Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Love and Redemption Disturbs at High Volume

(CLICK TO ENLARGE) A man who calls himself Evangelist Woodward of the “Do You Know What Time It Is” Ministries gets extremely loud at the southwest corner of H and 8th Streets NE on Saturday, June 24, 2006. His noisemaker of choice is a Peavey guitar amplifier powered by a car battery. (Submitted photo used with permission. Copyright © 2006. Quest for Quiet neighbor)

If you think speech content matters to the residents living in the 700 block of 8th Street NE, think again.

At first, she thought it was the annual H Street Festival gearing up during the early Saturday afternoon. No, that event happens in the Fall, she thought to herself, as the amplified voice boomed against her closed windows and vibrated the glass. It was close to noon. She slipped on her shoes and peered out the door. In the distance, nearly a block away, she spied a lone figure in a bright red shirt, hand to his mouth, and a big black box at his feet—an amplifier.

His name was Evangelist Woodward, according to his business card. He belongs to the “Do You Know What Time It Is” Ministries. It identifies him as a “Youth Vice President, National Evangelist, and Youth Counsel.” He’s available for hospital calls, funerals and to coach.

His amplifier was a Peavey guitar amp with double loudspeakers. A car battery powered the monster, which was louder than most anything the neighbors can. And he had it cranked.

His message was one of love and redemption. But the neighbors said Woodward's amplifier was so loud it frightened away any souls in need of saving. The residents only wanted to save their hearing. They also wanted to savor the remaining quiet afternoon before the next batch of noisemakers showed up for their usual 3-7 p.m. time slot.

Speech content is not relevant. What is disturbing to the neighborhood is unregulated decibel levels of noncommercial speech. And the broken D.C. noise law makes this absurd activity legal anywhere in the city.

One of the neighbors asked Woodward to turn down his amplifier, which he did momentarily. Out of view, it sounded like he slowly ratcheted up the volume, according to another neighbor. He blasted the neighborhood for a little more than an hour.

The city council must repair the law to protect residences and businesses from absurd activities from unreasonable people.

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