Quiet-List 1997

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Disappointing Article

Imagine my positive anticipation when I found the listing 'New York's noise
police' in the table of contents of today's Globe and Mail (a major
national Canadian newspaper). Imagine my disappointment when the article
turned out to be a satirical piece belittling and ridiculing a very serious
issue. But judge for yourselves, folks.

Annette Feige
Citizens' Coalition Against Noise

Calling all cars: there's a yappy poodle barking on 46th Street

David Letterman says New York, New York is "the city so nice they named it
twice," but I sometimes wonder if the repetition is there so the
chuckleheads in city government don't forget where they are.

How dim are they? Well, consider the recent passage of a new law that
triples the fines for repeat offenders of the city's noise code.

For example, a car alarm left blaring for more than five minutes means a
fine of $100 to $250 for the first offence, and as much as $750 for the
third violation.

Gee, what happens on the fourth offence, 10 years in solitary?

Never mind that in many cases people are more than five minutes away from
their parked cars -- which is sort of the reason for the car alarm in the
first place -- and never mind that New York City Council should be coming
up with new ways to target the car thieves rather than the car owners who
are simply trying to protect their vehicles.

Heck, never mind that the garbage and recycling trucks operated by the city
itself are infinitely louder than any car alarm. Forget about all this
logic; the important thing is they're trying to reduce noise!

Said councilman Gifford Miller, who sponsored the bill: "New York City is
never going to be a sleepy town where you hear the crickets chirping. But I
think we can make it a little quieter, a little saner."

Oh really. What I'd like the councilman to explain is just how these
beefed-up anti-noise laws can be enforced. One pictures the real-life
members of NYPD Blue standing next to a car with its alarm going off,
holding a stop watch and waiting for the five-minute mark so they can issue
a ticket. What a creative use of police manpower.

Some of the other nuisances targeted by the ordinance, with the maximum
fine for each:
- Barking dogs: $525
- Car alarms: $750
- Boom boxes: $1,050
- Car horns: $2,625
- Jackhammers: $4,200
- Motorcycles: $4,200

Just imagine if you're blasting your boom box so loud it can be heard above
the sound of your jackhammer as your buddy zooms up on his motorcycle and
starts testing your car horn, causing your dog to bark repeatedly! You'd be
subject to as much as $13,350 in fines.

Granted, the cacophony created by the above-listed devices is undeniably
grating. The owner of the dog that barks for two hours straight, the idiot
zooming down the street on a motorcycle so loud you can feel your eardrums
tingle, the moron with the boom box turned up so loud the sound has been
hopelessly distorted -- they all should have their sleep interrupted for 30
straight days by the very noise they've inflicted on the rest of us.

The problem is in catching the offenders and proving they're too loud.
What's music to your ears might be an aural assault as far as I'm
concerned. The whole process just seems too subjective to be effective.

A pity, really -- because if one did have the power to act as judge and
jury on the spot, there are any number of noise polluters who should be hit
with hefty fines. If I were named Sheriff of North America -- and by gum, I
still believe that's going to happen some day -- here are some of the louts
who would be getting ticketed, and the minimum fines I'd assess.
- Sweaty Drunken Loud-Mouthed Heckler Guys At Football Games: $250
- People Who Talk About Their Personal Lives on the Train or Bus: $300
- Regis Philbin: $500
- Numbskulls Who Talk During A Movie: $750
- Street Musicians Who Know Only One Song: $1,000
- Any Random Promise Keeper Who Weeps in My Presence: $1,200
- Pompous Executives Who Talk on Cellular Phones in Restaurants: $1,500
- Jerry Springer: $10,000 (just on general principle).
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