The New Yorker’s Ian Crouch has an interesting response to those who expressed shock and disgust at Rolling Stone’s decision to put Boston Marathon bombing suspect on its cover.
From The New York Times:
On Wednesday, defenders of Rolling Stone pointed out that the magazine doesn’t only put musicians and celebrities on its cover: in 1970, it ran a cover piece about Charles Manson. Looking at that image now, Manson himself resembles something of a rock star of his time. And it was true then, too: much of what made him so terrifying had to do with the ways in which he was inseparable from his greater zeitgeist. Manson was a murderer and a kind of twisted celebrity, and in that way a forerunner to the modern terrorist. The angry commenters on Facebook today can be forgiven for not wanting to look at Tsarnaev, or preferring instead to think of the victims and the heroes, and for worrying about the ways in which some have elevated Tsarnaev as a martyr and an object of obsession. The photo on the cover of Rolling Stone is the same one that “Dzhokhar Is Innocent” advocacy groups and #FreeDzhokhar Web groupies, mostly young women, use to honor their cause and crush. Everyone, in this age, understands the power of images, and the ways in which that power can lead to troubling ends—including, as Paul Bloom wrote in a recent post, misdirected empathy for an alleged mass killer.
Yet the vitriol and closed-mindedness of the Web response to the Rolling Stone cover, before anyone had the chance to read the article itself, is an example of two of the ugly public outcomes of terrorism: hostility toward free expression, and to the collection and examination of factual evidence; and a kind of culture-wide self-censorship encouraged by tragedy, in which certain responses are deemed correct and anything else is dismissed as tasteless or out of bounds. The victims of the Boston Marathon bombing deserve our attention, and will continue to teach us about perseverance and the best parts of our common nature. But the dark stories of the bombing need to be told, too. And we need to hear them.
Continue reading the rest of the story on The New Yorker