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Rolling Stone Cover of Boston Bombing Suspect Stirs Up Controversy, Boycotts

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Posted on Jul 17, 2013

CVS and New England-based grocery store chain Tedeschi Food Shops have announced that they will not sell the latest issue of Rolling Stone magazine, which features a cover photo and profile of suspected Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

“CVS/pharmacy has decided not to sell the current issue of Rolling Stone featuring a cover photo of the Boston Marathon bombing suspect,” CVS said 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.”

In announcing its boycott, Tedeschi Food Shops wrote on its Facebook page that it “cannot support actions that serve to glorify the evil actions of anyone.” The company added, “Music and terrorism don’t mix.”

Rolling Stone’s cover featuring Tsarnaev sparked an uproar on social media and elsewhere after the image was released Wednesday. Already a Facebook group devoted to boycotting the magazine has amassed more than 63,000 likes.

Last week, Tsarnaev pleaded not guilty to 30 counts in connection with April’s bombings of the Boston Marathon that left three people dead and 264 injured. Among the charges is the use of a weapon of mass destruction to kill, which carries the possibility of a death penalty sentence. 

The Guardian:

The photo accompanies an article by Rolling Stone contributing editor Janet Reitman, which the magazine described as a “deeply reported account” of Tsarnaev’s life, including the revelation that he had played down his Muslim faith in high school. The magazine promised “a riveting and heartbreaking account of how a charming kid with a bright future became a monster”.

Recent editions of Rolling Stone have featured photos of Johnny Depp, the Rolling Stones and the cast of Seinfeld in glossy, glamorised shots. But the Tsarnaev cover attracted far more attention on the magazine’s Facebook page, with 9,000 comments posted by Wednesday morning.

...Shawn Anthony wrote: “I think it’s wrong to make celebrities out of these people. Why give the guy the cover of Rolling Stone?” in a sentiment that was given the thumbs up by 1,202 people.

“Jeff Bauman, who lost both legs, should be on cover,” wrote J Harper Philbin, in a post liked 1,428 times.

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Rolling Stone isn’t backing down despite the backlash, however. The magazine has addressed the controversy in a statement, saying:

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 issue is due to hit newsstands Friday.

—Posted by Tracy Bloom.

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