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Rolling Stone defends cover featuring Boston bombing suspect

July 17, 2013 at 4:00 PM ET


In response to backlash over its upcoming issue, which features Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on the cover, Rolling Stone magazine has issued a statement defending the decision to feature Tsarnaev in a space usually reserved for rock stars and celebrities.

"Our hearts go out to the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing, and our thoughts are always with them and their families,'' the statement from the magazine's editors reads. "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."

The August 3rd issue has sparked debate online, as some wonder if it glamorizes the actions of the suspected terrorist. It also has resulted in multiple national chains announcing they will refuse to sell the issue and numerous local businesses following suit.

CVS announced via its Facebook page that the pharmacy chain would not be selling the issue in its 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 brand wrote on Wednesday. "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."

Tadeschi Food Shops also announced via its Facebook page that it would not be selling the issue, stating that it "cannot support actions that serve to glorify the evil actions of anyone."

Walgreens became the third chain after CVS and Tadeschi to boycott the issue when it made an announcement via its official Twitter account saying, "Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. Walgreens will not be selling this issue of Rolling Stone."

Video: Rolling Stone cover sparks outrage in Boston

Members of the Boston community have expressed disappointment and anger, with some calling for a boycott of the magazine. Boston mayor Thomas Menino wrote an open letter to Rolling Stone co-founder and publisher Jann Wenner saying the cover "rewards a terrorist with celebrity treatment" but that responding with anger "only feeds into (Rolling Stone's) obvious marketing strategy."

"It is ill-conceived, at best, and reaffirms a terrible message that destruction gains fame for killers and their 'causes,''' Menino wrote about the cover. "The survivors of the Boston attacks deserve Rolling Stone covers, though I no longer feel that Rolling Stone deserves them."

Boston City Council member Rob Consalvo issued a statement saying, "Rolling Stone's decision to glamorize the image of a man who brought terror to our city is disappointing. The marathon bombing shook our city and now thousands of people who were personally affected by this tragedy will have the unfortunate experience of coming across the face of a terrorist in a space usually reserved for rock stars and cultural icons. Boston is strong, but we are still healing."

In an interview with Boston WHDH, Mass. Gov. Deval Patrick called the cover "out of taste."

Friends and family of the Boston Marathon bombing victims also have expressed their outrage. Katlyn Townsend, a friend of Jeffrey Bauman, who lost both his legs in the explosion near the finish line, demanded for Rolling Stone to pull the issue from newsstands and any related content from its website in a statement issued on Facebook.

"While I respect and support the media's right to freedom of speech, I do not condone your blatant abuse of that right to sell magazines,'' Townsend wrote. "Your use of a provocative, borderline sympathetic image and headline of someone who has caused so much pain to our country is appalling, insensitive, and disgusting. This person does not deserve to have his name mentioned publicly, let alone be featured on the cover of a magazine.

"It is sad that a publication of this stature, one which holds such cultural and historical significance in our country, has stooped this low. Shame on you."

Jen Regan, whose fiance, Marc Fucarile, had to have his right leg amputated and suffered extensive injuries in the bombing, also condemned Rolling Stone's decision.

"The new Rolling Stone cover is disgusting,'' Regan said in a statement to NBC Boston affiliate WHDH. "It sensationalizes Marc's pain as well all the other victims and survivors. It is an insult to the families and people impacted that day. We know that the people of Boston are better than this and will continue to rise above this meaningless story and keep the focus where it belongs on the victims, survivors and their families who face a lifetime of challenges."

A Facebook group calling for a boycott of the pop culture magazine has already collected more than 65,000 likes, and many are taking to Twitter to sound off on the magazine's decision.

However, the Tsarnaev cover isn't the first issue of Rolling Stone to feature a suspected criminal on its cover. In a 1970 issue, Rolling Stone featured infamous criminal Charles Manson on its cover, accompanying an interview with Manson from within prison.

What's your take on the cover? Weigh in below.


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