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April 09, 2003


Proposed smirking ban raises eyebrows

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A raised eyebrow, loud guffaw, smirk or other facial expressions could all be banned in future political debate under new rules proposed for the city council in Palo Alto, California.

In a bid to improve civility in the town's public discourse, a committee on the city council has spent hours debating guidelines for its own behaviour.

"Do not use body language or other nonverbal methods of expression, disagreement or disgust," a new list of proposed conduct rules reads.

Another rule calls for council members to address each other with titles followed by last names, a formality not always practised in laid-back California.

"I don't want to muzzle my colleagues," councilwoman Judy Kleinberg, who headed the committee that drafted the rules, told the San Jose Mercury News. But, she added: "I don't think the people sitting around the cabinet with the president roll their eyes."

For the record, I'm pretty sure she's wrong about that.

Anyhow. If I lived in Palo Alto, I'd show up with my eyebrows raised every day and claim that they just grew that way. Sheesh

It's sort of a shame these people don't understand that democratic (small 'd') debate occasionally engenders some heated disagreement and that that's a healthy thing.

Or, maybe it's just that the level of discussion in their meetings is this pointlessly obnoxious. Either way, it sounds better than my job, which is putting me to sleep this afternoon.

Posted by AnneZook at 03:36 PM