Being a Tattooed Asshole - A Legal Debate

Consider the following scenario -

Joe Smith is an asshole. Keep this in mind. For a while, Joe was married, but it didn’t last long. His former spouse, Mary, claims that the relationship was never consummated, because Joe could never perform sexually unless she dressed up as Little Bo Peep and he wore an old sheepskin. Joe denies this, and says there was no real problem with their sex life. But Mary leaves him nonetheless, and filed for divorce, telling all of their mutual friends her version of the circumstances.

This ticks Joe off no end, so, the day before their divorce was supposed to be finalized, he breaks into her apartment and rapes her. (He’s an asshole, remember?) Mary swears out a complaint, Joe is duly arrested, meets with his attorney, who realizes what an asshole he is and how badly the jury will react to him if he is dumb enough to take the stand, and advises Joe to plead guilty, which he does.

So Joe is convicted and sentenced to three years. He serves his sentence (in full - he is not on parole). So now he is released. Mary has been granted a divorce, and has obtained a protection order saying that Joe cannot come within 500 feet of her at any time.

But Joe is an asshole, and he is cheesed off because of Mary’s claims about his sexual issues. So -

Joe goes to the tattoo artist and gets “I FUCKED MARY SMITH” imprinted on his forehead. Big black letters - nobody can miss it.

Note that, no matter who is telling the truth, Joe’s tattoo is true - it was even established in open court, when Joe was convicted.

So -
[ul][li]Does Mary have any legal recourse? Joe never violates the protection order, and she can’t deny that they had sex, one way or the other. Can she get an order telling him to cover up the tattoo? [/ul][/li]
[ul][li]Does the state have any legal option? Can they stop Joe from telling everyone he did something that was either legal, or that he already confessed to and served time for?[/ul][/li]

Change her name back to her maiden name?

Yeah, short of changing her name, I don’t think there’s much Mary can do.

Mary should change her name, and buy a prize winning show-sheep and change it’s name to “Mary Smith” and pay for billboards emblazened with the aforementioned sheep in the community where Joe lives.

Freedom of speech, man.

Gotta admit, that didn’t occur to me.

Maybe she could change her name to Mary Gambolputty de von Ausfern -schplenden -schlitter -crasscrenbon -fried -digger -dangle -dungle -burstein -von -knacker -thrasher -apple -banger -horowitz -ticolensic -grander -knotty -spelltinkle -grandlich -grumblemeyer -spelterwasser -kürstlich -himbleeisen -bahnwagen -gutenabend -bitte -eine -nürnburger -bratwustle -gerspurten -mit -zweimache -luber -hundsfut -gumberaber -shönendanker -kalbsfleisch -mittler -raucher von Hautkopft of Ulm.

But suppose she doesn’t want to go that far. Can she do anything about the tattoo?


For the state to order Joe to remove or cover it up, they need to show his 1st AM rights will not be violated. The Police Power must abide by the 1st AM.

While the govt. itself can not constitutionally attach a “badge of infamy/disgrace” to an individual without Due Process, an individual is free to do so, as long as the words/action are protected.

Any TORT action of an individual nature by Mary, is or may be, another matter.

What tort might Joe have committed?


I seem to recall a real life case sorta along these lines but it involved a boyfriend/girlfriend thing and a billboard but I forget the details or how it ended up.

Good question, while my state does not recognize the tort of HUMILIATION, some may? Also Mental Anguish?

It is possible a claim for Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress is available?

wasthis what you were thinking of?

It was what first crossed my mind when I read the OP.

I know it’s a hypothetical, but surely changing your name back after divorce is not ‘going far’ - especially not if you were raped during marriage? In fact, I have difficulty imagining that any woman would keep her ex-husband’s name after divorce, even if they parted ways amicably. But then I have trouble understanding why anyone would change their name in the first place.

Google helped me - here’s the latest I could find on the case.

To take this question off the table, perhaps we should assume that Joe’s last name is actually Jones. Smith is indeed Mary’s maiden name, which she did not change when married.

IANAL, but as a layman, I think she could probably hit him with a civil suit, claiming intentional infliction of emotional distress. If that’s a thing.

And I would be begging my lawyer to get his ass on the stand. :slight_smile:

Tom is right - Mary kept her maiden name even during the marriage. That pissed Joe off as well.

But, “intentional infliction of emotional distress”. Assuming it’s a real tort -
[ul][li]Does Mary have to show damages? I assume she would need her psychiatrist to testify she was upset in some significant way apart from the aftermath of the rape and the marriage. [/li][li]Can Mary only recover monetary damages, or can she have the court order someone to take a belt sander to Joe’s forehead? [/li][li]Suppose Joe suggests a compromise. He will change the “I FUCKED” part to “I HAD SEX WITH”. Would that allay the tort?[/ul][/li]

By marrying Joe in the first place, didn’t she publicly state her intention to consummate? Couldn’t he argue that he’s only confirming the completion of an act that she told everyone she intended to commit?

Yeah. Mary tracks Joe down, chloroforms him, and adds the following to his tattoo:


The case has been ruled on, but may be undergoing appeal

It appears the specific ruling was the billboard constituted harassment and an invasion of privacy in making public what the plaintiff did not want revealed. There were additional, more personal and specific, breeches of her privacy in some of the defendant’s online contributions.

The billboard was not ordered taken down, but that’s because the wheels of justice are slower than the invisible hand of the market.

So it would seem harassment may be a legal grounds to infringe on speech. Not sure if the tattoo, being on Joe Asshole’s body, would be more inviolate than a billboard, but it seems there is precedent, in the 12th circuit of New Mexico at least, for such an order.


Tell everyone “it was so small I honestly didn’t even know he had done it”