Rolling Stone magazine, known for its glamorous covers of rock stars and other high-profile celebrities, caused a stir with its current issue featuring Boston marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. With his tousled hair and facial scruff, the cover makes Tsarnaev look hip and cool, not unlike past iconic covers of Bob Dylan and Jim Morrison.
The caption reads “The Bomber: How a popular, promising student was failed by his family, fell into radical Islam and became a monster.”
Several notable retailers, including CVS and Walgreens, have decided not to carry the issue in their stores.
“CVS/pharmacy has decided not to sell the current issue of Rolling Stone featuring a cover photo of the Boston Marathon bombing suspect,” the Rhode Island-based pharmacy chain said in a statement. “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.”
Other retailers who said they will not carry the issue include Rite Aid, Stop & Shop, the grocery chain the Roche Bros., and Tedeschi Food Shops, a Massachusetts-based convenience store chain.
Other critics of the cover, including Boston Mayor Tom Menino and Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, struck fast, accusing the magazine of offering Tsarnaev “celebrity treatment” and calling the cover “ill-conceived, at best” in a letter written by Menino to Rolling Stone publisher JannWenner.
“The survivors of the Boston attacks deserve Rolling Stone cover stories, though I no longer feel that Rolling Stone deserves them,” the letter concluded.
Rolling Stone, for its part, issued a statement on July 17 saying the story was part of its “long-standing commitment to serious and thoughtful” coverage of the most important current political and cultural issues.
“The fact that DzhokharTsarnaev is young, and in the same age group as many of our readers, makes it all the more important for us to examine the complexities of this issue and gain a more complete understanding of how a tragedy like this happens,” the statement said.
Rolling Stone did not address whether the photo was edited or filtered in any way in a brief statement offering condolences to bombing survivors and the loved ones of the dead.
In a blog posting on July 16, Rolling Stone detailed “five revelations” in the story by contributing editor Janet Reitman, including Tsarnaev’s increasing devotion to Islam while still in high school, as well as his older brother TamerlanTsarnaev’s possible mental illness, which the boys’ mother decided would be better treated by Islam than by a psychiatrist.
“Around 2008, Jahar’s older brother Tamerlan confided to his mother that he felt like ‘two people’ were inside him,” the blog posting reads. “She confided this to a close friend who felt he might need a psychiatrist, but Zubeidat believed that religion would be the cure for her son’s inner demons and growing mental instability, and pushed him deeper into Islam.”
Tsarnaev has pleaded not guilty to 30 counts of a federal indictment. If the government decides to seek capital punishment, Tsarnaev could face the death penalty if convicted on one of 17 counts.
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