OPINION: Graffiti should not be considered art

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The idea of expressing individualism is becoming a more prominent idea. Many people channel their individualism into public form of arts, including painting, sculpting and metal working. Others make the choice to channel their individualism into what they consider art: graffiti. Graffiti is not art. It is pure, unadulterated vandalism with a high cost to both the perpetrator and the community.

Let’s talk money

The obvious cost of vandalism, like graffiti, is the visible degradation towards community buildings. General safety and budgeting thousands of dollars for graffiti removal is another problem communities face. The Kansas City Parks and Recreation Department was spending about $130,000 a year to remove graffiti in 2012 according to the article “Kansas Mural Program Transforms a Neighborhood.”

Graffiti is vandalism, especially when it hurts the community. Factoring in post graffiti clean-up and budgetary consequences, this “art” is just not worth the cost.

Why it happens

Many “artists” who vandalize properties are often portrayed in a positive light by the media. Coverage by the media and photos of the graffiti going viral are a few reasons as to why these perpetrators receive attention and sometimes even fame for their work. It is sad that people believe they can get famous by degrading public or private structures.

The four motivating factors for graffiti vandalism are fame, rebellion, self-expression and power, according to “Graffiti Hurts,” a website focused on graffiti education and outreach.

Rebellion and self-expression are some excuses perpetrators use to explain why they vandalize their community. Wouldn’t a sculpting class be a much better outlet for self-expression than defacing a public wall with paint because some pre-pubescent teen is feeling emotional?

Illegality

“If caught, offenders are likely to face prosecution resulting in probation with restitution,” Ed Harbin, Ellis County sheriff, said.

The offender could also face jail time, depending on their record. More restitution or probation in hopes that an offender may not commit the crime again should be required, however, city budgets do not account for that. Only repeat offenders face jail time.

Although each case of graffiti or vandalism is offensive to the community, it is usually not a high enough priority for first-time offenses to be sent to jail, Harbin said. Unfortunately, offenders are being let off easy. This does not send a good message to the community or youth at risk.

Graffiti is the most common type of property vandalism, according to the Bureau of Justice. Perhaps if there were more art classes for youth and youth at risk, graffiti vandalism would not be such a problem.

Graffiti is vandalism, especially when it hurts the community. Factoring in post graffiti clean-up and budgetary consequences, this “art” is just not worth the cost.

Jena Ernsting is a freshman in agricultural communications and journalism.

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