Wednesday, May 17, 2006

June 11 Declared ‘Citywide Amplified Free Speech Day’

Grab an amplifier and head to your favorite District of Columbia street corner to make some noise! It’s the first “Citywide Amplified Free Speech Day” in the District of Columbia. Anyone can participate!

You can help broadcast the message that the residents of the District of Columbia demand the city balance free speech with the right to peace and quiet. Urge the D.C. City Council to act now and fix the broken noise law.

On Sunday, June 11, a small contingent of neighbors from the 700 block of 8th Street NE will gather at a corner in Georgetown NW to exercise the right to free speech and the right to make all the noise we desire using a very loud, battery-powered amplifier. Our group will be blasting amplified free speech near a residential area at the corner of Wisconsin and N Streets NW from 3-5:00 p.m.

This unrestricted noise activity apparently is permissible by the District of Columbia law, according to a December ruling by the D.C. Office of Attorney General. We want to illustrate the absurdity of the broken D.C. noise statute.

This is not a formally organized event, so no permits are required. “Quest for Quiet” is not dispensing legal advice, so participate at your own risk. But if the city’s reaction to one group's Saturday routine of unabated amplified speech is any indication, there should be no problem whatsoever.

Our group will follow the example of the regular activities employed at the southeast corner of H and 8th Street NE by the fellows from the Israelite School of Universal Practical Knowledge (ISUPK). The city allows them to operate a battery-powered amplifier for hours unhindered. The amplifier blasts residential homes within yards of the assembled speakers.

So, whatever methods the ISUPK employ on H Street NE also must be acceptable for anyone else in the District of Columbia--including Georgetown.

Keep in mind that a D.C. noise inspector cited the ISUPK three times for exceeding acceptable decibel levels. The citations were thrown out when the D.C. Office of Attorney General ruled there was nothing the city could do to stop the hours and hours of amplified noise.

To see what activity the D.C. government tolerates, use these photos from the southeast corner of H and 8th Streets NE for guidance.

Fender Amp Can (ISUPK amplifier of choice)
Collection of handheld eletric megaphones
Crate TX50DBE Limo Battery Powered Amp
Crate TX15 Battery Powered Amp

We must balance free speech with the right to peace and quiet. The District of Columbia City Council must act now to fix the broken noise law.

Dec. 13, 2005 letter from D.C. Office of Attorney General

1. Consumer and Regulatory Affairs Committee Chair Jim Graham:
2. Your councilmember.


Blogger Lonnie Bruner said...

Wisconsin & N St. June 11th. 3:00. I'll be there.


7:34 PM  
Anonymous Eck said...

Klav, instead of doing a demo elsewhere, why not deploy electronics -- creatively, mind you -- to thwart the amplified speech at 8/H NE?

There is extensive research, not to mention our own personal understanding based on the occasional bad telephone connection, showing that a slight delay in audio feedback confuses the brain and makes speech nearly impossible. Here's an amusing recent article about using this phenomenon to undermine racist soccer hooligan chants.

Such a device would require a mike, a bit of circuitry, and a loudspeaker. Here's an article describing the audio-delay circuitry.

The diabolical (ooh, there's a loaded word, you white devil :) beauty is that there's nothing the thwartee can do about this.

6:32 PM  
Blogger Klav said...

Interesting concept, eck, thanks.

However, It sounds complicated and, as the article states, just as loud as the amplified noise it's intended to scramble.

Keep the ideas coming!

11:00 AM  
Anonymous eck said...

Klav, it is indeed just as loud. Of course, its effectiveness would in short order squelch the obnoxious noise. That's why this would ultimately reduce the level of sonic pollution.

2:48 PM  
Anonymous Rob said...

How did this go by the way? I remember reading about it in Frozen Tropics but never a report on how it turned out.

3:29 PM  
Blogger Klav said...


You can find plenty of coverage in the June Quest for Quiet archives. Several postings spotlight the event's outcome:

3:42 PM  
Anonymous Well being said...

Hi! I like what you are doing. Maybe we could exchange tips on Well being. You can have a quick look at so we can exchange ideas.

11:09 AM  
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