Tuesday, February 21, 2006

It's not "legal" or "illegal" anymore.

I believe that most people would agree that things tend to be either illegal or legal. I mean imagine trying to determine if something was only "kind of" illegal- then we would be walking backwards into the days when President Clinton said, "It depends on what the meaning of the word "is" is.

The Progressive, an extremely left magazine, has an article that humorously gets across the idea that open discussion is essential to the spirit and growth of democracy. I would suggest that everyone read it, it's nice and succinct.

In the article, the author asserts that the Bush Administration is using fear-mongering to squelch discussion about the merits and pitfalls of the NSA wire-tapping program. While I do not agree entirely with the author as to the extent of the fear-mongering, I do feel that an unfair amount of it does exist. In order for democracy to flourish we must not only provide laws that will punish people for violent intolerance, but we must also create a society that encourages the civil discussion of issues in an environment that is safe. After all, who wants to speak up when they think that they'll be abused for it.

The article also brings up a good point regarding the congressional investigation of the NSA wiretaps:

"If Bush’s effort to stifle the Congressional investigation fails, he’s hoping to cover his misdeeds with a retroactive get-out-of-jail free card.

Designing that card is Mike DeWine, Republican of Ohio, who has introduced a bill that would authorize the warrantless wiretapping that Bush has already engaged in.

That’s like someone who is caught going 100 miles an hour getting the policeman to go back and change the speed limit signs."

Why would the Bush Administration need a bill that makes the NSA wire-tapping legal if it wasn't already? Was the wire-tapping only, "kind of" legal? I don't know, I'm not a legal expert, but the issue does bring questions into my mind.

In regards to civil debate and discussion, ironically, The Progressive tends to be obnoxiously intolerant of the neo-conservative agenda. There was a time when debate and discussion were synonymous with honor and academia. I wonder if there's anyone alive today who remembers that.


Chaucer Arafat said...


I feel that it is this line of thinking (everything is either explicitly 'legal' or 'illegal') that can have the tendency to stifle candid and considerate debate. I would counter by saying that legality is rarely a black-and-white issue, hence the court system. We need legal interpretation, because there is often a miasma surrounding these issues that blurs any definitive lines. I feel that in this issue, both sides are offering cogent premises in support of their arguments (although I am beginning to lean toward your way of thinking).

I do agree that certain principles are absolute--there are clear delineations of right and wrong, such as...

burning churches for thrills: wrong

using "an" before words that begin with "h": wrong

otter-pops: right

the return of the euro-mullet: wrong

will ferrel: wrong and horrible

biting complete strangers: well, the jury is still out on this..

registered republicans leading democratic unions: wrong

Anyhow. I wish I had the ethical/political rosetta stone that would clearly interpret all things as either right or wrong...Until I unearth it, I'll slave on.


Peter Nguyen said...


You're comment made me giggle. Although I think that I have to disagree with you on one major point. The Euro-mullet is perfectly ok on young children- mostly because it amuses me.

You bring up some excellent points and I believe for the most part that you're correct: especially about the otter pops.

And (I might as well come out with it) I've only recently reregistered in Oregon as an Independent. So, I hope that ends that little ditty, as amusing as it was for all of us!

Hey, are you a Rexburg resident? Have you come to one of our meetings? I'd love to meet you.

Chaucer Arafat said...

promotion of the euro-mullet is tantamount to promotion of torture. You might call it a hair-style, but i call it child abuse. slap it on one skull and it will perpetuate itself down through the ages like some sinister furry amoeba..they propagate exponentially, and if you tolerate this, then your children will be next.

i do live in the burg, no longer a student though. maybe i'll swing by a meeting, or just hang out in the shadows of the net and offer smug and sardonic commentary from time to time...

until then,