Quiet-List 1997

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Re: Re Free expression on mailing list



>Here follow four extracts from Sean Conlon*s e-mail with my additions in
>double brackets:
>A)... I too, am beginning to feel that I have to "walk on eggshells" to
>avoid offending
>people ((with my loud music etc.));
>B) If there are other people who feel intimidated or uncomfortable about
>expressing themselves ((by playing their music as loud as they like)),
>then I think that is a major problem;
>C) I also feel that people should be able to ((play whatever they like, as
>loud as they like)) in the manner in which they choose;
>D) There should be no constraint of any kind on the expression of people's
>ideas, ((including how loud they play their music)).
>
>Let*s be a little careful that we do not begin to sound like the
>noise-makers when they try to defend their craft. A local radio presenter
>recently asked. *What can we do to reduce the death toll on our roads*?
>The short term answer I gave them is of course, nothing! Road deaths, like
>noise problems, will never be solved while people are inconsiderate and
>have no respect for others. I do hope the Quiet fraternity never fall into
>this trap.
>Ray Hattingh
>rhatting@ctcc.gov.za
>Tel 400-3570

Which is why we don't want to come off sounding like those people who *are*
trying to curtail free speech.

We have just weathered a major assault on our free speech here in the US,
the Communications Decency Act, which was a backdoor assualt on our free
speech in the name of "protecting the children." We also have legions of
book-burners, music-banners and boycotters who have managed to censor
books, music and other free expression in this country, almost invariably
in the name of "decency." So when I see a censorship policy based on
obscenity, anywhere, it sets off alarm bells in my head, as I'm sure it
does in the heads of our enemies--particularly those who are sympathetic
about noise issues but genuinely concerned about free expression and
abusive noise ordinances. And believe me, I am on your side and I know that
the policy on this list is about respect, and nothing else.

I do not believe that the stuggle for a peaceful and quiet society has
anything to do with curtailing free expression or Constitutional rights,
and I think most of these "free expression" arguments are just as spurious
as you do. But  I think we need to be careful about appearing to be just
what some people accuse us of being--yet another group trying a backdoor
approach to curtailing free expression. And the fact is, many noise
ordinances get struck down in the US on the basis that they are
un-Constitutional, and rightfully so. Their vagueness and overbroadness
leaves them wide open to abuse by the noise enforcers, although of course
the abuse usually has more to do with extortion than assaults on free
speech.

That is why I think we must proceed first from a position that absolutely
recognizes and respects people's right to free expression as well as other
Constitutional rights (here in the US, of course) before we even begin
advocating for tougher noise ordinances. Then we should draft noise
ordinances that are well-thought out and which cannot be abused or
shot-down on a Constitutional basis. Any noise ordinance which can survive
a Constitutional test here in the US should be a good ordinance to use
anywhere.

I didn't mean for this to turn into yet another sanctimonious free
expression speech, God knows this is not the battleground for that. It has
more to do with my personal extremism on the issue of free expression, and
I am grateful this list and the people on it exist at all, for it has given
me some hope.

Sean Conlon


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