Five Best Wednesday Columns

Elizabeth Hewitt on tear gas in Turkey, Lindy West on comedy's hostility to women, Maureen Dowd on the military justice system, Amy Davidson on Bradley Manning's prosecution, Jonathan Chait on young people under Obamacare.

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Elizabeth Hewitt at Slate on tear gas in Turkey In Istanbul, writes Elizabeth Hewitt, "Secularists are speaking out against Islamists. Leftists are bucking conservatives. Middle-class Turks are rallying against the relentless development of central Istanbul. Many young people simply want to save the trees in Gezi Park, the small green space where the protests began last week." She continues: "But there is one thing that unites all these groups, people, and interests together: Tear gas. The painful but nonlethal white gas has become the symbol of everything Turks are rising up against, especially the Turkish government’s slide toward authoritarianism." Jenna Krajeski at The New Republic captures one scene from last night: "While helicopters circled above Gezi Park and clouds of tear gas blew over protesters, the crowd only seemed to get bigger and the chant unified into one short slogan: 'Tayyip, resign.' Erdogan's arrogance, long criticized but tolerated, is now being called hubris."

Lindy West at Jezebel on comedy's hostility to women Lindy West traces the divide between comedians who think "comedy requires absolute freedom in order to function" and those who think comedy can entrench pre-existing structures of sexual violence. "No subject should ever be 'off limits' and comedians shouldn't be 'silenced.'" West writes, explaining the former group's mentality. "And anyway, language doesn't affect culture, so how could rape jokes have an effect on actual rape? ... Well, that's the fundamental disconnect between us. I believe that the way we speak about things and the type of media we consume profoundly influences how we think about the world." Going off of West's words, Dan Solomon at XOJane writes, "When we talk about pushing boundaries or being edgy or testing taboos ... what people who argue the pro-rape-joke side miss is that, in a country in which 54 percent of rapes are never reported, telling rapists that what they did isn’t a big deal isn’t pushing any limits at all. It’s the damn status quo."

Maureen Dowd at The New York Times on the military justice system Following Tuesday's contentious hearing on sexual assault in the military, Maureen Dowd considers the structural weakness of the military justice system. "The brass agreed there was a 'cancer' in the military, but their rigid, nonsensical response boiled down to: Trust us. We’ll fix the system, even though we don’t really believe it's broken." She goes on: "They were unanimously resistant to the shift that several of our allies have made, giving lawyers, rather than commanders, the power to take cases to court." The Atlantic Wire's Elspeth Reeve predicts the change to come: "It's likely military commanders will lose some amount of power. ... The question now is how much power they'll lose."

Amy Davidson at The New Yorker on Bradley Manning's prosecution Amy Davidson weighs the government's prosecutorial strategy against Army Pvt. Bradley Manning, who stands accused of "aiding the enemy" for leaking classified cables to WikiLeaks. "At what point could 'enemy' mean anyone who doesn’t like us?" Davidson asks. "Can it mean us ourselves, at moments when we think that something has gone wrong, and has to be exposed? ... There will be times when it is a general or a President who needs to be held accountable for a crime. At those moments, what hurts the enemy is being able to say that we were the ones who didn’t keep the secrets." At Time, Denver Nicks adds that "Manning’s leak was the biggest ever not because he was the most dedicated secret spiller in history, but because he joined the army in the age of big data and the collaborative ethos of the Internet. ... Manning inelegantly opened up the national security state against its will. With so many poorly protected secrets accessible to so many people, it was only a matter of time."

Jonathan Chait at New York on young people under Obamacare Responding to the furor over a recent piece concerning "rate shock" by health policy analyst Avik Roy, Jonathan Chait explains how young people, under Obamacare, subsidize the sick — and why that's a good thing. "We have narrowed the class of Obamacare victims down to a very, very small group of victims preparing to be crushed beneath the burdens of Obamacare," Chait writes, picking up on Roy's focus on healthy, affluent 25 year old men. " ... The objections to health-care reform present themselves as if they’ve uncovered some kind of nightmarish bureaucratic inefficiency. What they’ve actually discovered ... is that a functioning insurance system takes money away from people who are healthy. Likewise, fire insurance screws people whose houses will never burn down." Roy, writing at Forbesis less persuaded by this logic. "Liberal columnists ... are conceding that premiums will go up for most people in the individual market. ... If they had said that in 2009, would Obamacare have passed?"

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