Why am I proud to be a Masshole? Because Massholes elected this chick.
No, really, watch this.
My post on the Rolling Stone portrayal of Tsarnev has, to say the least, generated a bit of an emotional response. Much of it positive, but there’s certainly a fair amount of disagreement.
I think the problem that some people have with the cover is that it has a tendency to humanize Tsarnev. On that cover, you see him as “normal.” Meanwhile, we prefer to see villains as one-dimensional. It is just so comforting to look at someone who did something horrible, and say “I could not even see myself hanging out with this guy, he’s just not like us.”
It makes it easier to deal with if we can look at this guy and say “he’s a monster.” There, the end. No texture. No substance to our analysis. We are good. He is bad. The end.
And along comes Rolling Stone and examines the guy in all dimensions. They use a photo of him that makes him look like he could fit in just fine as the guy in the dorm room next door. They have the audacity to dig into his life, and to tell his story to us.
Unfortunately (or fortunately) as human beings, we all have the capacity for both good and evil, love and hate, empathy, compassion, vindictiveness…. and it makes me uncomfortable too. Tsarnev is the wretched asshole who attacked my home town.
But, he is also someone’s son, brother, uncle. As evil as his ACT was, he’s a human being. Someone loved him. Someone still loves him. Someone sat him on their lap when he was a baby. Someone handed their baby to him, perhaps his brother, and he treated that baby with affection. He left a half used bottle of shampoo in the shower the last time he left his house. He went grocery shopping. He didn’t live in a lair, with bats and shit. He shared 99.999% of his human experience and genetics with you and me.
I don’t say this out of compassion or feeling for him. I’m pissed off at him too. I don’t wish for mercy upon him. I’m delighted at the thought of him locked in solitary confinement in a supermax prison for the rest of his life, with stark walls closing in on him as his mind eats away at itself in the most unspeakable tortures mankind can ever imagine. Fuck him.
I don’t want you to humanize him out of mercy. Better people than I would probably do so. I am just not that good of a person.
I say this to try and provoke you to think about your feelings of revulsion for this magazine cover (if you have them), and where they really come from. Would you be happier if it was a different picture of him? One that didn’t have a tendency to humanize him? Or is it simply the fact that he is on the cover at all?
The point of journalism is supposed to be to educate, to inform, to leave the reader more enlightened than before – and even that is not always the end in itself, but it should be the means to a more effective self-governing society. We get there by having texture, thought, and viewing even the worst of us in their full three dimensions.
This was ethical journalism. This was good journalism.
And, the fact is, one of the things that makes a society stronger, better, and “more American” (at least as I understand that term) is good journalism.
Don’t be part of dumbing it down by letting your revulsion for the event, the actions, and the man, rain down on one of the good things to come of it — the thought provocation that comes from effective journalism. When you do that, you let the Tsarnevs continue to wreak damage.
Mayor Menino’s call for stories about the victims, and “honoring” them, instead, completely misses the point. Focusing on the dead teaches us nothing. Focusing even on the heroes of that day, unfortunately, teaches us nothing. We already think about that. We already understand that. Hoisting the cops and firemen on our shoulders and mourning the dead does nothing for us.
Learning about the bad guy does. It really does.
The Tsarnevs lose if we are better after what they did. They win even more if we turn this into yet another victim contest and further dumbing down of what is left of real journalism.
You’re a citizen in the remnants of a democratic society. You have a responsibility to be smarter every day. Decrying Rolling Stone for trying to help you do that is not the right thing to do. Pressuring stores to take journalism off of their racks because you think you’re supposed to be offended, that’s not the right thing to do. Sending a warning shot across the bow of every newspaper and magazine with your outcry? You’re part of why American journalism is racing toward shlock and celebrity worship every day, and away from Edward R. Murrow. The “celebrity treatment” that you complain about? It is an invention of your own mind.
You might think you’re supposed to be offended. You’re wrong. You’re supposed to be better, smarter, and more informed. And so is everyone else.
But its propaganda arm seems to have hit it right on the head in this film about American celebrity and consumerism.
UPDATE: It seems that I was fooled. This is not from North Korea. This was created by Slavko Martinov – and seems to be a parody/commentary. Source. Fuckin’ Rushie.
You can taste with your balls! (Source)
I rented a car from Enterprise. DC issued a speeding ticket to that vehicle, claiming it was going 43 mph in a 30 mph zone. Fine: $110.
Because it is a rental, the citation went to Enterprise, which did not bother to investigate or contest the citation. They then gave me notice of the citation and a deadline to contest it internally (through third-party provider, Highway Toll Administration, LLC), else they would charge my credit card per some buried prior authorization language.
Their notice gave me no useful information about the ticket–not even an obvious citation number–so I contested. On June 13, they provided me the ticket information. I looked it up online and saw that my vehicle, which has a 108″ wheel base, traversed the calibration lines in 0.2 seconds as noted on the 2 photographs. Basic math says this is 30.68 mph, within the margin of error for whether a ticket is to be issued.
I notified Enterprise of this on June 15. On June 18, without a response, they charged my credit card. I have, of course, initiated a dispute.
Today, I notified Enterprise I was disputing the charges. “Jerry” from customer service wrote:
The D.C. Treasure does not allow for Enterprise to provide driver information for citations which are issued. As such, Enterprise is required to pay for tickets which are issued by this agency to avoid further action towards our vehicles. I can understand how this could be frustrating. However, I am unable to issue a refund of these charges, as Enterprise was required to make payment on your behalf.
To me, this indicates that no matter what proof I had, Enterprise as a matter of course pays no attention to legitimate disputes. [My initial correspondence noted this article, highlighting the notorious inaccuracies of the DC speed cameras: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/03/cop-exposes-dc-speed-came_n_2401773.html ] They simply pay the citation and pass along the charges. Such is a highly unethical practice. As I have never had a speeding ticket when renting another car, my hope is that it is not industry practice.
I’m usually pretty proud to be from Massachusetts. Cradle of Liberty, great education system, almost no country music… Massachusetts is supposed to be one of the places that helps pull the center of the national intellectual curve up a bit.
Nevertheless, once and a while, I have an epic facepalm that makes me realize that the place can be wicked fahkin retahded. The last time was when Boston went into a state of complete freak out over lite-brites stuck to bridges.
This time, it is Boston’s apoplectic reaction to the latest Rolling Stone cover. My social media feeds are highly Boston-centric, and the reactions are strong. The complaint? Rolling Stone should not have put that guy on the cover, and if they did, they shouldn’t have used such a flattering picture.
I’m really not sure what to say about the “flattering picture” issue. If you find this guy stirring your loins, then go masturbate and get over it. Then come back for the rest of this post.
In all fairness, I don’t think that the whiny shit syndrome started in Boston. Like most shitty things in America today, it all started on 9/11.
Remember who Time named Person of the Year for
2011 2001? If you don’t, that’s good. You’re my control group. Before you guess, let me tell you about some prior “people of the year.” The title was supposed to acknowledge the person who defined the year. It wasn’t a prize or an award. In 1938, it was Adolf Hitler, as damn well it should have been. In 1939 and 1942? Josef Stalin. 1979? Ayatollah Khomeini.
But, on 9/11, we were a nation of mewling fucking cowards with a mainstream press that existed to provide cover for the government and business – not to inform. So, Time’s Person of the Year in 2001? Rudy Fucking Giuliani.
Nothing against Rudy. I’ll give him credit where due – and he’s due a lot of it. If you want to call him the bravest sonofabitch of 2001, you might have a point. (Or not). Coolest guy ever? Sure, go ahead. “Greatest person of the year?” Maybe even that. But, Time knew that there would be a national freak out, if they acted with integrity – because if they did, Osama Bin Laden would have been “Person of the Year.”
And here we have it again. I haven’t read the Rolling Stone story. I am not really interested. I don’t care what made this punk tick. But, I value what Rolling Stone is adding to the marketplace of ideas – as a lot of people might want to know about him. What made him do it? What can we learn from it? This is a stall in the Marketplace of Ideas that needs to be filled.
And now, there is a chorus rising from Massachusetts – calling for a boycott of the magazine. Wicked. Fahkin. Retahded, people. Putting someone on the cover of Rolling Stone doesn’t mean you’re honoring them. Flipping out about it, in a downright Bush-ian anti-intellectual nature is not only comically stupid, but contributes to a dumbing-down of journalism – a profession that is already on intellectual life support. Rolling Stone is one of the last places where journalists actually practice that craft. Boycott it if you like, but when you do so, remember that you’re helping make the country dumber – and that is not what Massachusetts is supposed to do.
UPDATE: Mayor Menino weighed in – with a pretty stupid letter. He, like the rest of the apoplectic crowd, seems to take the position that being on the cover of a magazine is some kind of prize or award. It is not a prize. Nobody deserves to be on the cover of a magazine or a newspaper. The purpose of the publication is to inform the reader.
To pre-empt the question: This is not a First Amendment problem. Yes, there is a government actor. The government gets to scold people. It only crosses the First Amendment line if there is coercive activity. He has a right, perhaps even a duty, to express his views. I just think his views are absurd. But, this is also the guy who brought us the view that Aqua Teen Hunger Force was in league with Al Quaeda.