I recently posted a blog column about the increasing appearance of graffiti in national and state parks — and the need to ramp up punishments to deter this defacing of our natural wonders and wilderness. The last story concerned Andre Saraiva, an internationally known graffiti artist, who “tagged” and bragged about his own defacing of nature. He spray painted a boulder at the Joshua Tree National Park. Now authorities are looking for a teen who spray painted a rock face in Idaho to impress a girl and get her to go with him to the school prom. It should not be too different to investigate this particular crime, but the question remains the punishment that should be meted out.
There is a growing war between environmentalists and graffiti artists over “tagging” natural settings and parks. Hiking is my main pastime and I have long been mystified by people who go to gorgeous natural settings and degrade them with their graffiti. However, some “artists” are now heralding the move to add graffiti to natural trails and sites. One of them is Andre Saraiva is an internationally known graffiti artist who showed how he tagged a boulder at the Joshua Tree National Park. In my view, he should be arrested but he and other graffiti artists think that this is a matter of celebration and pride to ruin these sites for the rest of us. Saraiva appears to believe that some of us go on hikes to see his childish scriblings on tree and rock. Most people try to escape such urban mess by taking to the trails and Saraiva and others are committed to degrading nature in the very same way. The solution is simple in my view: arrest him.