It’s a harsh and twisted world if people truly think a young graffiti artist deserved to die. Ryan Smith was 17. He was stupid. He died trying to scale a bridge to spraypaint his tag on it. But he didn’t ‘deserve’ to die.

Palestinian youths check out Banksy's work in the West Bank. Photo: AP

Radio talkback this morning moved swiftly from tokenistic sympathy for Smith to serious discussions of the ‘war on graffiti’. War? With kids as collateral?

Online, people said his death was ‘natural justice’, that he was an ‘idiot’ who ‘paid the consequences’, that he’s a contender for the Darwin Awards.

It’s hard to work out why graffiti artists, or vandals, or whatever you want to call them, are targets for such brutal treatment.

Do drink drivers deserve to die? What if it was your child, who foolishly had one beer too many before driving home?

Do drug takers deserve to die? What if it was a troubled friend, having one last fling before another attempt to turn their lives around?

At 17 your brain isn’t fully formed, you don’t know the consequences of your actions. So you do stupid things.  You get in that car, you climb that bridge, you take that drug.

Chances are every single cold-hearted, sneering person who thinks Ryan Smith earned his lonely and tragic death had, at some stage in their youth, done something equally stupid. But for some reason - perhaps because people are slapped in the face with bad graffiti every time they leave the house - a special brand of vitriol is reserved for people who graffiti.

Graffiti in one form or another has been around since cave painting. It’s used for expressions of love, or political statements. It can be powerful, or beautiful, or revoltingly ugly.

Melbourne has become Australia’s graffiti capital, and the National Library is even archiving a graffiti website because of its social and cultural value.

In Adelaide there are whimsical paste-ups of Einstein on a bicycle, and state-sanctioned pieces on big, blank walls.

London-based ‘street artist’ Banksy has gone from anonymous mischief-maker to mainstream artist. Graffiti is now shown in serious exhibitions and coffee-table books. 

Across the Middle East, graffiti is a tool for political activism, a place people can anonymously attack their governments, or express their desire for peace.

Mostly, though, graffiti is loud, uninspired, shallow territorial marking.

I’m not familiar with Ryan Smith’s body of work. He may be a genius.

But even if he’s the most obnoxious and talentless kid to ever wield a spraycan, he didn’t deserve to die.

Most commented


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    • Ghost says:

      01:28pm | 30/08/11

      It’s like planking, hopefully a few more will follow.

    • Tony of Poorakistan says:

      03:36pm | 30/08/11

      Tagging is not art, it is vandalism.

      Please do not compare this to Banksy. Some of these taggers actually deface graffiti that *is* art. All they want is to see their initials in public places and they return NOTHING. No humour, no political statement even. 
      Yes, it is sad that a young man lost his life, but please do not canonise him or his ilk.

    • Temerarious says:

      05:02pm | 30/08/11

      People are always ready to defend or even glorify these vandals. I remember a case in Sydney a few years back where a teenager was hanging out the window of a moving train in order to deface it and then got clipped by another train or a power pole. He then attempted to sue CityRail over the brain damage he received because the windows on the train weren’t sealed shut. Please.

      You can rest assured that if I catch the young hoodlum that is putting “Fatel” tags all over Waterloo and surrounding areas, I will be making a swift citizen’s arrest. If you have the gall to put a tag the size of a whale on the side of a heritage building, you better be looking over your shoulder every single day buddy.

    • Benrama says:

      05:05pm | 30/08/11

      @Tony-  All prominent graffiti artists bar none, from Tracy 168 through to Banksy started as teenagers doing those “unsightly” tags. It’s the stepping stone, crawling before you can walk so to speak. The minority, genuine artists who progress and feel the need to build upon their works like those previously mentioned do so whilst the rest remain in the tag world due in most cases to be fair, lack of actual talent. Was this kid a potential artist? Maybe, but probably not.
        That being said, I can’t believe people who talk about having no sympathy etc for this kid. Think of the dumbest thing you ever did when you were a teenager. If it’s not worse than climbing a bridge then you probably haven’t lived.

    • acotrel says:

      08:10am | 31/08/11

      I see three things which possibly have the same underlying root cause.  They are the graffiti thing, street violence, and drug taking.  Is it possible that depression is widespread amongst the young , and due to the lack of opportunity to express themselves adequately.  There seems to be a pervading aura of hopelessness in this stuff. They all have one thing in common - they are pretty down !

    • mattkas says:

      08:53pm | 31/08/11

      All graffiti is serious vandalism in its most grotesque form, carried out, without exception, by sociopathic scum. Graffiti vandals deface property that belongs to the state, organisations or private individuals, not them. It costs society massive amounts of funds to remove or cover the defacement and replace signage. Often if it is not even viable to attempt to control the tragic damage and decay, for example on trains in cities. Graffiti vandals should face the full force of the law before society gives up and its urban environment is just engulfed beyond redemption by ugliness, which is happening now. Vandals need to be vigorously pursued and to sample some time in gaol to allow them to contemplate their attitudes to the rights of normal members of their community.

    • Osama Bien Laden says:

      01:29pm | 30/08/11

      Graffiti artists don’t retire.They just become journalists.
      All great artists, all great greenies, and all great scientists had to start somewhere!

    • Sceptic says:

      01:37pm | 30/08/11

      Are you the French long lost second cousin?

    • acotrel says:

      09:14am | 31/08/11

      @Osama BIen Laden
      Where did that bullshit artist who leads the LNP start ?

    • Jen13 says:

      01:34pm | 30/08/11

      I wouldn’t say he deserved to die, but I will say I don’t care that he did.

    • Marilyn Shepherd says:

      03:00pm | 30/08/11

      You vicious, stupid person.  How dare you say such a terrible thing about a boy who didn’t really do anything so terrible he had to die for it.

      All this whining and whinging about grafitti - the only interesting thing to watch on the train journey from Gawler to the city and back is the grafitti.

      It takes a tin of paint and 10 minutes work to get rid of it and no-one deserves to die over it.

      But then you are a symptom of 12 years of Howard and his “I’m alright, stuff you” atitude.

    • Jim says:

      03:12pm | 30/08/11

      Dunno about feeling sorry for vandals, but a few less bleeding heart greenies like MS in the world wouldn’t be such a bad thing.

    • John Smythe says:

      03:20pm | 30/08/11

      Bit over the top no Mars? Jen did say she didn’t think he “deserved” to die!

      So who has to pay for those tins of paint to remove the graffiti?

    • Jade says:

      03:32pm | 30/08/11

      Haha vicious because she doesn’t care that someone died doing something stupid and pointless? lol Marilyn grow a brain smile

    • NicoleG says:

      04:53pm | 30/08/11

      LOL Mazza, vicious stupid person? Why don’t you go over the bile you spit pet. Have a long hard look in the mirror. And re read what Jen said.

    • Tony says:

      07:28pm | 30/08/11

      Left logic, idiot falls and dies doing something illegal and stupid, this some how ends up being John Howards fault.

    • The Galah from Hervey Bay says:

      08:09pm | 30/08/11

      Jen13…well said , my sentiments exactly . These destructive , mindless , vandalistic twits ruin the aesthetic values in every dimension of the structured community they can turn their spraypaks to.

      These @#$%holes are aware of the public resentment for their disfigurative efforts and are clearly determined to continue the destruction .

      A good mandatory caning , carried out by responsible authorities , as occurs in Singapore , would go a long way towards discouraging these scumbags.

      It is truly sickening to know that you are unable to travel anywhere without looking at the damage to every available surface that you turn your eye to.

      Time to take the kid gloves off and deal with this problem in a manner guaranteed to get the attention of the eyesore artists.

    • Gratuitous Adviser says:

      09:36pm | 30/08/11

      I’m with Jen13 on this one and Marilyn’s high morale ground rant only shows that she did not read Jen’s comment closely.  Very few people will care other than his parents and close family who will suffer for the rest of their life for his stupidity.  They are the ones I feel for.  He should not have been doing what he was doing but did not deserve to die.  No one does.  The laws of probability killed him, nothing else.

      Regarding graffiti being art?  Show me one owner of a wall or fence that agrees.  I think it’s a neurosis in that they want to be noticed, like bloggers.

    • Nathan says:

      11:15pm | 30/08/11

      ok this one for all you conservative pricks who managed to bring up the left….do you really think a kid at 17 who tags walls has a political agenda. Grow up you idiots shame you can vote cause everything is bought back to left or right shame you guys didnt fall of a bloody bridge

    • devils advocate says:

      10:54am | 31/08/11

      I dont care if you die Jen 13 - whilst driving (reckless, dangerous stupid and polluting act which puts others at risk and vandalises our environment) far more destructive and idiotic than climbing a bridge and claiming a voice for the voiceless- even if its not art and just an ugly tag. and to the comment below - 17 year olds are more political, fresh thinking and radical than an old hooch you idiot.

    • RyaN says:

      01:52pm | 31/08/11

      @Marilyn Shepherd: did you miss the part where he wasn’t actually killed by anyone, he killed himself?

    • MadKat of Melbourne says:

      03:49pm | 31/08/11

      Why is MS blaming people’s attitudes to grafittists on the Liberals - and acotrel trying to link graffiti to Abbott - you both just can’t help being ignorant and boring - change the topic - left logic is

      something bad happens = cause = big bad Liberal Party

    • MadKat of Melbourne says:

      03:53pm | 31/08/11

      Nathan says:11:15pm | 30/08/11 “ok this one for all you conservative pricks who managed to bring up the left” - read the blogs and you will find that MS and Acotrel mentioned the right first - ohhh sorry - you’re obviously from the left - I forgot you always jump to conclusions without having all the information -

    • Mahhrat says:

      01:36pm | 30/08/11

      Did he deserve to die for drawing on something that wasn’t his?  No.

      Did he deserve to die for climbing unsafely to a high place?  Another question entirely.

    • John Smythe says:

      01:42pm | 30/08/11

      I would extrapolate on that second one a little and say he doesn’t deserve sympathy.

      Harsh? maybe….but we have to stop all this touchy feely shit and bring some reality back to the forefront.

    • fml says:

      03:50pm | 30/08/11

      John Smythe,

      Do you have children? what happens if it was your kid that died?

    • John Smythe says:

      04:14pm | 30/08/11

      your style of “argument” is boring, predictable, lacks any real discussion in it FML.

      That’s about as much response as you deserve.

    • fml says:

      04:43pm | 30/08/11

      So pointing out the hypocrisy that you would be offended if it were your child that died and people saw your comments, but you gladly go around telling everyone that this person deserved to die, call it touchy feely shit and that he deserves no sympathy is a boring argument?

      “That’s about as much response as you deserve.” Thats because you have none.

    • John Smythe says:

      05:52pm | 30/08/11 gladly go around telling everyone that this person deserved to die….

      example of how you purposely take an extreme, even when it is wrong. Proved yourself wrong again. No where did I say he deserved to die.

      Fail fml…fail. Again, try and twist something clearly written as opposite to incite an argument you want to have. Like I said above…your style of “argument” is boring, predictable, lacks any real discussion in it.

      I’ll throw this in as a freebie. Pretty pathetic way to try and incite a debate. /yawn

    • fml says:

      07:33pm | 30/08/11

      ok then, tell me how you would feel if it was your child and you read people on this blog making these sort of comments?

    • Kipling says:

      07:44am | 31/08/11

      Yeah JS with ya there, I got howled down for my lack of sympathy over 9/11 too

    • viva says:

      10:58am | 31/08/11

      He was a tagger not an artist - artists bring life, thought, colour and symbolism to a grey concrete graveyard of corporate dominance. I think the Golden Arches are vandalism to my city.

      “if you are given no choice but to be bombarded by corporate graffiti- advertisements and concrete-  it is your to take, rearrange and replace. Asking permission is like asking permission to keep a rock someone threw at your head”

    • MarkS says:

      11:05am | 31/08/11

      The universe does not care, people do not die becouse they deserve it. Do something stupid & you may die, don’t do something stupid & you also may die. But you increase the odds when you are stupid.

    • jgerardwhite says:

      12:15pm | 31/08/11

      You’re entitled to your opinion but I think it’s a valid point FML raises. People jump on these forums commenting with such callousness and without consideration for the boy’s family and friends, of which a great majority may have read this article. How do you think they feel seeing such comments written about their son/grandson//nephew/cousin/friend? How would you feel? An article is written about your OWN stupid 17-year-old son/grandson/nephew/cousin/friend who makes a stupid mistake, breaks the law and is now lost forever: how sympathetic would your posts be then, John Smythe et al?

    • gonzo says:

      01:46pm | 31/08/11

      oh come on fml, stop now. get over it. move on. go climb dangerous places, whatever. just stop commenting.

    • Giraffe says:

      01:38pm | 30/08/11

      I guess I agree with you Tory, for possibly the first time in our lives, that the kid didn’t ‘deserve to die’.

      He died because he was an idiot, whether he was always an idiot or just happened to have a bad day, me and you will never know.

      However, don’t try and act as though what he was up to was ‘art’. Graffiti as an artform has it’s place. Scribbling your pathetic, unimaginative tag on various places of significance is niether graffiti nor art, just plain old vandalism.

      ‘he may be a genius’

      I highly doubt that.

    • Tory Shepherd

      Tory Shepherd says:

      04:23pm | 30/08/11

      Some graffiti is art… but I agree, definitely not most of it. Pretty subjective saying which is which, though.

    • egg says:

      04:30pm | 30/08/11

      @giraffe: “However, don’t try and act as though what he was up to was ‘art’.”

      she didn’t. she stated she wasn’t aware of his previous work, and wasn’t making any assumptions or judgements, unlike yourself. she’s making the point that not all graffiti is “just plain old vandalism”, which clearly you disagree with, but that doesn’t make it okay to misrepresent what the article was about.

    • Giraffe says:

      05:22pm | 30/08/11

      My apologies to both of you, I will admit I mis interpreted the article. I tend to read Tory’s work with a view that what she is saying is bullshit, because in my opinion, it usually is. However re-reading this one from a more balanced perspective I can see what she is actually saying and I will admit my mistakes and say well done Tory on a good one.

    • Punters Pal says:

      09:15pm | 30/08/11

      egg - but she did say what she said was the art. Tory refers to Ryan Smith as “graffiti artist”, right in the first sentence. Art is what the artists do. Had Tory referred to him as Graffiti vandal, I would understand, but she didn’t. Don’t twist words.

    • Brimstone says:

      01:45pm | 30/08/11

      Graffiti brightens up urban areas and adds to the character of places like Newtown. I prefer it to blank walls.

    • centurion48 says:

      02:20pm | 30/08/11

      @Brimstone: You may be right that public art brightens up an environment but they are obviously not your walls being despoiled (and the bastards who tag my fence are not creating art). If it unauthorised then it is illegal. If these ‘artists’ want a space for public art then why not lobby the council for a wall to be built specifically for the purpose. Some councils have areas set aside already (e.g. Bondi Beach seawall) for such purposes but don’t expect my sympathy if a graffiti ‘artist’ gets injured doing an illegal act.

    • muffin says:

      02:52pm | 30/08/11

      I enjoy actual murals and spraypainted art (where the council or wall’s owner has given the go ahead) - but tagging is not art, it’s vandalism, and it looks fucking awful.
      I have seen quite a few nice pieces of actual ‘graffiti art’ vandalised by some dull teenager’s unsightly, scribbled tag.

      As others have said, I won’t go so far as to say that he deserved it, but I don’t have any sympathy for the little fucker either.

    • gobsmack says:

      02:52pm | 30/08/11

      I agree.
      I don’t like the tags on walls, especially the walls of people’s houses.
      However, on my train line there are miles of ugly old brick walls and fences visible only from the train that are brightened up considerably by very colorful and well drawn “graffiti”.  They are less visually offensive than most billboards.

    • Kassandra says:

      03:00pm | 30/08/11

      It’s “territorial marking” according to the article.

      My dog has a “spray” to mark his territory too, but he doesn’t deface other peoples’ property and he’s not stupid enough to climb up a bridge to do it.

    • Erick says:

      03:27pm | 30/08/11

      I partly agree with muffin. There’s a distinction to be made between the mural-type graffiti which often involves artistic talent, and the mindless tagging that just defaces everything in sight.

      I certainly wouldn’t want anyone to die for graffiti, and I do feel sympathy, since I also did many stupid things when I was young. But if mindless taggers are caught, they should get sentences requiring them to spend many hours cleaning up the damage they have caused.

    • bella starkey says:

      03:55pm | 30/08/11

      The people who do murals also tag. All graff artists tag, it is part of the culture and part of learning the art form, you can have taggers who don’t paint full pieces but not the other way round.

    • Nathan says:

      11:40pm | 30/08/11

      @bella: Rubbish. There are plenty of street artists who don’t waste their time with unimaginative territorial pissings (tagging).

    • viva says:

      02:48pm | 31/08/11

      “The people who do murals also tag. All graff artists tag, it is part of the culture and part of learning the art form, you can have taggers who don’t paint full pieces but not the other way round.” You maam., are completely ignorant. I have many works in Newtown, Glebe, Annandale etc commisioned or (non vandalistic) guerilla pieces designed to enhance the concrete jungle of legoland - and I do not tag. Real artists dont tag at all, they despise tagging as it blurs the line between art and selfish wall-pissing idiots with no regard for property destruction, appropriate street art decorum or aesthetics. They are the enemy of the artist and bring bad press to all street artists. You are simply wrong Dear. Do not listen to Bella, this personis about as enlightened as a dead trout.

    • madelaide says:

      01:48pm | 30/08/11

      graffiti is not the same as drink driving or drug taking..

    • Simone says:

      01:53pm | 30/08/11

      I dont believe he ‘deserved to die’ but I am absolutely furious with the kids who thought the best way to deal with his death was to go out last night and vandalise more public property in his memory.

      What a crock.

    • Aphrodite says:

      01:55pm | 30/08/11

      Welcome back Tory… Havent seen you around for a while…

    • Tory Shepherd

      Tory Shepherd says:

      04:24pm | 30/08/11

      Cheers, Aphrodite, had some lovely, indulgent, relaxing holidays. Happy to be back, but!

    • Nafe says:

      01:56pm | 30/08/11

      You can be an appologist all you want for the criminal element. At 17, you know the difference between right and wrong and know you could die of you climb on a dangerous place.

      Natural selection, you can’t legislate against stupidity. Sure it’s unfortunate he died, but if you play with fire, you will get burnt.

    • fml says:

      04:00pm | 30/08/11

      You did absolutely silly at 17?
      No underage drinking? no sneaking out the parents house?

    • Echo says:

      04:56pm | 30/08/11

      @fml - I did nothing silly at 17, I was a good girl, no underage drinking, never drugs, no sneaking out, I only started smoking at 19 when it was legal, at 17 I knew right from wrong, I knew not to disobey my parents

    • fml says:

      05:15pm | 30/08/11

      Good on you echo.

      Now the people who do those things underage, do they deserve to die?
      I cant really believe i even have to ask that question.

    • Rose says:

      12:05am | 31/08/11

      So, basically what you are saying Echo is that, at 17, you were as boring as batshit!!

    • Echo says:

      08:59am | 31/08/11

      @rose, that may be but I am still alive with no criminal record or regrets and at 17 I was busy in school so I could actually get a job so fuck you, I was also raised right

    • whitehype says:

      12:24pm | 31/08/11

      “ fuck you, I was also raised right.”

      Hahaha… Ohhhh, mercy… *wipes away tear*

    • Echo says:

      01:38pm | 31/08/11

      @whitehype, I didn’t start swearing until I was 19, my language is not indicative of my upbringing but of society, I still don’t do anything illegal and I have every right to respond to attacks on my person with whatever language I see fit

    • viva says:

      02:58pm | 31/08/11

      oh echo- ” that may be but I am still alive with no criminal record or regrets and at 17 I was busy in school so I could actually get a job so fuck you, I was also raised right”
      No you were raised the way you were raised and swearing at someone who said you were boring (seems logical) is wery wery naughty. I did tons of drugs, took many personal risks, still put up (actual) street art (no tagging), crossed every line that was drawn without affecting others (this is key) . And still do all of these things and yet I am extremely well employed, educated with honours, no criminal record, with a house and a joyous and productive life - you can have both you know. Dont be naive.

    • Echo says:

      04:08pm | 31/08/11

      ah viva it’s naivety, just because I happen to be law abiding, I do plenty of things that I find fun and have done for quite a while, I respected my parents when I was a kid and would never have dreamed of causing them pain or anxiety, your parents must have loved you when you were a kid, do you tell your own kids do drugs whatever, break the law and you will be like me someday….yeah or in the gutter or in the morgue.

      in this life there is plenty of stuff that will kill me, why on earth do I want to invite it to happen? what risky stuff I do is with full knowledge of the risks and complete acceptance if what could happen, sky diving, rock climbing, random sex all have consequences, with all the warnings why would I want to do it? why would anyone want to be that stupid?

    • Echo says:

      04:40pm | 31/08/11

      hmmmm my sentences seem to have got turned around and muddled up somewhere along the way, not enough caffeine I guess, oh well

    • Michael says:

      02:03pm | 30/08/11

      I am amazed that The Punch would attempt to justify the foolishness of a 17 year old (graffiti artist or otherwise) and his death as ‘undeserving’  when he apparently was stupid in his actions, and then to just write it off to youth. And to make it worse, state uncategorically “I’m not familiar with Ryan Smith’s body of work. He may be a genius” - so was all that blogging about?

    • Tony says:

      07:37pm | 30/08/11

      Making this person out to be a “Artist / Genius / Hero” only legitimises what the twit was doing and encourages other vandals.

      How will the pro vandals feel if another young person(s) dies emulating this “genius” after reading this blog?

    • Lloyd says:

      02:09pm | 30/08/11

      Well, he doesn’t DESERVE to die. But I do have more sympathy for, say, famine victims in East Africa.

    • Sarah says:

      03:19pm | 30/08/11

      Well said Lloyd.

      Ultimately - its sad that a young man died, particularly so needlessly - but sympathy for his death? A bit hard to scratch up considering he was not only breaking the law - but wilfully and proudly breaking it - and as a result of his death, a bunch of his tool friends go out and do the same thing!

      He didn’t deserve to die - but sympathy isn’t warranted here. Sympathy should go to the Africa famine victims, to the people who lost loved ones in the US Hurricane Irene, the Phillipine victims of the Tropical Storm Nammadol. Not a smart alek 17 year old who thought it was cool and ok to break the law and managed to break his neck doing it.

    • fml says:

      03:58pm | 30/08/11

      Isnt that just an excuse not to show no empathy ever?

      Cant worry about this kid coz there is starving kids in africa
      Cant worry about the starving kids in africa because there are homeless in australia
      Cant worry about the homeless in australia when there are many in oz finding it hard to live.
      Cant be sorry for the people finding it hard to live because they dont work hard enough.
      Cant be sorry for the people working hard because life is about choice and those poor kids in africa are starving and with out choice.

    • hawker says:

      04:04pm | 30/08/11


      They’re mutually exclusive, are they? You can’t have sympathy for both?

    • James1 says:

      05:01pm | 30/08/11

      How dare you use logic when children are starving in Africa, fml and hawker.  You should be, I dunno… thinking about the starving kids or something.

      For shame.

    • MadKat of Melbourne says:

      04:19pm | 31/08/11

      Hawker - its not that they’re mutually exclusive - its that you don’t have to feel sympathy for them both - this may sound harsh but some people just aren’t bleeding hearts - its like drink drivers - I don’t feel sympathy when they kill themselves as that we their choice to take the risk but I do feel sympathy when they kill innocent people -

      As for famine victims in East Africa - I think they deserve more than just our sympathy - its in a whole another league to a young boy that took the stupid risk to climb a bridge and fell -

    • Phil says:

      02:25pm | 30/08/11

      “Do drink drivers deserve to die?”
      “Do drug takers deserve to die?”

      Did he deserve to die for tagging a wall or bridge?
      No, not for that single thing, should he face the consequences of his actions like everyone else should? Sure, if the consequence of the position he put himself in was death then so be it.
      No sympathy for this sort of thing.
      He died because of his actions, same as many many others.

      The difference between this kid and a drunk driver or druggie is that the actions of either of those two can impact on others who are uninvolved such as the drive or pedestrian just on their way to or from work or the station who are involved when a drunk loses control of their car.
      Pretty poor argument to try and compare the two dont you think?

    • gobsmack says:

      02:58pm | 30/08/11

      You are either trolling or you are seriously detached from reality.

    • Phil says:

      03:22pm | 30/08/11


      Not trolling, not detached.

      He made the decision to climb up the area he did at his own risk, fell, died. Unlucky.
      Drink drivers make the decision (impaired or not i dont care) to drive home or wherever and it costs innocent people their lives, the road toll has a high % of people who are drunk and involved in accidents.
      Why should the innocent die as a result of someone else’s careless and foolish actions?
      Fines and removing someones license isnt enough of a deterrent that’s for sure - look at the 63yo in ACT with no licence (ban) for the last 30 years who was at 0.2 (drunk) and killed that cyclist.
      A fine example of a waste of space and air in our society and a prime candidate to be removed.

    • gobsmack says:

      04:09pm | 30/08/11

      So people who drive over the speed limit deserve to die?
      And why exactly do drug takers deserve to die?

    • Echo says:

      05:03pm | 30/08/11

      @phil - I like

      @gobsmack -no sympathy if the druggies die because they are doing something they know can kill them, they can’t say no one told them it was dangerous, I have no sympathy, I smoke if I die of cancer oh well I knew it could happen, this kid knew doing what he did was dangerous, i have no sympathy for planking idiots that fall to their death or the balconing idiots that either die or become para/quadaplegic (is that spelt right????) if i speed on my way home tonight and hit the wall oh well, my own fault. the difference is I take responsibility for MY actions, no one forced me to do whatever it was my choice so if i die from it so be it

    • gobsmack says:

      05:21pm | 30/08/11

      Did I mention “sympathy” anywhere?
      I asked Phil why drug takers deserve to die.

    • paul says:

      02:28pm | 30/08/11

      whats the matter with people? Clearly some very sad and bitter people in this world and pretty sick actually. A person died harming nobody. show some compassion.

    • KH says:

      02:52pm | 30/08/11

      But it isn’t ‘harming nobody’.  This crap costs a lot of money to clean up.  Money these stupid twits aren’t forking out.  Its usually home owners who have to clean up the mess, or the case of the idiots who went down my street 3 weeks ago, car owners (yeah, they ‘tagged’ cars all up and down the street).  It isn’t art.  It has no ‘cultural value’.  Its vandalism.

    • Marilyn Shepherd says:

      03:02pm | 30/08/11

      But everyone knows that stuff is far more important than humans.

      Never in the history of this country in my almost 60 years have I read so many ugly, vicious and selfish comments on things.

      There seem to be a band of self entitled haters in our midst who hate everyone.

    • Mahhrat says:

      03:09pm | 30/08/11

      @Paul, what about the emotional cost to the person who found him this morning?  The emotional cost of his friends and family mentioned above?  The SES volunteers who have to go home tonight and worry that their own kids might get into this lifestyle?

      Harming nobody my fat butt.

    • Paul says:

      03:20pm | 30/08/11

      last i heard cars weren’t people so I will reiterate my point. Died harming nobody. I do feel really sorry for all the people commenting on this site that have so much hate and anger to carry around. I hope that one day you can all find a cure to whatever it is that is eating you up inside. OM MANI PADME HUM…...

    • John Smythe says:

      03:23pm | 30/08/11

      Well said Mahrat…was going to say something similar myself.’re doing a good job yourself spraying that vitriol about.

    • paul says:

      03:39pm | 30/08/11

      To Mahhrat it was an accident , he is a teenager and living in a halfway house. He is exactly like the young people I work with everyday. WAKE UP TO YOURSELF!!! has no one on this site taken any risks in there lives. Your comment is moronic

    • Tony of Poorakistan says:

      03:52pm | 30/08/11

      how about YOU come up with a solution then. I’m sick of you tree-hugging, bleeding-heart snivel-libertarians thinking it is fine for these CRIMINALS to do whatever they want, but we can’t even state an opinion that the place is better off without his vandalism. 
      C’mon - let’s have it. If he didn’t deserve to die, then what punishment did he deserve? Or would you and your left-wing buddies give them a taxpayer-funded grant so they could buy more paint and vandalise more private property?

    • Matt says:

      04:57pm | 30/08/11

      Heaven forbid that people are asked to take responsibility for their actions. For Ryan, it was unfortunately fatal. It is a shame he died (for him and his family/friends), but actions have consequences.

    • Echo says:

      05:06pm | 30/08/11

      @paul - sorry I never took risks that could endanger my life, life is hard enough anyway, i could be hit by a bus crossign the road, why would i willingly thumb my nose at death?

    • jf says:

      07:41pm | 30/08/11

      For once I find myself more in agreement (albeit not complete agreement) with Marilyn.

      This kid died. Surely that is enough to engender some feelings of compassion, sympathy or empathy in most people.

      As John Donne wrote, “no man is an island”. A beautiful poem and relevant in this instance.

      So he died doing graffiti. Pretty low on the list of severity for petty crime in my humble view.

      Either way, a kid died.

    • Mahhrat says:

      09:49am | 31/08/11

      I have plenty of compassion.  I just don’t have it where you demand I do.

      If he had died falling from a bridge because he was trying to rescue a cat, I would have compassion.

      If he had died falling from a bridge because he was trying to avoid being hit by a car, I would have compassion.

      He died falling from a bridge because he was a peer-pressured young man with an overinflated notion of the importance of his “art”.  I have compassion for his loved ones, and compassion for the people who have to clean up his mess.  I have less compassion for someone who, despite the warnings from people who know, decided the ‘credit’ was worth the risk.

      Well, it wasn’t.

    • Hugo says:

      02:43pm | 30/08/11

      Young person engages in risky behaviour. Unsurprising. Young person engages in risky behaviour with tragic consequences. It happens, it happens on our roads, it happens with substance use, and it sometimes happens with high places. Very sorry for the family, but whatever we do – a certain age demographic will always take risks.

      You know, I can’t blame them – he wanted to do it, he knew it was dangerous. Heck we all do dangerous things sometimes. Desire sometimes over rules considerations of safety. That’ll cost some of us sometimes – the price of living in a world which is not entirely safe.

    • Anna C says:

      02:44pm | 30/08/11

      I don’t mind some types of graffiti such as Banksy’s stuff or interesting murals but I hate tagging. I think all taggers should be put to death for making our ugly city even uglier. I’m just kidding of course ...I reckon ten years hard labour would probably suffice.

      I don’t think Ryan deserved to die for his graffiti but sometimes these things happen. Hopefully it will act as a deterrent to others. But I won’t be holding my breath because teenagers aren’t exactly the sharpest tools in the shed.

    • RyaN says:

      02:54pm | 30/08/11

      Did he deserve to die? Natural selection says yes!

    • nikki heat says:

      02:56pm | 30/08/11

      sorry evil tory.
      graffiti artists deserve better.

    • fml says:

      03:56pm | 30/08/11

      Yep, a wall in some suburbs where it can be done legally is a start.
      And yep not many people deserve to die. Would you like to recount the silly things you did as a youth? go on i dare you..

    • Eskimo says:

      03:03pm | 30/08/11


      Hail Ceasar, now write it a hundred time before sunrise or I’ll cut your balls off.

    • St. Michael says:

      03:22pm | 31/08/11

      I preferred ATIA FELLAT OMNES, myself.

    • John A Neve says:

      03:33pm | 30/08/11

      Tells us “he didn’t deserve to die”, so tell us Tory, what did he deserve?

    • fml says:

      04:02pm | 30/08/11

      Obviously to be living, as in the opposite of death. If you think death is an acceptable punishment for graffiti, then i think you should write to your local member of parliament.

    • Tory Shepherd

      Tory Shepherd says:

      04:26pm | 30/08/11

      John, do you mean what punishment do I think would be suitable? Not sure. Would depend on what he has actually done, his history, personal circumstances, etc.

    • jf says:

      07:47pm | 30/08/11

      He deserved to live a long, fruitful life.

      He deserved to be appropriately punished for his vandalism (see Tory’s answer for more detail).

      He deserved to learn from his mistakes and have the opportunity to become a productive member of society.

      He took a risk and paid the consequences. Thankfully, most of us don’t pay the ultimate, and disproportionate, price for our dumbarse decisions made when we were 17.

      He didn’t deserve to die. But he did. And that’s a tragedy.

    • Mahhrat says:

      12:35pm | 31/08/11

      @fml, Tory and you both miss the point. 

      Death is not an acceptable punishment for graffiti ever.

      Death from falling from a really high place he was warned not to climb because it wasn’t safe, however, is.

    • Ben C says:

      04:22pm | 30/08/11

      I’m itching to go tag someone’s wall tonight. Where shall I do it? Ah, Marilyn Shepherd’s abode. I’ll tag her wall, and after that I might do her roof. It’s OK if I fall and kill myself, Marilyn will feel sorry for me. She’ll clean it up too, it only takes her 10 minutes and a tin of paint to cover the section of wall that I’ve tagged. It’s not going to cost her much time, money or effort. Even better idea, I’ll spread the news amongst my friends, more’s the merrier.

    • NicoleG says:

      06:57pm | 30/08/11

      You be careful Ben, she’s a paranoid, nasty, old duck. Watch out for those booby traps!

    • MadKat of Melbourne says:

      05:05pm | 31/08/11

      You’ll could get away with it Ben C - she’ll blame it on Howard and the Liberals - they’re all out to get her -

    • Mr A Dad says:

      04:33pm | 30/08/11

      People are saying that he was not harming anyone be his actions of “tagging” not a graffiti artist, they actually produce a picture on a wall, not a simple scrawl.

      I put this too you, if the money that is wasted on the people, paint, time and effort to clean up/paint over these scrawls, was put to better use in, lets say, the health care system wouldn’t that be a better use of that money

      So he may not be directly harming someone, but somewhere a program that does help someone is getting less funding to clean up all of these scrawls!

    • Greggles. says:

      04:45pm | 30/08/11

      Here’s a tip for readers. Unsightly tags by thick marker pens can be easily removed using aerogard and a wet rag.

      You can all thank me later.

    • Greggles. says:

      04:46pm | 30/08/11

      Here’s a tip for readers. Unsightly tags by thick marker pens can be easily removed using aerogard and a wet rag.

      You can all thank me later.

    • Andrew says:

      05:09pm | 30/08/11

      Hey, at least he wasn’t out mugging people, or bashing someone.

      Regardless of how skilfully executed his tag may have been, if you take the act of graffiti so to heart that you think death is akin to a fair punishment, then you really should get your moral priorities out of the dark hole they seem to have plunged into.

      Oh and to Kassandra, I don’t recall ever standing in a pile of shit left by a graffiti writer.

    • Through The Manhole says:

      05:20pm | 30/08/11

      There is something sick and mentally unstable in a society and its people that would condone the death of a child for using a tin of spray paint lets just hope that less and less of these personality types get into positions of power where the few have forced there political correctness oto the masses and have had the effect of making our society like a pressure cooker where everything becomes scrutinised and eventually illegal or frowned upon, control has become the order of the day, I for one like many am happy to be malajusted to what has become a profoundly steralised sick society, tag away kids but remember your just giving fuel to the fear mongers and haters and yes its illegal but so is just about bloody everything else.

    • Will says:

      05:53pm | 30/08/11

      How pathetic. All these keyboard magistrates passing their meaningless, self righteous judgements about a kid they never knew, as if anyone gives a fraction of a shit about what they think.  Seriously people,get away from your computers, go outside and get lives.

    • Will says:

      05:53pm | 30/08/11

      How pathetic. All these keyboard magistrates passing their meaningless, self righteous judgements about a kid they never knew, as if anyone gives a fraction of a shit about what they think.  Seriously people,get away from your computers, go outside and get lives.

    • Mr Mister says:

      06:48pm | 30/08/11

      Nobody, whether it be legal or illegal deserves to die, NOBODY. While I think all graffiti is just plain vandalism, I would never want them to die. Some people compare it to drinking and say drinkers deserve to die. Well, some of my friends get drunk 2-3 times a week, but even though I think it’s silly, I don’t think they deserve to die. Any loss of life is tragic, nobody who they are or what they are.

    • Echo says:

      12:43pm | 31/08/11

      really? so you didn’t celebrate when Bin Laden was killed? extreme other end I know but you did say nobody

      before you jump on I don’t think he ‘deserved to die’ but like others i am not sympathetic that it happened, he knew the risks of what he was doing, still belongs in the darwin awards along with those Russians shooting live ammo at a land mine, just stupidity

    • Leigh says:

      06:53pm | 30/08/11

      Expect the outcome of the investigation to be along the lines of the OH&S boffins recommending fix points be fitted to structures so the little darlings can wear a govt issued safety harness and vest to get to those hard to tag places.

    • Saul says:

      07:23pm | 30/08/11

      “Graffiti artist” - perfect definition of the word oxymoron.

    • jf says:

      07:34pm | 30/08/11

      I am often confused by the passion that graffiti engenders in most people.

      Whilst a lot of graffiti is garbage, a lot is also either thoughtful political statement (most of which I disagree with) or very talented art. However, I’m even confused about why people get so worked up about the garbage. I don’t agree with it, I don’t like it, I think that the perpetrators should be punished but jeez, I get more annoyed with people who park in clearance zones at peak hour.

      As to the perpetrators, whilst I have never done graffiti, all I can say in relation to dumb acts at age 17 (and older) is there but for the grace of god go I. I can’t even count the number of things that I did that were dumber than what this kid did and I reckon I didn’t deserve to die. He didn’t deserve to die any more than the numbscull who tailgated you on the way home today.

    • Rossco says:

      07:46pm | 30/08/11

      Graffiti *vandal* Tori, not grafitti artist. I take great issue with any journalist who calls it ‘art’ or refers to a tagger as an ‘artist’. There is no art form is wanton vandalism of private and public property and tagging.

      He died a loser and will be remembered as a loser. No, he didnt deserve to die. But with all the risks these little scumbags go through to tag their inane pointless crap, one of them was going to be killed eventually.

    • sir ronald bradnam says:

      08:21pm | 30/08/11

      I find it hard to believe some of the comments on here, obviously from some narrow minded heartless people.

    • martinX says:

      09:00pm | 30/08/11

      I think we’re missing a word to describe this. To say he “deserved” this implies that he has been judged and we actively agree with his sentence and would actually impose it given a chance.

      I think many of the people here are more of the feeling that by his actions he was foolishly courting Death, and aren’t surprised that Death accepted his advances.

      Surely there’s a pithy French phrase for this, or a neat-sounding German word. One that’s less judgemental, and more accepting of fate. Europeans are good at this sort of stuff.
      (“Such is life” doesn’t quite cut it.)

    • Jolanda says:

      08:02am | 31/08/11

      I think it has been referred to by some as “Shit happens’.

    • Labs (d)rool!!! says:

      09:42am | 31/08/11

      I think that “shit happens” is more appropriate in situations when a bad thing happens unexpectedly to someone who did nothing to cause it. For example, you’re sitting in your lounge room minding your own business, and a driver loses control of their car and slams into your bedroom.
      In case of someone who deliberately puts themselves in a dangerous situation, and a law of averages catches up with them… I think that is called “logical, fully foreseeable and completely unsurprising consequence”.  Or maybe simply “gravity”.

    • Echo says:

      12:46pm | 31/08/11

      Ah gravity, thou art a heartless bitch

    • James O says:

      10:20pm | 30/08/11

      Graffiti has been on walls since the caveman spat red ochre at his hand and sketched his hunted prey, but i can’t admire or desire any mindless tagging sprayed on my newly painted fence in some gesture of youthful expressionist zeal. The mind boggles at the effort and the quantity of spray paint required to cover an entire wall or a whole train from one end to the other, Plainly there is untapped energy looking for an outlet, problem is that actually painting a wall with a roller for example is not going to provide the same recognition and peer group admiration as vandalising someones caravan or shopfront window with signal red. If you’ve never been vandalized or targeted because you dared to challenge the intent of a graffitist you’re fortunate to have had such a sheltered life.

    • stylusmobilus says:

      10:43pm | 30/08/11

      Some of the comments here definitely prove the Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory…

      (normal person) + (internet) +  (anonymity) = (total fuckwad)

      For the record, no he didn’t deserve to die and my thoughts go out to his family. However, I hope this serves as a sound lesson to all those who wish to risk their lives for the sake of graffiti.


      10:46pm | 30/08/11

      Hi Tory,

      Lets all consider this for a moment, shall we??  Most Palestinian children growing up in the West Bank & Gaza do not have, what we all could call as normal childhood!!  Most things we take granted for in our society, such as the right to travel, food , gas & electricity shortages as well as the ongoing disputes in their living environment & violence play a very important part in the lives of these troubled young people!!

      There is no real outlet for recreational activities as well as being involved in areas where they could use their creativity.  Which can be very oppressing to say the least!!  I am guessing that most consider graffiti as damage to public property.  I used to be one of those people, till I arrived in Australia.  Until then I had no idea what graffiti meant forget how to spell it!!  I also began noticing colorful pieces of what I would call art at different locations in the City of Sydney.  Mainly in the outer Western & Inner Sydney areas.

      Can it actually do any real harm??  Now that I am older & wiser, I most certainly think that it does not cause any harm.  If it is in the name of peace which these kids seem lo long for from the time they are born into our World, then who is actually hurting whom??  If we all try to look at it from an objective point which is very difficult anyway, there has always been a disproportionate use of power in the Israeli Army’s history, anyway!!

      Locking up teenage delinquents in our society may prove to be real problem.  Somehow, I truly believe that shooting some young people for something such as this is very upsetting & disturbing!!  We are only teaching these teenagers only to respond in a very violent way!!  Is this what we really want for future generations, whether they happen to be in London or Palestine?? 

      Violence has always been a learnt behavior in different societies and so far it has not achieved any thing substantial in the way of achieving peace in the Middle East region!!  May be, it is time to try a different technique & method which will actually work.  Best regards to your editors.

    • Malleeringneck says:

      12:25am | 31/08/11

      All these people defending someone who was vandalising public property.
      If it was done to your fence you would scream blue murder.
      He died because he did a reckless act that was stupidity.
      However he was committing a crime when he did died and does not deserve all the sympathy that is cried here.
      If people want to give sympathy give it to the people who really need it, the disabled for instance.

    • jf says:

      07:32am | 31/08/11

      Malleeringneck says: 12:25am | 31/08/11
      “All these people defending someone who was vandalising public property.”

      Saying he didn’t deserve to die is not the same as defending him.

      “If it was done to your fence you would scream blue murder.”

      Yes I would. However I would possibly call the cops and spray him with a hose, not grab an AK47 and spray him with bullets.

      “He died because he did a reckless act that was stupidity.”

      Yes he did. However, I don’t think that you deserve to die for every act of stupidity you’ve ever committed: this post for instance.

      “However he was committing a crime when he did died and does not deserve all the sympathy that is cried here.”

      A crime? Sure, albeit a minor and petty one. He didn’t deserve to die. Hitler deserved to die. Breaker Morant probably didn’t and this kid sure as hell didn’t deserve to die.

      “If people want to give sympathy give it to the people who really need it, the disabled for instance.”

      I reckon the disabled by and large don’t want yours or anyone else’s sympathy.

    • Kipling says:

      07:58am | 31/08/11

      Actions have consequences!

      That is an interesting point. This bloke chose to climb a bridge and he fell. Apparently the consequence of his choice meant he died….

      No problem for some….

      Several years’ back a bunch of people chose to go to work in one of the tallest buildings in the world, where the global money market was manipulated. A couple of planes flew into the building; so, the consequence for many who chose to work that day was to die….

      Some British kids recently went on a wilderness adventure and, being in the wild, ran into a hungry bear. The bear was hungry as a consequence of human impact in the area; consequently the bear ate one kid and hurt about half a dozen others. That was the consequence of their choice to go into the wilderness.

      The bear was shot, which was also a consequence of their choice to go into the wilderness. OF course, it was an enforced consequence, so I have some sympathy for the bear that was just doing what other species (apart from humans) do.

      Consequences can really bite can’t they..?

      Of course, apparently there is sympathy for some but not for others. Is that some kind of consequence too?

      Believe me, I have limited sympathy for human tragedy, cause we do it so well and so often. One might think a consequence of that would be to learn something clever, but no.

      This is a terrible tragedy for this young blokes family and friends. That alone would seem, in a humane sense, to be worthy of some respect or sympathy, yet apparently not….

    • Echo says:

      11:03am | 31/08/11

      The danger of this kid falling was apparent and logical, 9/11 no one in the buildings knew that was happening so how could they make a conscious choice to court danger in this instance, and was the kid trolling for bears smeared in bear bait? was there bear sightings at the time? you can’t compare one to the other as this kid knowingly put his life in danger. much like surfers and scuba divers accept the risk of shark attacks they know the danger and still choose to do it, this kid knew it was dangerous and chose to do it, unfortunately it was not his lucky night

    • JB says:

      08:10am | 31/08/11

      What if the person who had to clean his vandlism off the side of the bridge slipped and fell to his death?

    • Kipling says:

      08:27am | 31/08/11

      Then you would not be following OH&S procedures. Consequence?

    • Joel B1 says:

      08:40am | 31/08/11

      Taggers are scum.

    • jim morris says:

      09:33am | 31/08/11

      travelling home by train recently I was lamenting “Where in this increasingly homogenised world will the next generation of artists come from?” Then I looked out of the window and saw a whole lot of fantastic ‘graffiti’ sprayed on walls at the artists expense (in more ways than one).
      Those artists are being treated as criminals while morons pay millions for crap that is only valuable because someone said it was. A few dots, some coloured squares, a cow cut in half etc. We live in idiotland.

    • JB says:

      10:06am | 31/08/11

      They might be a few dots, some coloured squares, etc but they were created on the artists very own piece of canvas, not someone elses, without the knowledge of the owner, after dark…. some of the “artwork” by these criminals is actually quite good, so go do it on your own walls!

    • David says:

      09:41am | 31/08/11

      Could not agree more. Well said.

    • Tika says:

      10:25am | 31/08/11

      Skilled graffiti is art. These pictures can be beautiful and meaningful.,but tagging is akin to pissing on a wall. There is no beauty in tagging. It is vandalism and nothing else.

      The kid didn’t “deserve” to die, but he was an idiot. I am not sorry for him but for his family who are left to suffer the consequences.

    • Dieter Meoeckel says:

      10:25am | 31/08/11

      Before I reached the ‘age of fear’ I was 10 foot tall and bullet proof. While my kids were before the ‘age of fear’ - I feared for them and worried that if they did what their old man did they had more than one foot in the grave. Obviously my kids and I survived the bullet proof years, the years incidentally when we send them to war exactly because they have no fear. Thus climbing a bridge and falling off it is no different to executing a swan dive off a too high railway bridge into water of uncertain depth.
      Now to the graffiti bit. Yep, quite right graffiti has been with us since man could grunt and if its from any non WASP culture it’s art of social, cultural and spiritual significance - Australian Aboriginal rock art - graffiti when the seasons were lean and splattering ochre onto cave walls kept the mind from wandering into truth of hunger.
      What bullshit we convince ourselves of - what art once depicted is now more accurately done with photography - when was the last time you saw a wedding painting eh? Graffiti is no more ugly than drab dirty train carriages carrying corporate logos or purple houses with yellow gutters - art is in the eye of the beholder - leave graffiti artists alone - better they spray away than waste their time on other useless crap. Do away with graffiti when you do away with unsightly decorations, company logos, road signs, advertising billboards and neon tradmarks.

    • Robert S McCormick says:

      12:22pm | 31/08/11

      Maybe he did not deserve to die.
      He was no artist. He was nothing more than a vandal defacing whatever he could, whenever he could with his silly “tag”
      His friends are quoted as saying “He lived for his art”. Bullshit.
      Hopefully the police will or have caught his mates. Hopefully, though given the soft tap on the wrist they hand out to paedophiles & others this is unlikely, they will impose massive fines, terms of imprisonment in adult prisons on future vandals who run around marking everything in sight with their silly, meaningless ‘tags’ which contribute nothing to society.

    • David says:

      02:20pm | 31/08/11

      The South Australian government response was to crap on about how it wants to double jail sentences for graffiti. Great solution - chuck a bunch of 17 year olds into jails which are already full and turn em in to hard core drug addict criminals.

    • Oxe says:

      11:01pm | 03/09/11

      Fuck you all! Graffiti will never die!

    • mac says:

      09:15pm | 04/09/11

      At least these artists are just scribbling a name or painting a beautiful mural, and not sitting in alleys smoking meth or raping children. The media makes it out that graffiti artists are the worst people in the world and that is complete and utter shit. Who hasn’t done something as petty as scribbling a name or a swear word or something on a desk, or a seat? These kids and adults are just more motivated, more adventurous, more creative and more passionate. Look at works by guys like sofles, banos, and the ironlak team, what they do could not be done without them starting out scribbling little “ugly” tags on walls etc. GRaffiti has caused the loss of a few lives, but it has definitely saved many more. If it wasnt for graffiti many more young males/ and even females would be doing alot worse stuff.

    • oneruleforhumanityanotherrulefortheothermammals says:

      07:53am | 06/09/11

      It’s one way of keeping stupid genes out of the pool.  As intelligence is inherited, perhaps we should only let the children who are too smart to do these things grow up and have their own children.  The world is a mess because of people who do stupid things, so this is one solution, albeit a harsh one.  Survival of the fittest and all that…


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