The fact that the newest Rolling Stone magazine features an attractive photograph of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on its cover has sparked outrage in Boston and beyond.
Several retail chains, Stop & Shop and CVS among them, said they will not sell the issue.
But it's hard to see what all the shouting is about. This is a controversy driven almost entirely by emotion, not common sense.
Although pop culture remains its bread and butter, Rolling Stone is long beyond the days when it was about rock 'n' roll and not much else. For years, it has given serious, thoughtful coverage to important national topics.
Three years ago, for example, a Rolling Stone profile of Gen. Stanley McChrystal, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, revealed details that caused him to lose his job. As long ago as 1970, the magazine featured a cover photo of the infamous murderer and cult leader Charles Manson.
This and other coverage should have sent the message that Rolling Stone is not all about pop fluff.
The accompanying profile of the bombing suspect has been described as substantive and enlightening, providing details of how a seemingly innocent teenager fell under the sway of radical Islam. Even Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, while calling the cover "out of taste," described the Rolling Stone coverage as "not objectionable … apparently pretty good reporting."
Far from glorifying him, the caption accompanying the photo calls Mr. Tsarnaev "a monster."
What's more, the same photograph used by Rolling Stone was prominently featured on the front page of the New York Times on May 5, with no protest. Why the uproar now?
Apparently, it's mostly about the mistaken perception that the purpose of Rolling Stone is to glorify rock stars and little else.
"The Boston bomber is a murderer, not a band," ran a typical tweet. Another online commentator opined, "[the photo] conveys a cultural icon status [the] dude doesn't deserve."
Perhaps. But those critical of the photo seem to value style over substance, even if Rolling Stone doesn't.Copyright © 2015, CT Now