Mel Cooke, Gleaner Writer
While there is some attention paid to the Noise Abatement Act, which stipulates regulations (admittedly applied ad hoc in practice) for the times and volume at which music can be played, no attention seems to have been paid to motor vehicles.
I am not speaking about public passenger vehicles, much-made-about efforts - largely successful - many years ago to rid privately run buses of their high-power systems, which made some de facto mobile dancehalls, much to the delight of some schoolers, especially, and the disgust of working folk. There was concern about not only the volume of the music but also the content, with lyrics made for private adult listening forced on a hapless public.
However, the same applies to private motor vehicles with powerful sound systems whose drivers decide to blast explicitly sex and profanity-laden lyrics as they drive around. The public, walking and driving, has no choice but to listen to the songs, which are dished out indiscriminately to all - adults, children, the young, old, 'schoolers', working people, churchgoers and heathen.
I have a serious problem with that. A lot of that material was recorded not for broadcast to all and sundry, which is why they are not played on public radio in the first place. Through their powerful car stereos, there are those drivers who do a very good job of street broadcasting. I have had more than one experience of drivers deliberately inflicting their crudity upon the public, especially young girls.
I went to a gas station on Mannings Hill Road about two years ago with our two daughters in the car. A man drove up and parked his car on the premises with sexually explicit lyrics blasting from the speakers. With a look of great satisfaction on his face, he opened the doors, standing outside to look around at who was looking at him. Which were quite a few people, naturally, in disgust.
Rape by audio?
I had another gas station experience, this time driving alone, when a man pulled up to get gas, letting the lewd music rip and eyeballing a lady in a car at another pump. It was practically rape by audio.
People have the right to listen to what they wish, which also means that they have the right to not listen to material they would rather not hear. They also have the right to silence. Persons who play material meant for adults, at a volume intended to inflict it on those who would rather not hear it, are taking away people's right to a choice and are often deliberately assaulting them by audio.
Those who take delight in assaulting others find different outlets for their nasty behaviour and this is one. It does not make much sense that the airwaves be cleaned up when the streets are open to mobile mayhem of music. Will the police do something about it?