[EDITORIALS]Canning the noiseStarting at the end of this month, a new amendment regarding the noise level at demonstrations will come into effect.
In the future, the noise level of loudspeakers cannot exceed 65 decibels during the daytime and 60 decibels at night in residential or school areas. In other areas, the noise level cannot exceed 80 decibels during the day and 60 decibels at night. The new measures are desirable as the right not to be harmed by demonstrations is just as important as the right to stage them.
It is true that our demonstration culture has been invading the right to happiness of other people. The fact that residents of the Gwacheon area held a demonstration in front of government facilities there to protest demonstrations using loudspeakers is a good indicator of how much other people have been suffering form the noise.
Due to loudspeakers and other gear, some residential areas have been suffering and classes were disturbed, making it difficult for students to take English listening tests. That is part of the reason why our country has been dubbed a “heaven for demonstrators.”
It is true that if the noise level control is enforced too vigorously, the freedom to hold demonstrations may suffer. Nevertheless there is a consensus on how much noise can be tolerated. The majority should not suffer because of a few people who scream at the top of their lungs or use musical instruments to draw attention.
When demonstrations exceed the allowed noise level, warnings will be issued first. If that fails, the loudspeakers can be seized. A noise level of 70 decibels interferes with people’s concentration, and if people are constantly exposed to sounds that loud, hearing problems can develop. Currently, the United States and Germany have mandated even stricter noise control levels.
The freedom to hold demonstrations is a right guaranteed under the Constitution, but there is a precondition. Such a freedom should not limit others’ freedoms or rights. If one insists on his own ideas without considering other people, would such a demonstration have any appeal?
In order to establish a culture in which public opinion is formed freely, bad habits have to be abandoned. Through the new changes, our demonstration culture has to mature to a new level. Let’s hope that a citizen culture takes root, in which people think about other’s rights before advocating their own rights.