Beall: Dislike a Rolling Stone

BY MIKE BEALL | JULY 22, 2013 5:00 AM

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This week, a young man with long curly hair graces the cover of Rolling Stone. He looks like a rock star, but underneath his profile are the words “The Bomber.” You might have not have known what he looks like, but you know what he did. 

This week, Rolling Stone is using the Boston Marathon bomber as a means to sell magazines — nothing new, and it might work. Today’s news media are quick to turn murderers and terrorists into celebrities. Just watch as cable news clambers from one high-profile trial to the next with aplomb. If they don’t they give into this circus, they could lose viewers or readership to the competition. 

But this is not CNN or Time.  This is Rolling Stone, a magazine many musicians dream about being featured in. It carries a pedigree that few other outlets carry — when you’re in Rolling Stone, you become part of the zeitgeist. When you land on the cover of Time, you’re important. When you land on the cover of Rolling Stone, you’re cool.

This issue goes beyond the well-worn idea that giving attention to terrorists is counterproductive. This cover sends a more troubling message: Commit an act of domestic terrorism, kill innocent civilians, ruin lives, and you, too, can be a rock star.

Perhaps Rolling Stone is not aware of why terrorism is committed. Yes, the bombers did mean to kill innocent people, but the primary purpose was to create a media sensation. If the bombers’ intention was to kill as many people as possible, they could have done much more and they could have chosen any day and any crowded public space, but that wasn’t the point. They chose the Boston Marathon because of its high profile.

By raising the Boston Marathon bombing suspect to celebrity status and placing him on its cover, Rolling Stone is doing more for the bomber than he ever could have hoped for.   

If you are one of the many individuals angry with the cover, you could decide not to buy it, but you probably weren’t going to buy it anyway. You could write a scathing letter to the magazine or other media outlets as many of the bombing victims, politicians, and celebrities have done, but Rolling Stone and its editor don’t much care what you think.

As long as the magazine is on the shelf for you to see and potentially buy, the Rolling Stone people are happy. That’s why numerous businesses throughout the country have decided to show their moral leanings by taking the magazine off the shelves. Reportedly, local chains of Casey’s General Stores, Hy-Vee, Walgreens, and CVS are included in this list of businesses. In a world in which businesses often seem uncaring about moral and ethical quandaries, we should reward these stores for taking a stand with our business.

The bomber will be punished with a jail sentence or possible death sentence, but there is something we the public can do to punish him further. Forget him, forget his name, and forget what he looked like.  He is not what is important; he and others like him are sick individuals who wish to be forever linked to heinous crimes.  Honoring the victims does not require that you honor the murderer.

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