Calling Vandalism "Art"

Monday, January 08, 2007

Calling Vandalism "Art"

A 13-year-old in the borough of Queens, N.Y., was struck and killed Saturday by a commuter train as he finished painting graffiti near railroad tracks. CNN chose this headline for an AP story about the teenager:
Train kills teenage graffiti artist
Spray-painting public property without permission isn't art — it's vandalism.

Much of what passes as graffiti is "tagging," criminal gangs marking their supposed turf. Calling any of these people an "artist" downplays the destruction of public or private property. Graffiti costs state and localities tens of millions of taxpayer dollars each year to eradicate.

I'm sorry this teenager lost his life, but he was not an "artist." He was old enough to know that he was engaging in illegal activity, and he was also old enough to know that doing this along a busy rail corridor was hazardous.

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