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The Boston Globe

Opinion

opinion | jesse singal

Why the Rolling Stone photo of Tsarnaev is so disturbing

Boston is not happy with Rolling Stone magazine. Its decision to illustrate Jane Reitman’s cover story about alleged Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev with a photo of the handsome teenager looking like a brooding rock star was met with a furious backlash.

“They’re glorifying him” is the most common complaint, but in reality this is shorthand for a different sort of discomfort. After all, no one is sincerely claiming that Rolling Stone is publishing pro-Tsarnaev propaganda. Rather, this is about our desire to have our enemies be supervillains motivated by nothing more complicated than evil or seething hatred. It’s an understandable tendency, and one that comes naturally as a result of human psychology — but it’s quite dangerous given the world we live in.

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