Five Best Wednesday Columns

Reniqua Allen on the trial against George Zimmerman, Emily Bazelon on how to describe Edward Snowden, Heather Mac Donald on the politics of New York crime, Noreene Malone on Hillary Clinton's Twitter début, and Jenny Davis on an NYU professor's fat-shaming tweet.

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Reniqua Allen at The Guardian on the trial against George Zimmerman Reniqua Allen considers what the pre-trial motions in the murder trial against George Zimmerman, who stands accused of shooting Florida teen Trayvon Martin in 2012, say about racial dialogue beyond the courtroom. "The defense showed pictures of Martin taken from his cell phone of him with gold teeth and giving the camera the middle finger; and also pictures of marijuana plants, guns and even a video of homeless men fighting over a bike," she writes, adding, "If this trial is to be fair and just, then let's talk about complex human beings rather than one dimensional caricatures of a person that may or may not even exist." The concern is valid, says Charles M. Blow at The New York Times: "The Zimmerman trial is likely to be one of the most-followed of the year and could prove to be the most divisive in decades."

Emily Bazelon at Slate on how to describe Edward Snowden What kind of figure, good or bad or something in between, is former Booz Allen Hamilton employee Edward Snowden? Emily Bazelon weighs recent arguments that Snowden, who leaked classified NSA slides pertaining to surveillance software, is a traitor. "Here’s my question for Snowden’s denouncers: What about Daniel Ellsberg?" she asks. "It’s only in retrospect that the leaker of the Pentagon Papers has acquired the status of a national icon. At the time he leaked the documents in 1969, Ellsberg was a man with top security clearance who was accused of betraying his government by exposing its greatest secrets." The op-ed pile-on isn't helping, either. "The Op-Ed columns attacking him are so terrible I'm now convinced he must have done something right," Times prognosticator Nate Silver writes. Now even Snowden himself is pushing back.

Heather Mac Donald in The Wall Street Journal on the politics of New York crime What would it mean for the rest of the country if the controversial tactic known as stop-and-frisk is ruled discriminatory? Heather Mac Donald predicts a domino effect: "A decision against the NYPD would almost certainly inspire similar suits by social-justice organizations against police departments elsewhere. The national trend of declining crime could hang in the balance. And the primary victims of such a reversal would be the inner-city minorities whose safety seems not to figure into attempts to undermine successful police tactics." At The New Yorker, Jelani Cobb compares the debate to the Zimmerman trial: "At the heart of both these issues are questions regarding who is suspicious, when the intervention of authorities is justified, and the extent to which one segment of the public is willing to accept the forfeiture of civil liberties in another one."

Noreene Malone at The New Republic on Hillary Clinton's Twitter début After compiling various reactions to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's day-old Twitter account, Noreene Malone throws some cool water on the growing hype: "There is a puzzling unwillingness among the chattering class to recognize politicians' Twitter accounts for what they are: another, more efficient way of broadcasting talking points." She continues: "Clinton, who has displayed a talent for situational mirroring and probably has hired a good communications staff, will surely be just fine at tweeting. ... But would journalists be as ingenuously excited if that staff learned to craft really sharp press releases? Let's not lose track of what this slightly more stylish feed is likely to deliver." John Dickerson at Slate assents: "Let's not overdo this exercise in goading Clinton into being more interesting, honest, and accessible than most politicians with something at stake." Maureen Dowd at The New York Times suggests the tone of the account's bio might be a sign of things to come: "As she prepares for 2016, is Hillary swapping images with Barry?"

Jenny Davis at The Society Pages on an NYU professor's fat-shaming tweet A few tweets by NYU professor Geoffrey Davis, which suggested that obese people are incapable of finishing doctoral dissertation, ignited a productive dialogue about how we legislate each others' bodies, says Jenny Davis: "Miller's tweet, as distasteful as it was, reflects an underlying social logic with material implications and institutional embeddedness. Miller said what a lot of people didn’t even know they were thinking. Namely, that fatness is a thing to be avoided, and that those who fail to accomplish thinness are somehow less worthy. In doing so, he also created a platform for Fat Activists to place their message on display." At Six Estate, Katie McCaskey considered the social media angle: "Plenty of people are open about sharing their divisive religious or political views on social media. What’s at issue is how to handle social media in the context of your professional life."

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