Lex Injusta

There is advertising campaign in Victoria about massive fines for carrying spray paint cans. These alleged ‘laws’ are draconian, unprincipled and may not actually be laws. The fines may not actually be laws, as they do not conform to legal principles in reversing the onus of proof, presuming that the accused is guilty until they prove that they have a legal reason for carrying spray paint cans. The ancient legal maxim holds lex injusta non est lux (an unjust law is no true law). Unless you want to argue that laws are what ever a government orders is law. Unfortunately this means that you maintain that the Nazi genocide was legal as they were the legitimate German government at the time.

Laws do not need publicity for ignorance of the law is no excuse but ignorance of a gang leader’s orders is a valid excuse. Hence, the need for the advertising campaign.

Whether these fines for carrying spray paint cans are unjust laws or simply the orders of a regime with no interest in justice is debatable there can be no debate that they are unjust and unfair. Send your comments to about these disgusting anti-graffiti campaign to graffiti@justice.vic.gov.au or email your local MP. Not that this will do any good as they are professional pachyderms but you might want to vent your disgust on them.

Keeping up the good sarcastic fight against these disgusting anti-graffiti legislation is Zero Tag http://www.zero-tag.org/ who also have a video on YouTube. (Cheers to Littleboy Hercules for point it out to me.) Zero Tag is well produced with videos, photographs and graphics – it is actually a piece of viral marketing by a popular sports footwear brand, but the brand is never even mentioned on the site. The site is a lot of fun presenting “facts” like: “As of April 2008, ZeroTAG had removed 240,500 incidents of graffiti from local areas and 191 graffiti artist from their families.” And their complete list of banned materials is far more extensive than just spray paint cans – marker pens, ink, chalk, squids, shoes… Zero Tag’s philosophy is if you can’t beat them – make fun of them.

The Victorian government’s propaganda at Hawksburn station has been already covered with a tag.


About Mark Holsworth

Writer and artist Mark Holsworth is the author of two books, The Picasso Ransom and Sculptures of Melbourne. View all posts by Mark Holsworth

3 responses to “Lex Injusta

  • Kano172

    Right. . .
    So let me get this straight.
    Adidas are hoping that street artists and people interested in street art and graffiti culture will buy their sneakers?
    . . and Adidas are doing this by firstly sticking anti-graffiti posters over artists work? hmmm. . Not sure this would wash with anybody that does or has respect for street art.. Yes – they are going around gaffa-taping their signs over artist’s work!!
    Secondly, is it supposed to be some kind of ironic joke that they are posing as an anti-graffiti organisation?
    Gee – that’s really hilarious. Just like it was hilarious that in the lead up to the Commonwealth games Melbourne was ‘eradicated’ of it’s ‘ugly graffiti problem’. . . and just as hilarious as a right wing group like RAGE getting continual publicity.. .
    Does this company and it’s out of touch marketing department realise that Melbourne is considered worldwide, to be home to some of the most prolific, talented, history filled, pioneering street artists in the world?
    Does this company realise that those artists have struggled against adversity for their art for many years?
    Does this company wish to align themselves with street art or go up against it? . . because the message in this campaign is completely unclear and leaves an instant sour taste in the mouth of this particular Melbourne artist. . To an artist like myself, this campaign is nothing but insulting.
    Perhaps this company should do their research and try SUPPORTING the art rather than take the piss out of it. They are doing nothing more than reinforcing the stereotype of the ‘graffiti vandal’ regardless of whether this is a joke or not. They even have a link on their page to the RAGE site.
    This may seem a joke to some, but to street artists (the very people they should be trying to target for sales of this model sneaker – as it was designed by one of New York’s most prolific graffiti artists), this comes off as yet another corporate company not taking what they do seriously.
    Other brands, for example Vans have effectively promoted their branding though their association with the arts world. And they have done so by having an intimate understanding and positive involvement with the community. Through their support of artists like NeckFace, they’ve become a part of the culture, they appear to genuinely respect the culture and in turn they are genuinely respected.
    I have one thing to do when I get home tonight – move the Adidas brand sneakers to the back of the cupboard until this company shows some sort of respect for the very art that they exploit and disrespect to sell their brand.

  • James

    Dude. Take a chill-pill, seriously. I just don’t get where your self-righteous rant is coming from. I saw the posters in Hosier lane and they did little to obscure the work when they were up. And when I saw them, it seemed pretty clear to me that the campaign is doing more to reinforce the ridiculous nature of the anti-graffiti crackdown, than reinforcing the graffiti vandal stereotype, especially when I headed to the website and saw that they are clearly marketing a range of apparel designed by an iconic writer like Cope2. The whole thing is so obviously tongue in cheek and is designed to show up the stupidity of the anti-graff laws. Whether or not you agree with their approach – by showing what would happen if the walls in Hosier were cleaned, they are pointing out the benefits of street art to a city like Melbourne. Your whole rant smacks of bitterness towards Adidas to me, and it feels like you’re deliberately missing the point for the sake of shitting on a “yet another corporate company”. If you ask me they did their job well, because not only have you taken the time to hunt down this blog post to slag the campaign off, but it has stirred up talk about the anti-graff laws and their implications on art and culture worldwide, so it seems to me the campaign has done exactly what it was intended to do. Get off your fucking high horse.

  • Kano172

    james aka jay aka . . .
    keep buying Banksy brother

    I have no bitterness toward corporate involvement in this culture – or as you say ‘shitting on yet another corporate company’. I as a graffiti writer and graphic designer of 20 odd years have worked for Coca Cola, Sprite, Red Bull, Sony, and funnily enough Adidas US amongst others in a really positive capacity. They have all been respectful to a culture that has ALWAYS been shit on. Yes – graffiti wasn’t born out of a stencil in Fitzroy!!. . and I am simply not in agreement with Adidas Australia’s (or rather their agency’s) backward and out of touch methods of promotion (demotion) of street art. Perhaps Adidas should reconsider their agency and employ those that are a bit more connected and positive toward the art (as they have done in US, Germany, Austria, etc. etc. ) and take a leaf out of other promotional budgets for this type of thing – spot the difference: Nobody is using the demotion of graffiti to promote?” graffiti artists in other parts of the world, and Melbourne during the 90’s was second to NYC as far as graffiti style and progression goes.- how about concentrating on that?????????

    nuff said

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