I don't like graffiti. Almost all of it is ugly, certainly detracts from whatever it is on, and often is vulgar, gang-related, or otherwise offensive.
And I believe that graffiti vandals should be forced to clean up their own and other people's graffiti. It is a community service level crime.
I can even agree with those who suggest that it is worth sending a young person to jail for in some cases, particularly if it is not a first offense, or if it is a particularly egregious case (for example, suggesting a gang-related 'hit' on someone, or is covered by hate crimes laws such as painting swastikas on a synagogue).
But have someone cut off your thumb?
And what if the person suggesting this is the elected mayor of a major American city?
“In the old days in France, they had beheadings of people who commit heinous crimes,” Mayor Oscar Goodman said Wednesday on the TV show “Nevada Newsmakers.”
Goodman said the city has a beautiful highway landscaping project and “these punks come along and deface it.
“I’m saying maybe you put them on TV and cut off a thumb,” the mayor said. “That may be the right thing to do.”
Goodman also suggested whippings should be brought back for children who get into trouble.
Oh, yeah, that's just what I want, for my kids to turn on the TV and watch someone's thumb getting cut off.
Hint to mayor Goodman: There was a reason why the French got rid of the guillotine in 1981. First, it was very bloody and not befitting a civilized nation. Second, it was ineffective as a deterrent. Third, it became just as much a symbol of a part of their past that France wanted to forget as, well, Bugsy Siegel and his associates are a part of a past that Las Vegas wants to forget (or did, until they found out that there is still some money to be made by featuring Bugsy in a museum display at the Tropicana.
But even if one thought that a medieval punishment like cutting off an offenders thumb had any place in the twenty-first century, is it really justified for graffiti vandalism for crying out loud!?
If the mayor and the city of Las Vegas really thinks that graffiti vandalism is their top concern, then I have a better idea. Get the crews out immediately to clean it up. Graffiti loves company. Let one 'tag' stay up, then others will follow. Have it down in a few hours, then pretty soon the 'punks' mayor Goodman is complaining about will figure out that it just isn't worth their cash and their effort to put it up, when it is gone the next time they drive by there. And, when you catch them, put them on that clean up team. And make sure that they spend a lot more time at it than they spent putting up the original graffiti. Say, 100 hours for the first offense, then thirty days in jail with work detail on cleaning up graffiti for subsequent offenses (and there are days in Las Vegas when you absolutely DON'T want to be working outdoors, trust me on that one). And heck, put other work crew prisoners on the clean up team also. Before long, graffiti taggers will be the most unpopular people in jail because it will make so much more hot outdoor work for everyone else to do.
But leave their thumbs on.
As for myself, I and my wife enjoyed spending the first and last nights of our honeymoon in Las Vegas thirteen years ago. We have been back a couple of times since with our kids as tourists. We enjoyed going to Las Vegas as a tourist for a couple of days last summer. We saw the 'Titanic' exhibit at the Tropicana, and saw Dirk Arthur, a master magician. We took a gondola ride at the Venetian.
But as long as they have an elected mayor whose methods make one think that the mafia is still calling the shots in Vegas, I for one will choose to not spend my money there.