The Snore Police Are Coming For You!

During my college coursework (I majored in justice in college — American University, for those of you keeping score), I learned that the fundamental purpose in operating a criminal justice system are to deter criminalistic behavior.  If the behavior cannot be deterred, then punishment becomes necessary, at which point one must consider punishment in light of the competing purposes of rehabilitation, incapacitation, deterrence, and retribution.  Depending on your philosophical and sociological worldview, all aspects of our justice system can be related in some way to accomplishing one of those goals. 

From the criminal justice perspective, then, a recent move by the Crowne Plaza hotel chain to cut down on the disturbance caused by guests' snoring is particularly interesting.  The company has announced that, in several hotels in the United Kingdom, the floors are patrolled by "Snore Monitors" who will go door-to-door to ensure that the guests are not snoring loudly and disturbing other hotel patrons.  If a Snore Monitor encounters a noisy guest, they (presumably) pound on the door to wake the customer and ask them to somehow be conscious of the noise that he or she is making.  If the snoring continues, the guest is asked to relocate to a different room.  The chain apparently is also testing "snore absorption rooms" that have added soundproofing on the walls, headboards, and pillows to prevent noise from traveling to a neighboring room.

Crowne Plaza has created its own microcosm of justice, where the offenders are not criminals per se, but chronic snorers.  All of the sociological purposes for a justice system are there: deterrence (if you know the Snore Monitor is out there, you will take steps to curb your snoring); incapacitation (relocate the snorer to a segregated room away from other guests); rehabilitation (the "snore absorption room" is designed to help alleviate the causes of snoring); and retribution (the snoring customer is wakened and required to move to another room in the middle of the night).  One could almost imagine criminologists from the National Institute of Justice conducting statistical studies of the deterrent effect of snore patrols on snoring and determining the incidence of recidivism in snore offenders.  But we're not talking about a government here, we're talking about a for-profit business.  Which brings me to my point.

I can certainly understand the reasoning behind the "snore patrol," but it seems a little Gestapo-ish to me.  Who wants to be roused in the middle of the night by snore police banging on your door?  And it also seems like overkill — an extreme solution to a problem that can and should be addressed through, um, maybe constructing your hotel in a way to ensure that noise doesn't travel from room to room?  How about noise-absorbing walls and insulation?  Or is that too obvious? 

But then again, maybe it's a cultural thing.  After all, this is the same country where a different hotel chain decided that, to combat the problem of the sheets being cold when guests get in bed, they would have people get in your bed and warm it up for you in advance, instead of going the more obvious route of using electric blankets.

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