You raise good points and interesting questions. My responses below...
Seriously Starchild? Assuming so, I think this is wrong on various levels.
First of all, are you are promoting the tragedy of the commons as some sort of true freedom land in contrast to the prevailing ‘Propertarian’ libertarian solution? Sounds more like chaos, which gives real anarchy a bad name.
I disagree that this is a "tragedy of the commons" situation. That phrase referred to over-grazing of common land, which ruined it for everyone. But allowing lots of graffiti to flourish doesn't render common space unusable for anyone, it merely renders the common environment more colorful, and less aesthetically appealing to some. That's a huge difference!
Second of all, if painting public property is okay in your view, why not allow all types of defacement? For example, maybe I’m a sculptor with a jack hammer and believe that swiss cheese sidewalks are neat. Is that okay? Or maybe I’d like to recreate an IED death scene from Baghdad with real blood or something. Are there limits to what I can do with my art? Who decides this?
I think the standard should be whether the beautification substantially interferes with other uses. So your hypothetical "swiss cheese sidewalks" might be okay if the holes were very small (heck, it might even help with drainage runoff!), or just on one part of the sidewalk, but if the holes were covering the entire walk and large enough to make it dangerous for people to navigate the space, then maybe not.
I hope you can understand my amusement though, that you, an anarchist, would ask me "who decides this?" In your model, you might respond, "Whoever owns the property"; in my proposed model I might similarly respond, "Whoever 'owns' (figuratively speaking) the property by proving themselves to be the greatest stakeholder as measured by persistence and effectiveness of effort."
Thirdly, are you suggesting that legalizing graffiti is going to marginalize tagging related to gang turf wars? I’m having trouble believing that people in suits are going to stop by the mission after work and paint daisies over gang symbols - and live.
Gang turf wars, as we know, mostly stem from the War on Drugs, so the ultimate solution to that issue and its manifestations lies elsewhere. But I think my proposal could have some positive effects on gang tagging. Since graffiti is at present treated as a criminal act, only those disposed to break the law engage in it. Thus if it were legal, gang members -- already responsible for only a small portion of all the tagging out there -- would probably make up an even smaller portion.
With city officials no longer engaged in removing graffiti and persecuting graffiti artists, I think the amount of graffiti would rapidly proliferate to a point that things would be getting painted over frequently, and this would be so common that I don't think gangs would have any particular animus toward someone painting something of theirs over unless it were done as a deliberate provocation by a rival gang or something.
And lastly, how does democratizing the commons relate to freedom? Hasn’t the majority voted against graffiti which is why it’s illegal already?
I'm not talking about *democratizing* the commons -- that's more or less what we have now. The majority's views on how the commons should be used, as poorly implemented by the representatives who make a career out of pandering to those views enough to win elections, are enforced by law at the expense of other views.
I want to *individualize* the commons, making it more of a free space for each *individual* to do his or her own thing so long as it does not prevent other uses, regardless of whether the majority likes it or not. That imho is a more libertarian approach.
I’m not anti-art by any stretch. I appreciate the numerous murals around the city, especially those funded by private sources. But I think promoting graffiti chaos is neither practical nor just.
I understand you're not anti-art. But maybe you don't fully see graffiti as art? I admit that some of it is marginal to me too, but like the Internet which also contains much shlock, I'm willing to give the overall culture a chance to be free and flourish and see what it produces.
Ever notice that the nicely done murals, like truly beautiful and ornate buildings, do not tend to get tagged? Graffiti artists generally avoid tagging such surfaces, and instead concentrate their skills on surfaces that are plainer and uglier to begin with. This indicates to me a theory of the commons that "good art drives out bad," and that what we could expect from decriminalizing street art in the commons is actually a much more beautiful city over time.
Love & Liberty,
((( starchild )))