It was a triumph of fraternit over libert. It was the shout not heard round the world. The French National Assembly last week voted loudly (unanimously) for quiet. Specifically, the deputies created a law limiting the decibels that any personal stereo sold in France would be allowed to emit.

The rationale was curbing deafness. But who could doubt that civilit was also a motive?

It was a move likely to be applauded by anyone who ever wanted to kick beach sand into a boombox posing as a rock-concert speaker tower. Or anyone kept awake all night by a sound system meant for Yankee Stadium but held captive in a studio apartment.

Now, if the deputies want a new project, how about going after those broadcast commercials that are always louder than the programming softly interspersed among them?

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