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Debate Over Rolling Stone’s Cover Of Alleged Marathon Bomber

In this magazine cover image released by Wenner Media, Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev appears on the cover of the Aug. 1, 2013 issue of "Rolling Stone." (AP)

In this magazine cover image released by Wenner Media, Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev appears on the cover of the Aug. 1, 2013 issue of “Rolling Stone.” (AP)

The cover of the August issue of Rolling Stone magazine featuring a flattering self-portrait of accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has led to an outcry by many people in the Boston area.

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino said in a letter that the magazine was “rewarding a terrorist with celebrity treatment” and called the decision “ill-conceived at best.” Several grocery stores announced they would not carry the latest issue of the magazine.

In a statement attached to the article online, the editors of Rolling Stone defended the article, saying it was within Rolling Stone’s “long-standing commitment to serious and thoughtful coverage of the most important political and cultural issues of our day.”

In an interview with NPR’s Melissa Block on Wednesday, Rolling Stone managing editor Will Dana noted that the photo had been featured on the front page of the New York Times in May.

“[T]his is a person who is the same age as many of our readers who, to his peer group, seemed like one of them. And that’s what we thought made the story so powerful and disturbing,” Dana said.
“And, you know, it’s in no way to endorse or glorify what he did. I think the opposite is we’re trying to understand it and to explain it.”

Guest

David Leonard, associate professor in the Department of Critical Culture, Gender, and Race Studies at Washington State University, Pullman.

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The New Yorker: “What is so troubling about this image, and many of the others that have become available since April, is that Tsarnaev really does look like a rock star. In this way, the photograph on Rolling Stone is of a part with the often unexpected, and unsettling, portrait of Tsarnaev that has emerged over the past few months.”

David Leonard via Gawker: “In imagining the killers as good kids who did a bad thing, who snapped because of a divorce, because of too much medication, because of inadequate mental health treatment, because of too much mental health care, because of guns, and because of who knows what, white manhood — the visible link that binds together so many of these shootings – always gets erased.”


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