Saturday, July 20, 2013

Defending Rolling Stone

Unlike the Seventies band Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show, Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev will soon "know the thrill that'll getcha/when you get your picture/on the cover of the Rolling Stone." Already, Jann Wenner has no idea what hit him -- and frankly, neither do I.

It was recently announced that the August 1st issue of Wenner's iconic magazine will include an article examining how Tsarnaev "was failed by his family, fell into radical Islam and became a monster." That description is from the article's own subtitle and is not eyebrow-raising at all. Nothing to see here, folks.

It was also announced that a photograph of Tsarnaev will appear on the cover of that issue. Which is, well, one hundred percent normal. Since when does a magazine cover not feature a picture that promotes its main article? But in a Bizarro World kind of way, people of every political stripe under the sun have become unglued over the mere fact that the photo will be there. They accuse Rolling Stone of glorifying Tsarnaev, even though they have never read the article and even though the subtitle suggests the opposite of glorification by referring to him as "a monster."

Is it now bad form for a magazine to put a photo of Castro on its cover when the feature article is about tyranny in the Americas? Is it insensitive to put a photo of Ted Bundy on the cover when the article is about serial killers who target women? Is it horrible to put Hitler on the cover when the article is about anti-Semitism?

If the answer to any of those questions is "yes," then the world has gone insane. If the answer is "no" (which it is, for all of them) then nobody should get their knickers in a twist over the upcoming Rolling Stone. Yet some major merchants, including Walgreens and CVS, have declared that they will not carry it in their stores when it is released.

While this is obviously not the same as a government ordering businesses not to sell a product, it still strikes me as being very un-American. This is not the way things are meant to be done in a free society, for freedom can not be maintained very long by a society that is intolerant and uninformed.

Jann Wenner's political views run to the left of most Americans' and well to the left of my own; and therefore, the views espoused in the publication he founded in 1967 are often ones that I don't agree with. But unlike many publications that have a particular political bent, Rolling Stone rarely stoops to the point of vilifying those on the other side. In fact, the most prominent author ever to be employed by the magazine is a conservative: P.J. O'Rourke. I find it pathetic that people are making Rolling Stone the focus of scorn over a particular article before it even comes out.

When the August 1st issue hits store shelves, I will find a merchant that has not joined the knee-jerk boycott. I will plunk down my five or six bucks, bring the magazine home, and read the article in question. Then, if I find that I object to its general thrust, or that I disagree with any of the things it says, I will write something on this blog to explain why I think the article is in error. Commentators in national publications with big circulations and large online readerships may do the same. And anyone who has read both sides can then make up his or her own mind. That is the way things are supposed to happen in a free republic that is healthy and functioning.

Here's hoping that our republic gets back to being healthy and functioning as soon as possible. If it does not, I worry that its own inertia will cause it to stop being free.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well said and can I get an amen!! As you know, my political views tend to "left of the left". And I know, based on previous discussions, that you and I have a differing opinion on a number of topics. But, there is one thing I can be sure of, and that is your point of view will be based on logic and not some "Yahoo America is #1" or "Because that is what God wants" mentality.

For the most part, I think Rolling Stone does a really good job of coming at a story from an angle that has been widely ignored by the main stream media. I don't always agree with the writer, but I think the publication deserves some recognition for providing the forum for a different view point.

As always I enjoyed reading your blog. But, doesn't it bother you a little bit that you just spent your time asking people to think? If it doesn't, then that proves something that I have long suspected, which is deep down you are a nicer than I am.

Be well, keep writing, and say hello to Miss Erika for me.

Your friend,