Whenever I see that a new splotch of graffiti has shown up in a public place, I find myself hoping that somebody will hurry and clean it up so that the graffiti problem doesn’t get worse. But that somebody has as of yet never been me. Now I’m noticing that graffiti is showing up a lot more in areas that I frequent. It’s not getting cleaned up in an appropriate amount of time. And it’s getting more vulgar.
Is graffiti okay? Some people think so. I think so as long as it is privately sponsored and controlled. But not when it’s not legal or privately allowed. The graffiti that I’m starting to see crop up everywhere is definitely not being encouraged or allowed—on the side of train cars, on overpasses, and on vacant buildings.
To make matters worse, now there are web sites that show the kinds of graffiti defacement that has occurred. Whoever is posting such images on these web sites may think they’re providing a public service, but actually, there’s no better encouragement—even for illegal activities—than publicity. The competition is ratcheting up now—the graffiti that is being cleaned up is now much more frequently being replaced within 24 hours.
Some kinds of graffiti are not illegal. These are the kinds of graffiti that should be encouraged. In the movie Freedom Writers, the story depicted a graffiti wall that was provided by the high school for legal graffiti production.
Illegal graffiti cannot be condoned. Law enforcement personnel cannot solve the increasing problem by themselves. Private individuals need to get involved. If graffiti occurs on private property without owners’ consent, property owners should have it cleaned off immediately, and all attempts should be made to punish the perpetrators. For public graffiti defacement, citizens should contact their local governments to find out how they can help eradicate a growing cancer.
Graffiti can be a very attractive form of artistic expression, but not when it’s produced on public property and/or without prior approval. Therefore, schools and private entities should provide an outlet for the desire to produce graffiti. The best example I can think of that facilitates artistic graffiti is the old building near the side of Interstate 15 at Brigham City, Utah. In other words, there probably aren't enough sanctioned graffiti walls in Utah.
Enforcement of and cooperation with the law, combined with outlets for sincere artistic expression, can help us solve this problem before it becomes very ugly.