As many students have no doubt noticed, there has been a recent spike in the popularity of spray paint as a medium for mass communication at the University. On posting kiosks, the sidewalk and even the Diag, it is hard to miss the spray-painted slogans. Unfortunately, the painters have not given due respect to others; spray paint, especially on posting kiosks, often covers other groups’ messages. The painters’ actions display a lack of maturity that calls attention not to their message, but to their disregard of free speech rights.
Many student groups rely on the triangular kiosks to get out their message, and therefore put a great deal of time and energy into designing and creating their advertisements. When a legitimate advertisement is painted over, the work and message of the initial poster is tainted and an organization’s right to free speech is infringed upon. The First Amendment and the right to free speech is a fundamental aspect of life in the United States, and even on a minor scale such as this, violating it cannot be accepted.
More important, however, may be the hypocrisy of the vandals. Through their bold actions, they demand attention and the right to be heard. They demonstrate a lack of respect for opinions. Their are many other legitimate forums through which groups can get their messages out – standard flyering, protests, debates.
The end result of spray painting over others’ messages is to detract from their own cause. While the spray-painters’ messages are highly visible, they are easily dismissible, since most observers dismiss them as graffiti.
While the spray-painters themselves are indefensible, oftentimes the causes they are painting for is worthy of attention. Nonetheless, when the most visible aspect of a movement is vandalism, people lose interest and respect. If the medium that the painters use indicates a degree of contempt for others’ ideas, why would the general public respect theirs? For no other reason but the sake of the ideals behind the movement, spray-painters should refrain from vandalizing and damaging others’ messages and property.
Ultimately, the painters acted in an indiscriminate and immature manner. It is possible, without excessive thought, to come up with the same points of opposition described above. Despite this, they still carried out juvenile acts without regard to the ways in which their actions harmed the causes of others.
The ideas behind the spray-painted messages are not necessarily without merit. Legitimate facts and logic may undegird the ideas emblazoned onto kiosks and the Diag. However, the methods used to express these ideas cannot be condoned. The right to free speech is paramount, and the right of the people to express their opinions is an indispensable part of American life. Under no circumstances or pretext should it be curtailed.