Sun | Apr 30, 2017

Bye-bye boom

Published:Monday | June 22, 2015 | 6:00 AM
Junior Entertainment Minister Damion Crawford, seen here at a carnival road march, has been a chief advocate for relaxing noise-abatement legislation.

I am disheartened to learn that 'the' decision-makers are actually seriously considering extending the hours under the Noise Abatement Act past the 2 a.m. shut-off time. I can't call them 'our' decision-makers because, clearly, their decisions are being made without the vast majority of citizens in mind.

The situation reminds me of a phrase that my father of blessed memory used to utter: "Circo y pan." Some say, "Pan y circo." It is originally from the Latin 'panem et circenses' and translates directly into 'bread and games'. It denotes political palliation; providing or allowing entertainment as a diversion or distraction of the 'common people' from their more serious problems.

Circo y pan ignores the needs of the many and only seeks to satisfy the immediate wishes of a few to keep them temporarily pleased and passive. Of course, circo y pan will be cloaked in the need for some (albeit, a very small subset of) 'businessmen' to thrive. They will not simply say that the rest of society can go take a flying leap; they will speak of compromise and equitable solutions - all without multilateral consultations with the various stakeholders, including the residents who will be adversely affected.

 

Assumptions

 

As things stand, the noise curfews assume that everyone only works on weekdays and that no one goes to worship on a Saturday or Sunday morning. It is 2 a.m. to 6 a.m. Saturday and Sunday mornings and midnight on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights.

And, any day of the week, morning noon or night, if anyone feels sufficiently disturbed by noise, the police can be called to get the volume down. But, the current rules are usually totally ignored. With more legal leeway coming, I envision serious problems for anyone needing peace and quiet.

The way that I see it, relegate loud music from any source to tightly closed and sound-proofed buildings or to wide open spaces far away from civilisation. Don't assume that entire communities don't mind the noise just because the noise was always there. I know several people who have been pummelled with pernicious noise emanating from nightclubs, bars, dances, commercialised parties and sound systems for years. They have been trying in vain to get the authorities to enforce the law (Noise Abatement Act) to absolutely no avail. The proprietors want to 'eat a food' so they break the law, and now they are going to get the law amended.

 

No more noise

 

I want to utilise that very infamous musical piece, Boom Bye Bye, by Buju Banton. I want to turn it around and encourage our decision-makers to say, 'Bye-bye boom'. I want them to say bye-bye to noise pollution, bye-bye to loud and intrusive noise produced by selfish people, bye-bye to night noises that rudely and aggressively invade our homes, stymie creative thoughts, terminate concentration, drown out any form of private home entertainment, and produce insomnia.

Imagine trying to read something, anything, while some sound system pumps out thousands of window- and door-rattling watts of wailing, thumping noise. Imagine trying to relax (BOOM!) or (CLASH!) trying (BOOM!) to watch (SCREEEAAMM!) television in the (BOOM!) privacy of (WAIL!) your living (BOOM!) room or bed (CLANG-CHING!) room.

Imagine (BOOM!) your young, (BLAP-BLAP-BLAP!) sleep-deprived children (PANAPAPAAH!) trying to study or rest and (BOOM!) instead, hearing (BALANG! BOOM!) some bird-brained (BOOM-BOOM!), filthy-mouthed, so-called deejay (WIDDLE-WIDDLE-WIDDLE!), gutturally scream, "Ooman unnu fi BLEEP-BLEEP unnu BLEEP fi di man dem!" Then hear a crescendo of approving female shrieks emanating from the 'massive'.

It's (LAWDAMERCY!) not fair (HEY-YOW!) to everyone (BOOM!) who is not affiliated with (BOOM-BOOM-BOOM!) that sort of 'entertainment', for want of a more appropriate word.

So, I guess the amendments will be made because the citizens who will be adversely affected by noise are not the type to block roads. It should be mandatory for the parish councils to seek the permission of nearby residential communities before approving noise curfew extensions. I also hope that increased penalties for disobeying the act are inserted. 

- Garth A. Rattray is a medical doctor with a family practice. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and garthrattray@gmail.com.