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Saturday, November 15, 2008



One of my favorite bloggers (a libertarian) said you should send this picture to libertarians if you want to give them a headache.

Is that the kind of headache that comes from too much laughter, or too much fury?

Posted by Terrence Watson on November 15, 2008 in Humour | Permalink


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I got a good laugh from this, especially from the irony of considering graffiti on a wall designed for graffiti as vandalism. But, sadly, the real story is a little less funny than it first appears It seems the caption quoting the news left out a crucial point. From "The Sun":

"... [M]ost of the cost was subsidised by local businesses who supplied free materials and labour. 'The ironic thing is that the wall has been built thanks to the generosity of local people giving time and resources for free,' [Sergeant Robin Moorcroft] said. 'But it is now going to cost the taxpayer, as we will have to crime it, investigate it and paint over it.' "

So as a privately funded project, the protesting graffiti writer is wrong, but as a result of his actions, there will now be a cost to the taxpayers like him. You don't need to be Alanis Morissette to know that THAT is ironic.

Posted by: Fact Check | 2008-11-15 8:55:23 AM

The solution here is obvious: legalize graffiti. It can't be stopped. So long as there are blank walls and spray paint, people will vandalize it. Moreover, it could be considered a form of artistic expression, and therefore protected from government intrusion.

Oh course we could always form a graffiti registry.

Now do you see how ridiculous these courses of action are?

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2008-11-15 8:56:37 AM

I believe there's already a crude form of graffiti registry, Zeb.

I feel the same about graffiti. Some of it is quite pleasing to the eye. If I had a building in an area with a lot of graffiti, I'd invite some of the better artists to help themselves.

Calgary has a very nice skate park, and the city has a fairly large budget for cleaning away the graffiti. I have trouble understanding why they'd waste money like that. To me, a skate park isn't complete without some graffiti.

Sitting at a railway crossing, and recognizing some local talent is quite entertaining. To think your work is being viewed from coast to coast must be very rewarding. Have a closer look sometime. See if you see "Sober" on any railcars. He got his start in my town.

I'd draw the line at gang graffiti. Northern Ireland had some interesting work, during the dark days of occupation.

Graffiti is the ultimate form of freedom of expression. Too bad it has to infringe on property rights, but there just aren't enough big rocks in the city any more.

Posted by: dp | 2008-11-15 9:24:59 AM

Zeb, I think you were ribbing, but some libertarians have made a similar case. Dan D'Amico and Walter Block make the argument for the morality/legalization of graffiti based on he illegitimacy of public property (anyone familiar with Block's chapter on littering in 'Defending the Undefendable' will recognize the basic argument):

"The basic question that needs to be addressed is on what surface is the graffiti placed and who owns it? It is the argument of this paper that, it is logically impossible
for graffiti to appear on privately owned property. When someone paints on such places without the owner’s permission, the proper characterization for such an act is vandalism or trespass or some such. If and only if the painting is done on public property can this appellation be properly used.

Graffiti, in our view, if not that of the artist himself who for the most part we expect is oblivious of these issues, is in effect a call for privatization. It is an attack on government property. It is an unofficial declaration of (very limited) war against the state.

The graffiti artist would in any case be more inclined to place his work on government rather than private property. Obviously a private owner will have a higher
incentive to defend it, than a government. The graffiti artist, when acting rationally, is more likely to place his work upon a surface in which it will not be cleaned up, covered up, or removed right away, i.e. government, rather than public property. One sees this in the reality of graffiti. Predominantly government housing projects, subway terminals, highway overpasses, etc. are the host to most graffiti.

We contend that graffiti, should not be illegal because it is not a violation of private property rights; but rather it amounts to in effect a liberation of stolen property from a coercive thieving government. The unjust government, through coercive tax laws, plunders sums from the individuals it governs."


Posted by: Kalim Kassam | 2008-11-15 11:21:20 AM

"Northern Ireland had some interesting work, during the dark days of occupation."

Occupation by whom, and when?

Posted by: Wetherby Pond | 2008-11-15 11:42:25 AM

Yes I was kidding - but graffiti is a crime and must be punished as such. It defaces communities. Mayor Giuliani (God Bless Him) made it a policy to remove graffiti from the subways and other transit systems to help improve NYC. It worked. Others should heed that example. That means you, Toronto, but I doubt that you care.

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2008-11-15 11:54:41 AM

"Northern Ireland had some interesting work, during the dark days of occupation."

Occupation by whom, and when?

Posted by: Wetherby Pond | 15-Nov-08 11:42:25 AM

Oh! OH! I can answer that one!
The Bloody English who invaded about 700 years ago, pretty much committed genocide on the place (which was a typical thing) and have refused to ever leave! That's who! :)
Do I win something? lol

Posted by: JC | 2008-11-15 4:41:42 PM

I agree with dp. Setting aside a place for artistic expression, like the skatepark in Calgary, is a great idea. And its probably one hell of a lot cheaper than paying starving artists to basically live on welfare.

Posted by: JC | 2008-11-15 4:52:23 PM

Thanks for the linkage, Terrance!

Posted by: KipEsquire | 2008-11-16 7:23:38 AM

I don't understand. Why can't the kids just graffitti over the offending graffitti, like the wall was originally intended? Are graffitti artists not using the wall for some reason? Do graffitti artists demand a pristine wall before they can do their thing? Headaches indeed!

Posted by: Anonymous | 2008-11-17 10:38:37 AM

"The Bloody English who invaded about 700 years ago, pretty much committed genocide on the place (which was a typical thing) and have refused to ever leave!"

Believe me, the British government would pull out of Northern Ireland in a heartbeat if there was even the faintest possibility that they could get away with it legally or morally.

Similarly, the Irish used to pretend that they wanted it back, until the April 1998 referendum produced a result that stated the exact opposite in an impressively overwhelming way (over 95% said they didn't want it).

The majority of the Northern Irish population actively wants to remain British, and until that changes, the "occupation" continues.

Posted by: Wetherby Pond | 2008-11-17 2:57:18 PM

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