Rolling Stone cover: Are stores going too far in pulling the magazine?

The image of accused Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in what many see as a rock-star pose has drawn a firestorm of criticism. At least six retailers have vowed not to sell that issue of Rolling Stone.

Wenner Media/AP
Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev appears on the Rolling Stone magazine cover of the Aug. 1 issue.

At least six retailers with strong New England ties are vowing not to sell the Rolling Stone magazine with a glamorous image of the accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on the cover. 

CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid promised not to sell the issue, as did Massachusetts-based grocery and convenience stores Stop & Shop, Roche Bros., and Tedeschi Food Shops, Fox News reports.

“As a company with deep roots in New England and a strong presence in Boston, we believe this is the right decision out of respect for the victims of the attack and their loved ones,” Rhode Island-based CVS pharmacy said in a statement.

“Music and terrorism don’t mix!” Tedeschi Food Shops posted on its Facebook page Wednesday. The company wrote it “cannot support actions that serve to glorify the evil actions of anyone.”

The magazine’s use of a self-portrait of the 19-year-old with tousled hair in what many see as a rock-star pose for its cover drew a firestorm of criticism and concern after the magazine released a promotional image Tuesday.

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino blasted the decision, saying that the cover choice was “ill-conceived, at best" and that the magazine “rewards a terrorist with celebrity treatment.”

"The survivors of the Boston attacks deserve Rolling Stone cover stories, though I no longer feel that Rolling Stone deserves them,” Mayor Menino wrote to Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner, according to The Boston Globe

Rolling Stone defended itself Wednesday, releasing a statement saying the story “falls within the traditions of journalism” and the magazine's “long-standing commitment to serious and thoughtful coverage of the most important political and cultural issues of our day.”

"The fact that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is young, and in the same age group as many of our readers, makes it all the more important for us to examine the complexities of this issue and gain a more complete understanding of how a tragedy like this happens," the statement said.

Most of the criticism is directed at the magazine’s cover image, rather than the five-page article written by contributing editor Janet Reitman, who spent two months interviewing people close to Mr. Tsarnaev.

While public opinion in New England has largely been against the magazine, some commentators criticized the retailers' decision to pull the issue.

“A long list of local stores have simply refused to carry the issue, as if none of us is strong enough to see it, or to decide for ourselves whether to buy it,” Boston Globe columnist Yvonne Abraham wrote Thursday.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been hard to understand, Ms. Abraham argues, because he appears a more complicated mix of a normal youth and an alleged murderer than his older brother, Tamerlan.

“To see him as that skinny kid on the ground [after he was captured by law enforcement], or on the Rolling Stone cover, is to confront the possibility that good-looking kids who seem totally normal, good students who give off no sign of trouble at all, can become monsters, too," she wrote.

"If we are strong enough to survive these attacks, surely we’re strong enough to talk about how that is humanly possible.”

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