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Florida’s loud music law will not silence our Celine Dion
Police can now pull people over for blasting tunes, and Celine fans are sure to be targets.
Celine Dion performs at Amalie Arena in Tampa on Jan. 15, 2020, and she plays in my car.
Celine Dion performs at Amalie Arena in Tampa on Jan. 15, 2020, and she plays in my car. [ JAY CRIDLIN | Tampa Bay Times ]
Published Jul. 8

Where does my heart beat now? In the trash can, that’s where! Much is on the line! Celine Dion, the spiritual leader who sang “I drove all night to get to you,” is at risk of not driving all night to her own essential melodies.

As of last week, Florida law enforcement can ticket drivers for playing “Tell him that the sun and moon rise in his eyes” if it is “plainly audible” from a mere 25 feet. In Pinellas County, for example, that could mean a $116 fine, or one-third of a Celine Dion floor ticket at Amalie Arena.

Proponents say the law is essential to ward off reverberating noise pollution, part of a larger bill to combat raucous street parties. Penalties could be harsher in certain zones where people are having a Celine Dion group listening party to discuss the 2019 compact disc “Courage.”

What does “plainly audible” mean? Let’s distill how the legislation’s finer points apply to the valorous enjoyment of Celine Marie Claudette Dion, because frankly, this is going to be a legal problem for many.

Related: Playing loud music from your car can now get you pulled over in Florida

Officers must use their own ear bones — not a hearing aid or a Solo cup pressed to the side of the Taking Chances World Tour sticker on the window — to detect the sultry sounds of “Falling Into You” from Celine’s fourth English-language studio album. They are not required to decipher lyrics, only to hear a... let’s see what this says... “rhythmic bass reverberating type sound.”

Ooh. Um. Well. There is absolutely no way this could be a racist law. Since this is in no way targets people playing rap and hip-hop, nor is it another Trojan Horse to pull over minorities, let’s replace “rhythmic bass” with the catalog of the greatest singer in the world, Celine Dion. Surely all music will be monitored equally.

The new rules apply to roads, parking lots, driveways and, perchance, the side of the Courtney Campbell Causeway after a recent breakup. Anyone could be cited for rightfully blaring the 11-second “HEYYYYYYEYAAHHHHHHHHHH” at the apex of “Because You Loved Me” from the seminal 1996 film “Up Close and Personal” starring Robert Redford and Michelle Pfeiffer.

Officers must have a “direct line of sight and hearing” to the car blasting Celine’s early French works so that they can assess the precise two-car distance at which they noted “Il est si près de moi pourtant je ne sais pas comment l’aimer” and shed the first tear of thousands.

Music cannot be “louder than necessary” near churches, schools or hospitals. “Louder than necessary” depends! Are we talking “YOU’RE HERE, THERE’S NOTHING I FEAR” before flinging a replica Heart of the Ocean necklace out the window at Tampa General? Or are we talking “DON’T WANT TO LIVE BY MYSELF, BY MYSELF, ANYMORE” while begging a friend to leave Advanced Torts class for just one drink? Because... no, no, those must be equally strident.

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Now, the last bit makes sense. People are trying to pray, rest and learn. But what if church is Celine Dion? What if worship is her best song, a song so beyond reproach that the soul-penetrating chorus, buoyant violin and “rhythmic bass reverberating” drum line is a near-religious experience? That song is “To Love You More,” and this is not up for debate until next legislative session.

This super-constitutional law will be applied equally, fairly, if not disproportionately to Celine Dion fans. We will deal with ripple effects on days when the sun is so cruel that our tears turn to dust and we just know our eyes are drying up forever, windows down, open road ahead. Je suis désolé, Celine.

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