Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Home Delivered Marine Diesel Engine Repair Tips

During sunrise on a chilly Sunday morning, District of Columbia citizen Matt uses an amplifier to ensure residents in the 3100 block of P St NW “enjoy”—in their comfy beds—the finer points of marine diesel engine repair. (Copyright © 2008: David Klavitter)

“If engine system was drained for storage, the next step is to remove the front pump cover,” blared Matt, whose loud words echoed down the tree-lined street at 7:10 a.m. “Carefully inspect the rubber impeller for any deterioration or nicks. Then lightly lubricate the pump impeller, replace gasket and cover securely when inspection and lubrication have been completed…”

The two-hour long amplified lecture was part of an ongoing series designed to demonstrate the absurdity of D.C.’s broken noise law. The current statute provides unlimited volume for non-commercial speech anywhere in the city between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m.

Matt, who lives on G Street NE, used the amplifier to blare his favorite topic at 90 decibels, which was measured 50 feet from the amplifier.

While disappointed that others did not share his enthusiasm for the mundane subject, the long-winded D.C. resident was thrilled to have a captive—and not necessarily willing—early morning audience.

Matt bellowed to reluctant listeners he’d rather be sleeping, but nonetheless thanked the D.C. city council for sponsoring his perverse and absurd activity, which other unreasonable amplified people force him to experience every weekend.

Matt simply wants the city to fix the law and protect his quiet enjoyment at home.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Washington Post Editorial: Reduce the Noise

The Washington Post today called on the District of Columbia City Council to protect citizens from amplified noise and fix the city's broken noise law.

The editorial said "a proposal to shield D.C. residents from noxious noise is a sensible measure that, contrary to specious reasoning by opponents, has nothing to do with freedom of speech or assembly."

The Post editorial said some groups consider "cacophony to be a favorite weapon," but said D.C. city council members should be responding to "the thousands of residents who are disturbed in their homes."

"Not only is it more liberal than noise ordinances in other cities, it strikes a careful balance between the rights of residents to quiet and the rights of others to make noise in public," wrote the Post.

Read the complete Washington Post editorial here.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

D.C. Council, U.S. Supreme Court Clash On Amplifiers

District of Columbia councilmembers owe it to their constituents to do a little homework before simply pandering to special interests and dismissing citizens' desire for quiet enjoyment of home.

Councilmembers Marion Barry, David Catania, Mary Cheh, Carol Schwartz, and Tommy Wells' genuine concern for D.C. residents and the constitution has earned each of them gold stars. Bravo.

In the meantime, the other councilmembers who simply throw up their hands and do nothing should please review the U.S. Supreme Court decision KOVACS V. COOPER, 336 U.S. 77 (1949). It upheld a municipality's right to defend citizens against amplified devices.

This wonderful gem is among many beautiful opinions found in the ruling:

"The preferred position of freedom of speech in a society that cherishes liberty for all does not require legislators to be insensible to claims by citizens to comfort and convenience. To enforce freedom of speech in disregard of the rights of others would be harsh and arbitrary in itself."

Councilmembers can find more in the ruling's complete text.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

FOX 5 Video, Wash. Post Cover G-Town Amplifiers

Maybe Councilmember Jack Evans simply does not understand how D.C. residents--many in Wards 3 and 6--are negatively harmed by amplified noise in their homes every weekend. Evans' neighbors most likely got the point on Saturday and Sunday.

Saturday's FOX 5 News' 5 and 10 p.m. newscasts carried coverage from the day's amplified noise in one usually quiet Georgetown neighborhood. Click here to see the video.

The front page of the Washington Post's Metro section also carried a story. Click here to read it.

The ruckus started on both Saturday and Sunday shortly after 7 a.m. The noise pollution was spewed by D.C. mothers and fathers, grandmas and grandpas, workers and retirees. The group represented D.C. Wards 3 and 6.

The artificial grassroots power of an amplified simply allowed a handful of people to act as if they were hundreds. Six hardy--and very wet--souls carried out the deed on Saturday. Only three were necessary for Sunday's wake-up call.

Three Metropolitan Police Officers stood watch each morning--and a good thing, too. While many Georgetowners empathized with their fellow citizens' plight, other seething residents wanted blood. In fact, I've never heard the word "fuck" directed at people in so many unusual and creative ways.


Friday, March 07, 2008

There Will Be Noise

We're not boastful or smug. No bravado or machismo. There's no delight in it, to be sure. But the dirty deed is scheduled. The DCist reported the story this week.

We're moms and dads, teachers, writers, artists and retirees--people from all walks of life across the city.

We came to the table. We were rebuffed. We gathered a broad coalition of the afflicted. Now our "quiet home" bill lays in limbo. They call it tabled. Ordinary folks' concerns dismissed. No debate. And fewer options.

A handful of residents from across this District of Columbia will gather early this weekend and perform exactly what the current law allows--and unreasonable people have taken advantage of.

The ugly of it is that only one or two people are required to carry it out. Thanks to the artificial grassroots power of an amplifier.

We support preachers and protestors in the public space. We simply don’t want them in our homes.

The current D.C. law is flawed. It allows not the art of persuasion though speech, but rather encourages the brute force of amplified noise to physically harass and pound people into submission.

Saturday, March 8: 7:01 a.m. to 9 a.m.
Sunday, March 9: 7:01 a.m. to 9 a.m. (daylight savings time)

3000 block of P St NW