Graffiti hit the news a couple of times today. Two very different stories show what a complicated and divisive subject this is. At one end of the scale, Banksy once again wins mainstream approval for a new piece of commissioned work in 'Santa's Ghetto' (Oxford Street) featuring Michael Jackson beckoning to Hansel and Gretel.
And then there's Bromley lad James Lyons, who's been put away for 12 months in a young offenders' institution for decorating the walls of south London with the slogans SLOE (South London Over Everything) and IWS (I Won't Stop).
Both Banksy and Lyons regularly and intentionally deface property - illegally. They both repeatedly commit the same crime. But Banksy is lauded while Lyons is incarcerated. The only difference is that Banksy creates works that, to many (including us), have some artistic merit, whereas young Lyons specialises in monotonous tagging. So basically, the message is that graffiti should be punished only if it's crap.
Which is kind of fun in a pragmatic way, but imagine if it were extended to murder. 'It's OK Mr Kray. We'll let you off - you kill with such style. And nice suit by the way.' Hmmm, food for thought.