In the wonderful wisdom that is the D.C. Council taking their lead from the President in trying to *hush* dissent in the Capitol, preliminary approval was given to quiet noisy demonstrations within the city. As WTOP reports, that the measure is aimed at getting demonstrators away from residential neighborhoods and limit “non-commercial public speech” to 80 dB at a distance of 50 feet. The initial ordinance was proposed by Tommy Wells (Ward 6) and supported by Mary Cheh, Kwame Brown and David Catania in 2007, but was now just voted upon for enactment.
So what you’re saying, is that, while folks who decide to at least exercise their right to be heard in a public forum, “non-commercially”, must do so at a whisper, but some “commercial” entity, blaring music and using a loudspeaker, can do so wherever and whenever they want in D.C.? Let’s take a glance at what 80dB’s really gets you. [Note: Contrary to the "quick facts" posted on Councilmemeber Wells' site, and increase in decibels is not a simple "doubling" but a logarithmic scale increase... which is a much different mathematical consideration... so much for politicians fact checking before trying to enact laws.]
10dBA – Normal Breathing
20dBA – Mosquito or Rustling Leaves
30dBA – A Whisper
40dBA – A Bubbling Brook, or a Refrigerator
50dBA – Normal Conversation
60dBA – Laugher
70dBA – Vacuum Cleaner or Hairdryer
80dBA – City Traffic or a Garbage Disposal
90dBA – Motorcycle or Lawnmower
So, what they are proposing, is that you can protest in D.C., as long as we can’t hear you above the din of the traffic in D.C.. WTF?! Ice Cream trucks are louder than that… granted other cities are cracking down on those too. Granted, I always wanted the ice cream truck in my neighborhood to play “Helter Skelter” or come around like L.A.’s ice cream truck of satan.
D.C. readers, what’s your view on this… pleasant relief or curb to your Constitutional rights to be a pain in the ass?
This post appeared in its original form at DC Metblogs