Ethics

For the week ending 13 August 2005 / 8 Av 5765

Turn Off That Radio!

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

Question: It often happens that when I am traveling in public transportation or in a taxi my ears and senses are subjected to an invasion by music which is offensive to my esthetic (and sometimes religious) sensibilities and my peace of mind. Since plugging my ears with earplugs or Walkman wires is not always an option, what is the right thing for me to do?

Answer: The driver of the bus or taxi is not playing that music in order to disturb you. He is trying his best to stay awake and alert while carrying out his boring and sometimes nerve-racking responsibility to get his passengers safely to their destination. The driver is well aware that he has no legal right to create noise which disturbs his passengers but is usually not aware that anyone really objects to what he finds is pleasing music.

A simple request to turn down the volume or shut off the radio will usually result in compliance just as the request to refrain from smoking will. While this is easily achieved in a taxi where you are the only paying customer, the situation on a bus demands some sensitive diplomacy. Avoid shouting at the driver from your seat and thus avoid publicly embarrassing him and a possible confrontation with other passengers who enjoy the music which bothers you. Just walk over to the driver and gently whisper in his ear that you would appreciate him eliminating the noise which disturbs you. Should you encounter the rare driver who refuses your request you have a right to demand his particulars for the purpose of reporting him to his superiors.

Remember that even though you have a right to some privacy in a public place, you should protect your rights in the right way.

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