STREET ART, AT ITS BEST, CAN MAKE an ugly place much less ugly. It can bring art out into the open rather than cloistering it in a museum. And it can make people more engaged in the looks of their city. At its worst, it’s just an expletive on a bathroom wall. But even at its worst, most would agree it’s not that terrible of a crime: certainly not something that should send you to jail.
The state of North Carolina disagrees. Last week, the North Carolina legislature passed a law designating “graffiti vandalism” as a new crime. Basically, if you are convicted of spraying paint or defacing public property three times, it’s a felony.
Felony offenses are serious business: with a felony conviction, you lose your right to vote, it can be harder to get a job, and oh, hey, you may have to go to jail. It’s an excessive punishment for a relatively minor crime, and one that will, unfortunately, make North Carolina a little less colorful.