Acoustic terrorism in the streets
Your noisy, sound and brain wave
car stereo pounds out violence
from your face.
You sit there saying, “Notice me. I am nothing.”
A poem I wrote 20 years ago
One of the things I most cherish in this life is quiet, blessed peace and quiet, whether I’m in my bedroom reading and pondering deep mysteries, sitting on the porch late at night, or just walking in the park or in my neighborhood, listening to my thoughts with only the murmur of background signs of life.
What really disturbs me is when certain individuals or groups disrespect the right of others to be assured of at least a modicum of quiet when out in public. That’s why towns and cities have noise ordinances. Excessive noise, and I mean the jackhammer type of chaos spewed from deep-booming car stereos, or motorcycles being insanely revved up at red lights, as two examples. There are many more such ghastly examples of how our ears are straffed by these asphalt bombardiers and their vehicles of ruination.
I have very sensitive hearing, and when one of these abominations from Hell sneak up on me, I experience physical pain that can last for several days. Imagine what hearing impaired people must endure through their hearing aides!
Sadly, in the age of internal combustion, loud and obnoxious noise has been part of the price we pay for living in a still rather primitive state of human transportation. The people who delight in perpetrating these intensely audible crimes against others, peaceably walking down the street or driving to the grocery store, not only have no shame, but they epitomize the worst forms of selfishness. They are the barbarians who have burst through the gates of whatever veneer of civilization the rest of us are trying to uphold. My fantasy is to walk up to one of them at a stoplight and ask if they have any idea how they are hurting others. Then I remember what kind of sub-human creatures I would be confronting, and realize they could quite easily pull out their openly carried gun and blow me away as they rev up and speed off in a cloud of noxious gas. This is a very real possibility, so I try to cover my ears as soon as I’m aware of their presence.
It gives me no pleasure writing angrily about this phenomenon. It saddens me, really, knowing people can seemingly act with impunity and sow such monstrous discord. To re-iterate, I’m referring to the ear-splitting noise — 100-plus decibel level — that causes real injury and harm to some of us, not to mention the emotional stress of having to endure it in the first place AND the thoughts of revenge and retribution I also fantasize about, and I am a normally peaceable person and a Christian. But you sure wouldn’t know it by the thoughts barreling around in my head when assaulted by this kind of noise. I often wonder if anyone else feels so similarly assaulted, or is it just me?
Years from now these primitive miscreants will be heard constantly asking this question. “Can you speak up? I can’t hear you.”
Noise-free America: A coalition to Promote Quiet