(A view from the middle)
The United States has become an ‘angry country.’ Discussion has devolved into accusations and rigid opinion. The mainstream media has instigated the American people to cast a pall of disgust and offered the finger of accusation at Rolling Stone magazine. They were merely demonstrating what ‘freedom of the press’ means, as defined by the Constitution.
In the Boston area, the current issue with alleged Boston Marathon Bomber suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on the cover, has been removed from newsstands. Much of the press describes the picture as ‘glamorizing.’ The article is not about the cover, it is not a ‘glamour piece;’ it is an informative and insightful article which attempts to uncover the changes in a young man’s life which took him from a normal, well-adjusted existence, and ended with an horrific act of terrorism.
Rolling Stone does not, in any stretch of the imagination, demean the dead and injured on April 15th. The magazine does not ask that readers understand, forgive, or even relax their anger about the two young men and their actions.
However, if, as many misguided citizens believe, you deem we are a ‘Christian’ nation, then you must follow the basic premise of Jesus Christ, and ‘forgive.’
There is no way to understand the thought process of those who casually take innocent lives. Personal, political, or reasons based on the weakness of an emotion such as anger, do not offer even the most miniscule acceptance for the taking of innocent lives. These are, without a doubt, cowardly acts. Governments make rash and destructive decisions, not ordinary citizens. We, too, are all too often the victims of government, including our own.
This is a time when the American people should be displaying the strength of our intellect vs. the weakness of our emotions. The bottom line is, no one is being forced to purchase Rolling Stone magazine.
The Coop at Harvard and MIT will offer the magazine as it normally does. Shop management was against treating it normally, but the Universities took a stand.
“We think Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is a despicable human being and we do not agree with Rolling Stone Magazine’s decision to feature his picture on their front cover,” the store said in a statement.
“However, the Coop operates in an academic community where it is expected that there will be free expression on any topic, issue or point of view,” the statement continued. “We periodically receive feedback requesting that we do not offer certain titles or books by certain authors or on certain topics or controversial subjects. It has been our policy to not edit or censor our offerings. We believe to do so would set a bad precedent.
“So, consistent with our practice, the Coop will offer the next edition of Rolling Stone Magazine as we believe our patrons will make their own decision to purchase or not purchase the magazine,” the statement concluded.”
The online publication for which I write has a slogan, “boldly inclusive.” America’s freedoms are slowly, but calculatingly, being removed. Our Constitution is becoming merely the dust of a centuries old document. Freedom of the press is tantamount to freedom of thought, privacy and belief.
The Rolling Stone defended 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,” the publication said in a statement.
The final question I have, is what has made the United States a country filled with anger and hatred? I believe there are multiple reasons, but there is one, primary cause. Our government wants us to react to every issue facing the American people with emotional rage.
The Romans believed in ‘divide and conquer.’ The citizens of the United States are as divided as I have ever witnessed in my 67 years on this planet. Washington has no respect for the voting public, ignoring our wishes, and stuffing their deep pockets. By dividing us, they create ‘black and white’ situations forcing us to take sides, and dispel discussion and compromise.
Unfortunately, the mainstream press are all too frequently partners with our government. Political correctness has replaced individual thought, and open discussion.
The Rolling Stone has offered ‘food for thought.’ They are in no way glorifying Tsarnaev, and most assuredly find his actions deplorable.
When the people of a nation discard opinions other than their own; when they label an issue ‘either or,’ they have lost their humanity; they have shunned their intellect.
A former president of the United States once said, “if they’re not for us, they’re against us.” This malicious and completely erroneous statement became the basis for hatred and distrust that lasts even today.
Shades of grey are the basis for discussion and compromise. They are the strength of humanity and display its intelligence.
When a continual stream of damnation is directed at a publication or an individual for free thought, or free expression, the rise of ignorance, bigotry and hatred reaches a pinnacle.
I commend the Rolling Stone’s editorial staff for having the courage to produce a magazine, fully aware that controversy would rise to a heated level among the American people. I equally admire them for standing by the author, the story, and the cover. It’s refreshing to read a magazine that continues to believe in freedom of the press, and freedom of thought.
Alfred James reporting