Terrorism struck Boston on Monday, April 15, 2013.
I saw reactions to the Rolling Stone cover before I saw it for myself. A Facebook post from a friend of mine stands out, as she is not known to rant about such things. I had the sense that something was terribly wrong. She was incensed over the cover. Then I saw the cover boy and I understood why she was incensed; I was, too. There is nothing sexy or glamorous about terrorism.
Terrorism struck Boston on Monday, April 15, 2013, turning the city upside down. It was Patriots' Day, a holiday in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. People often go to the matinee Red Sox game then make their way over to Boylston Street to watch marathoners run the last mile of the Boston Marathon and cross the finish line. I did it many times myself; Boston is, after all, my hometown. The race, and the city of Boston itself, are pretty awesome and inspiring. However, this year was different. Innocent people were enjoying the day until, suddenly, Boston was rocked by not one but two bomb blasts within seconds of each other.
I remember watching TV, seeing shock and fear, bloody bodies and stunned runners moving toward the finish line mere feet away. I saw runners knocked over by the power of the first improvised explosive devices (IEDs), white smoke rising from a familiar spot on Boylston Street. I also saw ordinary people and first responders running toward the security gates and fencing, tearing it down or leaping over it to help the injured, unconcerned with their own safety.
Amid the bloody, mangled bodies, metal gates and mass commotion, sadness and anger seeped out like tears from tightly close eyes. Law enforcement began the search for answers. We were heartbroken, shocked and bewildered, wanting to know who would do such a thing and why. Lives, and Boston, were forever changed.
In the case of the twin bombings that rocked Boston just three short months ago, we know who did it. We knew in less than a week. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was responsible, along with his now deceased older brother. They are the names and faces of terrorism that tore holes in Boston.
The living half of the dynamic duo, illustrious terrorist turned cover boy Dzhokhar, is gracing the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. What kind of message does that send? Commit an act of terror, tear holes in the heart of a large, beloved American city and you too, can grace the cover of a magazine. Pardon my French, but are you fucking kidding me? Why? Why even go there?
Apparently shocked by the negative reaction nationwide, never mind in the Boston metro area where most stores refuse to sell that issue, the Editor-in-Chief attempted to explain the decision to allow the bomber's already overexposed face to grace the cover.
The bomber is in the same age group as the magazine's demographic and it's important to understand how this happened. They could have done that without putting him on the cover and then painting him as an innocent kid, too attractive to be guilty of murder and mayhem. It's disgusting and insulting.
Allegedly, their audience connects to the bomber and his pain, or something like that. It makes me wonder who they think reads Rolling Stone? Smart, young men who are angry at the world, the U.S., or just angry in general? They might be inspired by the young terrorist cover boy to do what? Commit an act of terror so they can be just like Dzhokhar Tsarnaev? I mean, seriously!
It the midst of the put-down-the-shovel-and-shut-up explanation, there was also something about the magazine's audience being able to relate and trying to understand what happened. Honestly, I don't care about the story. I care about the cover.
There is no reason, never mind a good one, for this cover. I've seen his face enough for several lifetimes, thank you. He and his brother created and dropped homemade IEDs, aiming to do as much destruction as humanly possible. They succeeded; that doesn't make it worthy of a story.
They killed three people and injured or maimed 264. Even though the bloodstained sidewalks have been paved over, that changes nothing. I've stood where the bombs went off, watching and cheering on runners of every stripe as they ran the last leg of the grueling course before crossing the finish line. What the Tsarnaev brothers did makes me sick. Giving it credence by putting him on the cover is disgusting. It's a knife twist.
My heart, along with those of New Englanders, spectators, runners and the victims, was healing. Then the editors at Rolling Stone decided to glamorize terrorism by putting the Boston bomber on the cover. Maybe the editors at Rolling Stone need a lesson in decorum. I'm not sure if they were trying to garner sympathy for, or humanize, a terrorist but either way, they failed. It's despicable and gross; it crosses a line. It reopens the wound. If they were looking for publicity, they got it. I'm not sure it's the kind anyone would want but it is publicity nonetheless.
I am curious about something. Would they do the same thing to Aurora, Colorado or Fort Hood, Texas? While I would hope they would not, it is, nonetheless, a relevant question, I think.
Are they entitled to print what they wish and put anyone on their cover that they wish? Sure. However, just because you can doesn't mean you should. It's been a little more than 3 months since the bombings. Did they not think that putting the bomber on the cover was blatantly inflammatory? It may well be a new low in journalism. So far, they have stuck to their guns. An apology and a recall of that issue don't appear to be forthcoming.
In fact, it's sad and thoughtless to think that somebody was thinking that it's been a few months now, so it's OK to go there now. It is not. It is far too soon. The 12th anniversary of 9/11 is months away and it would still be too soon for any human-interest story on the hijackers. I don't give a damn about them or the Tsarnaev brothers. What they did was so heinous, words fail me.
An 8-year-old boy who had just congratulated his dad moments before was killed. He, along with the others killed and the other victims don't warrant a cover, but let's put the young, wayward terrorist on the cover, give him what seems to be an attempt at James Dean-esque smoldering sexuality and then, let's try to understand him. No, thank you. I'm good. Save the paper for someone who matters. And the attempt at smoldering, that's a bust, too!
On the other hand, this cover may inspire other troubled young men desperate for attention. You too can make the cover of a magazine by doing something heinous. A well-respected journalist said that while they disagreed with Tsarnaev being on the cover, it's a fascinating read. I have heard that the writer attempted to humanize him. Again, it's over the line. When you try to humanize a terrorist or murderer, I'm not interested. There are professionals who tear apart terrorists on paper daily for a living. Magazines doing it for publicity? Desperate much?
You might look like a human being but when you deliberately and anonymously kill and maim people who have done nothing to you, you no longer have a soul. If you were human and had a soul, or any shreds of morality or a sense of decency, you wouldn't even go there!
I am angry that someone who terrorized innocent people would garner the cover of a
magazine. I'm dismayed at the cowardice and hatefulness. How ugly and evil do you have to be to build an IED and detonate it, knowing you are evoking fear, causing massive pain, injury and casualties and casting a permanent shadow over the Boston Marathon?
If you want someone worthy of a cover, I have suggestions. The runner who lost her leg but who has adjusted to her walking prosthetic leg and is trying to get her running leg and adjust to it so she can run a qualifying marathon in order to run the Boston Marathon next year and cross the finish line. She is fearless and determined, thankful to be alive and would make a great cover girl. Actually, any of the survivors would make a great, heroic cover person. But not a terrorist.
Stories, photos and videos of everyday people being heroes amid the mayhem in this tragedy abound. Honestly, that's just Bostonians being Bostonians and good people being good people. That's the bulk of humanity. Terrorists are a tiny, cowardly sliver of the population who deserve nothing more than a long, haunting jail sentence. Not the cover of a pop culture magazine.