Thursday, April 2, 2015


On Tuesday morning, March 31, The Indianapolis Star took the unusual step of boldly running as its full front page an editorial condemning Indiana's new, so-called "Religious Freedom Restoration Act."

The paper demanded that Republican Gov. Mike Pence and the GOP-controlled General Assembly move immediately to fix the new law, which -- despite the governor's contentions to the contrary -- encourages, enables and legalizes discrimination, particularly against gays (please see my March 31 blog post "INDY STAR DEMANDS HOOSIER LAWMAKERS FIX THE 'MESS' THEY'VE MADE WITH ANTI-GAY LAW).

Here is another look at that March 31 front page:

I am certain this gutsy action on the part of The Star's editors and publisher drew a lot of swift and angry response, particularly from nearly berserk, "Christian" religious zealots.

Likewise, I am sure it also garnered considerable grateful and positive response from among the state's many millions of fair-minded citizens who have been horrified by the new law and the damage it has already done to their state's image and economy.

One such grateful response came in the form of a letter to the editor written by the brother of troubled Vietnam Veteran who died of AIDS 30 years ago. The letter is not only sad and touching, but also uplifting. And I think it serves as proof that there is still a place for print newspapers in American life, particularly when they have the courage to unmistakably stand up for what is right and just.

Here is the text of that letter:

   "On Tuesday, I did what I never do. I walked my dog down to our local market and bought a copy of The Indianapolis Star. In fact, I bought two copies. The reason: the "Fix This Now" emblazoned on the front page.
   With the papers under my arm, I walked to Plainfield's Maple Hill Cemetery, and found my brother's grave. My brother, who had been a troubled Vietnam War vet, was gay at a time when being gay was a very difficult thing to be. When he died of AIDS in 1985 in a far-off city, his refuge from his closed-minded native state, some in our family were sufficiently ashamed that his cause of death was not discussed.
   At the grave I opened The Star. I said, "Well, Charlie, times have changed, thank God. It turns out you were on the right side of history after all." Then I read aloud as much of the paper's editorial as tears would let me get through.
   And today I'm doing what I never thought I'd do. I'm renewing my subscription to The Star. I'm doing this because, if for no other reason, I believe we must all support those who stand against discrimination and for inclusiveness. I do it too as thanks to The Star whose courage and right-mindedness on this issue made this moment of personal closure possible for me.

   Nick Crews, Plainfield"

As someone who grew up in Indiana and is a veteran of the Vietnam era, I share Nick Crew's pain and grief. I also share his gratitude to The Star for its straightforward, clear and concise editorial. As the retired editor of daily newspapers, I also understand the courage it took for the folks at The Star to not only take this stand, but to give it the sort of play it truly deserved.


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