The Rolling Stone cover: glorifying a terrorist or sparking a conversation?


By Craig McDermott, cross-posted from Random Musings


Rolling Stone
magazine, long a window providing a view on pop culture and, more than
occasionally, social issues, has stirred up a firestorm of controversy
with the cover of its latest issue.

Pic courtesy Rolling Stone magazine

It shows a picture of Dzokhar Tsarnaev, one of the people responsible for the bombings at the Boston Marathon in April.

The controversy is not over the fact that they chose to run a pic of him on the cover, but one where he looks so *normal*. 

He is viewed by most of society as a monster and people want him to look like one.

Not as one talking head on MSNBC observed on Thursday, someone who looks like they should be "dating Taylor Swift".


While the right-wing has mostly just given vent to the faux outrage that they are known for –

– most of the rest of society has started to examine their discomfort with the cover.

From the Boston Globe, written Jesse Singal –

But we don’t want Tsarnaev to be normal. We want him to either be a pawn
of abject evil, or to embody abject evil himself. If he were a
psychopath, or if he had been seduced by a sprawling international
conspiracy, we’d be able to guide ourselves through the bombing’s
painful aftermath with a neat, clean story line: us versus them, good
versus evil. When a State Police sergeant released photos of Tsarnaev’s
apprehension to Boston Magazine on Thursday, it helped sate this need.
The images of a bloody Tsarnaev leaving the boat in Watertown offer a
rebuttal, an easy way to resolve our cognitive dissonance: No, he isn’t
an otherwise normal kid who did a horrible thing. He’s evil!

have much insight to add to the discussion on this issue, other than to
say that I'm OK with the cover, both in a "free speech" way and in a
"we need to talk about this" way.

I do believe that we
need to talk about this, and I think that the RS cover has sparked some
discussion of how the evil in the world can often resemble the good in
the world.


And that is what I call journalism.



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The Blue Meanie is an Arizona citizen who wishes, for professional reasons, to remain anonymous when blogging about politics. Armed with a deep knowledge of the law, politics and public policy, as well as pen filled with all the colors stolen from Pepperland, the Blue Meanie’s mission is to pursue and prosecute the hypocrites, liars, and fools of politics and the media – which, in practical terms, is nearly all of them. Don’t even try to unmask him or he’ll seal you in a music-proof bubble and rendition you to Pepperland for a good face-stomping. Read blog posts by the infamous and prolific AZ Blue Meanie here.


  1. Craig, thank you for posting this.

    Part of me wonders if CSV, Walgreens and the other large corporations that are refusing to carry this issue of RS would feel the same way if RS weren’t the home of Matt Taibbi.

    In any case, I agree. It’s what I call journalism as well.

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