Thursday, March 27, 2008

Urban Legends Series: Blue Star Tattoo Legend

The "Blue Star" LSD tattoo warning is a classic of the breed -- it has been terrorizing parents, fooling journalists, bewildering authorities and delighting urban legend researchers for over 15 years. It is an example of a "contamination" legend and can be classed with such other familiar legends as "Spider eggs in Bubble Yum," but it is also part of the growing ranks of "xeroxlore" like the "send a dying boy postcards" plea. More recently, the legend has picked up new virulence and new credibility through the internet, where it has appeared in mailing lists, newsgroups and on web pages.

Popular folklore chronicler Jan Harold Brunvand devoted a chapter of his book The Choking Doberman and other "New" Urban Legends to the "Mickey Mouse Acid" scare.

In a typical outbreak, a school, hospital, or police station will get a copy of a photocopied flyer warning that LSD-laden lick-and-stick tattoo transfers are being given to children in local schoolyards. The allegations in the warning typically include:

A new type of tattoo called "Blue Star" is being sold or given away to school children.
The stars are designed to be removed and ingested.
This form of LSD-laced tattoo is available all over the country.
These tattoos contain LSD.
The LSD can be absorbed through the skin by handling the tattoos.
Other LSD-containing tattoos, resembling postage stamps, also exist, depicting:
Bart Simpson
Mickey Mouse
Disney characters in general
Red Pyramid
Other varieties include "micro dot" in various colors and "Window Pane" (or "Window Pain").
These drugs are packaged in a red cardboard box wrapped in foil.
This use of cartoon characters is a new way of selling acid by appealing to young children.
Dealers or older children give these drugs to younger children either for kicks or to hook new customers.
These drugs are known to react very quickly and some are laced with strychnine.
These tattoos could cause a "fatal 'trip'" in children.
Many children have already died from accidental ingestion of these tattoos.
Symptoms you might see in children who have encountered these tattoos include hallucinations, severe vomiting, uncontrolled laughter, mood changes, and changes in body temperature.
This warning has been authorized by the authorities, such as:
Beth Israel Medical Center in New York
The Cumberland County Sheriff's Department
The Police Department
The PTA of Willow Tree Day Care Center
J. O'Donnel of Danbury Hospital's Outpatient Chemical Dependency Treatment Service
El Hospital de Saint Roch
La Brigada de Estupefacientes
Der Waadtländer Polizei
The Valley Children's Hospital
Die New Yorker Polizei
La Brigada Francesa de Estupefacientes
Mr. Guy Chaillé, Advisor to the President
You should contact the police if you see these tattoos.
You should spread the word of this danger far and wide.

The blue star tattoo legend frequently[citation needed] surfaces in American elementary and middle schools in the form of a flyer that has been photocopied through many generations, which is distributed to parents by concerned school officials. It has also become popular on Internet mailing lists and websites. This legend states that a temporary lick-and-stick tattoo soaked in LSD and made in the form of a blue star (the logo of the Dallas Cowboys is often mentioned), or of popular children's cartoon characters, is being distributed to children in the area in order to get them 'addicted to LSD'.

An example flyer, degraded from many generations of photocopy and fax reproduction. Collected by Jan Brunvand in his book The Choking Doberman.The legend is possibly originated from the fact that LSD solution is sometimes soaked in blotter paper and sold. In fact, LSD is not an addictive drug. The flyer lists an inaccurate description of the effects of LSD, some attribution (typically to a well-regarded hospital or a vaguely specified "adviser to the president"), and instructs parents to contact police if they come across the blue star tattoos.

No actual cases of LSD distribution to children in this manner have ever been documented.

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