This week Indiana Governor Mike Pence took some heat when he signed into law a “religious freedom” bill. Because of the intense reaction he instigated with his decision, including pledges to boycott the state from businesses and civil rights organizations, he has started working with legislators to clarify and ease tensions. Though this type of bill sounds relatively innocent and even constructive, it can actually be used to discriminate on the basis of religion, threatening the LGBT community specifically.
A major problem with this particular piece of legislation is the vague and imprecise wording—highlighting the essential nature of lucidity in all writing, especially when it pertains to the human rights of your constituents. This “religious freedom” law asserts that those who feel as though their religious beliefs have been “substantially burdened” have a proper case for a lawsuit. This alarmingly broad phrasing has made many groups considered “unorthodox” feel exceptionally threatened—and rightfully too. Though the argument has been made that this kind of legislation has been passed somewhat successfully in various other states, the truth of the matter is that while all of the laws are different and conclusively incomparable, Indiana’s law is the most broad and therefore the most dangerous. This issue is important to The College Reporter, because we understand the power that words carry. Clarity is essential to writers, especially in the journalistic and law-making disciplines. Leaving your words and your meaning “up to interpretation” is deadly and you will be successfully challenged constantly. If this bill was meant to mask blatant discrimination, it failed; and if it was meant to actually be constructive, it also failed. However much Pence wishes to clarify his intentions, it is the words in the bill that really matter. It is the words that people will have to live by and be imperiled by. Never forget that what you write and what you publish hold weight and that the clearness of your words is indispensable.