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Dear Editor: Respect noise pollution laws! The EMA must turn deaf ear to Red Ants’ rubbish

“The law is not there to support a noisy culture; in fact, culture isn’t just out there, it’s man-made, in constant flux. The law is designed to help to shape the culture in ways that ensure harmony between legality and morality. And when that relationship is perverted what you have is corruption.

“So law cannot support culture blindly; it’s the culture which must abide by the law…except, of course, what we really want is corruption. And, of course, the noisy, oversexed, drunken bacchanal culture that we call Trinidad and Tobago Carnival is clearly something corrupt so…”

The following Letter to the Editor, which treats a fete promoter’s response to the EMA’s adoption of a zero tolerance policy on noise pollution, was submitted to Wired868 by Akilah Holder.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago soca star Machel Montano performs after the CPL final at the Brian Lara Cricket Academy in Tarouba on 10 September 2017. Montano’s performance at the Stumped cooler fete at the Queen’s Park Oval on saturday provoked an intervention by the police acting on behalf of the EMA.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

Friends, Trinis, countrymen, I’m seeing red… and it has nothing to do with gender!

I just got through reading a piece about fete organisers and their displeasure with the EMA’s announced intention to strictly enforce noise levels between now and Carnival. Right now there are so many thoughts running around in my head like red ants that I don’t really know where to begin.

Red Ants. I am deeply aggravated at the stupidity of Red Ants. Yes, stupidity. No apologies. High-class stupidity. And their audacity! These Red Ants (what the hell are they trying to tell it with that name anyhow?) have the idosity (Aiz a Trini!) to issue a media statement expressing disapproval of the EMA’s proposal to strictly enforce the rules pertaining to decibel levels.

Hear them:

“Red Ants sincerely apologises to all our patrons, sponsors, vendors and performers for the very low audio levels during the latter part of our event STUMPED on Saturday 13th January. This situation was beyond the control of both us and the sound company…”

So far so good. But instead of stopping while they are ahead, they pick up a full head of steam and continue thus:

“… artistes, DJs and promoters are meeting with the authorities, those affected by noise levels and other stakeholders to determine an approach moving forward as many other promoters and events have been affected in this way.”

Photo: MX Prime (right) from the Ultimate Rejects moves the crowd with the 2017 Road March, Full Extreme. The decibel levels went up virtually every time this tune was performed during the 2017 Carnival season.
(Courtesy Annalicia Caruth/Wired868)

Here is why, according to the ubiquitous pests, this meeting is taking place: “The strict application of decibel levels can effectively kill Trinidad and Tobago Carnival and the culture.”

Really, Red Ants, really? You’re meeting to “determine an approach moving forward” because Trinidad and Tobago Carnival and culture are endangered by respecting and applying the law?

Here, Red Ants, is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the whole, unvarnished truth: “We must all respect the law.” Period.

Yeah. That’s it. The bit that you add about “but the law in turn must support and respect the culture…” is nothing but pure, unqualified, undisinfected, unsanitised rubbish! (In fact, I may have understated it)

Who was it who talked about two-storey ignorance, the state of not simply not knowing but also of not knowing that you don’t know? Two-storey? Red Ants’ bold decision to issue a media statement expressing disapprobation of the EMA’s declaration of war on noise says to me that they wouldn’t be able to get to their top floor offices without properly working elevators!

So let me enlighten Red Ants since they clearly do not know any better.

The human ear, according to dangerousdecibels.org, cannot handle decibel levels of 85 and over.  Prolonged exposure to such loud noises—even brief exposure—will over time cause “permanent damage to the hair cells in the inner ear, leading to hearing loss.” The official designation of this type of damage is noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL).

Photo: BP Renegades pannists enjoy themselves during the Carnival 2016 season. Perhaps, experts have said, noise levels in steelbands make panmen hard of hearing. 
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders in the United States fully endorses the above.  According to its website: “…sounds of less than 75 decibels, even after long exposure, are unlikely to cause hearing loss. However, long or repeated exposure to sounds at or above 85 decibels can cause hearing loss. The louder the sound, the shorter the amount of time it takes for NIHL to happen.”

I am convinced that, as Marian Salandy-Brown says in a 2016 Newsday article, most Trinidadians have impaired hearing. And I recall reading an article several years ago about a young boy who, around Carnival time, had passed right next to a speaker box when it came on and lost his hearing.

I have myself experienced ringing in my ears caused by loud music in taxis or by music trucks that passed through my neighbourhood during the Carnival season. In fact, I have started wearing earplugs in maxis and taxis to protect myself.

In a 2015 column, Raffique Shah points to the implications of any disturbance of the peace for “newborn babies or the old and infirm, or just ordinary citizens who are entitled to enjoy peace and quiet to get some sleep at nights.”

“So callous are the offenders,” Shah continues, “they could not be bothered that their boorish behaviour affects students who are studying for important examinations or patients who need rest to recover from illnesses.”

So there you have it, Red Ants, there is good reason for the strict enforcement of decibel levels by the EMA. And it eh have nutten sensible allyuh could say now unless stick break in allyuh ears.

Photo: A police sergeant from the West End Station gets a wine at the Sunny Side Up Breakfast party during the 2015 Carnival season. The law helping to shape culture?
(Copyright Trinidad Guardian)

The law is not there to support a noisy culture; in fact, culture isn’t just out there, it’s man-made, in constant flux. The law is designed to help to shape the culture in ways that ensure harmony between legality and morality. And when that relationship is perverted what you have is corruption.

So law cannot support culture blindly; it’s the culture which must abide by the law…except, of course, what we really want is corruption. And, of course, the noisy, oversexed, drunken bacchanal culture that we call Trinidad and Tobago Carnival is clearly something corrupt so…

Props to the EMA for finally putting their foot down. I have no doubt that many of the decent citizens of this country applaud you and share my sense of relief—and elation!—that something is finally being done about the bloody noise levels in this damn place.

If I were you, I wouldn’t even bother to meet with Red Ants.

And props too to the TTPS for pledging to work with the EMA and upholding the law. Please don’t be cowed into changing your mind or backing down.

Maybe we should also get Rentokil involved. That way, we can perhaps get rid once and for all of the menace of Red Ants and any other pests who are intent on spoiling the national festival for the law-abiding, peace-loving, silent majority of citizens in this two-island republic.

Photo: Blue Devils prance during the 2013 Carnival season. If Blue Devils could play, who is Red Ants?

About Akilah Holder

Akilah Holder
Akilah Holder is a former college lecturer and journalist whose strong convictions often win her enemies, which does not faze her. She lives by the mantra ‘ignore the ignorant,’ has already published one book and has her own blog at https://intelligenttalk.wordpress.com/

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35 comments

  1. “Red Ants” and others, there is nothing further for discussion. The “noise pollution laws” must remain and be upheld.Rent some boats and hit the seas, go in the Aripo forest and blast your music but once in residential environments, be considerate, obey the law and thread easy with your noise. I have no intention of being disturbed of my sleep in your quest to satisfy your patrons thereby earning a larger pot. Bull shit! I pay taxes like everyone else and demand a peaceful night, culture or no culture. Accept the times are changing and the shit practised five years ago will no longer be tolerated. What the hell can justify my mother of ninety-six years been deprived of sleep because some damn promoter wants to throw a fete close to my home? Are you mad? Why not pay each residence three thousand dollars for the inconvenience suffered. I may then consider, after all, “Money talks, Bull shit walks.

  2. There are lots of remote & unpopulated areas in T&T. Maybe we should consider designating/developing these areas for seasonal events..Look for solutions don’t engage in banter..my 2 cents.

  3. Excellent letter…hope the EMA will not onlt stop fetes around carnival but also fine those ppl in our neighbourhood who blast their set ups whenever they wish…either enforce the laws or find persons who will

  4. ..”Law cannot support culture blindly; it’s the culture which must abide by the law…except, of course, what we really want is corruption. And, of course, the noisy, oversexed, drunken bacchanal culture that we call Trinidad and Tobago Carnival is clearly something corrupt so…”

    Never wiser words. “We culture” is nothing but semi-organized, noisy, chaos. A rip-off that people willingly submit to. It didn’t begin that way, of course, but the so-called “Greatest Show On Earth” has been redundant rubbish a long time now..

  5. Its gonna be a shock when Red Ants get through. .. the EMA may have to go. ..not my legal opinion but I know how Trinidad works. The people behind Red Ants can fire the EMA right now…enough said. ..dont be shocked. ..

  6. The EMA has meetings with these promoters…..but they….who do attend, dont take noise issue seriously

  7. All who have noise problem ,fake trinidians , what more noisy than the food prices water leaking ,bad roads ,three cars down the you here when a car drop in a pot hole ,what law

  8. I’d like to know what is the typical variation granted.

  9. This is inspired and intelligent analysis of the foolish move by Red Ants to challenge the law on emotion without legal advice, or to even meet to appeal to the EMA to bend the law. This move by the private sector music industry adds to the other big story so far for Carnival of George Singh/Southex calling a bluff to put a dent in chutney music exhibition by demanding increased funding for this show or else. (He won, it seems. Politics is a hell of a thing!) Together with the prior years’ “mis-guidance” by promoters like those behind Soaka carnival fete who challenged the right of COTT to license a fete for its members repertoire, these actions put paid to the idea of a private sector lead music industry helping to diversify the economy. Young promoters, or event those who are comfortable at the State’s teat, have left the impression that the State has all the answers and should lead the charge in music industry diversification. I should let all know that State led music action has been a disaster with millions spent on selected projects that have not redounded to the benefit of the wider industry. Also, there is a selective implementation and enforcement of the laws including the Copyright Law by the State. One hand don’t clap, so any struggles on one end of the value chain affects all. This noise pollution episode and the response by the promoter adds fuel to the fire that we not ready for the real world in the business of music. It is embarrassing and stupid as the writer says. We need better.

  10. I stood in the court more than once for this ,it used to be bar licenses had prevalence over the right of ordinary citizens .

  11. Culture can not be… do as you please whenever it suits you and then turn around and condemn the lawlessness of Beetham and Laventille! Take heed…

  12. What carnival celebration is all about? Can someone explain i’ve never been there

  13. Trinidadians too used to bending the rules without consequence.

  14. Where were you for the long new year weekend?

  15. I agree with Akilah Holder here.

  16. Lasana Liburd DE comedian ..haha. …

  17. Trinis to lawless, if your contract say not over that noise limit then abide by it

  18. Machel doh talk bout jail, remember yuh have a retrial pending…..

  19. Everything I wanted to say but was too angry to process. Meh, maybe I’ll add a bit more. The unmitigated gall of this promoter to suggest that he tried to compromise with the Police! What exactly is the recipe for a life of privilege that allows you to think that the law should be changed / flexed to accommodate you and your profits? This mentality right here is everything that is wrong with this country.

    On the flip side, while I applaud that the EMA has found its voice (seemingly decibels higher than wee promoter here), I want to emphasise that mandate selectivity is a disease at the heart of the EMA. Because how else can they remain silent on issues like illegal quarrying and the destruction of the Aripo Savanna? And I will point out that, at a JSC meeting last year the EMA said the just don’t have the man power police officers to control illegal quarrying in TT. How the officers reach in the fete to check the noise levels? What a head scratcher!

    • Good point. So then if your fete is far away from the EMA headquarters and officers, you’re safe.
      Not having manpower is a real issue though. Maybe if they had the trust and respect of the public, they could even crowdsource funding.

    • Lasana Liburd…crowd source??? Suuure…..maybe when the EMA is successful in prosecuting persons for breaches, the fine should be punitive enough to make it worthwhile.

    • Unless things have changed, the officers are being paid extra duty to attend any event where liquor is being served, hence why I imagine it is easy for them to enforce the EMA laws. One might guess that if you pay them extra duty pay they might be able to enforce even more of them?