No-one wants to hear your noise

The thumping and pounding even bleeds through masonry walls. Occasionally a big dog barks along for long minutes. A car with the volume cranked parks in front. It’s 4:00AM. So much for neighborliness!

What is it about “Sleep is more important than loud late-night events” that partygoers don’t understand?

Smoke detectors have piercing tones because  hearing is the first sense to wake up and the last to fall asleep, and so the next-door (or down-the-block) party startles us awake, fearful. Unwanted noise robs us of the sleep we need and deserve, and which helps us be productive members of society.  Our animal reflexes lurch and we wake up with hearts pounding, because noise us: Danger – get away! Smoke and radon detectors emit too-loud sounds because we need to be warned away from the problem or to take care of it.

Yet exposure to chronic noise is associated with chronic health problems; many hundreds of thousands of people have some hearing loss even though they are not elderly, which will not improve as they age, and which means they still crank up their jams, more properly called “the bane of everyone in earshot.” Those with impaired hearing wind up more lonely and depressed, and with fewer school and job opportunities. 

A car with gobbledygook blasting can easily achieve 140 decibels – but children should never have to endure more than 120dB. Kids exposed to too much noise are known to have negative behavior, social-adjustment, and class attendance issues. 

But here could be a solution, and in the bargain mayors all over could net their cities a small fortune: invest in several dozen decibel meters.

Police districts, each armed with a single one, would require the noise abatement officers to sign it out, in the same fashion as is now required for radios, Tasers, and long guns. Loud music and similar citizen complaints would be assigned to the noise abatement team, which could of course also take the initiative on any on-view incidents, just as is now done with traffic violators, as time and other duties permit, and could well free up the rest of the cops for other incidents.

In the same way a motorist is responsible for open alcohol elsewhere in his vehicle, the party host should be held liable for the noisemakers. Don’t want a ticket? Throw the noisy bums out or call the police on them yourself!

The more people keep turning up the volume because their hearing is compromised, the more a meter is needed to prove the facts of the case. Mangle your inner ears’ natural abilities if you must, but stop imposing your affliction on the rest of us.

The incident taped on squad car video would back up each noise recording by the decibel meter. Citations would dump money into City coffers; there would be no “Racists!” complaints because swank parties and rundown areas alike would have no choice but to pipe down. Fines should be doubled or trebled for repeat offenders. Light sleepers could finally have some peace.

And if the officers with decibel meters did their work exceedingly well, judges and hearing officers imposed stiff fines, people got the message and turned down the racket of their own accord? So much the better for everyone next door who would see a true neighbor, one who thinks twice before cranking up the music.


About majaramirez

former assistant instructor in tai chi chu'an; current TreeKeeper (#467); former Master Gardener; member of American Bird Conservancy, Audubon, Fraternal Order of Police, and Mensa; recently retired career cop; wife and mom.
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