The story of  a New Zealand man with a face tattoo has sparked an interesting debate about how we judge people. Mark Cropp is having trouble finding work. It is easy to see why. But is it fair to judge his abilities based on a tattoo? Most everyone agrees that the ink is a bit off-putting, but is it a disqualifier?

Cropp’s tattoo says “DEVEST8.” It was meant as a warning to fellow inmates (so he has that whole ex-con thing working against him, too). He got the tatoo when he was in prison, after his brother, who was also his cellmate (it runs in the family), suggested that a nice face tattoo might keep him from getting picked on.

So he did it.It must have seemed like a good idea at the time. And, to be fair, he was in jail. So why not?

Cropp was serving a short sentence, though. He’d pulled a knife on a tourist during a drug deal that had gone bad–mostly becasue the drugs Cropp was selling were fake.

Cropp told the New Zealand Herald, “One employment place said to me: ‘I wouldn’t employ you with that on you face, I wouldn’t even take a second look at you’.”

“I’ve had other people that just shrugged and laughed at me. I was over people judging for my facial tattoo… that’s why I made the decision to put that photo on Facebook, to turn around and say ‘I am just a normal human being, you do not have to judge me because of the way I look’.”

The Facebook page he’s referring to is a job board in Auckland. “Hey im keen as to work but have one thing that is stoping me and thats my tattoo on my face [sic].”

This, for Cropp, is what amounts to a resume. So it may be more than just the face tattoo. But we’ll stick to that.

The real question here has to do with a larger issue. In a world dominated by perceived differences and all of the ways we judge each other, much of what defines us is determined by the circumstances of our births. The amount of permanent ink we apply to our faces seems like a choice, and one that comes with obvious consequences.

Or maybe it is time for Mr. Cropp to grow an epic beard.