Friday, July 19, 2013

Controversy Erupts Over Rolling Stone's Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Cover

Posted By on Fri, Jul 19, 2013 at 11:51 AM

This week's cover of Rolling Stone features an unlikely subject: Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the suspect in the Boston Marathon Bombing — and it's made some noise:

New Rolling Stone cover turns the Boston bomber into Jim Morrison.

A comparison:— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) July 16, 2013

“It’s a total disgrace, that cover of Rolling Stone,” Menino told reporters at the opening of a rail station. “It should have been about survivors or first responders. Why are we glorifying a guy who created mayhem in the city of Boston? I am going to be in touch with the publishers and tell them how I feel about it.”  - New Straits Times

CVS/pharmacy has decided not to sell the current issue of Rolling Stone featuring a cover photo of the Boston Marathon bombing suspect. As a company with deep roots in New England and a strong presence in Boston, we believe this is the right decision out of respect for the victims of the attack and their loved ones. - CVS Facebook page

“It’s disgusting,” said Lampner, 45, who visited the finish line like many other tourists before she left the city for her home in Ohio. “The image glorifies him. I had such a visceral reaction that it sends the wrong message, like he’s a role model, like he deserves to be celebrated. It’s a horrible decision.” - Boston Globe

Granted, these people miss that a number of magazines have published images of mass murderers and terrible people on their front covers before, but I guess the difference is that Tsarnaev is dreamy as f--k. Never mind that, as many have pointed out, the New York Times used the same image on their front page.

Still, the controversy is very real, which is why Boston Police Department officer Sean Murphy released images he took of the night that Tsarnaev was captured.

Murphy, to Boston Magazine:
“As a professional law-enforcement officer of 25 years, I believe that the image that was portrayed by Rolling Stone magazine was an insult to any person who has every worn a uniform of any color or any police organization or military branch, and the family members who have ever lost a loved one serving in the line of duty. The truth is that glamorizing the face of terror is not just insulting to the family members of those killed in the line of duty, it also could be an incentive to those who may be unstable to do something to get their face on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine.

For this, however, Murphy has been relieved of duty. Again, from Boston Magazine:

Though he’s been relieved of duty, Murphy has not been fired. The status of his duty is to be reviewed next week.Two lieutenants in an unmarked cruiser and a sergeant in a marked cruiser arrived at Murphy’s home about 7:40 tonight and, during about 20 minutes at his home, took the following: his gun, badge, ammunition, handcuffs, baton, bulletproof vest, cameras, police ID, license to fire arms, pepper spray, cellphone and computer. Murphy was also ordered not to speak to the press or discuss the capture of Tsarnaev with anyone else.

Personally, I'm of the opinion that Rolling Stone did nothing wrong in publishing the image of a man accused of bombing the Boston Marathon — he did a terrible thing, but the article in question attempts to understand the man who turned from a respected student and friend into someone capable of placing pressure cooker explosives in a highly-populated area.

Any blame for supposedly making Tsarnaev into a celebrity or martyr shouldn't fall on Rolling Stone, but should instead look at the people who are treating Tsarnaev as if he's something more than he is: not as handsome, troubled soul, but as someone who tried to kill as many people as he possibly could in one swoop.

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