December 1, 2001
Noise Free America
For immediate release
Madison: Norman, Oklahoma has won this month’s Noisy Dozen award from Noise Free America for tolerating thunderous boom cars, nuisance barking dogs, ear-splitting rock bands, and raucous campus bars and fraternities.
Michael Wright, a Norman resident, commented that “twenty years of abuse from noise pollution in Norman has impaired my social life, my artistic life, my professional endeavors, and my financial position. By inflicting me with sleep deprivation and daily doses of stress, it has also threatened my health.”
Wright reports that his house is constantly under audio assault by young men driving boom cars, and that they have ruined his home working environment (from which he had previously written four successful federal grant applictions). The “boomer boys” often wake him up in the middle of the night. Wright has also lived in several Norman neighborhoods beset by chronic dog barking. On numerous occasions he has heard outdoor rock concerts several blocks from his house.
One reason why Norman is “noise hell” is the permissive attitude of local authorities. When called about noise complaints, the Norman Police department usually just issues a courteous verbal warning. Wright describes one encounter with a young police officer who told him that on several occasions she had stopped boom cars, but did not issue any citations. When asked why not, she replied, “Officer’s discretion.”
Apparently, the Norman police fail to realize that noise is Americans’ number one complaint about their neighborhoods, according to the US Census Bureau. The Norman police also fail to understand that noise violators have an aggressive, hostile attitude toward society–exactly the same characteristics as “real” criminals.
But Norman’s noise hell isn’t limited to its neighborhoods. There’s also plenty of what Wright has called Audio Stimulus Dependency Disorder (ASDD) at the University of Oklahoma. Under President David Boren’s leadership, the campus has deteriorated into an entertainment center and major noise polluter.
Wright, a frequent visitor to the campus, notes that “outdoor rock bands often blast away into residential areas. Rock bands are now regularly scheduled in the once-dignified main dining room at the student union.” He adds that boom cars are allowed to have their way on campus, and the student union cable TV station is allowed to open its doors and blast its noise all over the union building.
Wright states that “students treat the library as though it were a social forum, rather than a place for quiet study. Further, a cell phone ban announced by library administrators last spring is not being enforced.”
Ted Rueter, director of Noise Free America, commented that “Norman, Oklahoma has made a major contribution toward increasing decibel levels on the planet. Noise levels have increased six-fold in the last 15 years in major American cities. The entire world is getting louder. Norman is certainly doing its part.”
Noise Free America is a national citizens group dedicated to reducing noise pollution. Its web site is http://noisefree.org.