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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Next They'll Outlaw Tritones

Americans are well-advised to keep a weather eye on Europe to learn of the latest do-gooder dictates concocted by Utopians over there, possibly foreshadowing those we might see on this side of the Atlantic in the future. The latest promulgation from Those Who Must Be Obeyed are noise limits in musicians' workplaces and the result is orchestras having to reprogram concerts and altering their repertoire because the noise police have determined some musical works are hazardous to their health. (That could mean curtains for the Bayreuth Festival, with its deadly combination of Wagner and the band situated in a pit underneath the stage in the Festspielhaus.)

The noise restrictions are all of a piece with the nanny state: protecting us from ourselves while furthering the goal making making us all wards of the state. They took an almost comic turn recently when the European Union issued noise restrictions for bagpipers, notwithstanding the fact bagpipers, as they point out, play by themselves on most occasions (hardly surprising, that). Probably the most depressing aspect to the noise restrictions are the Europeans' responses to them. It is not as though those affected are not protesting the regulations, they are, but it is the manner of their protests: complaining about the inconvenience and difficulty of complying with them, not the (for now, still) much more American response, "Who the f*** do you think you are telling me my goddamn trombone is too loud?!" You have to wonder if Europe is doomed.

Your Bloviator is fully appreciative of Schopenhauer's observation a man's intelligence is inversely proportionate to his ability to withstand noise, and fully supports nuisance regulations directed at brain-dead thugs driving the city streets at 3 A.M. with Fitty or Nas blasting out the windows. But if a musician discovers his axe is damaging his hearing, is it not more reasonable for him to learn another instrument or change professions, rather than the government stepping in, yet again, and adding to the already countless reams of regulations governing our livelihoods?

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