’t be prima facie evidence of any criminal intent, violent tendencies, or mental illness on my part. Not at all. I’m pretty sure that Mark David Chapman didn’t have a tattoo of John Lennon on his leg. However, if he did, eerie though it might seem, it would have no necessary connection to the crime that he ultimately committed. It’s just pigment in skin, folks! My point is, let’s be careful about taking logical leaps and assuming “guilt by association.” I, and others like me, shouldn’t have to cover up in shame. It’s winter in New York City, so I will wear long pants -- but only for that reason. So please be mindful, as you’re walking down the street, that anyone you see may be hiding some Bieber ink -- on their ankles, calves, or haunches -- just beneath their jeans or khakis. And that those regular citizens are no more likely to murder and castrate Justin Bieber, or any other celebrity or non-famous person, than anyone else you might see. I hope that these reflections help to dispel fear and hatred, and to encourage tolerance and love.