The art of being a moron

Graffiti near Bunda Street, Civic.

Graffiti near Bunda Street, Civic. Photo by Eliza Shields

IF you want to get my easy going eight-year-old’s dander up – show him something that’s been defaced with graffiti or vandalised.
I’m not talking those wonderful, painted murals by schools or artists. He studies those with an envious eye.

No, I’m talking about those scrawls that some young folk like to spray on any prominent flat surface and which in no way should or could be mistaken for art or freedom of speech.

Whenever we’re driving or walking about town, there’s a repeated refrain: “There’s more graffiti, mum, that’s terrible, someone should do something about that!”It’s one of the basics really. We teach our kids from the time they can first hold a crayon (and hopefully well before they can find a permanent marker) not to draw on the walls, floor or furniture. Most of us try and instill in our children respect for property, not to take or break stuff that at least doesn’t belong to them, and not to harm others.  And yet all around us is graffiti and evidence of vandalism – caused by boredom, malice, and perhaps stupidity bordering on the moronic.

Graffiti I can understand a bit, but I just don’t get vandalism at all!

Try explaining, as I did last week, to children why someone wrecked their favourite playground by ripping up the bench seats and breaking the swings.  And why is it that any broken down car that is left unattended gets its windows smashed or why letterboxes or public toilets seem to be fair game for demolition on a Saturday night (especially if they are unfortunate enough to be located anywhere near a place that sells alcohol)? Even more worrying is the growing amount of premeditated vandalism – stuff that requires some thought and planning and really awful stuff such as the recent destruction in the graveyard of beautiful St John’s Church.

Vandalism apparently costs the ACT Government (that means us taxpayers) around $300,000 a year. No one seems to know what it costs businesses and private households.  Of course, there’s no easy fix to vandalism. Parents knowing where their teenagers are on a Saturday night would probably go some way to helping the situation. Certainly parents being held financially responsible for the actions of their under-age children would be a good idea. More visible policing would be a help too, as would wider CCTV camera coverage of public spaces and amenities.

In recent years, the ACT Government has done some excellent work in improving the appearance of our city – street art, upgrading suburban shopping centres, improving public spaces. Former Chief Minister Jon Stanhope deserves plenty of credit for all that. Perhaps a bit more effort could now be put into stopping everything from getting trashed.

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One Response to “The art of being a moron”

  1. Steve Gregory
    July 27, 2011 at 2:12 pm #

    Sonya, we hear you. Canberra CBD Limited works collaborately with the ACT Government and where it has received consent to clean from commercial property owners spends signifcant dollars every week in removing graffitti in the Canberra CBD , Braddon and Turner. Our murals we have commissioned (See Riverside Lane and Saraton Lanes in Civic and Lonsdale Street, Braddon for examples)drastically reduce the incidence of graffitti. It is a community problem and one without easy fixes. The graffitti shown in the story, which is in Tocumwal Lane, has been previously identified but we understand the building is subject to possible redevelopment so we are dealing with other areas whilst the future of the building is debated. We agree that a city without graffitti is a much more enjoyable place. Visit us at or follow us on Twitter and Facebook. Cheers, Steve Gregory, CEO – Canberra CBD Limited

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