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Art or vandalism? 破坏公物的艺术?

Is this art or vandalism?

Vocabulary: law and the courts 词汇:法律与法庭

Is it art or vandalism? Britain is divided by graffiti. Recently, a British judge was so impressed by one graffiti gang, called SMT, he said in court that they should be proud of their work.

He still sent them to prison though.


Under the law, graffiti is criminal damage, and the maximum sentence is ten years in prison, so the gang got off lightly. One member got nine months, one six months and one, who was under 18, got six months in a youth detention centre.

The prosecuting barrister said that they had caused £150,000 worth of damage to the railways. He said "It's not simply tagging with marker pens. The scale we are talking about is the entire carriage being daubed."

In contrast, the judge said the gang were talented artists, he didn't want to give them a custodial sentence, and would be as lenient as he could. After looking at photographs of their graffiti, he called it a portfolio to be proud of.

It's difficult to speak about graffiti, without making it clear whether you like it or hate it. The prosecuting barrister talked about vandalism and damage to property. He used the word 'daub', which means to apply colour without any skill or artistry.

Meanwhile the judge's words all show he sees their graffiti as art - a portfolio is a professional artist's collection of work, and the judge repeatedly used the word talent and talented.

Local councils in Britain spend a lot of money every year removing spray-painting, because many people complain it makes an area feel unsafe and run-down. However, research in 2008 showed that people were willing to tolerate some graffiti. They were more likely to report it as vandalism if they saw it as 'low quality' or offensive.

But the research also showed that even when graffiti was accepted and valued as community art, it was often sprayed over by another graffiti writer in time, and people then saw that as vandalism.

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