Magazine Cover Ethics: The Cute Terrorist and The Rolling Stone Boycott


Is it just my flawed impression, or are Americans increasingly less supportive of free speech, free thought, and artistic expression? If so, that is a worrisome development for our democracy and its culture, and if so, yes, I believe the willingness of our government and its leaders to maneuver around the Bill of Rights in “ends justify the means” conduct has fueled the trend.

Now Rolling Stone is the target. The Sixties magazine icon had the nerve to place Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaevon its latest edition’s cover, looking like a male model, and, we hear, the families of the victims are outraged and their communities prefer their sensibilities over liberty. Jumping on the bandwagon, retailers have decided to make all publications afraid to challenge its readers by announcing that they won’t sell the issue in Boston, and there are hints of an advertiser boycott.

Unfair, un-American, dangerous and silly.

What is Rolling Stone’s supposed offense? Publishing a cover that inflames the raw emotions of the victims of a tragedy is the charge. Once again, the sensitivities of the few are supposed to restrict communications to the many. No. We should not have to censor our speech and expression out of terror that someone, somewhere, will be upset by what we express. The magazine felt it had to justify its editorial decision, but it did not. A profile of a young American terrorist is legitimate journalism, and the fact that he can look like a Tiger Beat heartthrob makes vivid points: monsters don’t always look like monsters, and the Boston bomber could be the boy next door.

Another offense is supposedly the irresponsible message the cover and feature story sends. “If they want to become famous, kill somebody,” Northeastern University criminologist Jack Levin told Wow…you have to be a criminologist to detect that fact of life, do you? This isn’t an irresponsible message; this is true; everybody knows it, and has for a long, long time. I don’t recall anyone boycotting Stephen Sondheim musicals or Barbra Streisand for singing his songs in the wake of his show “Assassins,” which was about how, hmmmm, if you want to become famous, kill the President. That’s true too. Time and Life were never boycotted for putting Lee Harvey Oswald on the cover, and everyone in the United States was a victim of his crime.

Rolling Stone has done nothing wrong, but its critics and boycotters are doing something terribly wrong. They are assisting in the slow-motion strangling of freedom of expression, speech and the press.


Sources: Fox, CBS Boston, Rolling Stone,

73 thoughts on “Magazine Cover Ethics: The Cute Terrorist and The Rolling Stone Boycott

  1. Pingback: Rolling Stone PR Faux Pas |

  2. I have a hard time with this…

    While I agree that knee-jerk boycotts are idiotic (and ones like this are decidedly anti-free-market), this was also a really, really stupid move by Rolling Stone.

    They could have used any number of other pictures – like, say, his booking photo – instead of this one. We already have a culture where a vocal (if small) number of what I assume to be sane and rational women (though there are two possible problems with that statement) are gushing over how hot the violent little sociopath in.

    Adding to the sex appeal of a man guilty of bombing soft targets and trying to kill as many people as possible is so dumb it should be fucking painful, and thus Rolling Stone does indeed deserve to lose sales – if people disagree with what they do, they have an absolute right to not buy it, and to even speak out about why they are not buying it.

    Likewise, retailers are free to not sell something if they wish (though this effort to go after Wal-Mart for not yet pulling it from its shelves is dumb as fuck).

    Until the screeching mob starts to go after advertisers (and let’s be honest, it really is only a matter of time), I have to give this one a pass…

  3. After Hitler and Stalin made Time’s Cover in their Person of the Year issue, nothing should surprise anyone.,16641,19390102,00.html

    Boycotting a magazine (assuming people still buy hard copies) is a great expression of free speech. Although this bombing did not affect me, I fully support and empathize with those who are insulted by RS glamorizing a terrorist. It’s not censorship but democracy in action.. Peaceful and with a purpose.

    Remember when Gary Trudeau had a Doonesbury bit about exploring Ronald Reagan’s brain? Many newspapers refused to run that series of strips.. Was that censorship?

  4. Frankly, I’m not sure what to make of this. But I have to say that as soon as I saw pictures of Jokhar, all I could think was, “Man! This guy looks just like a young Bobert Zimmerman.* I’m sure the editors at Rolling Stone thought the very same thing and they just couldn’t resist.

    *How’s that for a bit of irony? Isn’t George’s very articulate and reasonable brother named Robert?

    • This was my first real look at the cover and that was my first impression as well. “Hey, it’s a young Bob Dylan!”

      And, ironically, as I type this message I am listening to “One Headlight”, (by the Wallflowers whose lead singer is Jakob Dylan)

  5. Nobody’s free speech rights are harmed here.

    Rolling Stone is free to publish any story it desires to. It has done so.

    Individuals are free to state their displeasure with Rolling Stone for the content in any issue. They have done so.

    Stores are free to chose what items they will and will not sell in their stores. They have done so.

    Advertisers are free to buy advertising in any publication that will have them. They can also choose to not advertise if they disagree with content.

    Individuals are free to purchase (or not purchase) magazines based on whatever reason they determine suits them the best.

    The freedom of speech does not shield one from criticism. Freedom of the press doesn’t guarantee sales. If Rolling Stones makes editorial decisions that are harmful to the bottom line, that has nothing to do with free speech and everything to do with business.

    • Spot on, Dan.

      Being one to look at pictures before reading headlines, my first impression was a failure to recognize who the guy is. I thought he might have been a Sir Paul McCartney love child…

    • Spot on. Unless and until someone starts getting the government involved, all speech is free speech. Now, I do agree with Jack’s lament that the American culture is increasingly reluctant to allow ANY sort of ‘offensive’ speech, and that fact can be chilling at times; however, Rolling Stone made a choice, and they get to live with the consequnses.

      • Which should be offended people not buying the mag, not offended people trying to put the mag out of business, a la Paula Deen.

        Killers become celebrities. This has been true since 1888 at least, and Jack the Ripper. Saying that Rolling Stone is culpable for sending a message that is already a given, and that it is responsible for an unavoidable phenomenon of long standing, is unfair and rather cretinous. Jodi Arias already has had a movie on cable with a much prettier actress playing her. Scott Peterson. There are at least two movies about Ted Bundy. Several about Manson. Three networks did films about Amy Fisher (Drew Barrymore and Alysa Milano were two of the Amys) in the same week. And Rolling Stone is sending the message that killing people means fame?

    • I agree with Dan, as well. The problem I think his argument avoids, however, is that the business decisions made by corporations beholden to profit margins are, as a practical matter, interpreted as supporting the substance of the boycotters’ cause, notwithstanding the fact that the substance of the cause is of little (if any) import in the business decision. As a result, the boycotters’ position appears to gain support without any real debate of the merits of their cause. We forego substantive argument for financial expediency, undercutting the value we allegedly place on free speech as a concept (as opposed to the constitutional right).

      • I think the topic of how uninformed/meritless kneejerk reactions to things can have a detremental impact on the ideals behind our free speech laws is a good topic. But I am not sure that this is neccessarily a case where the reaction is uninformed or meritless. I may not agree with the reaction (and I tend to believe that the reaction to the article is doing exactly what they are complaining about… giving this kid more airtime and noteriety)

        But the concern here did seem to be an assault on actual free speech rights. So that is why I commented as I did.

  6. “What is Rolling Stone’s supposed offense? Publishing a cover that inflames the raw emotions of the victims of a tragedy is the charge.”

    Rolling Stone’s actual offense is probably something, or some combination of somethings, very different.

    If I was a regular RS reader, I don’t know how I’d react. My first thought, though, upon knowing who is pictured, was “Why the glam shot? Is he expected to make money for this mag, the same way the other celebs named on the cover have (and do)?”

    Next thought was quite a bit more dark, and possibly unethical, but it wasn’t out of inflamed raw emotion, I can assure of that.

  7. While Rolling Stone has maybe one article of bonafide journalism per issue, for the most part it’s a celebrity magazine, with rock stars and actors on the cover. This photo is clearly a sensationalist move, designed to provoke a response. Clinging to the First Amendment when someone criticizes you is a fool’s errand. Nobody’s suggested that the editors of Rolling Stone be imprisoned. Newsstands are not obliged to carry every single periodical.

    This actually reminds me of when my high school librarian made a speech about how no books would be “censored” and removed from the library. I offered to donate an issue of Hustler.

      • I quite agree. Some people boycotted the chicken place, some people patronized it. Democracy in action. Rolling Stone magazine has not been shut down by any stretch of the imagination. If anything, it’s gotten a boost of publicity. Which in my opinion is a more powerful argument against boycotting than cries of “Censorship!”

  8. Pingback: Heroes Memorial Foundation Joins Call For Rolling Stone Magazine Boycott « On Guard 4 America

  9. At first I was taken aback. I am no huge fan of Rolling Stone (mostly because the magazine has ridiculed my favorite rock band for many, many years, but that’s a different mater). However, after thinking about it, I realized that Rolling Stone published a photo that other media outlets have done. How many times have we seen that photo on CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, etc, all decrying the evil he and his brother inflicted in the name of Islam. The caption below, though, it really tells the story: How a teenager with a promising future was turned into a monster by radical Islam. Why isn’t that legitimate reporting? Why is this story not important to understanding how someone turns into a raving lunatic bent on wreaking as much pain and evil? The photo is important because it says that the face of evil doesn’t necessarily have fangs, horns and red skin or someone screaming in a language we may not understand wielding a weapon in the name of a religion. It could be the next door neighbor or your classmate.


  10. The problems of people lauding fame and thrill seekers is an issue. Also violence gives a quick illusion doing something now for those who never made any serious attempt to change things non-violently first. Maybe they cannot imagine their noble death won’t change things the way they want. The media and the persistence of anything on the net feeds that delusion.

    As much as the above people are a problem, free speech is one of the best cures for any kind of oppression. How many ills of the last century began with society itself suppressing opinions for the ‘good’ of all?

    On a pragmatic side this shows how normal he looks and that these foolish boys who explode in violence aren’t really all the outsider losers with nothing going for himself (like the unibomber) that media usually likes to show. That IS a valid topic for journalism. And the furor makes RS relevant and gives a print magazine needed attention too.

    Overall, I can understand why people are upset, but sometimes journalism is supposed to show what makes people upset. Positive change can never happen under silence so Rolling Stone is very much doing their job, and calls to shut it down is falling prey to feel-good, groupthink, and Big Brother/Nanny way of protecting people from the truth.

  11. If Rolling Stone’s job is producing hard-hitting journalism that makes people upset, then Bono is apparently the subject of a number of hard-hitting pieces from them over the years. To put a terrorist in the same slot normally reserved for, say, Zooey Deschanel, suggests not hard-hitting journalism but a desire to shock.

    If the photo instead showed one of the Boston marathon victims, split open and bleeding, and some people refused to put it out for sale, nobody would be shouting about a nanny state and First Amendement rights.

    • Shock is OK. Remember Time’s “God is Dead” cover? The breast-feeding professional with the 3-year-old? The solution to magazines you don’t like is not to buy them, not stopping everyone else from buying them.

      • Nobody’s stopping anyone else from buying a copy of Rolling Stone. Do you think all newstands are ethically obliged to provide every single issue of every single periodical?

        • What do you mean? 7-11 is banning the issue across the nation—that stops people from buying it. Do you not see the difference between retailers and advertisers boycotting and punishing a magazine for a point of view and creative expression, and allowing individual consumers to buy or not buy what they choose? We have no free speech or expression when any image or article some small percentage of the public find objectionable is subject to economic sanctions.

          The post wasn’t about the First Amendment, it was about maintaining a culture that is accepting, tolerant and generous with free expression. That means NOT boycotting magazines because some people think that everything published has to have reverence for every victim of crime and tragedy.

          • I think his point was, if you don’t think sellers are right to make a market decision to pull a particular magazine from selling that they had been selling, do they have a right to make a market decision and tell new magazines or publications that they can’t use them as a seller?

            • But his question, worded that way, pretends that the problem discussed is a free market/profitability problem. Which it isn’t. It’s a small cadre of people bullying others into making a decision that denies millions more the ability to otherwise make a market decision.

          • 7-11 is banning the issue across the nation—that stops people from buying it. Do you not see the difference between retailers and advertisers boycotting and punishing a magazine for a point of view and creative expression, and allowing individual consumers to buy or not buy what they choose?

            Still not a First Amendment issue. Unless 7-11 became a governmental actor and I wasn’t informed.

            The post wasn’t about the First Amendment, it was about maintaining a culture that is accepting, tolerant and generous with free expression.

            You are suggesting, I assume, that it is wrong for a company to opt to not sell something because it deprives people of choice?

            Does this mean I get to sue any blockbuster video outlet (what that still exist) because they don’t rent porn?

            • I feel like I’m repeating myself. The post is about freedom of expression and having a society that encourages rather than discourages it.

              “You are suggesting, I assume, that it is wrong for a company to opt to not sell something because it deprives people of choice?”

              No. I’m suggesting that treating homogeneity with politically correct sentiments as a qualification for selling something eventually chills expression.

              Forget suing. Many wrongs don’t have a civil remedy, and this is one of them.

              • “this thing appears to be a glorification of a monster, so we aren’t going to sell it” is not subjecting it to any type of PC lens. RS made a call, and companies are responding as they are free to do. See my first comment for a more nuanced approach, but so long as people are just saying “we refuse to buy/sell this issue” and not attacking advertisers, I can’t see a down side here.

                • The downside to this, is sellers refusing to sell something based on an emotional response to a controversial article, is that the creators/publishers of controversial articles will avoid discussing those topics in the future.

                  I don’t think Jack has denied the right of sellers/buyers to pull / refuse to buy the magazine. I think he is annoyed at the effect that this type of bullying will have on people’s willingness to discuss controversial topics in the future.

                    • So if the bomber had one eye lower than the other, was bald and was missing a tooth, the cover would have been fine? What an idiotic thing to punish a magazine for. The observation that evil doesn’t always look evil is hardly novel, but it’s wroth making. The cover suggests that even a cute Boston kid the girls would swoon over in a boyband might have become a murderous, anti-American terrorist, and the photo is appropriate and eloquent for that purpose. Thus the complaints and boycotts are unjust (and dumb) and thus the reaction is unfair in the extreme, a.k.a. unethical, AND chills free expression.

                    • The cover image is part of the article. Setting up the background of how an apparantly adjusted kid becme maladjusted and slipped into bad company and bad counsel.

                      A story you see played out time and time again with disenchanted young men who realize life isn’t going to be what they thought it was.

        • I think Jack’s point is not that an aggregate ‘million’ individual decisions to not purchase the Rolling Stone magazine from a seller would be wrong (because it wouldn’t be wrong, that IS the free market), but that the coordinated efforts of a few hundred to bully sellers into denying the ability of millions of others to make their own market choices IS wrong.

          If the magazine’s article is TRULY so offensive that people would not want to read it, then a ‘free’ market would demonstrate that when the aggregate decisions of millions are shown by NOT BUYING the magazine. Then the seller would be completely right in reducing circulation of a not profitable publication.

      • Gregg beat me to it, but I’m going to chime in anyway. The first amendment’s guarantee of free speech is primarily designed to prevent the GOVERNMENT from shutting down speech- if the Mayor of Boston had banned or even requested from his position of authority that the issue not be sold in Boston, I’d be up in arms over it. When individuals have a problem with speech (the photo), the answer is MORE SPEECH, up to and including a boycott. They are in no way preventing others from buying the magazine, any more so than gay rights activists prevent me from eating at Chick-Fil-A or Focus on the Family prevents me from going to see a Disney movie.

        I think you really missed the boat here. When someone says “I don’t like what that guy said and I don’t want him to say it any more, and I’m not going to support the platform he used to say it,” That’s not censorship. That’s the free market in action.

        • I think you misread, and missed the boat schedule. There is no mention of the First Amendment in the post. It’s about free expression, and organized bullying, which is what boycotts are, individuals or entities that dare to express unpopular views i offensive to that ideal. How is 7-11 making sure none of its customers can read the issue “free market”? Free Market is seeing who buys it, and letting the market decide, not withholding a product from the whole market because some anointed minority has its feelings hurt.

          Hurting people for not being politically correct is not conducive to free speech and expression, and anyone who thinks the First Amendment is only there to restrain the government is dead wrong. It also expresses a cultural ideal and announces an essential aspect of liberty, an ingredient without which liberty is impossible.

          • 7-11 isn’t ‘making sure none of its customers can read the issue’ they’re just saying if you want to read it, you don’t get to buy it from us. They’re intentionally forgoing profit that they feel would be reaped from an intentionally hurtful and tasteless article. I feel it’s actually refreshing to see a company putting its money where its mouth is, whether I agree with the notion that the article is mean-spirited or not.

            • I don’t think there would be anything wrong with that IF 7-11 made this decision after their own introspective thought. But they’d better have really good and rational thought processes for doing so. Because otherwise they are telling their customers “we know what’s best for you, because frankly you are too dumb to understand the problems with this publication”.

            • Ah! The point I made before. 7-11’s pulling the issue is seen as a substantive statement supporting the protestors. OF COURSE any retailer pulling the mag is going to say they’re doing so because they are offended, but it is just as likely that they are simply afraid to not jump on the hypersensitivity wagon for fear of loosing profits, being seen as “unamerican,” etc. Joe McCarthy would be proud.

              • So every magazine not offered by 7-11 has been “censored?” The people who decide what goes on 7-11 shelves are “bullying” the populace? And Rolling Stone magazine is available exclusively at 7-11? Please.

                • Please don’t over-simplify statements into nonsense. Not stocking a magazine, swell. Censoring a magazine you do stock and otherwise would sell because you want its content to be exposed to as few people as possible? Not swell. I’m trying to choose which sentence is more intellectually dishonest and/or willfully obtuse, and its a close call.

                  • I think making a stink about a magazine cover is stupid, because it’s just what the magazine wants, and if nobody made a stink we probably wouldn’t even know about it. But I don’t think it’s “bullying” and I certainly don’t think it’s “censorship.” 7-11 is not the government, nor is it an institution that has presented itself (nor, I’d say, should present itself) as a bastion of unfettered free expression. It’s a store. They can sell what they want and yank what they want off the shelves. If I bought a record store tomorrow and threw out all the Celine Dion because I didn’t want people exposed to it, that’s not preventing free expression. That *is* free expression.

          • Using the phrase “un-American” made me think “first amendment,” since that is where freedom of expression is enshrined within American values. 7-11 isn’t preventing people from getting it, they are preventing people from getting it at 7-11. If they want it they’ll buy it somewhere else, and 7-11 loses out on that money. The boycott may be organized bullying (and is sort of dumb in my view,) but nobody is being forced to participate. If Rolling Stone publishes something that enough people don’t want to support, then they need to make better editing decisions. If they publish something and lose some money because of it but not enough to do damage, that’s the cost of doing business.

  12. Pingback: On the Cover of The Rolling Stone: The Slippery Slope | Me and Mo

  13. I started my boycott of RSM in 1999.

    Living in Dublin, bored for some news from home, I picked up the UK version (only one available) of the magazine to read on the DART.
    Imagine my great dismay, while perusing said magazine, I came across an ad, sponsored by RSM and Benetton (Italian clothing and perfume designer), showing pictures of American murderers on death row making sad faces sitting in their cells, and including a ridiculous diatribe about the death penalty and the hideousness of the American psyche.
    No mention of the crimes or their victims.
    One of the poor, sad, mistreated (and no doubt racially-profiled) men was a child raper/killer.
    Their Liberal ass rag can rot on the shelves.

  14. .” Clinging to the First Amendment when someone criticizes you is a fool’s errand. Nobody’s suggested that the editors of Rolling Stone be imprisoned.”
    Exactly right.
    *I* decide where to spend money that I earn.
    If I personally decide that something is crap or that it is offensive to me, then I do not spend my money on it.
    Making such a decision does not mean that I am against free speech or am trying to imfringe on the free speech of RSM or others.

    Why do people not get that?

    I remember some years back when a country music band said they were ashamed of President Bush and hordes of their fans smashed their cds.

    You can use your right to free speech but don’t cry when someone else uses their free speech because they don’t like what you’ve said.
    Free speech or not, you are responsible for the effect your speech has on others, good or bad.
    It’s not a free ticket.

      • Because the right protected in the first amenmdnet is the same basic right that you are defending.

        However, I would argue that unimpeded expression is not an ideal. That means that people have a right to make you see/hear what they are trying to say. It would imply that some people would be required to violate their own principles just to allow your speech/expression to get to the masses in an unimpeded way. I can write a blog post but I don’t have the right to make sure everyone gets to read it. I have to take actions to make sure that happens. And if I post something that damages me or my business interests then I have to deal with the consequences of it.

        • WHAT? How does freedom to say what you think imply that you can make people listen? Do you support hooting down unpopular speakers at universities, because that is also what I am talking about.

          “Because the right protected in the first amendment is the same basic right that you are defending.” is misleading and inaccurate. The First defends that right from government action…indeed, the right is the right to express oneself without fear of government sanction. THAT is illegal. Private censorship and interference with speech isn’t illegal, its just unethical and a dangerous cultural trend.

          • “WHAT? How does freedom to say what you think imply that you can make people listen? ”

            It doesn’t. But you seem to be supporting the “ideal” of “unimpeded speech”. I am saying we do not have that right. You can say what you want but that doesn’t mean you wont have barriers to having your message spread.

            “Do you support hooting down unpopular speakers at universities, because that is also what I am talking about.”
            Well, if a speaker is speaking at a university and you disrupt the speaker the university has every right to remove you from the room where the speaker is speaking.

            The person “hooting down” the speaker does have the right to voice his/her opposition to the speaker. However, that person does not have the right to do so in the auditorium in violation of the university policy because the university also has the ability to impede the ability to speak out in that manner.

            ““Because the right protected in the first amendment is the same basic right that you are defending.” is misleading and inaccurate.”

            Notice I said “the right protected”. I was talking about the right itself and not the prohibition of government interferance of that right.

            “Private censorship and interference with speech isn’t illegal, its just unethical and a dangerous cultural trend.”

            I disagree that private censorship is unethical or dangerous. If I own a bookstore, my rights to expression include the choice of reading materials that I offer for sale. If I choose to say that I will not be carrying certain published material, for any reason, that is my perrogative. If the intent is because I do not like what the books say then you would say I am censoring. That may be true, but that is not unethical.

            Should a Christian bookstore be required to sell 50 shades of grey? Would you call such a store that chooses to ban that book from being sold in that store unethical private censorship? (I ask because I am really trying to pin down exactly what it is you have a problem with when it comes to private censorship.

            • Oh, no, you’re beginning to sound like tgt…

              It’s not consequences, but organized consequences that chills free speech. Fear that people will disagree with you? Fine. Not like you? OK. Not want you to represent their company because you are unpopular, fine.

              Telling other people not to eat your chicken because of your opinion on gay marriage is bullying. There’s a big difference that you’re reluctant to knowledge between “ignore” and “destroy.” And that’s why the Rolling Stone situation is sinister—what it did wasn’t even remarkable, but they have to be punished because they weren’t sufficiently sensitive to people who don’t even read their magazine.

              Who’s talking about “required”? I’m talking about right and wrong, and yes, a book store that privately censors every book the owner doesn’t believe in is doing harm to the society.

              And I disagree with you. Your selective book stocking fails the test of universality–if everybody did it, we’d have a fractured society and a less tolerant one. It IS unethical.

              • It seems very unlikely that 7-11’s decision will have a chilling effect on Rolling Stone. Magazines put together controversial covers for just this reason. It’s the biggest slice of publicity Rolling Stone has had in a long, long time.

                  • No, the express motive is for a business not to be associated with an image or an attitude it doesn’t like. The business made that decision because of the free expression of concerned individuals.

                    • Oh, baloney. I’ve been in 7-11s, like, daily. If they cared about being associated with half the crappy magazines they sell, they’d ban 75% of them. RS is one of the best of the batch. The business decided it was the path of least resistance, as censoring speech that makes people uncomfortable usually is.

                    • The path of least resistance was not continuing to offend people who exercised their right to free expression. If 7-11 had ignored these complaints, that would have been their right to do so, and nobody would say that it had a chilling effect on the speech of people who don’t want to look at a glammed-up terrorist when they buy a slushie.

              • I don’t quite get why there should be a difference between consequences and organized consequences.

                I see no difference if 1,000 people individually decide to boycott or if they do it together.

                “yes, a book store that privately censors every book the owner doesn’t believe in is doing harm to the society.”

                So a book store owner is harming society whenever the choose not to carry particular books for whatever reason?

                What reasons would make it ok for a book store owner to not stock a book?

          • If I hoot down a speaker at a university, I am actively preventing others from hearing him. If I stand outside of the auditorium with a sign or literature saying why the speaker is a jerk who isn’t worth listening to, some might agree with me and not go in but anyone who still wants to listen is free to enter.

            Saying mean things about a kid at school may be bullying. Saying mean things about a public figure or corporation isn’t.

              • Boycotting is just refusing to patronize a business. You can do it alone and privately. You can do it in conjunction with others and publicly. It’s free expression either way. A few posts down you announce your own boycott of The Wire. You’re not alone in that, given Mr. Simon’s recent comments. Do you think you’re bullying David Simon? Or chilling his freedom of expression? Of course not. Any loss of patronage he suffers as a result of his controversial statements is freedom of expression in action.

  15. Actually, that terrorist pic has the dreamy look in the eyes you often see on pics of male models or actors when they are posed lying on a bed, shirtless, with one of their hands hooked on the waistband of their jeans.
    Kind of a “come get me, baby” look.
    I guess that’s for all of the ladies who want to “do” a child killer.

      • “Frankly, I’m not sure what to make of this. But I have to say that as soon as I saw pictures of Jokhar, all I could think was, “Man! This guy looks just like a young Robert Zimmerman. I’m sure the editors at Rolling Stone thought the very same thing and they just couldn’t resist.”

        Update: I’ve concluded the editors of Rolling Stone using this particular photo of Jokhar on the cover of their magazine, which usually features touched-up pix of glammed-up stars in that space, was fairly creepy and terribly provacative. And, as they say, good for business. And, as they say, any publicity is good publicity. And a very cynical and calculated move. But was it significant? No.

  16. Has anyone read the article yet, who would share any thoughts about it here?

    Frankly, I am not pleased with the idea of anyone making any money from an article that purports to explain how someone turned from seemingly, dependably civil to incomprehensibly violent. I am convinced that such publicity only serves to recruit more bad actors, not help enable better and earlier identification and prevention of actors like the one exposed.

    I am decidedly not interested in reading the “Bomber” article. I am equally, decidedly against intervention to affect the publication of the RS article using any agency of the government’s power, OTHER THAN civilly organized and conducted actions by private citizens using only the assets they lawfully control, acting solely in their personal interests.

    If I watched the movie Bambi, wept at the wild animals’ suffering at humans’ hands, then went out into the wilderness and became a survivalist sniper who serial-murdered both legal deer hunters and poachers, how does a “why did he do it, and how did he turn that way?” article have any inherent deserving of attention? In this society, I can imagine reactions to such an article ranging from “ban hunting” to “ban guns” to “ban Bambi” to “surveillance cameras for every 50 square feet of (so-called) wilderness” to “make deer extinct.”

    By merely writing the what-if question above and having it posted on this blog, I may have already made myself liable, like so many jihadist imams. I hear calls to register and even ban guns, but I don’t hear calls for the same for Bibles, Qurans, and Rolling Stone magazines – not yet, anyway.

    We probably will see bans on neighborhood watch programs eventually, either by way of laws or regulations or litigation, ostensibly to address the “vigilante” and “profiling” and other “civil rights violations” so-called crises, despite any potential or real crime-preventing or -suppressing benefits owing to such programs. So, I do agree with an “alarm” that I believe is at least akin to Jack’s alarm: that our society is continuing to decay toward reactionary, mob-sourced “justice.”

  17. Imagine if you will, a Rolling Stone magazine with George Zimmerman on the cover.
    The screams of outrage would be such that you couldn’t hear yourself think.

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