Rolling Stone cover with alleged Boston Marathon Bomber sparks controversy

Published: Wednesday, July 17 2013 11:35 a.m. MDT

The cover of the upcoming issue of Rolling Stone magazine has sparked outrage from commentators on social media who say it's offensive and disgraceful.

Rolling Stone's August issue features alleged Boston Marathon bomber Jahar Tsarnaev with the main headline "The Bomber."

“This is completely insensitive to all the victims and gives him the publicity that he wanted. Absolutely disgusted," said Tim Menton, a commenter on Rolling Stone’s Facebook page. “Good job putting a murderous terrorist on your cover instead of any of the heroic first responders. Insanity.”

The image of the Rolling Stone cover has more than 1,000 comments on the Rolling Stone website, and it also began trending on Twitter and generated more than 13,000 comments on Facebook in 17 hours. Most of the comments criticize the decision to place Tsarnaev on the cover of Rolling Stone, which usually displays rock stars or other pop culture icons.

“RollingStone, Boston is disgusted and angered by your August cover! How dare you glorify this terrorist!” said Rolling Stone commenter J Rap. “You can be sure no one from Massachusetts will ever purchase or visit your magazine again!”

Some commentators see the backlash as hastily concluding that Tsarnaev is guilty of the Boston Marathon Bombing, or as angry reactions that he is “decent looking” terrorist.

“So people are upset because ... decent looking people can also be terrorists? Shocked I tell you,” said Rainer23, a commenter on the Huffington Post. “Our fear of understanding why terrorism exists is probably why we will never ‘defeat’ it.”

Contributing Rolling Stone editor Janet Reitman wrote the feature on Tsarnaev, which entailed two months of interviewing dozens of sources, including childhood and high school friends, teachers, neighbors and law enforcement agents, according to Rolling Stone. The cover of the issues says the story will explain “how a popular, promising student was failed by his family, fell into radical Islam and became a monster.”

The same image of Tsarnaev taking a "selfie" appeared on the front cover of The New York Times in May.

Abby Stevens is a writer for the DeseretNews.com Faith and Family sections. She is a recent graduate of Brigham Young University–Idaho. Contact Abby at astevens@deseretdigital.com.

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