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Common sense prevails in appeal on party noise

February 25, 2012
Salem News

Too frequently it seems government, and that includes the courts, has abandoned the guiding light by which most of us live: common sense. Thank heaven the Ohio Supreme Court based a ruling squarely on it this week.

A Wayne County resident challenged the state's disorderly conduct statute, claiming its provisions - specifically on loud noise - were unconstitutionally vague. The man had been arrested after, during a Halloween party, he refused three times to turn down loud music his neighbors had reported to police.

State Supreme Court justices rejected the man's claim. The law is clear enough, they decided. It bans "recklessly causing inconvenience, annoyance or alarm to another by ... making excessive noise."

Justices decided, in effect, that people "of ordinary intelligence" can define "excessive."

Of course they can. If noise is loud enough to prompt someone to call the police, who agree with that judgment, it is excessive.

This isn't a license to use the statute as an excuse to harass others, of course. Remember, law enforcement officers have to be convinced noise is excessive, too.

But it is a blow for common sense. The court is to be commended for it.


Fifty years ago this week, Ohio's own John Glenn soared into space on a trip that would take him around the Earth three times. His mission was one of the U.S. space program's great early successes.

And it inspired Americans by the tens of millions. The final frontier would be conquered - and we would do it.

Things have changed. Major cutbacks have been made at NASA. Manned space exploration is virtually off the table. We have ceded the skies to others.

That could cost us more than we as a nation can afford in many ways.

Glenn, now 90, was among those who had "the right stuff" half a century ago. Now, it seems, we are admitting Americans no longer have that quality.



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