Monday, July 09, 2007

Video Shows Amplified Free Speech Day


The camera and microphone were positioned about 50 feet from the poetry insurgent’s amplifier and about 60 feet from the H Street group’s. That’s where the decibels measured at about 86 dB. If you live anywhere in the District, this could happen in your neighborhood between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. (Video by Patrick Keefe. Copyright 2007)

A new 4 minute, 43 second video documents the second annual Amplified Free Speech Day in Adams Morgan on June 24. (As a viewer, you have the luxury of turning down your computer's volume--in D.C. the volume knob is controlled by those with the amplifiers.)

Three electric noise-making devices converged during the two hours at 18th Street and Belmont Rd NW: Two amplifiers and one bullhorn.

Decibel readings recorded from the point source on that day:

* 12.5 feet = 98 decibels (dB)
* 25 feet = 92 dB
* 50 feet = 86 dB
* 100 feet = 80 dB
* 200 feet = 74 dB*
* 400 feet = 68 dB*

According to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, distance attenuation estimates show when the distance is doubled from a point source, the sound level decreases six decibels.*

Permanent hearing loss can occur after three minutes exposure to 97 dB, according to the Environmental Protection Agency and the World Health Organization.

The loudest noise in the documentary can be heard from the D.C. Guerrilla Poetry Insurgency, whose amplifier was slightly larger than the Quest for Quiet group’s device.

Which just goes to show, under the current District of Columbia noise statute, free speech rights belong to those with an amplifier—or at least the biggest.

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