Street corner blues

Too often, the decline in the civil society hurts good, hardworking people.  There's nothing that can be done about that, for the moment.  But every so often we hear stories of the decline in civil society hurting liberals.  This story is one of them:

One morning this week, five members of Spread Love, a New Orleans-style street band, gathered at one of Washington’s busiest intersections, pulled out four trombones, a drum set and a tips bucket and began playing “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.”

The band’s brassy riffs at 15th Street and New York Avenue NW always delight the hordes of tourists heading toward the White House. But the very spot that’s proved so profitable for Spread Love to pull in tips has also earned it the enmity of employees at two major Washington institutions: the Treasury Department and the law firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom.

(By the way, no need to cry for Skadden Arps, which worked on closing Guantánamo and are big donors and lobbyists for Democrats.)

Apparently, the economists in charge of our nation’s financial stability and the attorneys who represent many of our country’s corporate high-rollers and white-collar criminal defendants are struggling to focus inside their offices because the band is so loud...

“We have to relocate our conference calls. We can’t have meetings in that corner of the building anymore. It’s like they’re playing music in the building,” said one Treasury Department employee... “There are people here who have headphones, and everyone’s got the air conditioners cranked up to get the white noise. And there’s people who have their children’s white-noise makers, too. Everyone’s going crazy.”

The Treasury Department is one of the prime enablers of our rapidly expanding debt, which is destroying our country.  If I started a Kickstarter project to place unalterable speakers in every Treasury employee's office that would pipe in sounds from the street, would you contribute to it?

The city’s noise regulations protect “First Amendment activities” in commercially zoned areas downtown, where there is no decibel limit, according to Gwendolyn Crump, the D.C. police department’s chief spokeswoman. “Noise enforcement is a complicated issue,” she wrote in an e-mail. “With street musicians, there may be First Amendment rights associated with it. 

Crump sounds like a dummy.  As an attorney, I can assure you that in case law there are numerous precendents for reasonable carveouts to the First Amendment for time, place, and manner restrictions – in other words, you can't stop people from expressing their opinions, but you can certainly stop them from doing so at 120 decibels on a busy street.

How does this relate to the civil society?  In a civil society, such TPM restrictions would not even be necessary.  Everyone would have inculcated into him a moral code to respect the right of other people to enjoy public places without being molested.  If you go to a middle-class suburb of Nebraska or North Carolina or Indiana, are there often problems of bands playing at 100 decibels in a downtown area?  Probably not, because people there were raised to be considerate of others.

It's true that the laws have broken down, but so has the public morality.  And when people stop evincing a fundamental respect of others around them, we become little more than Pakistanis or Somalis driving better cars and eating better food.

This article was produced by, the conservative news site.