Wednesday | October 1, 2014
Cities Unsure How To Handle Public Service Graffiti

BOSTON (CAP) - Communities throughout Massachusetts are scratching their heads over how to deal with a new fad that has been dubbed PSG or Public Service Graffiti. Lawmakers want it cleaned up, but educators want it to stay.

"It all started with Don't Text And Drive spray-painted on an overpass on Rt. 128," said Mass. Dept. of Transportation board member John Jenkins. "We were going to clean it up but then thought, that's not such a bad message to have.

"Plus, the vivid colors and artwork hid the fact that the bridge hasn't been repaired in 20 years," Jenkins added.

That particular overpass was eventually scrubbed clean, but similar messages begin cropping up on other roadways throughout the Bay State - things like: Family Cums First, Always Count Your Change, and Spay Ur Bitches.

"Yeah, that one seemed a bit offensive at first," said Jenkins. "But once someone explained to me that a bitch is a female dog, it made perfect sense.

"What better way for Bob Barker's message to live on," he noted.

It was shortly after the phrase Pay It Forward was cleaned off of a sound barrier along the Mass. Turnpike that officials began to take notice. So when the horse bridge over Rt. 24 was tagged by graffiti artists with Stay In Skewl, educators asked the highway department to leave it there.

"Granted the word school is horrendously misspelled, but you can't beat the essence of the message," said Secretary of Education Matthew Malone. "And I'm willing to bet the gentleman who wrote that really does know how to spell the word school."

However, critics say whether certain graffiti stays or goes is too subjective, such as the Stop The Madness tag painted on the jersey barrier along a stretch of Rt. 95 north of Boston. They point out that while it is generally good advice to stop any madness, the slogan itself is too generic to really be considered a public service announcement.

"There was another one that said Drink Your Beans - what does that even mean?" said Rep. Steven Lynch. "Is it some sort of existential nutritional advice? Or is it secret gang lingo?"

A bill has been introduced in the state legislature that would legalize public service graffiti, but most agree it has an uphill battle to become law. Proponents of the bill admit that the Vote No On Graffiti tag painted on the side of a neighborhood shop on Beacon Hill is not helping their cause.

- CAP News Staff

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