OnPoint by Keith Ng

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OnPoint: Children come first, except when walls come first

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  • Graeme Edgeler,

    Have penalties for wilful damage kept pace with inflation?

    Largely. The fine was $1000 in 1981 when enacted, and this was increased to $2000 from 1998.

    I would note that the penalty for the new tagging offence is lower than the maximum penalty for wilful damage. The penalty for wilful damage under the Summary Offences Act is a fine of $2000 or 3 months imprisonment, the proposed penalty for tagging is a fine of $2000 or a community sentence.

    The penalty for Billsticking, defacing, etc (which includes spraying any structure) is $200 (increased from $100 from 1998).

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3207 posts Report Reply

  • Mark Graham,

    20 years ago I was never caught...

    Ah - therein lies the problem. It's not the penalty, it's the getting caught.

    I/O - it's not that anyone is for tagging, per se, it's just how to deal with those kids who do.

    Consequences - yes, absolutely. But the key to consequences is getting caught and perhaps that's where a 'Broken Windows' policy might work - it may not stop more serious crime but it will stop graffiti.

    So...do we want our police spending more time on graffiti, more time on burglaries, more time on bashings, rape and murder? Do we want more cops on the street? Can we afford it? Or do we try to address the causes of the disaffection and lack of respect, which should help reduce the other problems, as well?

    So...screen kids for glue ear - poor hearing has been shown to be directly linked to kids getting into trouble. Family interventions. Education and reduction in poverty. Uh-oh - we're heading down the 'nanny-state' route. I know - let's just lock the little f***ers up!

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 217 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    20 years ago I was never caught, so one could argue that little has changed. But back then we knew we could be caught and if we did we would be in a lot of trouble. Nowadays? Nothing really happens if you're caught.

    Twenty years ago I was... well, I don't remember any vandalism in my teenage years, but stealing from shops, stealing from cars, stealing cars, stealing from houses, drugs, receiving... The activities varied with what group I was hanging out with, which was largely determined in those years by who I was sleeping with.

    One thing I can say with assurance about that span of years between thirteen and seventeen, and all those people who were involved. Not one of us knew what the criminal penalty for anything we were doing was, and nobody ever thought we were going to get caught. So increasing a fine as a deterrant is utterly useless if the people you're trying to deter have no knowledge of what the fine was in the first place.

    But being surer of being caught? That I think would make a difference. It's scary and embarrassing.

    Of all the people I knew back in those days that I still have awareness of, only one of them didn't just grow out of it and become a fairly average member of the community. That's the one who went to prison, on something like 86 counts of fraud. I have no idea whether that was because he was more fcked up in the first place and would have gone that way anyway, but it certainly didn't 'fix' him. (He was, to be fair, a tremendous jerk.)

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    I/O said

    They are not interested in doing proper graffiti 'murals' because that is too hard and they are lazy kids who just want to be 'famous' by throwing up their scrawl wherever they can.

    Which seems only partly true. There are some who are only interested in getting their tag out as widely as possible, others who are only interested in creating work of the highest quality, and others - probably the largest group - who want both widespread recognition and respect for their tag. Growing up in Mangere in the 90s-00s, I used to hear boasting about how awesome a particular tag was. I can't imagine things have changed particularly much.

    When you increase enforcement and painting over, you increase the risks that they're going to get caught, and it stands to reason that they'll want to tag quickly, and then bugger off. They're not going to stand round painting a masterpiece. You get less full size multicoloured 'bombs' and more ugly scrawls (tags). Painting over also means there's less incentive to put effort and money into creating something substantial.

    The other option for them is to tag in obscure locations where their work will be seen by their peers, but with reduced risks, and greater payback (it'll last for longer).

    A lot of kids do seem to want the recognition that comes with something spectacular, but they're denied the chance. Graffiti walls don't cater to all, but they do provide for quite a few.

    That said, I'm out of the loop and don't know anyone who tags anymore, so all this is from a distance.

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    I/O

    FYI - before anyone accuses me of being a hypocrite: I was never a tagger, I did (as part of a crew) whole walls. As I've said before, tagging is just pissing on a lamp-post to mark your territory.

    But that's not a distinction politicians or the general public make... for most, anything that comes from a spraycan is the same.

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report Reply

  • Brent Jackson,

    What I find odd, is this fixation on spray cans. Most of the tagging that I see about the place seems to have been done with a wide permanent marker.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 618 posts Report Reply

  • Che Tibby,

    What if the story is,[...] Still murder? Manslaughter? Self-defence (i.e. nothing)?

    graeme, i'll thank you not to fck up my extreme levels of uninformed outrage with reasonableness.

    the back of an envelope • Since Nov 2006 • 2042 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    I have noticed a couple of tags on the wall at the end of our street. This shop has a product on its(large) wall that generally makes tags removable . They also seem to have eliminated the mismatched blotches of paint that replace the tags. There is a much larger wall 20 steps away and it is never tagged. It is lit over night. The other areas that seem safe from tagging would be the banks around the corner yet shops next to them are always "pissed on".
    I suspect the corner shop etc are good advertising space,and perhaps tagging is a crude form of what we are always seeing anyway.
    Personally I dont like it (tags and advertising) . I solved the fence problem by putting in trees and found I get compliments by the most unlikely sorts.
    I also notice the media is quick to interview taggers but I didnt see any discussion with them about what would they do otherwise if given any other chance?
    I think the recent push to" DEMAND ACTION" any time the papers report it, has left the government no choice but to do something.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • InternationalObserver,

    Some good discussion points people!

    Make them go around and clean it all up and apologise to everyone in the neighbourhood and have the grannies tell them off, and then fix up the playground and build a new swing set.

    A good idea, but you know they'll also come back and tagg the sh1t out of the swing set later don't you?

    A big fine and a criminal conviction? That's going no where.

    Agreed. It hasn't worked for 'boy racers'.

    But being surer of being caught? That I think would make a difference. It's scary and embarrassing.

    Agreed.

    I used to hear boasting about how awesome a particular tag was.

    Yes. Judging tags/pieces predated Dancing With The Stars: they were rated on (Wild)style, degree of difficulty, execution, and public appeal!

    Most of the tagging that I see about the place seems to have been done with a wide permanent marker.

    True. And for the really cool fat ones Whitcoulls make you wait a week before they give it to you. Even me, and I'm old.

    Since Jun 2007 • 909 posts Report Reply

  • Shep Cheyenne,

    Willful damage is reaching its zenith at Lincoln Uni with the removal of a beautiful Oamaru/Red Brick McCaskill building.

    Dr McCaskill CBE was a conservationist.

    Modernisation/improved facilaties might replace this beautiful building, but I doubt it.

    If you ever find yourself at Lincoln Uni go to the Library & up the top of the new spiral staircase, stand straight with your eyes closed without holding the hand rails.

    It's not level and a little vertigo often follows.

    I expect nothing better from the vandals this time either.

    Since Oct 2007 • 927 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    </quote>Yes. Judging tags/pieces predated Dancing With The Stars: they were rated on (Wild)style, degree of difficulty, execution, and public appeal!</quote>I forget the name but there was that movie where they bombed the trains in the stealth of night.I must admit I do likethe grafitti at morningside drive by the train tracks The colours are fantastic

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • InternationalObserver,

    I forget the name but there was that movie where they bombed the trains in the stealth of night.

    Wild Style
    Beat Street
    Style Wars (this is the PBS doco they screened on NZTV in the 80s that got kiwi kids started)

    Since Jun 2007 • 909 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    sorry my preview bit aint workin' but I meant to point out that the train movie was about getting the new white ones and covering them as quickly as possible without concern for others. They were prepared to die for it. This was the 80's! No change there then. . Perhaps we could have judging thus pushing up quality of production and then you could win the right to grafitti, making the act" viable art."

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    Thanks IO I believe it was Beat Street

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    .....the fence could become valuable,... trade me.. commission for your work .The right to exhibit without gallery fees. ..... Perhaps I should replace those ol' trees.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    The penalty for Billsticking, defacing, etc (which includes spraying any structure) is $200 (increased from $100 from 1998).

    What a relief, only a $200 dollar fine for posting bills. I hope that also applies to stencil art in public places. I assume tagging is well defined in law. I dam well hope so.

    What we are doing here on the internet is a sublimation of tagging.
    I'v never done an actual illegal tag. I loathed to write anything in my adolescence and vandalism didn't figure out. However, I do like graffiti! It's like weeds that grow on toxic waist.

    I find lot's of things ugly. Things like suburbanites obsessively using motor mowers and hedge clippers. Pedantic, pretentious freaking out about some tagging going on around the community, is not one of my caricature defects. I have substantially more important concerns, like will my hair eventually turn gray.

    Public Murals very really get tagged. Why is that?

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4414 posts Report Reply

  • tussock,

    Out here, beyond city margins, the hobby of yoof, aside from testing their body's tolerance for alcohol, is to disrupt the orientation of ones mailbox. We don't have fences to mark, you see.

    My old man tells me it's been going on at least 60 years, and that the police have always had better things to do than worry about it. The usual solution is to all figure out who's doing it and tell their parents.

    Though I suppose it's a bit harder for city folk to know everyone who lives nearby; what with the fences and everything. You all know there's city's that ban them, eh.


    Still, in a country where police can't respond to the persistent and organised theft of $12k farm bikes, worrying about a bent mailbox, or a marked wall, seems to be a skewed priority.

    One would imagine laws regarding truancy, rights of school access, and public drunkenness might need more of a tinker than the laws around the sale and use of spray cans.

    Since Nov 2006 • 610 posts Report Reply

  • InternationalObserver,

    Thanks IO I believe it was Beat Street

    Yeah, but the Beat Street plot (vis a vis the train graf) was heavily 'inspired by the Style Wars doco:

    FYI: February 10, 2008
    Style Wars Director Dies

    Director of the legendary hip-hop documentary Style Wars, Tony Silver, died last weekend after battling an irreversible brain condition for several years.

    Shot in New York City in the early '80s and originally airing on PBS in 1983, his documentary is considered to be the first film about hip-hop culture. While the 70 minutes covers rap and breakdancing, its main focus is on graffiti, which at the time was viewed by some as a groundbreaking art form. Style Wars shows an altered urban landscape and serves as a snapshot of life here in the early '80s, with a "cast" ranging from Mayor Koch to renowned graffiti taggers to the Rock Steady Crew to subway maintenance workers.

    Since Jun 2007 • 909 posts Report Reply

  • rodgerd,

    Public Murals very really get tagged. Why is that?

    That would be nice if it were true, but more than a few of my favourite murals in Wellington have been destroyed by taggers over the years.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 512 posts Report Reply

  • nanoplanet,

    Here • Since Apr 2007 • 15 posts Report Reply

  • kmont,

    Excellent post Keith, I can't wait to come back to this conversation when time allows.
    I think I/O and Steven Crawford have outdone themselves with actual useful things to say. The MSM have been friggin doing my head in with their coverage of yoof crime.

    wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 485 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    <quote>That would be nice if it were true, but more than a few of my favourite murals in Wellington have been destroyed by taggers over the years.<quote> I haven't noticed. I have seen the odd tag over a mural, it's generally rear compared to tags on bland walls.

    There was a series of murals, corner of Ponsonby and K road lasted over a decade with minimal tagging. Here they are

    And here are some of the local tag team.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4414 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    I think I/O and Steven Crawford have outdone themselves with actual useful things to say. The MSM have been friggin doing my head in with their coverage of yoof crime.

    Well I tentatively agree with that. I'm feeling like a gaged animal. all this stock standard typography and grammatical regulation is nutting me out. I think I understand why some teens just go, fuck it I'm just gona do bad hand writing and dum spelling and in your uptight face it's gona be.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4414 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth Ward,

    I noticed around the corner from my place last night, that some zany marketing agency for Telecom have put cheeky little stencil arts of that new Okta branding (the swanky avatar/paper-cutout people things) amongst work from Component etc.
    Clearly we need to amend the Telecom separation legislation to include anti-tagging provisions.

    (Unless some cad put it up with a deeper anti-establishment message that I entirely missed)

    Auckland, NZ • Since Mar 2007 • 1727 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    A good idea, but you know they'll also come back and tagg the sh1t out of the swing set later don't you?

    Well, you'd hope that having to 'face up to their community' would make that less like. Restorative Justice and all that.

    But even if not, if you tag a wall, get caught, and then retag, you know who the first person that the police are going to see is. That'd just be plain stupid, and I can't imagine they'll be as nice about it 2nd, 3rd, 4th etc time.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

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