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Five Best Tuesday Columns

Brentin Mock on the future of the Voting Rights Act, Kat Stoeffel on the fate of seduction artist Ken Hoinsky, John McWhorter on the fall of Paula Deen, Bill Bradley on the proliferation of private transportation, and Jelani Cobb on Edward Snowden's global adventure.

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Brentin Mock at Colorlines on the future of the Voting Rights Act Responding to the Supreme Court's decision on Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, Brentin Mock considers the future of Section 5, which has served to protect against the disenfranchisement of minority voters. "The currently covered areas are places that historically have disenfranchised people of color, or those for whom English is their second language," Mock writes, referring to the counties covered by Section 5, which operates under provisions dictated in Section 4. "But Chief Justice John Roberts has ruled that the formula, which was last updated in the late 1960s-early 1970s, must be updated by Congress so that it covers areas that violate voting rights today." He continues: "This is not a total loss for the Voting Rights Act. Section Five can still stand if Congress is able to fix the formula so that it covers areas they consider presently running afoul of voting rights." The Guardian's Spencer Ackerman praises Mock's thorough consideration as the "best piece I've read so far" about Tuesday's Supreme Court opinion.

Kat Stoeffel at The Cut on the fate of seduction artist Ken Hoinsky Kate Stoeffel weighs the fallout of Ken Hoinsky's Kickstarter campaign for his book, Above the Game: A Guide to Getting Awesome With Women — in particular his recent interview with Maria Bustillos at The Awl. "It's unfashionable to say anything critical about another person's sex life, as long all activities are consensual ... but consenting to be seduced, like the indistinguishable, passive object that pickup artists make women out to be, isn't some edgy fetish lost on the oversensitive anti-rape crowd," Stoeffel says. "It's the primary way men and women have interacted forever. Protecting that dynamic — aggressive men, passive women — against its online critics might make things harder for men and women who'd like to try something different." Linking to Stoeffel's piece, the aforementioned Bustillos described it as an "excellent, thoughtful rebuttal" to her interview with Hoinsky.

John McWhorter at Time on the fall of Paula Deen Should food empress Paula Deen be shunned for, among other things, admitting to using the word "nigger" several decades ago? John McWhorter comes to Deen's defense: "She just might pop out with the N word in private in a heated moment. ... In this, she represents a transitional stage between the then and the now. Deen was already a 20-something when the old racist order broke down; her worldview had pretty much jelled. How could she have a perfectly egalitarian take on race growing up when and where she did?" Charles C. W. Cooke at National Review assents: "To be healthy, a country needs more than merely a prohibition against government overreach; it also needs a strong culture of free expression. Our tendency to disqualify people categorically on the basis of a single indiscretion is ugly and destructive." But Frank Bruni at The New York Times thinks otherwise: "All of her adult years postdate the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and she’s a citizen of the world, traveling wide and far to peddle her wares. If she can leave Georgia for the sake of commerce, she can leave Georgia in the realm of consciousness."

Bill Bradley at Next City on the proliferation of private transportation After studying innovative — but private — transportation companies like Uber and LEAP and RidePal, Bill Bradley wonders whether they will upend the transportation systems of dense American cities for the worse. "[This] is what bothers me most about these so-called innovative approaches to transit. Sure, they are nice if you want to get to work quicker or hail a cab at your leisure. But aren’t we just creating more gated systems?" Bradley continues: "If private, Wi-Fi-equipped buses become more rampant, I fear that means less diversity on public transit and, more importantly, diminished ridership. ... These services could turn out to be more disruptive then their developers think." Cass R. Sunstein at Bloomberg View disagrees, at least regarding Uber: "The basic problem is that the taxi industry is intensely regulated. One goal of regulation isn’t to protect consumers. It is to entrench current providers and to limit competition."

Jelani Cobb at The Daily Beast on Edward Snowden's global adventure It's time to come home, Jelani Cobb says of Edward Snowden, whose "departure for Moscow all but eliminated his moral positioning." (Even though Vladimir Putin swears the NSA leaker is still at the Moscow airport.) Cobb explains: "Given a choice of undermining his argument or seeking the assistance of governments with human-rights records that are questionable even when graded on the sharpest of curves, Snowden's only reasonable recourse would be to remain in the United States and face prosecution." He continues: "None of this is to argue that Edward Snowden belongs in prison ... but there’s something to be said for the tradition of using a trial to highlight the political abuses of those in power." Citing "an old-fashioned and maybe naïve inkling that journalists are meant to stick up for the underdog and irritate the powerful," John Cassidy at The New Yorker dissents: "On its side, the Obama Administration has the courts, the intelligence services, Congress, the diplomatic service, much of the media, and most of the American public. Snowden's got Greenwald, a woman from Wikileaks, and a dodgy travel document from Ecuador. Which side are you on?"

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.