TIME ebola

The #Ebowla Jokes Need to Stop

Charlotte Alter covers lifestyle, crime, and breaking news for TIME in New York City. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.

As New Yorkers joke about catching Ebola from a bowling ball, just imagine how scared Dr. Craig Spencer must be

As soon as New Yorkers learned that Dr. Craig Spencer, a volunteer Doctors Without Borders physician who had recently returned from West Africa, had been diagnosed with Ebola, panic set in. And as soon as people learned that he’d been bowling the night before, that panic appeared to turn to a kind of sick joke. #Ebowla starting making the rounds on Twitter and finally, there was something about Ebola that seemed kind of funny.

As the alarming details of Dr. Spencer’s New York adventure emerged—a heroic stint caring for the sick in Guinea, a flight home, and then later, a subway ride, a walk along the High Line, a meal at a restaurant, an Uber ride—the fact that he went bowling the night before checking himself into Bellevue Hospital, where he was isolated immediately, was the detail that has captured the collective imagination.

And just as quickly, that fact turned into a deluge of Twitter jokes, each one hoping to be funnier than the next.

One could argue that this was a group-think defense mechanism to distract ourselves from the horror of Ebola’s presence in America’s most populous city. As one tweeter put it:

But somewhere along the line, the tone changed. It stopped being about bowling and started being about Spencer and his character.

This is a guy who signed up to work with Doctors Without Borders, arguably one of the more difficult jobs in the world, to help strangers in one of the most dangerous health zones on the planet. If you found out a United States Marine was playing CandyCrush right before he got blown up by a landmine, would you be laughing then?

Some expressed a similar callousness toward Amber Vinson, the Dallas nurse who contracted Ebola while treating Thomas Eric Duncan and then flew—with approval from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—from Cleveland to Dallas.

Do people think Vinson wanted to catch Ebola? Thankfully, Vinson appears to have recovered from the virus, according to NBC.

Some of Spencer’s critics are saying that because he began to feel sluggish on Tuesday, he should have immediately stayed home. These must be people who have themselves never felt a little worn out on a rainy day. Spencer told doctors he was taking his temperature twice a day as a precaution, and he did not yet have a fever on Wednesday, which means he was not symptomatic of Ebola.

Doctors Without Borders said Thursday night that Spencer had followed all recommended protocols for medical workers returning from the afflicted regions. “As long as a returned staff member does not experience any symptoms, normal life can proceed,” the organization said in a statement. “Self-quarantine is neither warranted nor recommended when a person is not displaying Ebola-like symptoms.”

While the Twitterverse is having a good chuckle over #ebowla, Spencer is in an isolation ward. Details of his condition have not yet been released, but it’s easy to imagine his psychological state. He must be terrified. He’s just spent a month watching what Ebola does to afflicted bodies, and now he’s alone, surrounded by hazmat suits, unsure if he’ll ever touch another human being. As Ebola survivor Dr. Kent Brantly wrote in TIME:

“During my own care, I often thought about the patients I had treated. Ebola is a humiliating disease that strips you of your dignity…I finally cried for the first time when I saw my family members through a window and spoke to them over the intercom. I had not been sure I would ever see them again.”

Spencer’s fiancée, Morgan Dixon, is also in isolation at Bellevue. Imagine how she must be feeling. Yesterday was just a normal New York morning, but last night she and her fiancé went to sleep alone, and while it’s too soon to say for sure, there is the risk—and almost certainly, for them, the fear—that they might never see each other again.

So far, every single person, including Spencer, who has been treated for Ebola in the United States became infected because they risked their lives to help others. That’s true of Brantly and the health worker he worked with, Nancy Writebol. It was true of Thomas Eric Duncan, who’d carried a neighbor to the hospital in Liberia, where she was turned away and sent home. And it was true of the two Dallas health care workers who contracted the virus from Duncan before he died.

We should be praising all of them, not mocking them. And as collective fear has morphed into scorn, the response, on Twitter anyway, is without empathy—and is truly embarrassing.

Still, this Ebola joke got it right:

 

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Crime

3 Key Takeaways From Amnesty International’s Ferguson Report

Ferguson St. Louis Protests
Police officers in riot gear hold a line as they watch demonstrators protest in St. Louis on Oct. 12, 2014. Joshua Lott—AFP/Getty Images

It's the first time the human rights group has documented abuses inside the U.S.

Correction appended Oct. 24, 1:25 p.m. ET

Amnesty International made headlines in August when the international human rights organization dispatched a team of observers and advocates to document the unrest in Ferguson, Mo. that followed the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown, the first time a delegation of its kind had investigated human rights abuses in the United States.

The resulting report was released Friday. It doesn’t shine any light on the altercation between Brown and police officer Darren Wilson or what led Wilson to kill the unarmed teenager. But there’s value in reading about the events in Ferguson through the lens of human rights. Here are three key claims made in the Amnesty report:

1) Lethal force was not justified

The report acknowledges that there are conflicting accounts of the physical altercation between Brown and Wilson, but says that none of them rise to the level that would have justified lethal force. “International standards provide that law enforcement officers should only use force as a last resort…Irrespective of whether there was some kind of physical confrontation between Michael Brown and the police officer, Michael Brown was unarmed and thus unlikely to have presented a serious threat.” But several witnesses testified in front of a grand jury that Brown and Wilson did struggle over Wilson’s gun, the Washington Post reported Wednesday. If Brown had tried to take Wilson’s gun, as some evidence suggests, then Wilson may not have broken the law.

2) Ferguson police violated the human right to peaceful assembly

Amnesty notes that according to international law, the right of peaceful assembly is a basic human right. The report notes that law enforcement imposed several restrictions on this right, including a curfew and the “keep walking” rule, which was imposed on Aug. 18 to deter groups from massing. The report says that in the 12 days after Michael Brown’s death, 132 people were arrested for “failing to disperse.” The Amnesty delegation also condemned the use of tear gas and rubber bullets to break up protests, and the threats made against journalists and legal observers. But the protests in Ferguson weren’t always peaceful– there were reports of protesters shooting at police cars, throwing bottles at police, and numerous other violent encounters.

3) There is not enough data on police shootings

The report calls for data on police shootings to be broken out by race, ethnicity and gender in order to give a complete picture of how many black men are killed by police per year. Amnesty also recommends that Congress pass the End Racial Profiling Act and the Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act.

You can read the full Executive Summary of the report here: Ferguson Report Executive Summary

The original version of this story misstated the nature of Amnesty International’s work in the United States. The group has researched human rights abuses in the United States previously. This August was the first time the organization sent a delegation of observers, advocates and trainers to document unrest anywhere in the United States.

TIME

Florida Football Player Accused of Rape Texted Alleged Victim: ‘Don’t Tell Nobody Bout Nothing’

Missouri Florida Football
Florida quarterback Treon Harris warms up prior to an NCAA college football game against Missouri in Gainesville, Fla. on Oct. 18, 2014. John Raoux—AP

The accuser has since withdrawn her complaint

A University of Florida football player who was accused of raping a fellow student on Oct. 6 allegedly texted the accuser “don’t tell nobody bout nothing” after the encounter, according to full police reports released Wednesday.

Treon Harris, the freshman quarterback of the University of Florida team, reportedly sent the text message the morning after the accuser came to his room according to the police report. The female accuser told police that she had gone to Harris’s room to sleep but repeatedly made it clear she did not want to have sex. She said he held her down with his body weight and penetrated her against her will, but has since withdrawn her complaint, reserving the right to press charges in the future.

The alleged rape occurred early in the morning on Oct. 5, and the accuser went to the police on Oct. 6. In a police interview, Harris said he thought the sex was consensual, and that the text message was intended to keep the hookup a secret from another girl, according to the New York Times. Harris was suspended from the team on Oct. 6, but was reinstated after the accuser withdrew her complaint on Oct. 9.

The release of the police reports come after the New York Times published an extensive investigation of police dealings with Florida State football players that brought to light incidents in which it appeared that players are often treated differently by police because of their position on the team. Although Florida State University and University of Florida are not affiliated, the incident coincides with a period of heightened scrutiny about how universities deal with allegations of sexual assault among football players.

TIME marketing

Watch These Little Princesses Drop F-Bombs for Feminism

Because there are worse words than curse words

Think the F-word is a dirty word? These little girls can think of a few that are worse — like “pay inequality” or “rape and violence.”

But there’s a reason for their potty-mouthed exclamations — these young girls, dressed up in princess costumes, are cursing to protest inequalities that are even more shocking than curse words. The video was made by FCKH8.com, a for-profit company that produces clothing that advocates for social change. And while FCKH8 is famous for equality-themed T-shirts like “Some Chicks Marry Chicks” and “Straight Against Hate,” this particular video is meant to promote its feminist line, with T-shirts that say things like “This is What a Feminist Looks Like” and “Girls Just Want to Have Fun – damental rights.”

You can watch the whole video here.

 

TIME remembrance

Benjamin Bradlee, Esteemed Editor of the Washington Post, Dies at 93

Became famous for editing the newspaper during its groundbreaking coverage of the Watergate scandal

Benjamin Bradlee, who edited the Washington Post during the period when the newspaper published articles based on the Pentagon Papers and broke the Watergate story which eventually led to President Richard Nixon’s resignation, has died at age 93.

Bradlee helmed the Post from 1968 to 1991, and became famous after the paper’s coverage of the Watergate scandal, when burglaries of the Democratic National Committee offices were linked to Nixon’s office, setting off a chain of events that eventually forced the president to resign. He was played by Jason Robards in All the President’s Men, which told the story of the Post’s discovery and coverage of the scandal.

He became close friends with John F. Kennedy when he was assigned to cover the his presidential campaign for Newsweek, but he had an advantage over the other reporters; he lived on the same Georgetown block as the young candidate, and they shared a back alley.

“I don’t want to disappoint too many people, but … the number of interesting political, historical conversations we had, you could stick in your ear,” recalled Bradlee about his friend. “We talked about girls.”

Bradlee’s Newsweek remembrance of JFK after his assassination became a book, That Special Grace. In 2013, Bradlee was awarded the Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.

TIME Music

Here’s Why Nicki Minaj is Chopping a Banana in the ‘Anaconda’ Video

2014 MTV Video Music Awards - Arrivals
Recording artist Nicki Minaj attends the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards at The Forum on August 24, 2014 in Inglewood, Ca. Frazer Harrison—Getty Images

Hint: feminism. But she's not saying any more about it.

Apparently, the banana featured in the kitchen portion of Nicki Minaj’s video for the song “Anaconda” is no coincidence. The sexy nature of the video inspired a thousand opinion pieces when it debuted in August and has since racked up more than 200 million views. And now, in a new interview, the singer addresses some of the symbolism, or lack thereof in her performance.

The rapper told GQ writer that she intentionally included the banana as a symbol of female empowerment:

“At first I’m being sexual with the banana, and then it’s like, ‘Ha-ha, no.’ ” I ask if she’s referring to how the Drake scene immediately follows the kitchen scene. “Yeah, that was important for us to show in the kitchen scene, because it’s always about the female taking back the power, and if you want to be flirty and funny that’s fine, but always keeping the power and the control in everything.”

But that’s about the only explicit gender comment Minaj says she makes in the video. Apparently, the singer fell asleep four times over the course of the interview, and didn’t give writer Taffy Brodesser-Akner very much to work with. Aside from the banana moment, she repeatedly denied any overt gender politics in any of her work. Brodesser-Akner writes:

You heard it here first. “Anaconda” is about a snake, and also about a woman’s ex-boyfriends, and the video is just one big slumber party. You can release a record cover into the atmosphere that makes all who see it so shocked and discomforted that their only way to metabolize it is to turn it into the world’s fastest-spreading meme, to the point where her squatting form ends up on a polo shirt, right where the little crocodile usually goes. You can do all this, and still you can look someone in the eye and say that it’s not cynical in the least, that it’s not a comment on gender or sex or the culture or anything. Double shrug.

Shrug.

TIME Opinion

50 Years Later: Why My Fair Lady Is Better Than You Remember

Audrey Hepburn In 'My Fair Lady'
Audrey Hepburn in a scene from the film 'My Fair Lady' Archive Photos / Getty Images

Think it's a sexist relic? Think again

I know what you’re going to say about Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins. A snobby British guy in a Sherlock suit tries to “improve” a working woman by teaching her to talk pretty and look bangin’ in necklaces?! Screw you, Henry Higgins! Lean in to the flower business, Eliza! There’s nothing “loverly” about misogynistic woman-shaping narratives! Put My Fair Lady in a folder with all the other movies that “send bad messages,” like Grease and Gone With the Wind!

Screw Henry Higgins, indeed, but please do not underestimate My Fair Lady, a movie that, on Tuesday, celebrates the 50th anniversary of its premiere. And although it may be easy to dismiss the 1964 movie musical as an outdated rom-com from the shady period before feminism got rolling, it’s much more than just a relic of a sexist time. The movie itself isn’t misogynistic– it’s about misogyny.

First, a little history: The 1964 Audrey Hepburn movie version of My Fair Lady is based on the Broadway musical (starring Julie Andrews) with songs written by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe. The musical was based on George Bernard Shaw’s 1912 play, Pygmalion, which was itself based on the part in Ovid’s Metamorphosis when a sculptor named Pygmalion falls in love with his statue of the perfect woman. That part of Metamorphosis was based on every guy who ever thought he could create the girl of his dreams (specifically, Freddie Prinze Jr. in She’s All That, of which Ovid was reportedly a mega-fan).

Even studio execs are always trying to cultivate the perfect girl, and that led to a bit of behind-the-scenes drama when it came to casting Eliza Doolittle. Julie Andrews had played Eliza on Broadway, and had already mastered the character and the vocals, and her stage co-star Rex Harrison was going to play Higgins in the movie. But studio head Jack Warner didn’t think Julie Andrews had the name recognition or glamor to carry a major motion picture. “With all her charm and ability, Julie Andrews was just a Broadway name known primarily to those who saw the play,” Jack Warner wrote in his 1965 autobiography My First Hundred Years in Hollywood. “I knew Audrey Hepburn had never made a financial flop.” But Andrews got the last word — losing the My Fair Lady role allowed her to make Mary Poppins, for which she won a Golden Globe and Oscar for Best Actress.

Audrey herself was still pretty good, even if she had to have her songs dubbed by another singer. As TIME wrote after the movie came out in 1964:

The burning question mark of this sumptuous adaptation is Audrey Hepburn’s casting as Eliza, the role that Julie Andrews had clearly been born to play….after a slow start, when the practiced proficiency of her cockney dialect suggests that Actress Hepburn is really only slumming, she warms her way into a graceful, glamorous performance, the best of her career.

From Ancient Greece to Edwardian England to 1960s Hollywood, the narrative remains the same: an overbearing male “genius” who transforms a pliable (read: vulnerable) woman from her meager, inadequate self into his personal ideal of womanhood. But thanks to Lerner and Loewe’s songs, My Fair Lady critiques that narrative as much as it upholds it. Their musical is not about a genius attempting to transform a weak woman. It’s about a strong woman attempting to retain her identity in spite of the controlling machinations of a small-minded man.

Take, for example, the undisguised misogyny in nearly all of Henry Higgins’s songs (spoken, with droll irony, by Rex Harrison). This is from a song near the end, fittingly titled “A Hymn to Him,” in which Higgins asks “Why can’t a woman be more like a man?”:

Why is thinking something women never do?
Why is logic never even tried?
Straightening up their hair is all they ever do /
Why don’t they straighten up the mess that’s inside?

This comes shortly after he says women’s “heads are full of cotton, hay and rags” calls men a “marvelous sex.” That’s not the only song where he drones on about how amazing he is compared to women: in “You Did It,” he takes complete credit for everything Eliza does, and in “I’m an Ordinary Man,” he idealizes his woman-free “bachelor” life.

Now, it’s entirely possible that Lerner and Loewe were themselves misogynistic jerks, and these songs were meant as appreciative bro-anthems. Maybe if they had been alive today, the music videos would have featured naked models on leashes. But more likely, they wrote these songs to humiliate Henry Higgins, to show the audience that he’s a jerk and they know it.

And Eliza Doolittle has plenty of songs that demonstrate she is anything but a statue; after all, the entire musical is written largely from her perspective. By far the best is “Without You,” which is pretty much the Edwardian-showtune version of Beyoncé’s “Irreplaceable:”

Without your pulling it, the tide comes in
Without your twirling it, the Earth can spin
Without your pushing them, the clouds roll by,
If they can do without you, ducky, so can I.

There’s also “Show Me” (where she tells her loser boyfriend Freddy that actions speak louder than words) and “Just You Wait” (where she fantasizes about leaving Henry Higgins for him to drown in the ocean while she goes to meet the King). Lerner and Loewe could easily have made Eliza into a love-sick ingenue, just by writing a few more songs like “I Could Have Danced All Night” (where she’s crushing on Higgins because they danced for a hot second, remember it’s 1912.) But they didn’t.

Of course, the whole Eliza-is-a-strong-woman argument gets compromised by the ending. Because after all her proclamations that she can “stand on her own,” Eliza comes back to Higgins. And when he asks “where the devil are my slippers?” she brings them to him. It’s an ending with the same ashy taste as the ending of Grease, because it seems incongruous: Eliza has no business being with Higgins, and it’s clear she’s independent-minded enough to know it.

Except, it’s 1912. And Eliza has no family connections, no money and no formal education, which means she has nowhere to go but back to the streets (or away with the insipid and financially dubious Freddy). She isn’t brainwashed or stupid — when given the choice between an emotionally abusive man and destitution, she chose the man. Choosing the man doesn’t make My Fair Lady a sexist movie; it makes it a movie about a sexist time.

Of course, 50 years later, there’s another version of My Fair Lady: Selfie, on ABC, is the newest to take up the Pygmalion mantel, when a male marketing exec “rebrands” a girl who has fouled up her social media presence. Let’s see how they do it without Lerner and Loewe.

Read TIME’s 1964 review of My Fair Lady, here in the archives: Still the Fairest of Them All

TIME Law

Supreme Court to Decide Whether Felons Can Sell Their Guns

Case will determine how much "ownership" felons have over their guns

The Supreme Court said Monday that they would decide the case of a convicted felon who attempted to sell his guns or transfer ownership to his wife after he was forced to relinquish them under federal law.

Tony Henderson is a former U.S. Border Patrol Agent who was convicted of felony drug offenses and served six months in prison in 2007. When he was arrested, he gave the FBI his 19 firearms, because felons are not allowed to own weapons. He later attempted to transfer ownership of the guns to his wife or sell them to a third party, which prompted a legal debate as to whether convicted felons relinquish all ownership rights when they turn over their weapons.

A federal judge refused Henderson’s request to transfer ownership, as did an appeals court, which led him to take the case to the Supreme court.

Henderson’s attorney told Reuters that if he doesn’t get the appeal overturned, it would “effectively strip gun owners of their entire ownership interest in significant, lawful household assets following a conviction for an unrelated offense.”

U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, who will argue the government’s case in front of the Supreme Court, says that allowing a felon to sell or transfer ownership of their guns presents a “significant risk” that he or she could still have access to them.

[Reuters]

TIME movies

Disney Announces Animated Feature Moana Coming in 2016

From the directors of 'Aladdin' and 'The Little Mermaid'

A new animation feature announced Monday by Walt Disney Animation Studios will tell the tale of a teenage girl navigating a journey through the South Pacific.

The film, set to be directed by Ron Clements and John Musker — who also directed Aladdin and The Little Mermaid will follow Moana, who sets out on an “impossible mission to fulfill her ancestors’ quest,” according to Disney’s blog. She’s apparently very good with boats.

Viewers can expect the feature to hit theaters in late 2016.

TIME Crime

Virginia Woman First to Be Charged Under New Revenge Porn Law

She and the victim were allegedly fighting over a boyfriend

A Virginia woman who allegedly posted a naked photograph of her ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend has become the first person to be charged under the state’s revenge porn law.

Waynesboro police say Rachel Lynn Craig, 28, admitted she took the image of the 22-year old victim off her ex-boyfriend’s phone and posted it to Facebook. The victim says she took the picture herself and sent it to her boyfriend, and that his ex (the accused) stole the photo and posted it on Facebook. Craig is being charged with one misdemeanor count of “maliciously disseminating a videographic or still image of another person in totally or partially nude state with the intent to coerce, harass or intimidate,” which is what the state of Virginia calls “revenge porn.”

MORE: A New Strategy for Prosecuting Revenge Porn

Virginia passed the new law earlier this year, and it went into effect on July 1. The law stipulates that anybody who disseminates nude or semi-nude content with intent to coerce, harass, or intimidate faces a Class 1 Misdemeanor. Virginia is one of many states to enact revenge porn laws as unauthorized distribution of photos becomes more common. Since 2013, California, New York, Colorado, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, have also enacted laws to fight revenge porn.

No court date is set in Craig’s case and she hasn’t commented publicly.

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