An example of the various face tattoos given to criminals in Japan during the Edo Period.
The art of tattooing has a very long history in Japan and artifacts that date back as far as 5,000 BC such as figurines made of clay with etchings on their faces or that have been painted with designs in the spirit of body art have been discovered.
Tattoos have many different symbolic meanings in Japanese culture and can denote where an individual ranked in society or serve as a permanent means of defense against evil forces or perhaps members of the animal kingdom. With the arrival of the seventh-century, the idea of tattooing one’s body in order to make it more beautiful began to lose its appeal due to the strong influence of Chinese customs in Japan—specifically when it came to identifying and tracking criminal activity. Around 720AD during the Nara Period, it appears that tattooing as a form of punishment began to infiltrate Japanese culture. Once the dawn of the Edo Period began the art form was more widely used as a punishment for criminals as at the time there was really no such thing as a prison to send lawbreakers off to. There was a sharp rise in crime in Japan prior to the development of epicenters such as Tokyo or Osaka.
Though tattoos were still used as a way to distinguish various classes of citizens, they were also used to designate ne’er do wells such as murderers who were recipients of head tattoos so everyone would see what they had done. Designs differed across the country so in Hiroshima, you might see the symbol for “dog” on someone’s face who has broken the law. Hiroshima also utilized a “three-strike” rule in which the Chinese symbol for “large ” (大) was used to log the number of crimes committed by an individual. The completion of the symbol was the equivalent of a death sentence for the person adorned with it. In other regions, you might see a series of lines on a criminal’s arm (one for each new crime) or perhaps an arrangement of dots on a forehead. In what is now known as Nagasaki an image of a cross which for the purpose of identification translated to “bad” would also be affixed forever on the forehead.
While this all sounds pretty terrible it’s important to note that tattooing criminals replaced the far more barbaric practices of limb removal, cutting off an ear or perhaps a nose depending on the severity of the crime that was committed. The decapitated heads of criminals were also used as a deterrent to help dissuade bad guys from doing bad things. All of which make the idea of tattooing criminals seem pretty damn tame comparatively.
Images of the outlaw tattoos follow.
A depction of a criminal receiving a tattoo for his crime.
In the article, Bottari lists who has been charged and what the charges are so far in Wisconsin’s ‘John Doe’ investigation that’s circling ever tighter around embattled Gov. Scott Walker, with the long-awaited recall vote now just hours away:
So far the investigators have charged six people with 15 felonies; one person, who turned himself in to prosecutors, was convicted on two counts:
* Timothy Russell (former deputy chief of staff to Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker) was charged with two felonies, and one misdemeanor related to embezzlement of donations intended for Wisconsin veterans in a special fund, which was created at Walker’s direction. The money was used by Russell and his partner, Brian Pierick, to take a few vacations. Read the criminal complaint here.
* Brian Pierick (partner of Timothy Russell): charged with two felonies involving child solicitation. It appears Russell’s phone records led to Pierick and a nasty story about two men soliciting a 17-year old minor for sex. Read the criminal complaint here.
* Kevin Kavanaugh (appointed by Walker as a county veterans’ official): charged with five felonies related to embezzlement from the veterans fund. Kavanaugh appears to have been raiding the funds separately from Russell. Read the criminal complaint here.
* Kelly Rindfleisch (former deputy chief of staff to then-Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker): charged with four felonies relating to campaign fundraising while on the county payroll. Rindfleish’s worked on a secret wifi system in her office just steps away from Walker’s office. Rindfleisch continued to work for Walker’s campaign until she was charged. Read the criminal complaint here.
* Darlene Wink (former aide to then-Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker): pled guilty to two unclassified misdemeanors as part of a deal that she made with the prosecutors relating to working on campaign fundraising while on the county payroll. Winks office was down a short hallway from Walker’s. Read the complaint here.
* William Gardner (President and CEO of Wisconsin & Southern Railroad): Gardner pled guilty to felony violations of Wisconsin’s election campaign laws in April of 2011. Gardner tried to convince prosecutors that his $50,000 in illegal contributions to Walker, which he funneled through his employees and a girlfriend, was an innocent mistake, except he had done the same thing the previous year. Read the criminal complaint here.
I can certainly appreciate Walker supporters and undecideds who might conclude that there is nothing that has been inserted into the debate by anyone with first hand knowledge of the investigation that would support the claims being made by opponents. I can additionally appreciate that, in America, we are all innocent until proven guilty and that even an indictment, should it occur, is an accusation—not a conviction.
Accordingly, a voter might well decide that the Governor is entitled to the benefit of the doubt at this point in time.
But one can certainly see how a Wisconsin voter might be concerned over what an indictment might mean to the state going forward.
Indeed, a voter who concludes that there is likely to be some truth to the increasing reports of a pending indictment, might view the potential of charges being filed against a sitting governor as another major distraction that will only make an already bad situation worse. It would also seem fair to at least consider that, even if Scott Walker was not involved in the shenanigans going on under his nose in the Milwaukee County Executive office, what does it say about an executive who operated without any knowledge of crimes that were being committed just a few steps from his office by people who have already been convicted or granted immunity in exchange for their testimony against fellow Scott Walker employees?
It would be nice to say that this all ends on Tuesday.
Yet, by all appearances, there is some reason to anticipate that a Walker win may only be the end of the recall process while just the beginning to an, arguably, even more disturbing era in Wisconsin government.
Or not. On this one, it’s up to Wisconsin voters to make the call.
What’s ultimately depressing is reading something like this, from Reuters:
Victoria Marone, who has several “Stand With Walker” signs in the yard of her Milwaukee home, said on Saturday she was worried that the massive union effort could still overcome Walker’s efforts.
“Unions ... are like rabid dogs with their jaws clenched down on your arm and won’t let go,” said Marone, who was a school teacher for more than 50 years.
Walker far outspent Barrett and the Democrats on television advertising in the run-up to the recall.
John Larrabee, a truck driver who also had a “Stand with Walker” sign in his Milwaukee yard, said he agreed with Walker that joining a union should be voluntary.
“This is class warfare,” Larrabee said. “They’re trying to pit those that are successful with those that want to sit on their butt.”