Right to Quiet Society Noiseletter
Winter 2010 – page 4

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Howling "hailers" at Olympics?

Not enough that Vancouver’s City Council voted for relaxing the noise-control bylaw to accommodate more noise during the games in February 2010, the Vancouver Police Department acquired a “hailer,” allegedly just for efficient communication, not as a weapon. On the website of the manufacturer, American Technology Corporation, we found the following information:

LRAD 500X™ Portable, Long Range Hailing & Warning

LRAD 500X is lightweight and can be easily transported to provide military and security personnel long range communications and a highly effective hailing and warning capability. LRAD 500X has been selected by the U.S. Navy and U.S. Army as their acoustic hailing device (AHD) for small vessels and vehicles.

The superior voice intelligibility and clarity of LRAD 500X provides a highly directional audio beam that achieves maximum sound projection and penetration beyond 2000 meters. LRAD 500X operators have the ability to issue clear, authoritative verbal commands, followed with powerful deterrent tones to enhance response capabilities. The extended frequency range of LRAD 500X ensures voice commands will be clearly understood.

Maximum Continuous Output 148 dB SPL at 1 meter Beam Width +/ 15 @ 1 kHz/ 3dB

Communications Range:

Highly intelligible speech transmissions over 2000 meters; *Max. range of 650 meters over 88 dB of background noise.

(*6+ dB above background noise is based on field trials conducted by independent sources.)


The Vancouver Sun reported in November that “Vancouver police won't rule out using a new crowd control device as a weapon capable of emitting loud, painful blasts of sound that are potentially damaging to hearing. But police spokesman Const. Lindsey Houghton insisted that the Long Range Acoustical Device was bought principally to replace ‘antiquated hand held megaphones’ as a tool to communicate in emergencies and for crowd control.

‘We're seeing it as a loudspeaker,’ Houghton said. ‘We'd be remiss if we did not have a device that could safely communicate to people.’ Asked whether police would ever use it for anything more than communication, Houghton said, ‘We can't rule out anything.’ Houghton also insisted that while the device will be available during the 2010 Winter Games, it was not bought specifically for that reason. Rather, the VPD plans to use it to get information out to large crowds, such as during the summer fireworks or in an emergency such as an earthquake.

But the B.C. Civil Liberties Association questioned why the device, which it said can be used as a ‘sonic weapon,’ was bought without any public consultation. ‘It is not just a big megaphone. If they are not ruling out the sonic gun aspect then we are going down a slippery slope, and that's a problem,’ BCCLA president Robert Holmes said.‘The acoustical devices are ‘more appropriate to a repressive society. Look at the customers for them: Honduras, Iraq, Jordan and China.’

Holmes questioned why the $17,000 device, which was bought second hand, was given the go-ahead by Mayor Gregor Robertson and city council without any public process.”

Beware of being “hailered”!

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Slogans: Past and Present

In the early part of the twentieth century, public washrooms in restaurants and offices in this country were germ laden and unhygienic. Patrons faced dirty cloth towels, grimy soap bars, and a metal cup chained to the water bubbler. This deplorable situation began to change in 1922 when a business entrepreneur named Geoffrey H. Wood established a company in Toronto which aimed to improve public health and cleanliness in the workplace.

He produced paper cups, liquid soap, disposable paper towels, tissue dispensers, waste receptacles and deodorant blocks. His company was a tremendous success and soon had a National Charter to operate across Canada.

Shortly afterwards he developed a slogan which was seen on billboards across the country: “Sanitation for the Nation.” This clever slogan greatly helped to expand his business; indeed the


company still remains today as Wood Wyant, after its founder’s death. Recently, it occurred to me that I no longer saw the familiar company slogan in public places, probably because Wood’s aim for improved public sanitation had been achieved and his company had become well established.

In the latter part of the century, new technological developments abounded. For example, the boom-box, a powerful portable radio and cassette recorder with built-in speakers, was invented in 1983. Immediately, several companies competed to develop a louder, more powerful machine. Driven solely by economic motives, manufacturers have produced a variety of earsplitting musical systems which now bombard us everywhere. Sadly, it would appear their advertising catchword is “Amplification for the Nation!"

— By Carole A. Martyn

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Sonic torture

While holed up in the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa last fall, the ousted president of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya, was targeted with blasts of loud music and animal grunts being blared at the embassy’s occupants.

— Agence France-Press

Entire contents © 2006 Right to Quiet Society. Cartoon © 1996 Right to Quiet Society

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