A Killer on the Cover of Rolling Stone – Making A Point

by August 16, 2013
filed under Activism, Entertainment


The August edition of Rolling Stone Magazine features a picture of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the accused Boston Marathon bomber. People are outraged over the image as it has been indicted of “glamorizing” terrorism and portraying the accused as a “rock star” even though the cover refers to Dzhokhar as a monster.

Many retailers have refused to sell the Rolling Stone August edition to protect their customers. Dzhokhar looks like a “dreamy” young man and there are no warts, red eyes or any other disfigurements that would help us recognize him as one of the men who bombed Boston during the Boston Marathon with his brother Tamerlan; he is no Lord Voldemort, on the outside anyways. The truth is you cannot always tell that someone is evil from the outside.

“He was a golden boy,” says one of his old friends. “He was super-chill” says another. One would think that there would be more focus on this boy’s fall from glory, rather than the compliments given by his former friends. No one is offended that Dzhokhar has not been put on trial and it’s a shock to many that he has pleaded not guilty to all 30 charges against him.

I thought a lot about this story and at first I was just as outraged as others that Dzhokhar was on the cover of Rolling Stone. I thought it was a tasteless and tacky move, but then I thought about what I have reported to you in the first few paragraphs of this article, that just because someone is evil on the inside does not mean they look evil on the outside. Good looking, average looking and ugly people are all corruptible: We are all human with imperfections and capable of great evil should we choose. After reading an article by Janet Reitman, I was particularly swayed to believe that it was in fact a good idea to put Dzhokhar on the cover.

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.



Putting Dzhokhar on the cover, looking like a rockstar just like he was some normal kid was a shock factor. Rolling Stone was trying to get a strong reaction out of people to make a point to its readers, many of whom are young that this kid could have been any ordinary kid in your neighbourhood or at your school. You can never tell what is really going on inside of people or what things have changed in their lives and what will set them off. Dzhokhar does not look like a bad kid but far from making him seem like a ‘good guy’ this picture and well written article shows us that he is not a good guy at all. This proves that we often discriminate against people based on their looks.

Take Peter Payack a couch at Tsarnaev’s high school in “Jahar’s World (the actual article in Rolling Stone)” who had:

 . . . been near the marathon finish line on the day of the bombing and had lost half of his hearing from the blast, had hardly slept in four days. But he was too agitated to go back to bed. Later that morning, he received a telephone call from his son. The kid in the photo? “Dad, that’s Jahar.” “I felt like a bullet went through my heart,” the coach recalls. “To think that a kid we mentored and loved like a son could have been responsible for all this death. It was beyond shocking. It was like an alternative reality.”


I think nothing says it better than this quote. We never can tell what’s really going on inside of someone’s head. We as people, as woman and gurls, need to be strong enough in our own beliefs, in ourselves, to not be swayed by the intolerance and wrongful view of Islam that Dzhokhar had. Schools, mentors and parents also need to teach their children and youth to think about the difference between what’s wrong and what’s right. Young people need to consider the consequences of their actions.

Dzhokhar’s life seemed to take a down turn at home before he committed that awful crime at the Boston Marathon, before he snapped. Reitman writes:

And yet a deeply fractured boy lay under that facade; a witness to all of his family’s attempts at a better life as well as to their deep bitterness when those efforts failed and their dreams proved unattainable. As each small disappointment wore on his family, ultimately ripping them apart, it also furthered Jahar’s own disintegration – a series of quiet yet powerful body punches.

Ultimately, Dzhokhar committed an awful crime and it is pertinent that we remember that not all terrorists look evil and that you never know what awful things that happen, that can bring a person so young to do something so destructible and evil. This is why it was so important to show that picture on the cover of Rolling Stone – the seemingly incorruptible kid who indeed became corrupt.

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