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Comments: Week of June 12, 2017


1. “A competent woman losing a job to an incompetent man is not an anomalous Election Day surprise; it is Tuesday in America,” Rebecca Traister wrote in the first major profile of Hillary Clinton since her defeat (“Citizen Clinton,” May 29–June 11). Unsurprisingly, the profile elicited an outpouring of reactions (as Alex Shephard at the New Republic wrote, it “stirred the hornets’ nest that appears to follow Clinton wherever she goes”), including a fair bit of vitriol from the lock-her-up crowd. Commenter PolsciProfessor55 responded to this, writing, “I think one of the main reasons for the nasty comments is the misogynistic attitudes many men and a good number of women hold. I told my husband years ago, we would have a black man for president long before we would have a female president.” Other readers focused on what role, if any, Clinton should play in the Democratic Party moving forward. “We do ourselves a great disservice by dwelling on her. Let’s move on to better candidates who can win,” wrote ajtay. But famed letter writer to publications near and far Reba Shimansky saw things differently: “I am tired of reading about what a bad campaign Hillary ran even though she beat Trump by 3 million votes. I am also tired of those men in the media who keep on shouting that Hillary should shut up and go away every time she makes a speech, overlooking the fact that millions of people are eager to hear what she has to say.” Anne Fidanza of Poughkeepsie added, “God bless Hillary for trying to move on, but I, for one, am still in mourning on the election outcome. I was looking forward in the twilight of my years to having elected the first woman president. But, it seems, we are a vulgar country and we have elected a vulgar president.”

2. “Is Uber evil, or just doomed?” Reeves Wiedeman asked (“Uber, But for Meltdowns,” May 29–June 11). Speaking for many of those who — for now — power Uber’s services, one Tennessee-based driver responded profanely and emphatically: “Our pay has been incessantly cut, and we make a third of what we used to. Fuck Uber, and fuck Travis.” And Bhairavi Desai, executive director of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, wrote, “Uber’s anti-worker practices run much deeper than PR stumbles like trying to break our strike against the Muslim Ban at JFK. Uber’s entire business model is predicated on turning full-time taxi-driver jobs into sub-minimum-wage insecure gig work with zero labor protections and is leading the charge to roll back labor protections for which workers have spent generations fighting — protections like unemployment benefits, guaranteed wages, overtime pay, and the right to form democratic unions to collective bargain for workplace improvements. Uber has tried to bully its way into legalizing its misclassification of workers as independent contractors with none of the rights or protections of employees, even though Uber exerts control over its workers like any other employer, setting rates, and telling drivers who to pick up and when.” But Arun Sundararajan, author of The Sharing Economy, pointed out that these drivers might not have a place in the future Uber envisions for itself: “Of the many ‘meltdowns’ your feature about Uber covers, the ones I’m paying closest attention to concern the company’s autonomous vehicle efforts. To justify and grow its $70 billion valuation, Uber has to accelerate the arrival of this driverless future, which explains why they’ve been in such a hurry.” After the story was published, Uber announced the firing of the figure at the center of its self-driving-car lawsuit, Anthony Levandowski. A week later, the company fired 20 people in an attempt to clean up its culture of sexual harassment. Wiedeman has continued to report on these developments.

3. After the Edward Albee estate blocked a production of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? with a black cast member, Mark Harris argued that after a playwright’s death, copyright law should bend to the greater social good (“Who’s Afraid of a Black Virginia Woolf?,” May 29–June 11). Diep Tran, the associate editor of American Theatre magazine, asked, “What is the use of mounting the same production of a play over and over again? After all, if Shakespeare can withstand thousands of reinterpretations, so can Albee. But I think the bigger question here is one of copyright. When copyright laws were enacted, the length of a copyright was 14 years. It is now 70 years after the author’s death (and if Disney keeps on trying to extend those rights to protect its hold on Mickey Mouse, it may extend even longer). There must be a happy medium between 14 and 70 years, especially in a living medium such as theater where the work only comes alive again when it’s reinterpreted for a new age and audience.”


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