The famous noun is ‘graffiti’ and its verbal derivative is ‘to graffiti,’ which means to illicitly deface a clean and good-looking place by scribbling, scratching or spraying writing or a drawing on a wall or other available surface in a public place.
Lately, the entire city of Tbilisi is being covered with graffiti. There is a solid cohort of young people out there who seem to want to energetically and purposefully graffiti the whole town, doing this illegally and ferociously. Why? They are probably sick, to say the least; spending time, money and energy on turning our beautiful capital into an abominably ugly place to live.
This strange and vicious new enterprise is illegal, but there seems no effective way to stop it, as the ill-minded and ill-handed perpetrators seem to be so dexterously camouflaged that the poor authorities are almost never able to catch them red-handed. There must be certain inner psychological disturbances that motivate this ilk of humans who get up in the wee hours, arm themselves with spray paints and ladders and make several rounds of the town to leave the unasked-for filthy and almost irremovable traces on the exterior of the city buildings anywhere their pathological psyche makes a decision to venture the kink.
There are interested people all over the world who have researched the strange penchant. Most of them say it is not a crime, but they also know that they are prevaricating when they say so. As a matter of fact, graffiti might figure as an action of criminal category if treated fairly and judiciously, because it tends to damage somebody else’s property. On top of that it takes time, money and energy to erase the unwelcome slogans, obscenities, stupid doodles and tasteless paintings. The worst part of the whole shebang is that it is the product of a strongly set-in mindset which is like a serious ailment, as ignored by law in this country as it is in the rest of the world.
As the research has it, this happens because the taggers are not abusing anybody either physically or mentally, hence they enjoy a certain amount of mawkish sympathy or irrelevant tolerance on the part of the society they are living and tagging in. The sympathizers would argue that taggers are not heard enough, suffering from the sense of not belonging; they don’t have anywhere to use their energy, having no access to extracurricular activities; they feel bad due to monotony and solitude; they are angry with those peers who are more successful. One of the suggested explanations for tagging is the love of expression and the desire to be identified and noticed. Often, the motivation is based on political sentiments no matter how fleeting they might be. Sometimes, their imagination crosses admissible moral borders to let the ‘hero’ go for some victimless misdemeanor within the inequitable culture they are compelled to exist in.
This said, graffiti maniacs seem to be inflicted with a specific addiction rather than being naively infatuated kids against whom zero tolerance needs to be used. Taggers are very different from other people. They definitely have a certain conduct disorder and are inclined to juvenile delinquency and antisocial behavior. Personality disorder is not excluded either, because they usually vandalize thousands of properties, doing this unnoticed and in a very short while. Graffiti lovers and composers, colloquially called taggers, do not very well discern between wrong and right, being uncaring, sarcastic, conceited, impertinent and overly prejudiced people. To draw an even clearer picture, one could say that they are desperately looking for recognition, getting their anger out to satisfy their antisocial personality. Taggers do not work alone: They have crews to tag together. They even compete with each other, never recognizing the criminal offense they are committing against honest and innocent people by harming their possessions for their personal satisfaction and wellbeing.
All this could be true in this country too, and the only thing that could help is the adoption of a relevant law that would provide for adequate fines, jail time, or at least some community service. No other way to stop these unstoppable scandalous wrongdoers!
Op-Ed by Nugzar B. Ruhadze