Jailing journalists harms democracy
What, exactly, is Ann Coulter's role in society? Often times, it seems that Coulter's only job is that of the ultra-conservative propaganda artist. After all, she is responsible for penning such fiercely anti-bipartisan works as "Godless: The Church of Liberalism" and "If Democrats Had Any Brains, They'd Be Republicans." In keeping with that role, Coulter spoke at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference and, when asked "What is more important though to American values — being friends with Israel still or knowing there are jailed dissidents and journalists [in Egypt]?" she responded that she thinks "there should be more jailed journalists." For a woman who considers herself a champion of "real" American values, this comment is an astonishing show of disrespect for democratic society.
In many ways, journalists are defenders and perpetuators of democracy. They are responsible for keeping the government's actions transparent at all levels. The works and actions of journalists are how the people stay informed about all levels of their lives — from the local, to the national, to the global. Without objective reporting, the people would be at the mercy of biased pseudo-newscasters who push agendas instead of facts. Then again, that probably is not something Coulter is worried about. Her goal seems to be to actively shape the country's political consciousness, as she deems appropriate, rather than facilitate any sort of meaningful dialogue regarding social and political issues.
In endorsing the imprisonment of journalists, Coulter is essentially admitting that she is not very much concerned with keeping the public informed — which is one of the most important aspects of successfully fostering a true democracy. The public needs to know what is happening and decide for themselves in order to really take part in the democratic process. For all of her railing against liberal propaganda, Coulter herself is nothing more than the conservative equivalent of that which she most criticizes. Unless Coulter is unaware of this — which is doubtful, considering how shrewd of a public figure she is — she must believe that the only proper way to run the United States is her way. That sounds far more totalitarian than democratic — how much of a patriot can she be?
Perhaps it is best not to get too concerned over Coulter's comments. These sentiments are nothing new for her. However, there has been an alarming amount of polarization in American politics recently, and people like Coulter are no longer mere jesters on the national stage. More and more people are taking her and other of similar ilk seriously and that spells nothing but trouble. Let's remember that journalists are agents of democracy and imprisoning them almost always does more harm than help.