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Polis Report

No Noise Is Good Noise

By Kelly Luker

Now, lemme see. Is it the San Jose International Airport on Sunday morning, with its newer, quieter jets mimicking the sound of a firebomb over your bed? Or is it those mouth-breathing morons driving by with their radio blasting loud enough to jar your molars loose? Or, is it the dimwit neighbor that kick-starts the leaf blower at 6am on Sunday? Face it, there's an Olympic-size pool of candidates to pick from for Noise Polluter Most Justly Deserving of a Blindfold, a Cigarette and a Hollow-Point Between the Eyes.

Unfortunately--most unfortunately--summary execution of those inconsiderate of our peace and quiet is discouraged. But make no mistake, it's a war--and the good news is, we've got someone fighting for the right to remain silent: Billy Ray Boyd, author of the Silent Majority's bible, Noise and Your Health (1996, Taterhill Press, San Francisco).

Reached by phone at his home in San Francisco, Boyd rattles off juicy factoids about this eardrum-bustin' epidemic.

"Did you know noise can cause high blood pressure?" he asks. "Is a danger to the unborn? Can aggravate aggression?" Hmmm, aggression?

High noise levels also trigger the fight-or-flight response in about a quarter of the population, an evolutionary holdover from the days when big noise signalled a cataclysmic event, like the mountain above your house was about to come down and kill everybody in it. Back in the days when noise actually meant something, this sensitivity was a survival skill, not grounds for earplugs.

So, here's your chance to throw open the window, lean out and whisper (or better yet, just think), "We're mad as hell and not going to take it!" Join your brothers and sisters throughout the world for the Second Annual International Noise Awareness Day and put a sock in it for exactly 60 seconds at 2:15 Wednesday, April 30.

In other words, just shut up for a minute. Please.

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From the May 1-7, 1997 issue of Metro

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