Marker Madness

On August 17, 2010, the city of Wichita, KS, passed a law that prohibits a person from carrying “implements of graffiti” within 100 feet of any public building. These “implements” are defined in the ordinance as follows:

…(e) ‘Graffiti implements’ means any aerosol paint container, broadtipped
marker, gum label, paint stick or graffiti stick, etching equipment, brush or
any other device capable of scarring or leaving a visible mark on any natural or
man-made surface.

The preceding a-d defines the mentioned implements, but it is the last line that truly strikes home. They are calling ANYTHING that can make a visible mark an implement of graffiti. As an artist, I carry broad-tipped markers and Sharpies in my pocket almost all the time. This means that, if a police officer were to look in my pockets, I would be arrested for carrying basic art supplies.

The punishment for said crimes?

(b) Any person violating the provisions of this chapter shall be guilty
of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction thereof shall be punished by a fine of not
less than two hundred fifty dollars or more than one thousand, or by imprisonment
for not more than six months or by both such fine and imprisonment.

For carrying a MARKER. 250 dollars for carrying a marker. A misdemeanor on my record. Six months in prison. This is not the answer to graffiti. This is an obstruction of basic human rights via freedom of speech, freedom of expression in its legal forms. I am appalled by the audacity of the lawmakers in this city. A lot of the ordinance applies more to minors, part of which keeps them from obtaining these supplies unless they have a class that specifically requires them. My little brother is an artist, too, and he has several art classes. But he carries Sharpies as surely as I do for the purposes of marking up his notebooks and such.

WHY is it that people believe that restricting access to these supplies will make less graffiti? The criminals will just keep doing it because they don’t have an incentive not to do it. They have no positive reinforcement. Some of them are actually splendid artists. Why doesn’t the city hire them to beautify public buildings? Why not provide places they CAN go to? These things have not been tried. Why fill up the over-full prisons with people who don’t belong there?

If you’d like to support ongoing efforts to stop this idiotic law, please join the Facebook group “Marker Madness,” linked at the bottom. The full text of the ordinance is also linked.

(I hope these links work…)


Anniversary of Nagasaki

For those who are disinclined to remember history for any number of reasons, today is the 55th anniversary of the atomic bombing on Nagasaki. A B-29 dropped the bomb, codenamed Fat Man, on the city at about 1100 am local time. There are several moral issues surrounding the Nagasaki bombing, as opposed to the Hiroshima bombing three days prior.

As a military brat and as a lover of Japanese history and culture, I know that the Hiroshima bombing was a military necessity. The Japanese people, though I love them dearly, would have drawn out the fighting, causing the loss of many more lives from many more nations. However, the bombing on Nagasaki should have been postponed until after the forecast bad weather had cleared up, giving the Japanese more time to surrender. Originally, the drop had been planned for five days, not three, after Hiroshima.

Hiroshima was a military headquarters, as was Nagasaki, to a point. Nagasaki, however, was a port city, and though important during the war for its industrial involvement, could have easily been converted into a major trade center instead. With the impending surrender of the Japanese government, these changes could have occurred even before the end of the war on the western front.

Nagasaki was of a more traditional Japanese build, with wooden houses and wooden beams, tile roofs. The industrial aspects of the city had been built right alongside the old-style buildings. A medical school was located there, along with schoolchildren. I think someone was listening in the briefing rooms, because the only other attack on Nagasaki occurred little more than a week before — prompting the evacuation of many before the atomic bomb fell.

Present-day Japan would be a much different place if the second bomb had never fallen. For one thing, the traditional leadership of the Japanese people (called kokutai) would have continued, leaving an Emperor at the head of the nation instead of a Prime Minister. There would have never been occupation of the islands, in which nearly every aspect of traditional Japanese life was changed. Prostitution would never have risen to the heights it did (and in some areas of Japan, they still are relatively high).

There would have never been a “Peace Clause,” followed by a desperate urging during the Cold War by the U.S. for the Japanese to re-arm themselves.

Then again, to quote the Japanese themselves… “shikata ga nai” or “nothing can be done about it.”