Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A war on kids

Over on Public Address, Keith Ng dissects the government's "war on taggers", pointing out that it's

a PR set piece designed to demonstrate to the country that Helen Clark is Doing Something. Doing Something about what? Oh, you know, those kids.
It's a sentiment echoed (prechoed? What is the word for someone who says the same thing independently a bit earlier?) by Linley Boniface in Monday's Dominion Post:
It is this completely natural state of affairs [the old hating the young] that is, I believe, behind the Government's current war on graffiti (in addition to it being a nice cheap way to gain a few extra votes). Graffiti is a young person's hobby that offends grown-ups' ideas of neatness, tidiness and social order, and therefore it must be crushed.

For confirmation of this view, check out the name of the anti- graffiti initiative: Stop Tagging Our Place. "Our place", understand? Not your place.

It is our place, you spotty, hoodie-wearing hooligans, and we want to keep it clean and pristine.

Boniface is being lighthearted, but the core point remains: this is not primarily about property damage or about some scourge of youth crime (which as Keith points out, is mostly illusory); it is about showing who is in charge, who "owns" our society, and making it clear that the young (and particularly the poor young) are excluded from it. It is in other words pure intergenerational warfare. Helen Clark's "war on tagging" is in fact a war on kids.

Last election, Don Brash picked out and demonised a section of our community for electoral gain, now Helen Clark is doing the same. I'd expected rather better from her and her party.

Correction: That is of course Linley Boniface. I plead decaffeination...