There has been a tremendous amount of buzz surrounding the recent case of the alleged National Park vandal, Casey Nocket, aka Creepytings. While most have vilified her actions, at least one outlet (cosmopolitan.com) has raised her up to hero status, stating “she’s inspiring a lot of girls to break some rules.” Comments both in support of her actions, and vehemently against, abound, with physical harm being mentioned and supported as part of the punishment following a full investigation.
Not that there seems to be much to investigate: she painted, she photographed, she posted, she preened in the adulation from fans. When asked about her medium of choice, she responded acrylic, was given the oh-so-meaningful frowny-face emoticon, and responded with “I know: I’m a horrible person.”
Nope: she’s just a criminal.
Now that it’s been a week since the story broke, and I’ve taken more than a few deep breaths, I felt better about writing down my own feelings on the matter. I placed emotion aside, realized that those who would probably read this already know just how passionate I am about these places. I didn’t feel the need to define my own devotion to the heights, my anger over what had happened.
With the air around me cleared, and while on a long drive to see a patient today, looking up at the mountains that I proudly call home, I realized that it all boils down to something extremely simple:
She broke the law.
The Wilderness Act of 1964 states: “A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.”
A basic tenet of the Act reads that: “within wilderness areas, the Wilderness Act strives to restrain human influences so that ecosystems can change over time in their own way, free, as much as possible, from human manipulation.”
By painting and scribbling on the rocks, she remains.
Petroglyphs! Screams one. Pictographs! Screams another. Relevance in 300 years!
Under the established law, her actions were illegal. I’m glad to hear she’s “cooperating with authorities”, and I equally hope that she will be held accountable to the highest extent. Fines. Jail time. Restoration. Wag bag duty in the Mt. Whitney Zone.
Whatever it takes to drive home the message that this sort of behavior won’t be tolerated.
To me, what it boils down to is a matter of respect for others, a trait seemingly grossly absent in today’s culture.
We are all searching for ways to remain relevant in the eyes of our peers and society, so much so that stunts and pranks are more heavily rewarded and advertised (okay, VIRAL) than everyday acts of heroism or success. We are a GoPro, Red Bull, higher/faster/stronger, crazier group of people, praying that the internet gods will bless us with much more than our 15 minutes of fame.
I have no idea what motivated creepytings to perform her vandalism/art in those public places. But her responses on her Instagram would indicate to me, at least, that she bears no responsibility or understanding of what she’s done. Whether her work is relevant now, in 30 years, or in 300 years, is yet to be determined.
But, for me, bottom line:
She broke the law. She should understand her actions have consequences. And she should be punished to the full extent.
That’s what relevant.
Links to a few other articles:
Rebecca Sowards-Emmerd’s article in The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/oct/27/graffiti-national-parks-art-narcissism-crime
The Cosmopolitan.com article: http://www.cosmopolitan.com/sex-love/news/a32482/female-graffiti-artist-is-new-most-hated-person-on-instagram/
Modern-hiker’s Original Story: http://www.modernhiker.com/2014/10/21/instagram-artist-defaces-national-parks/