Friday, October 19, 2007

One Mega Amp Could Smother Weekend Protestors

This amplified H St NE area resident's speech was barely audible against two bigger amplifiers during the Second Annual Amplified Free Speech Day in Adams Morgan. (Photo Copyright © 2007. David Klavitter)

World Bank and IMF protestors plan to descend on Washington, D.C. this weekend to exercise their free speech rights.

When an issue is of such importance that large numbers of people turn out and non-violently make their united voices heard, that's a good thing.

And a chorus of united, unamplified voices can be loud, which also is a good thing.

But the District's noise law which permits unlimited levels of amplified free speech contains a sinister flaw: One single person with enough money can power an amplifier loud enough to drown out that chorus of unaided voices.

The only retribution is for the unaided voices to procure an amplifier bigger and louder than the first one. In which case the monied invidual will get a louder amp. Not only will a game of one-upsmanship result, but the outcome is not geninue protest speech--it's manufactured and artificial.

Under current D.C. law, free speech belongs not to those with the greatest number of people, but rather to whoever has the loudest amplifier.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A Decibel Meter is an Objective Device

Since young Arthur Delaney lumped the noise issue into his The Hill story about H Street NE's single alcohol sales moratorium, I must reiterate:

The residents--of all shapes, sizes and colors--who live in and around the 700 block of 8th Street NE support the rights to free speech in the public space.

We simply do not want preachers in our bedrooms.

People who continue to infer the current D.C. noise issue is about anything other than noise have yet to point out a decibel meter's race, gender or content buttons.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Noise and Residential Vacancies

Word comes this week that the southeast corner of H and 8th St NE is due for a major overhaul—from the current one-story mini-mall with parking lot--known as the H Street Connection--to a potential eight-story mixed-use development. (See the map)

According to a post on the Frozen Tropics blog, the project will feature retail, office space and residential homes.

Residential homes. Oof.

Either the living units must be adequately soundproofed or each resident will be receiving an unlimited supply of earplugs to endure the routine Saturday and Sunday amplified preaching.

The out-of-control noise pollution enveloped the neighborhood after the D.C. City Council in 2004 passed a law removing all volume limits for amplifiers used for the purposes of free speech.

The current property management company of the H Street Connection is well aware of the obnoxious noise and is an ally in the effort to turn down the volume—NOT to remove anyone from the public space.

Nonetheless, the noise-loophole is not good for long-time home owners in the District of Columbia.

Two formerly vacant and dilapidated homes in the H Street NE neighborhood recently underwent extensive renovations and currently are on the market.

The house closest to the noisy corner sat pristine and empty for more than a year until recently. The owner finally decided to rent it—to a group of Gallaudet University students.