Sound levels

By Hilbert Haar

It’s that time of the year again.


Come and enjoy life.

But don’t forget your earplugs.

The Collective Prevention Services (CPS) are on to it. Last week the department sent out a press release “urging the population to be aware that loud music can cause hearing damage.”

That’s an open door if there ever was one. We all know that loud music is bad for your ears, the way we know that smoking kills and that eating fast food all your life usually leads to lots of health troubles and in some occasions to an early grave.

But loud music, tobacco products and fast food are not going anywhere.

I would think that an organization that cares, or a government for that matter, would kill the loud music problem at the source, but the reality is that nobody is doing anything meaningful about it.

Yes, the St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation – or the Rotary, I forget – distributes earplugs. Nobody has ever researched how many people actually use those things during the loudest moments of what some consider the most important cultural event on the calendar. So we don’t really know whether this well-meant initiative does anything to at least mitigate the damage to sensitive ears.

The problem is of course that the organizers – who are responsible for everything, therefore also for the sound levels they allow – as well as the bands that produce those soundwalls, all seem to think that louder is better. Consequences be damned.

But the same can be said for our government that gives permits for these events. Let’s take a look at article 21 of the constitution. What does it say in paragraph 1? “The government takes measures to promote public health.”

I would think that to members of Parliament and members of the Council of Ministers, who have all solemnly sworn to uphold the Constitution, this actually means something.

The article is not there for entertainment purposes but to oblige the government to do something very basic: protect people’s health.

You may argue that, given the toxic smoke from the dump the government has allowed to billow over the island for decades is a far more important issue that the sound levels during Carnival. That’s a non-argument. It is what John Oliver has coined whataboutism – the habit of pointing to something completely different to dismiss a certain concern.

When you get caught for overspeeding – little chance that this will happen in St. Maarten, but still – you can hardly tell a police officer: but what about all the others that are overspeeding?

The same applies to comparing the dump issue with the sound level issue. They are both problems in their own right.

Common sense says that somebody should do something about this but the reality is that nobody seems to care.

The absurd sound levels during the parades and other carnival happenings are the main reason that I stay far away from these events.

And the solution for this health hazard is so simple. Don’t these sound installation have something like, volume control?

Source: StMaartenNews