Quiet-List 1997

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Noise & Property Rights



I'm one of these weirdos who like to talk about
"human rights," but here in the good ol' USA I've
heard the saying that "possession is nine-tenths
of the law." 

Since Americans tend to worship at the altar of
property rights, let's talk about that for a minute.

I imagine that if most of the inconsiderate noise-makers
were to bother to attempt a defense of their actions, they
would frame it in terms of property rights:

    "I own this damn car. See?  And if I wanna
     reach over here and turn up this volume knob
     then it ain't nobody's damn business but mine."

     "As long as my dog stays over here on my
      property he can bark all he damn well pleases."

The same neighbor who tortures you with his barking dog
might be humbly apologetic if the animal got loose and 
dug up your flower bed.   He just cannot conceive of the
idea that the dog's barking should not have any consequences
beyond his property line.

I think we defenders of quiet need to bear this in mind,
and assert our needs in terms of property rights also.
We should demand to be free of our neighbors' recreational
noises when we enter upon our property.  (I include barking 
dogs as recreational noise, since the vast majority of dogs
in modern societies are pets rather than work animals).

If there is no legally recognized concept of "noise trespassing,"
then we need one.

    -- Michael Wright
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