Rolling Stone magazine’s upcoming issue features a photo of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev looking like a teen idol on its cover, which has caused outrage on social media. The headline reads: “The Bomber: How a Popular, Promising Student Was Failed by His Family, Fell Into Radical Islam and Became a Monster.” Backlash was immediate following the cover being posted on the magazine’s Facebook page Tuesday night. There were over 16,000 negative comments by Wednesday, with an additional 3,500 comments when they posted the cover again with a link to the article. A comment from J Harper Philbin that read, “Jeff Bauman, who lost both legs, should be on cover,” received 3,572 likes. Many Facebook users were outraged and threatened to unsubscribe. Similar comments exploded all over Twitter, saying Rolling Stone should be ashamed for glorifying a terrorist.
Two retailers have released public statements saying they are banning the issue from being sold at their locations. Tedeschi Food Shops Inc. posted on Facebook: “We will not be carrying this issue of Rolling Stone. Music and terrorism don’t mix!” Pharmacy chain CVS also released a statement, saying they “decided not to sell the current issue of Rolling Stone featuring a cover photo of the Boston Marathon bombing suspect. 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.”
Criminologist Jack Levin told MyFoxBoston.com that featuring Tsarnaev on the cover sends out a dangerous message, telling young people: “If they want to become famous, kill somebody.” In response, Rolling Stone released the following statement: “Our hearts go out to the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing, and our thoughts are always with them and their families. The cover story we are publishing this week falls within the traditions of journalism and Rolling Stone’s long-standing commitment to serious and thoughtful coverage of the most important political and cultural issues of our day. The fact that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev 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.” ~Alfonso Espina