To understand the current Indiana meltdown, it really helps to get off page one and look at how the basic elements of this state-level Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) story are being covered in other sections of the typical American newspaper. In other words, in the hoops-crazy state of Indiana, it is crucial to see how RFRA is being covered on sports pages.
I'm afraid the following story in The Los Angeles Times is rather typical, starting with that headline: "NCAA feeling pressure to take stand against controversial Indiana law."
For starters, the words "Religious Freedom Restoration Act" do not appear in this story. Readers also do not learn that these state-level laws are in effect in 19 other states, with many other states operating with the understanding that the national RFRA -- a shining moment of church-state sanity from the Bill Clinton era -- will been seen as operative inside their borders. Instead, this is how the story tips things off:
This is usually a happy time of year for college basketball, a chance for the game to take center stage with all eyes focused on March Madness.
But just days before the Final Four tips off in Indianapolis, the mood surrounding the tournament has turned serious.
With both its title game and its headquarters located in Indiana's capital, the NCAA is facing widespread pressure to take a stand against a hotly debated state law that many fear will lead to discrimination against gays and lesbians.
The key words, of course, are "that many fear." Who needs names and titles? A few lines later, this same passive-aggressive journalistic approach is used once again: