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.