Outlaw tagger Thierry Noir, who the Sunset-Vine BID claims is known for his illegal graffiti1 but is no longer a criminal as far as we know, recently tagged a building in the Sunset-Vine BID. The BID is generally opposed to outlaw taggers, but manages to work up an awful lot of enthusiasm for this guy tagging this building. And his work is lovely, there’s no doubt.
And of course, he’s not an outlaw now. And really, the regime under which is actions were illegal was totalitarian and has since fallen.2 This teaches us a valuable lesson: Things which are illegal under totalitarian regimes can often come to be seen as not only legal, but actually morally justified.
It is well, though, to remember the inverse statement, also true: Things that are legal under totalitarian regimes can often come to be seen as illegal, even retroactively so. We can see this starting to happen in Los Angeles, what with the U.S Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit enjoining the city of Los Angeles from seizing homeless people’s property on sidewalks and from enforcing LAMC 41.18(d). Look to the future, oh Sunset-Vine BID! Your actions may not always be received so well as they are now.
- “Noir is known for being the first artist to (illegally) create work on the [Berlin] wall, in 1984, [sic] prior to its [sic] removal.”
- Well, fine. We decided to RTFA and discovered that it was illegal in West Berlin to mess with the wall too. And we’re not changing what we wrote. Any regime that makes it illegal to mess with a wall is totalitarian. Good to go!
Screenshot of article in Autumn 2014 SV-BID newsletter is reproduced by permission of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Image of Nuremberg defendants is available here and is in the public domain because it’s the work of an employee of the federal government produced in the performance of his or her official duties.