The Law: The Law of Noise

In a day of screeching jets, diesel trucks, transistor radios, air hammers and outboard motors, how can a man tell the world to shut up? He can try by suing for damages or asking the courts for an injunction, but he can hardly expect silence. Having coped with human din ever since people first huddled in towns, the law is well aware that one man's noise is another man's music.

Because annoyance is subjective, says Manhattan Lawyer George A. Spater in the Michigan Law Review, courts usually insist on tangible harm before they do anything about noise. Typically, the plaintiff recovers only...

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