Graffiti degrades and devalues

A response

By DAVID B. DE BRUYN, Kingston

In the March issue, in the Foghorn section, you had an article by Marilyn Liden Bode about how graffiti is a right of free expression and applauding a quotation painted on the concrete at the skate park.

I disagree with that opinion. Under the Revised Code of Washington (RCW 9A.48.090) writing, painting, or drawing any inscription on any public or private building or any structure without express permission is a misdemeanor (read illegal) and could well be (RCW 9A.48.080) a felony. This is not a right of free expression, unlike writing to this paper or speaking out at the skate park. I do not think it a very good idea to advocate or condone having people break the law – a law which in my opinion was enacted for very good reason.

I do not believe that challenging this law under the right of free speech will get very far; I am sure it has been tried by those convicted under the statute.

However, I think this goes beyond the question of legality. Graffiti (and you correctly identified this as graffiti) degrades and devalues our community. Seattle tries to erase graffiti quickly for this very reason. Perhaps a small number of people would see this as a positive addition to our community or some kind of enhancement.

However, we have a lot of community volunteers who worked to get the skate park and a lot of other community improvements who are not so anxious to see them used in this way. I think the county might be reluctant to provide our area with such improvements if they think citizens will do this to them.

Personally, I believe I have the right to wander our parks and use our public facilities without graffiti and certainly without having people make statements painted on walls whether I agree or disagree with those statements.