"The Dallas City Council wants to shut you up" is the headline on the DMN’s city hall blog, and in the piece, city hall reporter Dave Levinthal goes into detail about a change to the council’s rules of procedure scheduled for a vote at Wednesday’s council meeting. That change, Levinthal says, involves changing the rules to "significantly limit’ the ability of citizens to address the council at open meetings. If you’ve ever been to even one council meeting, you know what the council is trying to accomplish: There are a few people (often the same few people each week) who seem to have nothing better to do than stand at the microphone during open microphone time and speak their mind, even if what they’re saying doesn’t really have anything to do with the council. It can be annoying and, to the average council person, it’s probably a waste of time, too. But the only way to limit the speech of those people, short of putting their picture on a poster out front and asking the guards to keep them from entering the chambers — something the ACLU probably isn’t going to like — is to limit the ability of any citizen to speak before the council; with free speech, there’s really not much way to discriminate, because either we all have it or, eventually, none of us do. The world won’t come to an end if the council makes the change, but our ability as citizens to wander downtown Wednesday mornings and say what’s on our minds will be limited. While I understand the logic of the council’s plan, it just doesn’t sound like a good idea. Putting up with a few minutes of inane griping from constituents once a week doesn’t seem like too high of a price to pay for a public service job the council reps told us they wanted.