WHY IS IT that things that rack, that are more than a constant “pebble in the shoe” for many people in Barbados, scarcely get any attention – and even less action?
Take unneighbourly noise – the disdainful sonic attacks (via music, in particular) upon others in neighbourhoods.
Now, the other night in West Terrace, 8th Avenue, according to media reports, some people mounted an unholy disturbance of the peace of the area with their inconsiderate, self-indulgent loud music.
And the offended called the police. The police apparently came, warned, and did not conquer. The Bahamian offenders, it would seem, did the latter.
The parliamentary representative duly visited the scene of the psychological and physiological carnage and held forth. He was not joined in his public outrage by any other politicians or by any of our more prominent social commentators.
Live with menace
And in the normal run of things no writer of a DLP, BLP, or PEP column would sully his pen with such a matter.
Still all over Barbados people have to live daily with this menace.
Carl Moore even started an organization (the Society For A Quieter Barbados) to deal with it. You think he is just an old fogey hearing things?
And one time I wrote to a Prime Minister about the matter of noise-making in Barbados and the need for both moral suasion and robust inhibiting action; I also wrote to a chairman of the Child Care Board about it, since I was concerned about the potential of the practice to hamper the chances of our children – best exemplified by the experience of an eventual scholarship or exhibition winner who, a few years ago, had to move to another residence so that she could study in peace, away from unconscionable loud music.
‘Kind of robbery’
I have to report that they did not respond to me – not that Prime Minister, not that Child Care Board chairman nor the operatives who might have pulled the letter.
So it is either that the intended recipients passed on it or their “shielders” undervalued its seriousness.
And then a few months ago, there was an editorial in the SATURDAY SUN headlined Noisy Barbados, Silent Politicians that went hard at the issue, saying in part: “The loud playing of music in residences . . . is a kind of robbery, too, stealing one’s peace, joy, health, sleep, time, choice, and so on . . . .
“Noisy actions are engaged in nowadays with such alarming indiscretion and pervasiveness that one can only assume that the perpetrators have come to believe that it is their right.
“They must be disabused of that idea by moral suasion, yes, but especially by a robust legislative and enforcement response that sets our faces like flint against such social impudence.”
The silence continues. No faces set like flint either.
And this thing that so assaults us and fractures community is allowed its virtually uninhibited way, like no big thing.
Opposition to this blasting thing seems to get no traction, to use one of today’s buzz expressions.
Bullied with music
In a society that professes to abhor bullying, a neighbour can bully surrounding neighbours with his music, wait out a police visit and do it again and again. And generally fear no strong official response.
We hear a lot about the social contract – and these days that seems to refer to a kind of pact between Government, the private sector and the unions. But there is a more long-standing contract between the Government (any government) and the people – the responsibility to ensure that a person’s right to the enjoyment of their property is not undermined.
But, as that SATURDAY SUN editorial put it: “One cannot but feel that those in governance and enforcement have often left the abused to beg and plead with neighbours, to depend on their goodwill, as the ‘protectors’ respond tepidly.”
Opinion leaders too.
And then when people decide to go and live in gated communities, others who did nothing of consequence to ensure their peace heap scorn on them, calling them snobbish, or worse.
But lemme tell wunna something: If I had the money, I would go and live in a gated community too. And then those who care nothing about what I have had to endure would want to pick a noise wid me.
• Sherwyn Walters is a writer who became a teacher, a song analyst, a broadcaster and an editor. Email [email protected]