I'd voice my complaint, but nobody would hear it

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By Angye Morrison

OK...I’m just going to say it, despite the fact that it will make me seem like such an old fogey.

I am sick of loud, thumping, booming music coming from cars. I hate hearing it when I am working. I hate hearing it at home. I hate hearing it at a stoplight. I hate hearing it alone – OK...it doesn’t matter whether I’m alone, I just wanted to pay tribute to Dr. Seuss.

But the point is, I can’t stand when someone forces me to listen to their music. And that’s exactly what those rude people do. And they are rude...very rude.

I don’t force anyone to listen to the music I like. To be honest, there’s not much music I don’t like. I have wide and varied tastes in music, and can find merit in everything from rap to country to pop to tribal music of Kenyan people...even whales singing. I can take it all in and enjoy it on some level.

But I don’t like it when I’m having a peaceful evening at home or I’m at work and someone drives by or parks outside the building, loud music thumping, and I’m forced to hear what they’re hearing.

Now, I understand they have a right to listen to whatever they want. I get it and I respect that right. But is it asking too much to expect my rights to be respected in return? I don’t think so.

Loud music in the car isn’t a new thing. It’s been sort of a teenage right of passage since car stereos were first introduced. Once a teenager gets his or her license, the first thing on the agenda is to ride around, windows down, music blaring. It’s a statement of independence and freedom.

Several years ago, towns all over the country began introducing noise ordinances and writing tickets to those who would ride loud. It would seem I am not the only one who doesn’t like it. People of all ages all over the country complained so much that it became necessary to get law enforcement involved.

But that involvement was shortlived. Officers rarely, if ever, write those tickets now. It’s just become accepted practice to blast your music as loud as you want, and the rest of us just have to put up with it.

But karma has a way of catching up with you.

According to the American Hearing Research Foundation, car stereos can have a peak noise level of 154 decibels, while a gunshot only registers at 169 decibels. The maximum loudness level for most car stereos is far below 154 decibels, but long-term exposure can still cause hearing damage.

The scary part is that most of the people listening to music that loudly in their cars have grown used to it, and the AHRF says if you have grown used to a loud noise, it has probably already damaged your hearing. And for that kind of damage, there is no surgery or hearing aid that truly corrects your hearing once it has been damaged by noise.

The organization’s Web site says: “Noise-induced hearing loss is a permanent hearing impairment resulting from prolonged exposure to high levels of noise. One in 10 Americans has a hearing loss that affects his or her ability to understand normal speech. Excessive noise exposure is the most common cause of hearing loss.”

Don’t misunderstand, I wouldn’t want to see anyone lose their hearing. But I have to say, it would make all the times I’ve had to listen to thump almost worthwhile if I could see that same person, years from now, cupping his or her ear and saying, “What? Can’t hear ya. Can you speak a little louder?”

So do us all a favor – heck, do yourself a favor. Turn that blasted car stereo down. It may seem cool now, but the use of hearing aids and deafness that your loud music will cause are not cool...by anyone’s standards.