Seen Sprayed on a Wall: Dubya Tee Eff?

by Jason Alan

I’m constantly baffled by the way people take one problem and offer what they call a solution that only creates more problems. Then, the rest of us just look at it like it either makes sense or we just shrug our shoulders and say well, that’s just the way it is. Cities, states, countries, societies, villages, etc. are all like machines, and a machine can only run so long without breaking down if we are consistently oiling the wrong parts. Just take a minute to look around you. We’re definitely oiling the wrong damn parts.

Take the legal system, for example. In no specific country, just a country that isn’t considered third world. In this example, we will focus on just one law, although the same basic type of argument could be made for most any law.

Let’s take a man, call him John, 21 years of age. That’s pretty much across the board an adult everywhere you go. Old enough to drive, to smoke, to vote, to drink, although I wouldn’t advise at the same time. Voting and drinking can lead to people like Todd Akin being in office.

But seriously. Actually, I was attempting to be funny but I was serious. The guy’s a nutjob. But I’m getting off topic.

So John decides it’s a good idea to take a can of spray paint and tag the side of a courthouse. Well, unless you live in Singapore where you get caned for this type of thing, it’s a minor offense. And any sane, rational person would agree that this isn’t a major crime and should not be treated as such. Right? Right.

In the middle of this misguided display of artistic expression, a cop pulls up and BAM. John is busted. And what is his punishment? More than likely, it’s either a fine, a day or two in jail, or both. Seems about right, doesn’t it? Wrong. It’s causing problems instead of attempting to fix them. Let’s drop the fine and say you just go to jail on this one.

First of all, the officer is taken off the street for at least an hour. (Trust me, I’ve been through this process.) They would take John to the station, type his information into a computer, seal his belongings in a bag, blah blah blah. Then, he would go into another room where two other officers are. One of whom would ask John a specified list of questions while the other one would do a search. Then, John would go into yet another room, and an officer would take his fingerprints, all ten. But not only that, also the print of his palms and even the side of his hand. I’ll skip all the details but the point is they have to feed John for as long as he’s there and have jailers search him and his cell regularly, do paperwork, another blah blah blah.

And if John gets a fine added on to this and doesn’t pay it, he’ll just go through this whole process all over again. Handling it this way, what has this solved? Nothing. What problems has it created? At least two. The first is that the time of the officers/jailers and also tax money is wasted. Also, since it’s a courthouse, a city employee will more than likely be sent out to clean it up or paint over it, at even more cost to the taxpayer. And arguably, another problem would be that John, upon exiting jail, will probably be a little jaded from the experience.

Being in jail gives you time to think. But there’s a good chance John won’t be thinking he should learn from being in there. There’s a very good probability, in fact, that it will cross his mind how utterly fucked up it is to be locked up in a steel and concrete cage for something as innocuous as spray painting a wall. Especially if he has to spend time in there with a guy who’s twice his size and looks like he could snap over nothing at any given moment.

So what are we supposed to do, just let people get crazy with the Krylon? No, of course not. We have John clean it up, then add a day or two of community service. That way, not only is a bunch of money NOT spent, but John is cleaning up his own mess and something is actually getting done. Like something at a garbage dump, or an animal shelter, or even other graffiti. But nope, we see to it to spend time and money frivolously, no big deal.

The real question is, if such an advanced society can’t handle solving these tiny problems, then how the hell are we going to handle the big ones?

Actually, I do have one other question. So many problems seem to have very simple solutions, but aren’t being implemented. Am I the only sane and rational person left on Earth or what?