Thursday, December 11, 2008

Tagging, a Tragic story.

Tagging, a Tragic Story.

Emotions are running high on this sad issue in Auckland, New Zealand. A fifty year old respectable business man Bruce William Emery, stabbed to death a fifteen year old Pihema Cameron, whom he found tagging his property. Supporters of Emery, who has been charged with murder, stand by him that it was time taggers were taught a lesson. A lesson, Cameron’s supporters say is too harsh. Cameron did not deserve to die just because he tagged. There was no justification for him to be killed, they argued.

This case has extra ingredients to make it a hot issue. Emery is a self employed white business man, loving husband and father, with a clean record. Cameron was a non-white school drop out, from a broken home. His mother left him for Australia and he was living with his tetraplegic father.

Tagging or graffiti whatever you want to call it is a direct disrespect for people's property, we have become too lenient on offenders and not enough is done to help victims of crimes. The New Zealand Government is to launch a new weapon in the war against graffiti - the Stop (Stop Tagging Our Place) strategy. The Minister of Police Annette King has however, stop short of banning the spray paint sales to under-18s.

If a tagger is caught, he should be made to not only remove his own tags, he should be made to remove all other tags in a designated area for say a six month period. He should be made to “protect” his patch and made to clean up when other taggers mess his patch. He would feel how his victims feel when they were vandalised. He would have to stop his mates from tagging his designated patch. Otherwise it will hurt his parents’ pocket as they will have to pay for all the chemicals used to clean the tagging, and paint over the whole wall,

The most effective way to stop tagging is to paint over it/clean it up. According to Charles Williams, a 28 year old established graffiti artist who represented the winning New Zealand team at the write For Gold bombing competition in Germany in 2006. Williams suggests the best way to combat the tagging is to paint over it as quickly as possible before the taggers have a chance to admire their handiwork in the morning. The taggers pride themselves and when a tagged wall is left, the more famous that tag will become.

A young business man whose father’s commercial property was tagged so often became so sick and tired of taggers. He used his brains and invented a sensory equipment which will pour water down the wall and sound an alarm when it senses taggers at to the wall. It is an expensive installation, but the inventor promises a savings of thousands of dollars of having to clean up after the taggers.

Of course, there is the using the sledgehammer to smash a nut like the Singapore Government handles the issue. I wrote in my other article on the stupidity of tagging. An American teenager was caned and jailed for tagging. Offenders wear a CWO (Community Work Order) brightly-colored vests and clean up in full view of the public and the media. Public humiliation is a good answer to stopping this epidemic. But in our PC society, we won’t want such draconian actions.

In the court case in December, the jury took a whole day to deliberate. The judge ordered them to retire at 9 pm, and the next day, they delivered the verdict at the High Court.

Bruce Emery was declared guilty of the manslaughter , but not guilty of the 15-year-old's murder. In such a high profile case, there was bound to have differing reactions to the verdict and the judge called for restraint.

Justice Hugh Williams told the court some people would be pleased with the verdict and some would not.

Emery's lawyer, Chris Comeskey, expressed relief that his client had been cleared of murder, saying Emery was exhausted after the trial.

Today, two women are suffering great losses. One lost her son, who paid for his actions, with his life, the other lost her husband, who tried to protect his property, to jail. All these were due to a combination of some very unfortunate circumstances.

Tagging is bad, in my books. For a brief moment of "fun", people and property is harmed. In Singapore, such senseless action is not tolerated. An American teenager, Michael Fay was caught tagging and he was caned. It served a warning to other taggers. The then U.S. President Bill Clinton called the punishment prescribed by Singapore as extreme and mistaken, continuing to pressure the Singaporean government to grant Fay clemency from caning.

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