Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Beware: Limbo Dancers!

Graffiti's bad, right?  We can't have these hooligans spray-painting various obscene terms all over our beautiful city.  Something should be done!  We should create laws establishing strict penalties for destroying the inherent beauty of our stark concrete.  Police squads will be created, a community watch will be established and sanity and order will be restored.

At this point, society has successfully eliminated the graffiti problem.  Sadly, we've also eliminated the limbo dancers.  At the bottom of a bathroom stall door in our science building lies a warning: "BEWARE LIMBO DANCERS."  There's also a helpful arrow pointing to the bottom of the door indicating where said limbo dancers may enter.

The draconian laws earlier would eliminate this bit of graffiti alongside all of the "ugly" stuff.  Here, we'd only lose a bit of amusement.  Elsewhere, overbearing laws have much worse effects.  It's far too easy to say "this is bad" and outlaw it without contemplating the implications.  The heart-wrenching case of Aaron Swartz shows what happens when lawmakers pursue career over country.

We're a country of hackers and that's what has made the US what it is.  Sweeping legislation can only leave us surrounded by graffiti or devoid of limbo dancers.  We need to establish a middle ground, as hard as that may be, or perish.

This will be incredibly difficult for the politicians so long as the current system remains in place.  Who this won't be difficult for is us hackers. If we want to inspire others to challenge the binary status quo, we need to set an example.

What can you do to find that edge?  Explore compromise today.

1 comment:

  1. Never understood graffiti laws. Much of it is great art; much of it (as you note) is welcome humor; much of it is just an attempt to communicate.

    There's a National Park in Nova Scotia with a big lake; on some rocks in the lake are historic graffiti - Native American names scraped into the stone. We took a Ranger tour out to see them. I asked how they differed from today's graffiti; the ranger wasn't sure what I was talking about, and seemed a bit offended.