Today I discovered that the Irish Green Party are in government. They have formed a coalition with their arch-enemies, the odious Fianna Fáil, and my old buddy John Gormley has become minister for the environment.
Now this important fact was completely ignored (swept under the rug, if you will – nice…) by the Swedish media. I mean, who cares what happens in Ireland, right? You might think it would demand SOME attention, at least from the “serious” newspapers – but instead we got “How much is YOUR car worth?” and “New hidden sickness affecting SWEDISH women!”
So I don’t know if this is a good or bad thing. Green minister for the environment…sure, great; but coalition with Ireland’s Most Corrupt Party(tm)? Well, now I’m not sure at all.
I was searching for more info about this and found, naturally enough, a lot of disgruntled people out there. The questions most on their minds were: Have the Irish Greens sold out? Did they ever have anything important to say, or were they just appealing to middle-class guilt? Were they really just after the power all along?
It’s hard to answer, although (name dropping ahead…) when I knew John Gormley I was convinced that the man DID give a shit about justice and environment and all the rest of it. And if given the offer to be Minister for the Environment…well, how could a Green turn that down, even if he will be severely hobbled by his centre-right paymasters?
“This is not a harmless activity. Householders and shopkeepers must remove the graffiti and this costs a considerable amount of money. I know the owner of the pen shop on Dame Street had to remove graffiti from his windows and stonework on at least three occasions. Not only that, but graffiti gives rise to a sense of urban blight and lawlessness.”
Indeed: “urban blight and lawlessness”. Now this starts to worry me greatly, as a hatred of graffiti is a major symptom of developing conservative views. Just yesterday I got a leaflet from the Swedish Moderates (in power these last 6 months) where they blamed pretty much everything wrong with Stockholm on the “graffiti problem”. Not privatising hospitals; not cutting social support; not driving big fat murder-gas spewing cars around; not selling off state-owned businesses and apartments for quick cash, but…graffiti.
Now just what is the fucking problem with graffiti? Sure it isn’t always pretty, but it CAN be pretty. And even if it isn’t pretty, what is the PROBLEM? Why must it be stopped and removed at huge cost, producing pristine empty places that will attract even more graffiti? I can think of twenty-five things in the modern urban environment that are a great deal more ugly than graffiti, things that nobody is spending a million dollars a year to remove.
So this graffiti crusade is obviously, to me at least, an attempt to appeal to public sentiment on an issue that is “topical” but actually completely and utterly pointless. Paint on a building doesn’t matter, not even slightly. Graffiti is as old as civilisation, so get fucking used to it. And if you are “coming out against graffiti” then you are a useless middle-class lump who thinks the kids are out on control and that everything was better before.
As well as this, graffiti can indeed be art. And if you don’t believe me, then please take some time to explore the work of Mr. Banksy, one of the most relevant artists alive.
And please, you Irish readers – give me your opinion on this, because I don’t really know enough to draw a conclusion, as I have not really been Irish for 10 years. I like John Gormley, really I do, but I’m just a bit out of touch here. A lot can change in 10 years.