Friday, April 07, 2006

Why Don’t More D.C. Protestors Use Amplifiers?

Many people protesting in the District of Columbia apparently are unaware of the loophole in the D.C. law that allows the use of amplifiers for broadcasting free speech.

A story in the April 7 Washington Post, “God Blew Up the Troops,” is about protestors outside Walter Reed Medical Center on Georgia Ave NW in D.C. The story and photos do not make it apparent that amplifiers are in use.

I can only guess why they’re not using amplifiers.

Maybe they are not aware of the D.C. noise law loophole. Or perhaps D.C.’s ordinance and permitting process applies differently to larger gatherings. To my knowledge, no permits have been issued for the weekly assembly at H and 8th Streets NE.

In fact, the Post’s reference to one group’s revving of Harley Davidson motorcycle engines to drown out the other group’s speech probably is more disruptive to the recuperating soldiers than the actual speech.

The story clearly focuses on one speech content. As illustrated, speech content is very subjective. It can distract people from the real issues of a public debate. To the residents in and around the 700 block of 8th Streets NE, the issue is the unabated use of an amplifier.

To say one hopes “God will kill the injured U.S. soldiers” is not unlike saying “God will kill the Chinese, Japanese, Muslims, and white man.” Provocative, indeed, but it is protected free speech.

It makes no difference whether the speech is “kill, kill, kill” or “love, love, love.” Hours of it blasted by an amplifier every Saturday afternoon is a noise issue.

The city council needs to fix the law now.


Blogger Richard Layman said...

I guess because they have access to electricity at 8th and H? Do they? That might be a short term interdiction possibility...

8:42 AM  
Blogger Klav said...

The ISUPK boys at H and 8th Streets NE run on battery power. Here's a rundown on their gear:

11:17 AM  

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