Youth Creativity Trampled On

Tuesday, 1st May 2007 at 9:00 UTC 1 comment

A Police Officer has given two teenage girls £80 fines for chalking on a pavement. Their drawings are described as having consisted of Rainbows and Hearts, hardly a threat to anyone, and to have been washed away in the next rain shower. One of their fathers, thankfully, has decided to fight the case in court, even turning down the offer of having the fines halved.

What message does this send to young people? That their creativity is unwanted; that they should learn to act in sombre ways, recreating the world of their parents, of grey tones and straight lines?  Or that their creativity should only be used to create things which are saleable, licensed and within a strictly laid out remit?

To fine young people for bringing colour and amusement to their world is ridiculous.  This might have started as something innocuous, but in fining the pair, the police have shown what a truly political act colouring in a pavement really is; not in the dead sense of party politics, but in the living sense of challenging the rules of the space around them.

Sure, had this been permanent, some kind of requirement for consent might have been acceptable.  But would they have had to get it from their neighbours, who walk down that (presumably) grey pavement everyday?  Or would they have had to get it from bureaucrats who feel a need to control everything, as if truly free expression is somehow automatically dangerous, harmful, anti-social, offensive?

And if the chalk had been the water-based chalks that take a bit longer to come off, so what?  A rainbow on a pavement is not going to do anyone any harm.  Surely the answer to the grim styles of graffiti that appear so often in our cities is to paint something happy instead; something that gives us the will to live, rather than returns our surroundings to an emotionless state.

In both celebrating the simple creativity and desire to challenge the colourlessness of their street, and in a way of venting my on going frustration at the way police, government and local council alike seem determined to crush any sense of creativity, I shall close with this: it is a quote from Subcommandante Marcos which I think fits the situation very well:



Entry filed under: Culture, Free Space, Free Speech, Freedom, Human Rights, News.

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Helen B  |  Saturday, 12th May 2007 at 15:14 UTC

    That is shocking. Good on the dad for fighting it out. Pretty Pavements should be encouraged! When I rule the world, all kids will be given pavement chalks and sent out to have fun.

    Writing dirty jokes won’t be allowed unless they’re really funny though 😉


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