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Too far?
The latest issue of Rolling Stone contains a deep look at how Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was turned towards terrorism. There's a problem, however: Because of the image of a seemingly "normal-looking" Tsarnaev on the cover, Walgreens, CVS and other chain stores are refusing to carry it, Fox News calls it "disgusting," saying that it "glamorizes" the bomber, and Boston Mayor Tom Menino says in a letter to the publisher:
Your August 3 cover rewards a terrorist with celebrity treatment. It is ill-conceived, at a best, and re-afferms a terrible message that destruction gains fame for killers and their "causes". […]

The survivors of the Boston attacks deserve Rolling Stone cover stories, though I no longer feel that Rolling Stone deserves them.

I'm not sure that calling someone a "bomber," a "monster" and a member of "radical Islam" counts as glamorizing them. And American magazines have a history of putting terrible, terrible people on their covers; dictators, crooks and yes—murderers. Guess what: They don't all look like monsters. They don't all look like you think they will look. On the other hand, perhaps the wider societal value is in not granting notorious killers a celebrity status, even if unintentional. Is there a secondary effect on other potentially violent individuals?

In response to the criticism, the magazine has updated the online version of the story with a note from the editors:

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.
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