Tam Mayer (of Bells Ink Tattooing & Body Piercing in Victoria, Australia) has managed to get herself in some hot water, all because she tried to do the right thing. As a part of a fundraiser for a local boy — in which they raised $3,000 to help him (the whole event raised $15,000) — she tattooed her friend Luke Coleman with this image of Buddha. At first everyone was happy, and thought they’d done something really special, and I’m sure they were even happier when some of the big tattoo rebloggers picked it up, featuring it because it’s unusual to see a tattoo like this on the sole of a foot (and I have to admit I have some doubts about how it will heal). Anyway, the problems began when Thai Buddhists saw the tattoo and took offense at the tattoo’s location — that someone was walking on the face of Buddha, which they thought was deeply disrespectful. Immediately the comments changed from congratulating Tam for a unique tattoo and more importantly, raising $3,000 for a child in need, to threatening to murder her if she ever showed her face in Thailand. Comment after comment insulted and berated her. Did Tam make a tactless mistake? Perhaps, by some interpretations of Buddhism. But by other interpretations of Buddhism, she did something wonderful. To my way of looking at it, this is just another example of extremist interpretation of religion poisoning everything. As far as I’m concerned, Tam’s got nothing to apologize for. If Buddha and Jesus existed, I’m sure they’d give her a high five for helping others, and then punch the religious radicals in the nuts for spreading hatred in their name.
Edit: I wanted to add one other thing — as soon as Tam found out that what she’d done was potentially offensive, she apologized profusely to anyone she might have offended (as did Luke), and said they wished they’d known in advance so they could have avoided the situation. It was very clear that they’d acted only with the best of intentions — and I want to be clear that the above comments are mine, not hers.