The Government Is Coming To Take Away Your Gigs
Hide your amps, drop your mics.
Recently, popular Swiss black metal band (and equally popular lunch-time snack) Schammasch posted a call to their fans and the greater music scene at-large to help them by signing a petition against a proposed government regulation relating to music venues and noise restriction(s). Have a quick read here –
So after tracking down the official proposal and running it through a potentially bunk online-translator, I parsed out the gist of the projected laws Schammasch was super angry about. On the surface, what I saw seemed like an implausable regulatory nightmare. And under the rind, it was ostensibly riddled with more holes than a block of 99.9% fat-free Swiss cheese.
Having completed two semesters studying Noise Regulations at university, I’d like to say I’m able to explain with a certain degree of expertise why this is a necessary Thing™. Unfortunately, I don’t want to. I’d rather just shit on it for being the absurdly complicated and extremely unnecessary overreach of bureaucracy that it appears to be. And just before you small-gubmint libertarian “muh freedum” types toot your I-Told-You-So horns, this isn’t an indictment of government health regulations altogether. This is just a case of a particularly ludicrous attempt to address a potential issue.
Not all government health regulations are without merit. Remember when you could smoke literally anywhere at anytime? Pubs, restuarants, cinemas, oncology wards, inside your car with your 18 month old asthmatic child, caskets – that shit was everywhere. Then the government did the maths and worked out the amount it collects in tax revenue from cigarettes is grossly outweighed by the cost it placed on society in terms of healthcare, and besides, having citizens who’re still alive makes it easier to – you know – collect tax. My co-editor and resident road safety researcher Dubya (PhD) would probably like to point out that the introduction of mandatory seat-belts and reduced speed limits helped save countless lives too, but I reckon that’s a bunch of liberal bullshit. I can be 13 beers deep and drive just fine without a seatbelt, no matter what speed I hit. Not a single accident. Everyone else is just a bad driver.
But I digress, the issue here is a matter of personal choice. Exposure to noise above 80-85 dB for even as long as 30 seconds is known to cause irreversible hearing loss. It may not be an instantaneous deafness, but similar to smoking, the cumulative harm over time is what hearing protection aims to prevent. Most concerts would exceed this level for their entire duration. But you chose to be there. Similar arguments have been used by smokers against non-smokers. However, in this case they actually hold water as the damage being done is exclusively to the individual. Second-hand deafness is not a thing. And as evidenced by the persistence of people in our society exposed to Axel Rose’s voice for decades, ear cancer appears an unattainable illness. So what are these Swiss sticklers actually proposing?
a) Inform the audience of the dangers of loud music.
Put up a sign we can all promptly ignore and proceed into the venue as per normal. Ok, whatever.
b) Offer free hearing protection.
Yep, have a few boxes of budget disposable ear-plugs at the door that people can use if they like. Cool, sounds reasonable, all done! Problem solved then?
c) Submit a notification 14 days prior that the venue is planning on hosting an event which will exceed 93 dB and monitor the volume during the event with a specified measuring device.
Ok, well this is kind of pointless. It’s going to be loud as fuck, the venue already submitted a warning to you 14 days ago telling you this. The sign at the door warned patrons of this. The volume will vary significantly across the venue. People have been offered ear plugs. The door is open, if it’s still too loud, they can leave.
d) If the volume exceeds 100 dB or the concert goes for over 3 hours, then…
(Wait, there’s more? Are we heading into sub-clause territory? Fucken settle down there would ya, champ)
e) The whole performance must be recorded.
(But if we can’t be loud, how will the grainy 240p YouTube rip have correspondingly shitty sound?)
f) Keep said recording for 30 days.
Finally! A use for all these spare 69 tB hard drives I’ve got sitting empty and unloved.
g) Create a “compensation zone” where the volume must not exceed 85 dB.
You mean aside from the “compensation zone” known as “anywhere but the venue”? Ok. Most venues (here in Australia, anyway) are mandated by law to have a smoking area or some such these days, which are typically segregated from the main area and are in open air. I guess they could count?
h) This “compensation zone” must cover at least 10% of the event space, specifically “in the audience area”…
Hey Rob, do uhhh…the toilets cover 10% of the venue?
i) The sound must not ever exceed 125 dB.
Yeah, well, that’s just like, your opinion, man.
j) The competant cantonal authority is free at all times to blah blah blah…
Ok, this has gone on long enough. This is overkill right? As much as I think a government at least trying to improve the health of their populace is a worthy cause, this attempt to help out on our behalf doesn’t merely just jump the shark but aims to rip a triple 360° shit-the-bed nose-grab mid-air and asks you to record the stunt for posterity.
No, I don’t see it setting a precedent. And yes, there are at least one or two proposals here that might be worth looking into in a legislative sense. Nothing as fucking moronic as repealing asbestos regulations, but still, for a country where each citizen seemingly has a more direct say in how their government functions, this seems absurd.
You know what you should be looking at banning Switzerland? Fucken Kirkyman and Crabboy butchering classic “Selltic Frost” tunes in front of your proud citizens. That shit is the real threat to public health. Where were your armed civilians here, huh? Bet you’re scared of a little mesothelioma too. Wimps.
What do you think?