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Rolling Stone’s Controversial Boston Terror Cover Story – Readers Poll

The latest issue of Rolling Stone hasn’t even hit shelves and it’s already causing quite a controversy. The cover story is about alleged Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. And the cover of the issue, which comes out tomorrow (July 19), features the familiar self-shot photo of Tsarnaev that turned up everywhere after the bombing on April 15.

From news outlets and outraged readers to the mayor of Boston and even artists whom the magazine has written about, it seems everyone has an opinion on the controversial cover. And most of those opinions seem to lean toward outrage.

For example, Motley Crue bassist Nikki Sixx asks in a Facebook post, “Why put him on the cover of a supposed music-oriented magazine? You treat him with the same honor as those of us who have made the cover based on our craft?” Poison frontman Bret Michaels, speaking to our own 96.5 the Fox in Bismarck, N.D., agreed, stating “I don’t know why we would ever, ever, EVER wanna give these guys any credit or make them even remotely infamous.”

But why? The same photo of Tsarnaev has been plastered on the cover of other publications — including just about every major newspaper in the country, even The New York Times — as well as TV news broadcasts and Internet sites. We’ve all seen the picture before. And Rolling Stone has covered politics and current events for as long as they’ve existed. So what’s the big deal?

Is it because the alleged bomber looks more like a typical Rolling Stone cover subject — with his tousled hair, good looks and vague smile, he could be a young indie rocker — than a mass murderer? Or is it because, as so many critics of the cover have pointed out, the magazine is propping up Tsarnaev as some sort of rock star?

But let’s dig a little deeper. The headline not only refers to him as “The Bomber,” he’s also called a “monster” right on the cover. And the story itself, which you can read here, does not glorify his actions in any way. If anything, it’s a deep, detailed and smartly written story about how a seemingly normal kid turned out this way. And it doesn’t paint a heroic portrait. Not at all.

While Rolling Stone may be somewhat out of step with its music coverage these days (it’s bound to happen when online music sites update hourly and the magazine publishes only twice a month), its news reporting and features remain probing, serious and incisive works. Not too long ago, a story in Rolling Stone about Gen. Stanley McChrystal made some big waves and resulted in the Afghanistan commander losing his job. And not to push any more buttons here, but serial killer Charles Manson once made the cover of Rolling Stone too.

What do you think? Has Rolling Stone gone too far with its cover? Or is it an opportunity to reopen a serious discussion? Let us know.

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