May 1, 2002
Noise Free America
For immediate release
Madison: Lincoln, Nebraska has won this month’s Noisy Dozen award from Noise Free America for taking a permissive attitude toward boom cars, rowdy bars, junker cars with bad mufflers, and middle-of-the-night partying. Lincoln has earned the label “boom car town.”
Scott Anderson, a music professor at the University of Nebraska, commented that “boom cars with excruciatingly loud stereo systems are everywhere in Lincoln. They’re instruments of auditory terror. They wake my children at night. They produce feelings of fear and dread in me. They shake my house. They’re harmful to my hearing and my health. They degrade the quality of life in Lincoln.”
Lincoln police have asserted that enforcing the noise ordinance is difficult, especially for moving vehicles. “And yet,” Anderson says, “Lincoln police cars often drive past boom cars and ignore the noise violation. I have seen this countless times on my street.”
Anderson, a local resident for six years, argues that “authorities in Lincoln don’t seem to recognize that noise is a serious quality of life issue. People care about protecting peace and quiet. They don’t want severe noise invading their own homes. The Lincoln police should enforce the law.”
Anderson also reports that “boomers” have threatened and intimidated him when he asked them to turn down their ruinous noise.
Ted Rueter, executive director of Noise Free America (and a former Lincoln resident), notes that “boom car boys are criminals. Besides their violations of noise ordinances, many of them are involved in drugs and gangs. Indeed, police departments know that gang members often use boom car thumping as a means of ‘marking’ their territory. Prosecuting boom car violators is a way of preventing other crimes.”
According to Scott Anderson, other cities do a much better job of controlling the boom car menace: “In St. Paul, Minnesota, where my brother-in-law is a police officer, the cops will pull the boomers over and give them a citation. In Chicago, boom cars that can be heard from 75 feet away are subject to seizure, and owners may be fined $615. Chicago cops enforce the noise laws. And it works!”
Rueter noted that there is a link between boom car advertising and criminal attitudes: “Hollywood Sound Labs says its products can ‘shake sheets and annoy neighbors.’ Prestige Audio says that its equipment will ‘put the over-40 set into cardiac arrest.’ Sony’s slogan for its boom car equipment is ‘disturb the peace.'”
Anderson asks, “What does this say about our social fabric? What’s happening to our culture? I wish I could put a dome over my property. Soon, everyone in Lincoln will need custom earplugs.”
Rueter argued that the boom car scourge has clear solutions: “We need tough local and state laws. The police should enforce noise ordinances. Local citizens should organize. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration should enact severe restrictions on car stereo equipment. And citizens terrorized by boom cars should file a class action lawsuit against the industry.”
Noise Free America is a national citizens group dedicated to reducing noise pollution. Its web site is http://noisefree.org. Previous “winners” of the Noisy Dozen award include Circuit City and Youngstown, Ohio.