What is your stand?

Graffiti is a serious crime and the City of Calgary should take more drastic steps to catch and prosecute violators

Here are some samples of the debates students wrote:

If you do the crime should you do the time? It seems like graffiti is everywhere! The graffers need to be punished more. I also think that the victims should not pay for the crime they didn’t do.
I think the city should take more steps to remove graffiti. They should (if the graffer has been caught more than once) get at least a month in prison. Vancouver is a good example because they confronted the taggers and gave them a chance to do their work legally. They have way less graffiti than us! Her in Calgary there are scratches in bus seats, tags, plain old graffiti, cigarette holes in bus stops, all in my neighborhood!
In conclusion I think that the City should toughen up the laws on graffiti.
By David GM

Graffiti is not a crime. Why should graffiti artists have to pay $5000 when or if they are caught? I agree with all types of graffiti including tags. The reason why graffers are applying their graffiti on homeowners property is because they are aggravated by what the city is doing to prevent graffiti.
I think that the City of Calgary should approach graffiti with a more open mind. A $5000 fine if a graffer is caught applying graffiti isn’t going to help graffiti occurrence in Calgary. I think Calgary should do what Vancouver did. Vancouver had an open mind and created a mural contest inviting graffiti artists to do what they love doing legally! Since the contest Vancouver’s graffiti occurrence has dropped 90%. Citizens of Calgary should not have to worry about their safety because, as Kim Morrison mentioned, graffiti artists do not target people. When you see graffiti specifically tags on mailboxes, garbage cans, lamp posts, etc, that is a good thing. If it weren’t for tags people who have the talent to create a masterpiece wouldn’t be able to because graffiti artists expand their art step by step. They start with a simple tag then to a bubble and soon on to an extraordinary piece. I was amazed with what I saw at the art gallery located in downtown Calgary. I wasn’t only amazed at the art and what it said, but it really made you think. Art that you would find at places like the Glenbow Museum are landscapes and don’t draw you in as much as graffiti art. “Graffiti is writing or scratching on a surface done without consent.” That isn’t going to help graffiti occurrence in Calgary. It is going to aggravate graffiti artists and you may even experience seeing rude comments and more obscenities in their art.
All in all, I think that Calgary is doing the exact opposite of what they should be doing. If the City had an open mind I think that the citizens of Calgary would experience a drastic change in graffiti occurrences in Calgary. But if Calgary keeps on lying down by laws on graffiti artist, graffiti will occur a lot more often. The 6 million dollar cost per year to cleanup graffiti would decrease if Calgary would just lay off graffiti artists!
By Justin

Introduction: What is the difference between graffiti and art? By the dictionary definition, graffiti is “verses, saying, or pictures drawn, scribbled, or scratched on a public surface such as a wall or fence”, but the work graffiti has not real definition. This is the main reason why there are so many different opinions about graffiti. Is graffiti art? Is it a crime? Is it beautiful? Is it ugly? Calgary spends $6 million a year removing graffiti. Are they removing art or vandalism?
Middle: I think that the $500 - $5000 fine for applying graffiti is fair and should stand without changes until the graffiti culture changes enough that the fines issued to the graffiti artists are inappropriate. However, I do encourage many changes. I think that Calgary should have a bylaw that says if someone was caught doing graffiti, they should no longer be allowed to purchase spray paint. I also believe that he City of Calgary should encourage legal graffiti. Most of the graffiti artists involved in the “Murals Under Pressure” program, a legal city-funded program in which experienced graffiti artists at “piece” level get to paint murals on the sides of donated walls, have quit illegal graffiti. There is also an annual mural competition in Vancouver. Graffiti artists paint murals on provided walls, and four are selected for $1000 in prize money, while the rest of the artists receive $100 for participating. One artist said about illegal graffiti, “It’s a waste of time, waste of paint.” Many graffiti artists feel like this. Lots of them think that illegal graffiti is a complete waste because it will just be removed, while legal graffiti will be left up and admired.
Conclusion: I believe that illegal graffiti should be stopped, but I also believe that graffiti style art should be encouraged and welcomed with open arms. Graffiti style art encourages artistic talent among youths. The City of Calgary should be more open to this new kind of art, and perhaps even offer programs to encourage perfectly legal and beautiful graffiti style art, and that’s what graffiti style art is: a masterpiece.
By Erica

Why should home and business owners pay their own money just to clean up some other person’s mess? Why should they give up their time to paint over someone’s nickname? Why should victims of graffiti pay for someone else’s wrong doing?
I think the City of Calgary needs to change their by laws of graffiti because obviously they haven’t taken into account that some pieces in Calgary take hours, even days, to complete. But it makes a community look unstable if there are tags plastered in every corner of it. One example I have is the owner of the Soda lounge was allowing youths to graffiti his walls. But the City came along and painted over it without their permission. If that’s the case I think they should initiate an annual graffiti contest like in Vancouver, where graffers can do a piece and win prized for their work. Tags, however are another issue. These are the simple works of nothing. There is no artist value in tags. I think tags are “gang” related because something about some designs make me want to steer clear of the wall. I agree that some tags are the basis of a graffiti artist but I still believe the gangs have found their way in.
Why should a beautiful city like Calgary encourage gangs and the feeling that nobody cares about Calgary? What we should encourage is the artistic side of graffiti. We should help graffers come and legally do landscapes and graffiti to raise the bar of art in the city.
By Theo

“It is a waste of time and paint,” Vincent Dumoulin says. I agree. What is the point of wasting time by doing an act that is illegal and destructive, and will be removed within 14 days?
Graffiti is a serious crime, and I think the city should take bigger steps in dealing with how to go about fixing and curtailing the amount of graffiti in Calgary. The City of Calgary spends 6 million dollars a year removing graffiti. Imagine what the city could do with that money if we didn’t have to spend it removing graffiti?! Think of all the programs and infrastructure the city could pay for that would benefit ALL people.
Vancouver has given artists free walls so they can do “art” legally. If Calgary did this they might have less of a graffiti problem. The problem occurs when the “free” walls become full. People continue to put graffiti elsewhere. Karen Hirl states, “Graffiti is like cancer; it spreads.” Urban Youth Worx gives businesses with a background of graffiti problems, murals so that the graffiti will stop.
So who wants graffiti all over their city? Not me. I feel that the more we stand up to graffiti, and work together to find solutions to deal with it, the cleaner and richer our city would be for everyone.
By Megan N.

Imagine a world with boring walls. No colour whatsoever! Not fair rules and a boring city. But add graffers and people who care and you have a city with colour, masterpieces and fair rules.
The definition of graffiti is “painting or scratching on a surface without consent.” Is it graffiti if a little kid goes to the park and draws on the sidewalk with chalk? Well, under the city’s definition, it is! . . . The City of Calgary should change their definition of graffiti to something like, “any person over the age of 14 will be punished if caught painting or scratching on private or public property.”
(In conclusion) would you like to live in a world with unfair rules and no colour, or one with bright colours, fair rules and beautiful masterpieces?
By Nancy P.

Do you want to live in a city that contradicts itself? Graffiti is art and I love art. If graffers have to pay a $5000 fine for doing art, I hope they’re millionaires! . . .
By Russell M.


Copyright © 2006 Kershaw, Watt and students