Rolling Stone magazine's cover is usually reserved for rock stars, but this month, it's occupied by Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
The magazine has outraged thousands online and at least nine companies, including Kmart, Walgreens, CVS and Rite Aid, have banned the issue from their stores. The controversy comes despite Tsarnaev being called a “monster” on the cover.
“There’s nothing more viral than outrage,” Buzzfeed’s McKay Coppins said on MSNBC Thursday. “I refuse to get worked up about it…this is a classic case of magazine cover trolling.”
The Boston native called the magazine—which has had cover features in the past about Roman Polanski, O.J. Simpson, and Charles Manson—“tasteless,” but noted, “there’s a difference between censoring and just calling out the article for poor taste.”
Coppins added that banning the magazine is “obviously not in the American spirit of how this should be handled.”
The Cycle‘s Toure, who has written for Rolling Stone, suggested that the importance of the article itself should be the focus of the conversation. “[Rolling Stone] knew that it would upset [readers] to a certain amount, but I think they’re also proud of the journalism they did around the situation.”
On Wednesday, Rolling Stonereleased a statement defending the magazine’s cover:
“Our hearts go out to the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing, and our thoughts are always with them and their families. The cover story we are publishing this week falls within the traditions of journalism and Rolling Stone’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.”
This is not the first time the American public had been exposed to the image—it has also appeared on the front page of the New York Times—but for Richard Donahue, one of the 260 injured during the April bombing, the objection is not to the story, but to the image being displayed in a space usually reserved for rock stars.
“They could have gone with a classier cover,” Donahue said on MSNBC Thursday morning. “It deeply affected people who were impacted the most by the [bombings].”