cropgraffitiReader John calls our attention to a recent article in The Mail in which curious sightseers investigating a crop circle saw something unexpected flying overhead: shotgun fire. The report is a bit confused, but it seems that a farmer, one of his cousins, or a hired hand fired a shotgun over the heads of a group of Norwegian tourists who had come to see a recent crop circle.

Why do such a thing? Simple, he says. He was defending his property.

One onlooker was surprised to come under fire:

I have been visiting crop circles for a decade and have in various ways been told that we are not welcome, but this is the first time I have been threatened with a gun.

Farmers have the right to protect their land, but they have no legal right to threaten people. It was totally unnecessary and incredibly scary.

So, let me get this straight... she knows she's not welcome, and admits that famers have a right to protect their land, but these realizations aren't enough for her to stop trampling people's crops. Got it.

I've always wondered what crop circles meant for the owners of the fields where these patterns appear. At least one farmer has made it clear that he'll not tolerate the $2000.00 in damage one circle cost him in crop loss. That includes not only the circle itself, but also the crops trampled by the curious.

While I'm certainly not advocating violence against vandals, it is interesting to note that crop circle hoaxers are given a bit of a pass regarding the law. How is creating a crop circle any different from spray painting a mandala on the side of someone's house? Sure, crops are temporary, but they cost real money, just as repainting a house would. There are also concerns of public safety and equipment damage (irrigation piping is rather fragile).

So while I don't think hiring a masked man to shoot at people is the best approach for keeping from damaging one's property, I do think authorities should treat most crop circles as the acts of vandalism they are. Sure, they can be interesting and even pithy, but if an artist needs to express himself, he should pay for his canvas. In fact, there's an idea... struggling farmers could grow crops for the express purpose of having crop circles created. Maybe there could be a contest... a viewing platform. Might be an interesting addition to a harvest festival.

Failing that, it would be nice if folks just respected one another's property. Crop circles are just another form of graffiti in the end, and while we may snicker at the works of other vandal-artists like Banksy, we should take a moment to consider that art is no excuse for committing a crime.