Damaging public property (was Re: mushrooming your cranks)

> PC lives, I see.

This is not PC, a phenomenon which I find deeply disturbing
and have fought against.

> This is not in the same galaxy as tire marks on a fountain, or tire
> marks on a set of stairs, or tire marks on a retaining wall, or tire
> marks on a mountain trail.

The attitude that it is OK to damage public property sucks. CEOs
of amoral corporations are irrelevant though, at root, theirs is also an
attitude that hurting other people and their property doesn’t matter, so
long as they have their fun (reaping billion$, in that case).

Your arguments are disingenuous. This is a matter of principle. Of
course there is such a thing as fair wear and tear, but you have to
assess responsibly whether that is truly the level of damage you
are causing. Will it detract from others’ enjoyment of the facilities?
Will it grow back? Will it leave a permanent mark?

I admit that I have occasionally over-reacted on this issue, but
ultimately, people must use shared facilities with a mature consideration
for the others who will also use them. To deny this is to be an animal.

Do you also throw litter because everyone else does it, and some
CEO will just dump it in a landfill anyway? Be warned that I
recommend public floggings for people who throw litter. We live
in a shared environment and it is our duty not to spoil for out fellow

Arnold the Aardvark

Re: Damaging public property (was Re: mushrooming your cranks)

i’m right behind u on this one

responsible, considerate usage must be the only way to go

in a word…


Re: Damaging public property (was Re: mushrooming your cranks)

On Thu, 8 May 2003, Arnold the Aardvark wrote:

> The attitude that it is OK to damage public property sucks.

Absolutely. I can’t put it as eloquently, but I fully support
everything Mr. Aardvark has written.

Don’t even get me started on kids riding bread-baskets on skateboards
downhill into people’s wives’ 1977 classic cars…



Your government supports no such thing. Americans had over 200,000 combat troops there. Australia only had 1000.

For your other ‘point’, if it was Iraqi combatants looting the hospitals, like it is who puts the oil fields in danger, then they could stop them. Unfortunately, it’s the Iraqi savages themselves who are doing the looting because they know they won’t be shot (unfortunately).

Your reasons behind trying to justify public destrction is obvious. You’re a selfish brat who thinks that if he can justify what he finds fun, it’s OK. What I would find fun is coming into your house and crapping on your kitchen table (couldn’t take a pee though, because someone may be watching) and letting you deal with it when it was time for you and your family to use the kitchen table for what it was meant for. Elephants take bigger dumps than me, so it’s perfectly fine.


I agree with your, shall we say, zero tolerance policy towards the destruction of public property (although this implies no opinion with regard to your characterization of Samuel).

I must, however, put into the record at least one objection to your characterization of Iraqis as savages.

Raphael Lasar
Matawan, NJ

Somewhere there’s a fuzzy line between use and vandalism.

I’m not loosing sleep over the tire marks i’ve left under a concrete bridge or in a parking lot. There has to be room for everybody, and those tire marks are acceptable in my opinion. I haven’t caused any damage and the bridge is no more ugly than it used to be.

I think most people are smart enough to see if something is vandalism or not. If it is vandalism, then don’t start making bad excuses and go have fun somewhere else.

Thanks to Arnold for moving this over to a more apt-named thread.

I like Scott’s analogy of doing the same wear & tear in somebody’s yard instead of on “public” property. Though it’s not a perfect analogy, it helps one focus on what others may think of the damage.

Sofa is way out of line saying Australia does not support the war in Iraq. They sent people over. That’s the ultimate committment. Imagine being one of them. Certainly their country supports them. Our country just supports it more. France doesn’t support the war.

However I do agree with calling looters “savages.” They are taking advantage of a situation, using mob psychology to be super-vandals. But this is not an Iraqui thing, and would likely happen in any country. It has certainly happened enough in ours. Note I refer to looters, not law-abiding citizens.

In the United States, at least, the concepts in our constitution hopefully teach us that people are people, wherever they are from. They are not evil because of where they live, and certainly not because of whatever their religion is.

Side note about grafitti. I have a special despise for grafitti and the people who do it. First of all, let’s clear up any fuzziness people may have: ALL GRAFITTI IS 1000% VANDALISM! If a city, or other organization, is paying an artist to do a grafitti-like work, then it’s no longer grafitti. I really hate grafitti. It uglifies the neighborhood. It lowers property values and peoples’ perceptions about the area. All grafitti artists would be well served by having a can of spray paint emptied into their faces, eyes, noses, and mouths.

Back to riding/grinding. So where do you draw the line? I was trying to think about that. If you want to be safe in what you do, assume 1000 other people will do it in the same spot. If that won’t turn the spot black, or chip it away, you’re fine.

But maybe that’s not realistic. Maybe you know there are only two of you in town, and the thousand are never likely to happen. Then what? I still say don’t leave a mark. If you don’t, what can anyone say (except for the obvious liability concerns)? You should be able to be clear of conscience.

Certain things are obvious. Grinding and pedal grabs cause the most wear and tear. For the most part, they simply should not be done in places that get a lot of public traffic, and are desingned to look nice, like centers-of-towns. Those are simply destructive moves, fun or not.

It doesn’t matter how innocent you feel. You live in a society, not an anarchy. Without the society, you would not have all those public props to ride on. You are no more important a member of your society than the old lady sitting on the bench, or the passers-by admiring the scenery. Everyone together makes up “the people,” and all us unicyclists and all the skateboarders are hopelessly outnumbered by the majority, who think the edges of the benches and curbs should look the way they were made to look.

Tire marks are another thing. They wash off. Like grass grows back. In other words, they are not as destructive, but in quantity, they can be (almost) as bad as graffiti.

A bit about grass. Checkernuts is right, I have taken shortcuts across the grass. Sometimes this is perfectly fine, other times it’s obviously wrong, and a lot of the time it’s somewhere in between. In high-traffic areas, sometimes I will deliberately walk across the grass if the designers of the sidewalks made an obvious mistake in not considering where people need to walk. Usually the people before me have already worn the path.

In a place like Washington DC’s Capitol Mall, much of the grass is obviously intended for decoration, highly manicured and maintained, and not intended for walking. So I don’t.

In a place like New York’s Central Park, the vast majority of the grass is for “public use.” I walk or ride all over it. It’s there for us.

Grass is interesting, in that it can take a certain amount of traffic, but not too much. It’s easy to maintain and grows pretty fast. In heavily trafficked areas, grass should be combined with bushes or other plants to control where people walk. Put sidewalk or stepping stones where people always walk, etc.

Sometimes I do walk around, when I’d rather cut across. But other times I admit I don’t. I am not a paragon of virtue, and have mentioned my long ago encounter with the marble steps. I’m just trying to describe the way we all should behave.

The soapbox is now open for the next customer…

John, I believe, that a closer reading of Sofa’s language indicates that he believes that Iraqis are savages among whom some are looting. If this is not what he meant, he should make that clear. Other comments he has made on the subject lead me to believe that my interpretation is not in error.

Raphael Lasar
Matawan, NJ

Yes, I suspect he was assuming we all think of the Iraqis as savages. Obviously not the case, or else why help them?

But I wanted to say my few words about the looting thing. If that had happened in Los Angeles, you would have seen some real looting… :slight_smile:

Maybe so but can you really compare a Roy Lichtenstein or <shudder> LeRoy Neiman </shudder> to thousands of years old antiquities? :astonished:

Raphael Lasar
Matawan, NJ

Imagine working hard and campaigning for a public BMX facility, skate park, adventure playground, or half pipe/quarter pipe facility - the sort of thing which might be used by a trials unicyclist/freestyler/MUniist, etc.

Now 2 or 3 youths who are Series I Land Rover enthusiasts drive over all the obstacles and in so doing, they damage them, and the facility is no longer there to be enjoyed by the skater/BMXers/unicyclists.

Is that OK? No.

Public property is owned by all of the public, and paid for by many of the public (tax payers, rate payers - basically, adults with jobs) and any damage to it by one or two members of the public not only spoils it for everyone else, it also costs someone.

Public property isn’t free. This week, my combined tax/NI deductions were enough to pay for a new (basic) unicycle. I work 5 days a week in a job that has sent colleagues home ill because of the stress. Every week, I work about a day and a half just to pay taxes. Think of it like that, and you might see why I don’t think my taxes should be spent on things that someone else can damage.

Fair wear and tear: a bench should easily last 15 - 20 years or more and, apart form a lick of paint, should be as good as new.

Not fair wear and tear: edges chewed by pedals, paint scratched, grafitti all over it, boards bent or splintered, chewing gum, spilled takeaway food or vomit on the seat.

You know the difference.

Moving on to savages, let’s not let this very friendly forum be contaminated by politics or racism. Rather than slag off the other countries represented here, let me describe my own: 3,500 road deaths and 35,000 serious injuries a year, with approximately half involving abuse of alcohol or drugs, and a fair proportion involving theft of a vehicle; for every 18 houses across the country, 1 will be burgled this year; 2 - 3 kids will be killed by their own parents this week, and the same next week and every week; our road sides and beauty spots are full of burned out cars, abandoned fridges, and litter; our society produces so much stress and unhappiness that there is a suicide every 80 minutes throughout the year. I could go on…

But most people aren’t like that. It’s just a few who behave badly, and a lot more who don’t care, and a lot more than that who care but do nothing.

Iraqis are not savages, nor are Americans, Australians, or Brits. The human race has a streak of savagery in it, across the board. Savagery is simply doing what you want to do, when you want to do it, because you want to do it, and without any consideration for the rights or desires of other people or society as a whole. Other than that, it’s simply a question of degree. Recklessly trashing public property by misusing it is low on the scale, but it IS on the scale.

You’re real close, but missing on the intent part. There are different levels of intent. There is the first-time user, who has yet to learn that pedal grabs will rip up wood. They should know better the second time. There is the person who doesn’t realize the damage they are doing, such as a rail-grinder who never runs their hand along the rail and gets cut by it. Of course the rail is for hands, and if they’re getting cut, the rail has been damaged.

By strictest definition, both are vandals. But maybe the vandal label only applies to people who knowingly do damage. So the rest are merely damaging public property, which is what we’re talking about. So maybe they’re not vandals. This doesn’t make it okay.


Woah!! There we go again. My taxes pay for it therefor it is mine. Bull doo-doo!

People have the same attitude about our public roads. It’s my road, isn’t it? I pay for it. So outta my way! You have to remember you are part of a society.

Your taxes pay for nuclear weapons. Are those yours? You contributed to paying for them, and the roads, and they belong to the people, which means all the people, [i]not you[/i]. Public property is not ours to destroy. Our taxes go toward building and maintaining it, so we can “use” it. A million butt-marks on a bench are normal wear & tear. But you can destroy a wooden bench in a single day with grabs & grinding. Tell me you can tell the difference. More about the difference between “the public” and you (the individual) is in my post above.


The intent of a drunk driver is to get home. He is not trying to have a head-on with an innocent mom and two kids going the other way.

Intent goes only so far. Skateboarders have eyes and brains, don’t they? They can see the marks. From skateboards mostly what I notice are the chewed-up edges of curbs and benches. Very easy to see! I think unicycles can actually do more damage, though there are less unicyclists out there. But intent or no, the damage, if any, is the same.

This is a fun discussion. We’re talking about a relatively small amount of civil disobedience, about what is mostly minor damage to property. It’s interesting to learn how people perceive themselves and what they do, as well as what some people think other people should and should not do. Keep it up.

I do not consider political discussion or the expression of views, including racist ones, to be contamination of the forum. I always start non-unicycling related discussions in Just Conversation; however, I react to them here when posted here.

Well put, as usual.

Raphael Lasar
Matawan, NJ

This debate has become awfully political. I have heard of some unicycles being known as Savages, do they consider it to be offensive? Also the Iraqis are not the only looters. US troops were caught red handed looting some very valuable momentos from Saddam’s stash and taking them home to America. It reminds me of a quote which said that “the winners decide what were War-Crimes”. War does seem to put the chipped steps and ledges and tire marks into a relatively small scaled perspective of damage when compared to the bunker busters and air strikes in Iraq. At least the looters are mostly only destroying and stealing physical property. Soldiers on both sides of any war are destroying not only physical property but also peoples lives. Who is right and who is wrong…it is not for me to decide. I am glad that New Zealand did not participate much in the War on Iraq and I hope that the Nations of the Earth can settle their differences with less violence in the future.

Trying gently to steer us back away from geopolitics…

Destroying… peoples’ lives. Yes. I agree.

And on a much smaller, but still significant scale:

The old lady who daren’t walk through the park because of the youths scooting past, noisily and fast, on skateboards and unicycles…

The old man who steadies himself on the hand rail and cuts his hand because it’s chewed up…

The young mother who’s afraid to take her kids to the park because of her perception that it is made a rough and dangerous place by the youths who hang out there…

The kids who can’t go out to play because it’s not safe…

The man who works hard, then can’t sleep because of the noise of the kids shouting and yelling…

And the old lady who interprets that screaming and yelling as fighting and lies awake expecting her windows to be broken…

All damaged lives.

I’m confident that I could play sophistry on equal terms with anyone here, but behind all the semantics and false comparisons, the excuses, the bluster, and the cries of ‘tu quoque,’ there is a serious issue.

We are sooooooo privileged to live in a tiny window of time and space when we can choose to ride unicycles, skate, scuba dive, or do any other equipment intensive sport. Not many Arab peasants agonise over their choice of rim and tyre because the wealth inherent in a unicycle is way beyond their grasp. My grandfather could never have afforded the comparative life of leisure I am able to lead, and he worked harder, and longer, and was better qualified; ditto my father. And two generations from now? Things could be waaaaaay worse than they are for most of us.

Don’t abuse this privilege.

Mike, once again, I agree with your comments pretty much in their entirety. I’d like to complicate them slighty…

Many of the people who engage in the activities that make others lives more difficult as you’ve outlined, are, for want of any other term, children.

They are growing and learning and often engage in the activities under discussion not out of malice or with the intention of damaging property or causing fear, but out of their natural exhuberance and inexperience. And they’re still developing their empathy. I am not trying to be condescending or patronizing; this is the way of the world. I doubt those here who are concerned about preserving public property can claim to be innocent of having ever damaged any of it; I certainly can’t.

This leaves it for parents and other adults to help these kids onto a path where they can both enjoy their lives and respect others rights; two things which are in no way mutually exclusive. Simply put, before calling them hoodlums, criminals and all the other labels they get thrown at them and creating an adversarial relationship, it would be much better to treat them with some respect and help them along. The upside is more harmony as each generation grows to adulthood. The downside is that some of our tax dollars need to be sacrificed to their learning curve.

Raphael Lasar
Matawan, NJ

John, I was using Samuel’s own theory of ‘not as much as the other guy = nothing at all’ theory to the point of the Austrailian army, in hopes that he would understand his view of the matter.

JJuggle, when I was discussing the looting of their own property, (like hospital operating tables, for example) I was referring to the Iraqi’s doing the looting as savages. Perhaps my past comments would lead one to believe that I meant them as a whole country. I’m comfortable either way

Raphael is on the right track. The point is not that a skateboarder has a bad reputation, the point is how did it get that way? How did he get so alienated from the rest of his local culture? Perhaps some picky person saw him break a splinter off a bench, and took his own personal troubles out on him by spreading an inflated rumor… The vicious cycle continued until there was an alienated subculture and an atmosphere of fear and hatred.

I’d be happy if more of my tax dollars went to replacement benches and none went to over-bomb an already subjugated country in an area of the world where we don’t belong. Do you realize how many park benches just one cruise missile would buy?

I’ve had many conversations with people who think that the skateboarders, and unicyclists, should go away and behave instead of realizing that their own society has to stretch and accomodate new means of expression. But not one of them has gone so far as to suggest they should be spray painted in the face.

Oh, and renaming a thread to support your own viewpoint is pretty low, in my opinion.

In many cases, it’s because he wants to be that way. That’s a phycology thing with youth, related to taking up smoking, and doing other “counter-commonsense” things, perhaps as a part of spreading one’s wings, growing, becoming an adult. I’m not saying these are necessary activities in the process, but similar diversions exist for youth of a similar age in many cultures.

But I consider the skateboard subculture, such as clothing, and other social aspects, separate from the wear & tear issue. Many skateboarders may dress ultra-grungy, but not do grinds for instance.

I’m not talking about rumors. My impressions on skateboarding wear & tear are based on very real evidence I see in the places that have been damaged by skateboards. I’m assuming none of this damage was done by single riders, but by many, all of which probably don’t even know each other.

Are ripped up benches an art form? I think I’m missing your point here. Art has it’s place, but a curb is a curb. An “artists’ conception of a skateboard curb” should be in an art gallery. I’m not aware of a general objection to skateboarding or unicycling. Usually when skateboards are banned from an area, it’s due to a combination of damage and liability issues. The liability remains even without the damage.

Some people will live their lives telling others what to do. Part of living in a “free” society is knowing when to ignore them, or even when to tell them to shut up. You can’t make all the people happy. We should be allowed to do as we please, within the limits of the law and responsible behavior (two separate things, as lawyers have shown). While doing so, we must remember to let others live their lives as they choose, as well. I think of this as “tolerance,” and it’s an extremely important aspect of living in a free society.

Young people seem to have a built in desire to try different things, break rules, and just be different from society-at-large. Part of this is the growing-up process, if you ask me. But the same society remains there, while we grow up within it. Age definitely affects your outlook on things.

I guess that one’s for me. That was just for the graffiti “artists.” I have always felt that way, even way back before I was old school!

Were that possible, I would agree. This is a new thread, created because this topic is miles away from the topic on which the old thread started. It makes sense to me. We all have the option of continuing in the previous thread, on or off-topic, or ignoring this one.

Just as I’m ignoring Sofa’s admission about his opinion of savages.

Re: Damaging public property (was Re: mushrooming your cranks)

johnfoss wrote:

>> Just as I’m ignoring Sofa’s admission about his opinion of savages.

Interesting slip of the fingers, there.

You mean Sofa’s admission about his opinion of Iraqis?

“Quemadmodum gladius neminem occidit, occidentis telum est.”
– Seneca