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Saturday, September 26, 2020
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Reader’s comment: This creeping sickness

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In response to Janice Davis: If you think graffiti is art, how would you like it all over your house? Damaris Tighe wrote:

‘At the end of the day he’s getting his name out there, and that’s all that matters.’ Which confirms my belief that taggers are like dogs cocking their legs.

My objection to tags isn’t so much that they’re illegal (although that’s important). It’s that they’re ugly and grossly stupid, and ruin wherever they appear. Like the area of Rome described by Janice, they destroy beauty and in my eyes that’s a capital crime. It’s a cult of self-indulgent emotional incontinence.

I remember when England was largely graffiti-free except for a few messages which at least had meaning, like ‘Down with the Shah’ or ‘Free [insert name here]’. I first saw tagging in Amsterdam – it was on every available surface. It reflected a place that had lost civic pride and tolerated incontinent ‘self-expression’ (and how appropriate that it was oh-so-liberal Amsterdam).

Switzerland was for a long time graffiti-free after England and western Europe had succumbed. It was my go-to country for the visual demonstration of order and beauty. But then the creeping sickness reached it too and now every flat surface along its famous railways has been tagged, even high in the mountains.

A vandalism of beauty by soulless morons that makes me want to weep.

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