Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Creative Punishment

Ked and I were driving home from running some errands this evening when we passed the music store where Ked bought his guitar, and a few other instrumental diversions. The folks who work there are nice, and take time to give good service, and have given us fair prices. So, it rather irritated us to see that some brat with a spray can had tagged their delivery van. Tagged--what a lovely euphemism, like some innocent children are playing a harmless game--what I really mean is vandalized. I know a lot of people don't think this is a big deal. Kids will be kids, and they need "creative" outlets. It's really just art on someone else's canvas, right? No big deal. Thing is, though, now the store is going to have to pay to have the van repainted, or have an insurance company pay for it, likely causing a rate increase, which means it will be more difficult for them to give the next guitar purchaser a good deal. These property crimes do cost people time and money, and not just rich people who "can afford it," but they are so low on the priority list that, even if the little creative geniuses get caught there's not much to stop them from grabbing another can of Krylon and heading back out to express themselves all over someone else's vehicle or building.

I'm thinking that our society needs to hand out a little "creative" punishment, something to maybe, possibly deter the less hardened public artists before they develop a habit of vandalism--a return to good old-fashioned shame. My idea for implementing tagger shame is this: tag them back. I propose that anyone who is caught tagging be tattooed on the forehead with an emblem of the court's choosing. Now, I realize that some taggers would wear this as a badge of honor, and getting their first forehead tat would become something of a rite of passage, so I propose the judge should make it as mortifying a mark as is humanly possible. Tough guys who are already covered over with snakes and daggers need a change of pace. Hello Kitty would do nicely, or, better yet, Barney. How about a nice big purple dinosaur smack in the middle of their forehead? To make it truly special, the judge could add lyrics like:

I tagged you
They caught me
My sentence was this Barney

I think it has a nice ring to it, don't you? I don't even think this could be classified as cruel and unusual punishment. The kid's already proven he likes art, and he's got no problem with someone taking a little "creative license" with someone else's property. The judge is only expressing himself for a little while--say, five years. After that the tagger can have the tat removed, at his own pain and expense, of course. I like it. After all, deterrence is the art of producing in the mind of the tagger the fear to spray. (Name that movie.) Too harsh? Okay, you have any better ideas? Leave 'em in the comments. I'm all eyes.