Very little surprises me anymore, but I was truly taken aback by the level of outrage over the Rolling Stone cover featuring the alleged Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
The critics of the Rolling Stone cover seem to be operating under the assumption that magazine covers are reserved for saintly personalities.
Yet showing the faces of evil on magazine covers is far from anything new. Hitler was featured on several Time magazine covers as well as numerous other publications here and around the world, and recently as well. Osama bin Laden pictures have appeared on countless magazine covers and newspaper front pages.
And that same cover photo of Tsarnaev has been shown repeatedly around the world since the bombing, including a prominent front page article in the New York Times. With no apparent outrage. Until now.
Boston Mayor Thomas Menino said, "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." Yet if "destruction gains fame" for killers, where was the outrage over the wall-to-wall and often gratuitous coverage for days by the cable news networks, especially CNN?
The cover photo of Tsarnaev is an appropriate one to use because it aptly illustrates one of the major themes of the article. That "Jahar" seemed like a normal teenager to his circle of friends, who still have trouble coming to terms with the carnage and unspeakable crimes their friend allegedly committed.
There is nothing about the cover that "glorifies a terrorist", as critics claim. Tsarnaev is described as a "monster". And if one truly wanted to find fault with the cover, it would be with the headline "The Bomber." Despite what we think we all know, Tsarnaev has pleaded not guilty, so he should be referred to as the "alleged" bomber until and if he is convicted.
What is most chilling about all of this, is the removal of the magazine from several stores like Walmart, which fails to see the irony in banning sales of a magazine depicting an alleged terrorist, while continuing to sell customers unlimited numbers of guns and ammunition that can be used to commit possible terrorist attacks.
In addition to being taken off the magazine racks, and subscriber cancellations, Rolling Stone almost certainly faces a call for advertisers to boycott the magazine, which could be especially damaging in this already shaky print media landscape.
Not only did the critics judge a magazine by its cover, but most of them will never read the exhaustively researched, very well written article that's on the inside.
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