WTF: Should we be mad at Rolling Stone?

If you haven’t heard by now, Rolling Stone magazine has released the cover for its August 1st issue, featuring prominently the bushy visage of the Boston Marathon Bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

Rolling Stone Cover, August 1, 2013
Rolling Stone Cover, August 1, 2013

For many, this face brings back horrid memories of an otherwise anticipated Monday afternoon in Boston. On April 15, 2013 Dzhokhar, 19, and his brother Tamerlan, 26, detonated two bombs in Copley Square, a short distance from the finish line of the Boston Marathon. The bombers were tracked down with murky governmental intervention that ultimately led to a shootout between the two bombers and police on Thursday, April 19th into the wee hours of the following morning. Police shot down Tamerlan and his brother was captured after a drawn out chase in Watertown as Boston eyes were glued to their screens, locked down in their crippled city.

His face was displayed prominently in media for weeks as his interrogation process proceeded. Suddenly everyone in America had Dzhokhar’s head on a stake right in their living rooms, handsets, and laptops.

Many are taking offense to Rolling Stone’s decision to include this killer on the cover of their next issue, but the magazine has donned some of the country’s and the world’s most notorious villains as its front piece in the past.

Here are some other worldwide criminals on the covers of prominent magazines:

My question is: Should we be mad at Rolling Stone? Boston Mayor, Thomas “Mumbles” Menino is quite peeved. He addressed a letter to  Rolling Stone which surfaced yesterday (July 17)

“Your August 3 cover rewards a terrorist with celebrity treatment. It is ill-conceived, at best, and re-affirms a terrible message that destruction gains fame for killers and their ’causes’. There may be valuable journalism behind your sensational treatment, though we can’t know because almost all you released is the cover.

To respond to you in anger is to feed into your obvious marketing strategy. So, I write to you instead to put the focus where you should have: on the brave and strong survivors and on the thousands of people – their family and friends, volunteers, first responders, doctors, nurses, and donors – who have come to their side. Among those we lost, those who survived, and those who help carry them forward, there are artists and musicians and dancers and writers. They have dreams and plans. They struggle and strive. The survivors of the Boston attacks deserve Rolling Stone cover stories, though I no longer feel that Rolling Stone deserves them.”

Read the full letter:

Boston Mayor Tom Menino, Letter to Rolling Stone, July 17

Ultimately, your reaction to this Rolling Stone cover will vary based on your level of exposure to the process of bringing Tsarnaev to (some form of) justice. He has pled “Not Guilty” to his charges of killing three people and injuring almost 300 at the Marathon Bombing as well as the shooting death of an MIT Police Officer. 

Respond with a comment if you think Americans should be mad about the cover. Did Mayor Menino handle the situation correctly?


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