Monday, October 27, 2008

The Virtues of Balance: Just Because We Can Do Something without Limits Does Not Mean We Should

PiTW's P.J. Tobia doesn't seem either to realize or to acknowledge that the Council's proposed noise level ordinance liberally allows a higher decibel level than two party cities that never sleep, New York and Las Vegas. So, why does he raise such a subjective stink in such a rhetorical vacuum? The whole libertarian premise of his argument is raggedy; there are all kinds of effective municipal codes that co-limit and balance interests, but would not be allowed by overplaying libertarianism. Rather than unravelling the idea of checks and balances in city life by absolutizing individual liberty, we should promote government regulation that strives for fairness between competing interests.

The Nashville law would be consistent with one in Austin, Texas, and I wish Tobia all the luck in the world ever referring to Austin's 6th Street as "lamed-up" and "quieted down." He'd be laughed out of the Dirty Dog Bar. He'd be lucky to pick up a tamale undeterred near 6th & Sabine. Austin is the friggin' "Live Music Capital of the World," and nobody (except, by logical extension, P.J. Tobia) calls their noise codes "galactically stupid."

The idea that Music City's Downtown would lose cache if it allows any level of eardrum-popping music is crazy, and it sounds like an argument made by an interloper, a local tourist who only uses Downtown as a lifestyle option rather than a dwelling and a community. Arguments against balanced and moderated modulation are typically made by those for whom Downtown is disposable, those who have no commitment to the place except in what they can take from it. Just because Downtown residents should be prepared for louder decibels than the suburbs does not mean that they should accept any level that clubs can blare into the night to lure and to rile up the drunk and clueless.

And contra Aunt B., one need not be labeled "Victorian" to argue for obviously sane and relatively liberal limits on urban noise. In my opinion, even linking the issue of noise overtly to the art of seduction strikes me as a bit repressed itself. There are classically based arguments for balance and moderation that have little to do with sexuality per se. In that sense, I can see nothing wrong with balancing entertainment "concepts" with community welfare, but then again, I'm not committed to a disposable Downtown. And it's not exactly like Nashville has anything remotely resembling Antone's that would ever get me believing that if loud music is good, then louder music than any city in America is great.

So, get over it, libertarians. There's nothing that absolutely entitles you to scream up in other people's ears for the sake of your own entertainment without having a fight on your hands.

No comments:

Post a Comment