In October of 2014, Rebecca from Calipidder alerted hiking blog Modern Hiker about discovering a “serial vandal” defacing several of America’s National Parks with pieces of graffiti. With the help of some Reddit-users, the culprit quickly was identified as “Creepythings,” a.k.a. Casey Nocket.
As the case caught more and more attention and reactions grew increasingly hostile, the New York-based 21-year-old first tried to defend her actions by saying “it’s art, not vandalism” and comparing herself to Banksy. But pressure grew, and Nocket was impelled to disappear from social media.
But authorities found her anyway, and in June of 2016, she was sentenced to a 24-month probation after pleading guilty to misdemeanor charges. The now 23-year-old will also have to perform 200 hours of community service, write a letter of apology to the National Park Service and pay restitution for the damage. She is also banned from entering all lands administered by the National Park Service, National Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers during her probation.
We here at Resource Travel are all about respecting the beauty of nature, and therefore find this an interesting case for a debate. Because Nocket’s case raises some interesting questions, starting with: what is art?
Banksy is an England-based graffiti artist, and one might wonder if Nocket goes out of line by comparing herself to him. After all, they both use public domain as their canvas. Even though Banksy’s work also has been criticised, he is in fact widely considered an artist. What makes Nocket’s ‘work’ vandalism, then? Well, while Banksy does commit a minor crime in most of his pop-up art, the art is usually laid on walls of buildings, man-made structures that can easily be painted over. The walls themselves would be painted every couple of years as the colors fade, even without Banksy’s intervention. But Nocket’s art, however, is on sacred pieces of nature in protected parklands that have been part of our quickly disappearing nature since before we were born and will remain long after we are gone.
Another interesting topic of the debate is the influence the internet has over such cases. Recently, the High On Life Crew created a firestorm of anger and controversy when they walked on the Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park. But that was not the first case of the internet being used to identify culprits who abuse the protected National Park System in the United States.
Back in 2014, it only took a matter of hours before Nocket was identified and known – sort of speak – in every corner of the world. What about her right to anonymity? After all, she had chosen a nickname. But quickly, her address and some very recognizable pictures began appearing online. Is the internet responsible for the public trial and conviction of a culprit before they have their day in actual court? Or, is the internet firestorm that these vandals face only part of the consequences. And don’t forget, without the internet outrage, Nocket would probably still be out there, defacing parklands and calling it her ‘art’.
And how about her punishment: is it severe enough? Is damaging the ancient glory of nature only worth probation, a short term ban from National Park Lands, 200 hours of community service, a letter and a fine? After all, she had already admitted being a “bad person” to social media users asking her about her paint choice, adding proof that she was fully aware of the negative impacts of her actions.
Resource Travel tried to reach out to “Creepythings,” but, surprisingly, we have had no success so far. Her family, however, made statements to Trailmob.com, claiming that Nocket knows she did a horrible thing and is incredibly remorseful and ready to “face the music.” They also warned for social media users falsely pretending to be the real Casey Nocket.
What you think? Was the punishment too leanient, too harsh, or just right? Let us know in the comments.