Rolling Stone responds to Boston bombing suspect cover outcry

TORONTO –Rolling Stone is being accused of “glamourizing” Dzhokhar ‘Jahar’ Tsarnaev in its latest issue, after the magazine featured the surviving Boston Marathon bombing suspect on its August cover.

READ MORE: Retailers pull controversial Rolling Stone Boston bomb suspect issue

Featuring a widely-circulated self-portrait of the 19-year-old, the decision to feature Tsarnaev has sparked outrage, with many people calling the cover “offensive” and “disgusting.”

On Wednesday, Rolling Stone issued the following statement on its website:

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“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. –THE EDITORS”

The issue, which is set to hit newsstands Friday, features the article “Jahar’s World” and is said to include “dozens of sources – childhood and high school friends, teachers, neighbors and law enforcement agents, many of whom spoke for the first time about the case – to deliver a riveting and heartbreaking account of how a charming kid with a bright future became a monster.”

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THOUGHTS: Did Rolling Stone magazine go “too far” with its cover of the Boston Marathon bombing suspect? Share your thoughts in our comments section below or on our Facebook page here.

Tsarnaev pleaded not guilty last week in the April 15 attack that killed three people and wounded more than 260. Authorities claim Tsarnaev orchestrated the attack with his older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who died following a shootout with police three days after the bombing.

Thousands of comments have been posted on the Rolling Stone Facebook page, where the cover was previewed. On social media, many readers said the decision to feature Tsarnaev will cause them to cancel their subscriptions.

Editor-in-chief of the American political blog Think Progress also tweeted the latest cover, comparing it to that of a 1991 cover featuring The Doors leader singer Jim Morrison.

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After the cover went public, many were quick to criticize Rolling Stone:

Some pondered who else the magazine might feature on future covers, suggesting recently acquitted George Zimmerman or Norway’s confessed mass killer Anders Behring Breivik:

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On Facebook, one person’s comment: “Jeff Bauman, who lost both legs, should be on cover” received more than 500 “likes” while others commented that the cover outright “disrespects the people of Boston.”

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Another message on Facebook reads:
“As someone who lives in in the neighborhood of Martin Richard (the beautiful 8 year old boy who was killed) and knows other victims this SICKENS me. Where are the survivors of this tragedy who are persevering day in and day out on the cover? Why glamorous him and the heinous act associated with it? Why not show one of the victims as a symbol of support for the city, yet you choose to depict this scum as a tortured soul heart throb.
As for the people that doubt his guilt, you probably weren’t in Boston when this happened. Your loved ones weren’t standing innocently at a historic race waiting for their loved ones to cross… And were blown up. Shame on you rolling stone, and shame on the comments on this feed supporting him.”

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