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Comments: Week of July 13, 2015

1. Last issue’s cover, a collaboration between New York Magazine and The Marshall Project, described the everyday realities of New York City’s largest jail through the stories of the people who live and work there (“Rikers Island, Population 9,790,” June 29–July 12). Readers were shocked by many of the revelations. “I just learned from NYMag that Rikers Island has four times as many people as my hometown of Bloomfield, IN,” wrote reader Keith Roach. “We are guilty of brute complacency,” tweeted Elizabeth Sackler. “Harrowing read,” wrote Isabella David McCaf. “Our current prison system is inhumane to prisoner & guard alike.” “This NYMag/Marshall Project article on Rikers is too much to process,” added Twitter user Emily Singer. “A lawless place under the guise of the law.” One commenter argued that improving conditions at Rikers would have to begin with the guards. “Anyone who wants to change the system at Rikers Island should look at the way the guards are chosen, paid, and supported,” simone818 wrote. “It’s a terrible job with few perks. So, let’s pay these people more, give them more psychological support (from professionals), and focus on what we can do to make their lives better. If guards are better treated, inmates will benefit as well.” The New York Times’ Fernanda Santos was impressed with the project’s nuance and evenhandedness. “I came away conflicted,” Santos wrote, “because the story did what great stories do: It made me see Rikers from all perspectives.”

2. “The revolution — it may not be too strong a term,” wrote Jonathan Chait in his column on the Supreme Court’s decision affirming marriage equality, “has been driven by elected officials and judges, and from the broader culture, the three strands all reinforcing one another” (“Not Since the ’60s,” June 29–July 12). Commenters debated whether a backlash to the social progress Chait identified was inevitable. “Look at Roe v. Wade — great decision — and access to abortion gets more and more restricted,” argued rgqueen. But howard.roark thought marriage equality would avoid that fate. “Acceptance of gay people keeps rising, and there’s no sign of it declining … Abortion on the other hand is a very difficult situation even for many people who support a woman’s right to access.” And many readers simply flocked to the comments section to celebrate the decision. “Bravo America!” wrote HarlemGurl. “Bravo!!! #lovewins.”

3. “A lot of people trying to get from point A to point B see more similarities than differences between Lyft and Uber. This has helped make the rivalry between black and pink among the most heated in San Francisco: a big-moneyed battle for ride-sharing supremacy in which one participant is conspicuously overmatched,” wrote Annie Lowrey in her feature on the two ride-sharing services (“We’re No. 2!,” June 29–July 12). Readers, too, had strong opinions about which service would ultimately take the market. “If Uber can consistently offer more reliable service at similar rates,” wrote commenter Classicist, “it is going to win and no amount of corporate parties geared toward creating ‘a community of drivers and passengers’ can stop that.” Commenter Wakefuld agreed that Lyft’s friendliness gambit could backfire: “One of the big reasons I chose Uber over Lyft … is that whole ‘get a ride from your buddy’ thing. It creeped me out … I don’t want to fist-bump someone.” Lyft’s supporters pointed to Uber’s bad press. “In SF, at least, Uber’s terrible PR and awful exec goals make it clear that they’re looking for a profit at all costs,” argued hunterterrible. “Lyft, at least, seems to support both drivers and riders.” Commenter deepak.thomas picked out another bright spot for Lyft. “ ‘Nearly half of Lyft’s top executives are women.’ Isn’t that cause for cheer?”