Utah Gives License to Aggress

Emitting a loud noise can be an act of aggression. The test of whether or not you are committing aggression through your emission of loud noise was given by Rothbard:
Most of us think of homesteading unused resources in the old-fashioned sense of clearing a piece of unowned land and farming the soil. There are, however, more sophisticated and modern forms of homesteading, which should establish a property right. Suppose, for example, that an airport is established with a great deal of empty land around it. The airport exudes a noise level of, say, X decibels, with the sound waves traveling over the empty land. A housing development then buys land near the airport. Some time later, the homeowners sue the airport for excessive noise interfering with the use and quiet enjoyment of the houses.

Excessive noise can be considered a form of aggression but in this case the airport has already homesteaded X decibels worth of noise. By its prior claim, the airport now "owns the right" to emit X decibels of noise in the surrounding area. In legal terms, we can then say that the airport, through homesteading, has earned an easement right to creating X decibels of noise. This homesteaded easement is an example of the ancient legal concept of "prescription," in which a certain activity earns a prescriptive property right to the person engaging in the action.

On the other hand, if the airport starts to increase noise levels, then the homeowners could sue or enjoin the airport from its noise aggression for the extra decibels, which had not been homesteaded. Of course if a new airport is built and begins to send out noise of X decibels onto the existing surrounding homes, the airport becomes fully liable for the noise invasion.
When I purchased my home in Salt Lake City, aerial fireworks for private use were illegal 12 months out of the year. Fountain and lesser fireworks were legal during the month of July and end of December. Recently, Utah passed HB22, legalizing the sale and private use of aerial fireworks during July and the end of December. Because of this, the decibel level around my house has increased several-fold. So much so, that the week leading up to Independence Day, my son was unable to sleep until the noise subsided. He's always had sensitive hearing. He's never liked the noise emitted by aerial fireworks. I don't care for the extra "noise invasion" either. It's a nuisance.

It is my charge, based on Rothbard's theory above, that Utah, along with my neighbors, have now committed an act of aggression by legalizing the use of these louder fireworks. I usually applaud the legalizing of a formerly prohibited act, but those acts which violate the rights of others should remain prohibited by whatever legal authority that exists. That's supposedly government's job, to protect our rights, and in this instance the State of Utah has authorized and licensed the violation of our rights. It's no different than if the State of Utah allowed access to my home by the uninvited, during the months of July and end of December. It would be as much an act of aggressive invasion as what Utah has done by legalizing louder aerial fireworks.

Let me be clear. I don't care if you use aerial fireworks. I only care if they are done near my property, where I had the right to a certain level of noise, that which was established before I bought my home. Now the State of Utah has given my neighbors permission to exceed that level, thereby committing an act of aggression against all those who find the louder noise offensive. Shame on Utah. And shame on those who call themselves libertarians and fail to recognize what the State of Utah has done.

UPDATE: I realized that this same type of aggression happened when Salt Lake built their Triple-A baseball stadium, currently named Spring Mobile Ballpark, in the middle of a residential area. They have fireworks night once a month or so, and they are extremely loud. I've decided to boycott fireworks nights.

UPDATE 2: I must concede one thing, no, I should not be using monopoly government to do anything. Two wrongs don't make a right.


Brett said…
I dont think your argument flies.

"...a nuisance, to be actionable, has to damage the victim beyond the mere fact of invasion itself."

What is the damage? Offense? How do you measure what is objectively offensive? Circumstances and custom.

"A noise source is not a nuisance per se but only becomes a nuisance under certain conditions. These conditions depend on a consideration of the surrounding area, the time of day or night when the noise-producing activities take place and the manner in which the activity is conducted. A private nuisance is compensable only when it is unreasonable or excessive and when it produces actual physical discomfort or injury to a person of ordinary sensibilities so as to interfere with the use and enjoyment of the property."

The context of the noise matters:

"An urban resident must accept the consequences of a noisy environment situation. Courts generally hold that persons who live or work in densely populated communities must necessarily endure the usual annoyances and discomforts of those trades and businesses located in the neighborhood where they live or work; such annoyances and discomforts, however, must not be more than those reasonably expected in the community and lawful to the conduct of the trade or business."

Allowing the noise of fireworks on July 4, July 24 (in Utah) and Dec. 31/Jan1 is within the custom/tradition of society.

I don't think your argument has a leg to stand on if you object to fireworks 3 days of the year. If the legislation allowed it 365 days a year, you'd have a better argument.

I also think it's not correct to "homestead" the outcome of legislation. If you move somewhere and legislation prohibits or allows something, I don't think it's reasonable to say that you are entitled to that something as long as you live there. Legislation does not create a natural right.

Please read Rothbard's analysis. I was okay with the level of noise that existed throughout the year. Utah has given my neighbors permission to increase that level, a clear violation of my rights, as Rothbard argues.