By now, we all know the cover that uncovered a huge stream of hate/hysteria ….
. Now, I have no argument that the picture is one of a self-confident, somewhat attractive youth. The look of a lot of college students. But, even as the picture hit the internet, before distribution – the flames began to fly. OK, here’s where one of my points comes … IF the cover was only to glorify the bomber, then I don’t think they would have included this statement:
The article itself – which hopefully some people read online – while not exactly the world’s greatest journalism – attempted to deal with the question – why would someone who seeming had everything going for him do something such as this? What failed him? Did his brother “turn him to the dark side”. Some of these questions we may only get answers to at the trial…if ever,
I want to wander back in recent history a bit, and take a look at a moment in time and TIME magazine. When this cover was published, TIME was pretty much everywhere and if not in most homes, was probably read somewhere by someone in that home.
Here’s a cover about Timothy McVey ….
Here’s a good-looking fellow, who lit an explosion that killed 168 people, including 19 children in the day care center on the second floor, and injured 450 others. And TIME is having a debate about should he die. I don’t recall a huge uproar over the photo or the story. I don’t recall people wanting to burn the issue or stores refusing to carry it. It was published, distributed and seemingly “forgotten” as a major issue for people to deal with …
OK, let’s go to another TIME issue a little more recent…Osama Bin Laden
So, just looking at the photo as a photo, here’s a fairly handsome person with a slight smile, piercing eyes – and to my untrained eye – has been slightly airbrushed. Just slightly. And yet –
- 3,460: Approximate number of people killed in the 9/11 attacks in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., including firefighters and paramedics (New York Magazine /Guardian )
- 20: Percentage of Americans who knew someone “hurt or killed” at the World Trade Center (New York Magazine )
- 422,000: Estimated number of New Yorkers with symptoms of PTSD post-9/11 (New York Magazine )
Now, admittedly you might think I’m begging the question with this one, but in a sense, it was presenting a very pretty picture of a very evil person …
Which brings me to the Rolling Stone cover … warts and all. One of the Boston Police was so upset at the cover he released some shots of the capture (which has now gotten him suspended) . Sgt. Sean Murphy, Massachusetts State Police photographer really might not have wanted his photos to be used as the cover but was trying to counter-act what he perceived as the glorification of the bomber. Here’s his picture … and my comments below ..
There actually people today demanding (on Facebook and other places) that Rolling Stone should reissue the magazine with this picture on the cover. Here’s my problem with that. Go ahead, enlarge the picture for a moment…. I’ll wait …
This picture does as much to glorify him as the other might. You have the handsome – albeit blood spattered – youth, with his shirt pulled up above his abs and a laser target on his forehead. For an arrest photo, it’s also quite well-lit. It could actually pass as a fashion advertisement in a glossy magazine. [if you didn’t know who it was] Certainly, nothing that would tell you “this is an evil, scary killer” …
Here’s where I’m at with this … people didn’t like the photo because it didn’t reach their preconceived notions of what a killer should look like. It also struck deep into the biases and dislikes that people have. And sadly, there is no arguing with that. Let me repeat that – there is no arguing with folks who are biased, discriminatory or yes, even racist.
S. I Hayakawa in his landmark book “Language In Thought And Action” talked about the idea that once we have cast someone in the role of the enemy all communications and actions are immediately suspect and forced to fit the narrative we’ve given them.
Seem familiar? We’ve seen it at two MLB events in the last couple of weeks. I was watching on Twitter someone attempting to counter someones frankly bigoted argument with the truth Puerto Ricans indeed are US Citizens (have been since I think 1917). the discussion went about as well as you would think … nowhere.