People & Ideas

Jul 22, 2013

Magazines don’t kill people, bombs do

Rolling Stone made alleged Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev its cover for this month's edition. But why are we all so outraged?

Helen Razer — Writer and broadcaster

Helen Razer

Writer and broadcaster

US magazine Rolling Stone released its latest cover, and the image of alleged Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev gussied up to better resemble a model from a MacBook Air advertisement than a suspected nutter stirred disquiet.

But not too much, actually. Not unreasonably, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick called the cover “out of taste”, and certain chain stores in the state banned the item from sale. The outrage-economy crashed and burned rather more quickly, with much of the action unfolding on the magazine’s Facebook page. Almost as soon as social media had rubbed itself predictably raw with the assertion this winsome pic could only result in more violence, traditional US media answered with a resolute: “No it won’t”.

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9 thoughts on “Magazines don’t kill people, bombs do

  1. Limited News

    The Rolling Stone cover is another confected controversy wherein opposing viewpoints hammer home the same line: In this case, that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is guilty (and not framed, as his relatives claim). Sheeple are then invited to feel morally upstanding by taking either side.

  2. Saugoof

    The cover itself I couldn’t care much about one way or the other. What annoys me more is that people who are outraged about it seem to be outraged mainly because it is an attempt at understanding how someone could become the sort of person who plants bombs amongst innocents. The impression I get is that some people fear that anything that allows them to see him as anything other than a cartoon monster will cause them to lose their cherished hatred of him.

    I’ve no sympathy for him, but I’d still want to find out what led him to this point. At least it’d give us some insight into one of the reasons people turn to terrorism.

  3. Bronwyn

    Drawing a long bow, much? For how much longer are subscribers to be subjected to Razer’s personal crusade against commentators who get more airtime than she does? This is barely coherent.

  4. Bo Gainsbourg

    I wouldn’t say the influence of media in the U.S. is of less concern…it is a common and major topic of debate…the media performance and structure in the U.S. has a significant effect on politics there…seems weird to suggest it wouldn’t.

  5. Harris Evan

    Helen, the media don’t kill people, roads don’t kill anyone, neither do wars, nor do pathogens, plague, or knives. Evil thoughts don’t either, nor do churches abuse people, pens don’t write, sedition doesn’t undermine governments, lies don’t mislead people. People aren’t careful enough, writers and readers are biased and slack, it all depends on many circumstances. If we are going to have freedom, we need to have responsibility and accountability, remedies and apologies, programs and wise people, laws and self restraint, willingness to forget, and to remember. I wonder have writers ever caused any evil in the world? Or any good? Probably. If I were to start somewhere, to clean the place up, I’d start with me, and especially with people whose effect on the world is enhanced by their constant access to print and electronic media.

  6. Alex Lourey

    Saugoff is completely correct, in my opinion. This cover is no more ‘influential’ than the tabloid newspapers who splashed his photo over their front pages after he was caught; if anything, they are going above and beyond the coverage of Tsarnaev so far, not merely reporting the same story as you’d find in any source, but rather highlighting the choice he made to become the ‘monster’ he’ll be forever remembered as. Personally, I find times to be dim when people want safe journalism, complete with a mug shot of a terrorist and an article that doesn’t add much to the headline, as opposed to trying to explore how one turns to terrorism and why they make that decision.

  7. TheFamousEccles

    Having a hissy much Bronwyn? Your reply is barely coherent. Did you read the article, and not just the “by” line?

  8. Bronwyn

    Eccles. I read the article, because I found the reaction to the Rolling Stone cover interesting, and there have been some interesting and insightful articles written in response. I don’t think this is one of them. I thought it a laboured attempt to score some point against a contemproary feminist with whom Razer disagrees, relying on ‘facts’ of her own choosing – a common theme of her recent Crikey pieces.

    Can’t say I anticipated that my comments would be so personally upsetting for anyone, but I do hope you find this more coherent.

  9. Polly Valentine

    Nothing fishy about free willy? My comments are free. And wilful.

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