You get the journalism you deserve, Boston

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.

Rolling Stone Cover TsarnevThis 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 that?

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.

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33 Responses to You get the journalism you deserve, Boston

  1. lysenko says:


  2. Randall Hull says:

    The photo appears to be an intentional juxtaposition — a seemly innocuous, perhaps attractive, young man that committed a heinous act against society. Editorial license and a way to get people to buy the magazine, in my view.

  3. I’m not sure I agree with this one.

    One of the things I was proud of regarding the newspaper I worked at was when the asshat that blew up the Murrah Federal Building was put to death, every paper in the country ran that fuckhead’s photo and he got coast to coast headlines, but my paper ran all the photos of the victims with the headline of something like: The Man Responsible for the Murder of these People has been Put to Death.

    In my mind, giving the cover to this kid gives him attention and will only serve to make others think they can get on Rolling Stone! In this day and age of reality TV everyone is a media whore and wants their cover. If all you have to do if kill a bunch of people, why not?

    Personally I would like to forget this guy. When he comes up I will treat him like the asshole that shot of the movie theater for lulz. I will simply call him the coward dickhead bomber or some such. He’s lost his humanity as far as I am concerned.

  4. Forgive me if I’m misunderstanding something, but I haven’t heard anyone clamoring to shut down Rolling Stone. If that’s the case, those making that case are way out of line. But isn’t the point of the marketplace of ideas to throw stuff out there and see what has value? I certainly agree that Rolling Stone has a right to use the photo, but if it offends people and they vote with their cash, isn’t that information Rolling Stone can use as well? The point of the marketplace analogy certainly isn’t that everything has equal value. I disagree that it’s necessarily “whining” to say that you find something distasteful. We call out racism and sexism for a reason. In the end, labeling something contemptible is protected speech. If most people believe RS made a good editorial decision in using the cover photo, a little dissent won’t have hurt them at all. But the dissent is part of the bargain.

  5. Charles Platt says:

    Just yesterday I read a message from someone advocating a boycott of Florida until they get rid of their “stand your ground” law. Didn’t matter to him (or to the attorney general) that the law was irrelevant to the Zimmerman case. But, anyway, boycott Rolling Stone? Sure why not. Boycott just about everything that doesn’t conform with a correct world view. Best of all, boycott the Internet, so we don’t have to read more posts from people advocating boycotts.

  6. jessica says:

    I haven’t read the article, so this goes solely to the picture and headline… I think maybe what bothers people about the image is that it moves him away from the easily distinguishable sphere of “them” and uncomfortably closer to the border of “us”. Monsters are ugly, scary, distinguishable on sight. But this guy, in this picture, on the cover of this magazine…our iconic American magazine…looks almost a little bit rock-n-roll. My first thought was that the image evokes a Jim Morrison-esque quality. Curled locks falling into, dark, brooding, disaffected eyes (eyes of a young man who – as the headline states – having been failed by his family, falls in with a bad crowd). The headline calls him a monster, but the image calls up something much more familiar. After all WE are the generations of disaffected youth seen on the covers of RS…from Morrison, to Kurt Cobain, to Billy Joe Armstrong.

    One of the things that has often been genius about Rolling Stone covers is that they are attractive covers. I don’t mean that they necessarily show attractive (handsome, beautiful) people. I mean that the covers often evoke … something … in us that draws us in, that we are attracted to. Something, even if we can’t quite put our finger on what it is, we identify with. Rolling Stone is a magazine about us, not them.

    Again, I haven’t read the article, so I have no idea if the us/them line blurring was the magazine’s intent with this cover. But I do suspect its what has made a lot of people react so strongly.

  7. jessica says:

    Oh. Just read the Boston Globe article…didn’t mean to just remake their point.

  8. Aliceccentric says:

    Interesting that some of the articles about RS’s cover are actually reprinting the cover, thus just adding to the so-called problem Bostonians are complaining about. E.g.:

  9. Boycotting something doesn’t remove it from the marketplace of ideas. Bostonians shouldn’t be forced to read the article if they don’t want to.

    Government intervention is really the only thing that can prevent something from reaching the marketplace of ideas. No private actors are harming RS’s freedom of expression by choosing not to buy the magazine.

    The whole marketplace of ideas theory means that anyone should be able to put whatever they want into the thought market. If other people like it, it’s widely read. If not, it isn’t. It seems that RS’s decision to put a provocative cover photo with the article hurt the work’s standing in the marketplace of ideas for some people.

    A private boycott of a magazine does not invalidate the theory of a marketplace of ideas. In fact, it only reinforces that the marketplace of ideas is working.

  10. Bee says:

    I grew up in Boston around plenty of meatheads and simpletons. I also grew up in Boston around plenty of thoughtful and intelligent people. Bostonians are more diverse than we get credit for. There’s nothing “anti-intellectual” or “Bush-ian” about employing a boycott as a peaceful form of protest or an expression of dissent. I think the cover is in bad taste and it offends me. I would nonetheless vigorously defend Rolling Stone’s right to publish just as I would vigorously defend my own personal choice not to purchase it. The idea that Menino’s letter is an example of government trying to control the media seems absurd. I mean, does anyone really believe Menino has this kind of influence? Menino is not pinning a big ass American flag on himself and claiming that anyone who doesn’t agree with him just isn’t a “patriot.” I read the letter and as far as I can tell, he just didn’t like the cover any more than I do.

  11. Donna says:

    To be calling us Bostonians “Rehtahded”…for being offended at the glamorization of this animal amazes me. As someone who was at the finish line that day, yes I was astounded at RS choice of cover and this is why. If they choose to do a in depth look at what factors into a person becoming a terrorist such as this, that is one thing, but they are setting him up as the victim in this… “How his family and society failed him… What caused him to “fall into” radical Islam… how about taking responsibility. He is no poor simple minded child, he made these choices. He is a monster who hates America, but had no problem taking all we have to offer mind you…(Financial Aid for School, Mass Health, EBT card, Welfare etc….) And both the choice of cover shot and the sympathetic article is what is offensive. It also helps to legitimizes what he did and encourages other extremists out there by giving him such a large national platform. By calling for a Boycott of this magazine, is not “Whicked Fahkin Rehtahded” just as the magazine is exercising their right to free press in trying to gain interest into a fallen by the wayside publication, we too have the right of freedom of expression. Expressing our disgust in yes using a “Rock Star” type of photo for their cover shot, and what seems to be a sympathetic article. Giving this terrorist the cover is a prize to him, it increases his fame and more attention to his cause, and it is wrong.

    • It is retahded.

      You’re retahded too.

      How is this “glamorization?” Does the article say that he was wicked awesome for what he did? Does the article say anything glamorizing about him? Does the cover even do so?

      And, if he is a victim, (as he might be) don’t you want to know about that? Or, even if he isn’t, don’t you want to know the theories about why some think he is? If for no other reason than to knock them down?

      Sure, you have the right to be offended. That is a right that gets exercised way too much, but have at it.

      As far as this being a “rock star” shot, I never even knew what that meant until you crybabies started using the term.

      • Donna says:

        Alright, so I thought this was a place to express opinions, but I guess only if they agree with your own. When all else fails, resort to name calling and attacks. So I will disengage. Have a nice life pal. And enjoy those who are only here to stroke your ego and tell you how “awesome and smaht you are”

        • Good, go fuck yourself.

          • shg says:

            Come on, she’s allowed to get all butthurt that you didn’t validate her. She disagreed with you, You disagreed with her. She’s allowed. You’re a nasty meanie narcissist who replied with substance, and she’s overly emotional and intellectually vapid, and you bullied her by not giving her a tummy rub.

            But to say “go fuck yourself,” is uncalled for. A simple, “I will miss you terribly” would more than suffice.

  12. Fox used this same photo without comment.

    I have a cousin that looks like this guy, only slightly older. I wrote him when they released these photos, “Good thing you don’t live in Boston.” He wrote back that he’d thought the same thing. It’s actually scary how close they look. I would have Marc upload the pic, but I don’t think my cousin would appreciate it. i’m pretty sure that’s not how he’d want to make the cover of Rolling Stone.

  13. Turk says:

    I’ll give [Giuliani] 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).

    yeah, I know it wasn’t the real point of your post but…

    The only reason Rudy looked brave was because his bunker was destroyed in the attack. Why? Because he decided to place it at the WTC after the 2003 attack.

    He was widely mocked at the time for placing the city’s emergency bunker at a known terrorist target, but Rudy being Rudy, told everyone to go to hell because he knew better.

    So the reason he was walking the streets looking “brave” was because he lost his communications bunker due to his own arrogance.

    But nobody, understandably, wanted to talk about that on September 12, 2001.

    • Yeah, I get it. I just didn’t want to get derailed into a debate about how awesome Giuliani is, early on. I’m ok with it finally coming up after 25 comments though.

  14. Bill says:

    Some of us are very loyal fans Marc, why would you rub our noses in the fact you’re from Boston?

    P.S. Donna, it’s obvious that if anyone disagrees with your sensitivity, we’re only hear to stroke Marc’s cock about how awesome and smaht he is. “Marc, did anyone tell you how awesome and smaht’ you are is the equivalent of saying “Marc, did anyone tell you you 2+2=4?” “Marc, did anyone tell you you’re smaht and awesome?” I’m really sure Marc sits around desperately waiting for his blog readers to validate his self-worth

  15. Shanon Nebo says:

    I understand why Rolling Stone did this. I also understand why the people of Boston are so upset. I think it is a little much for the author of this post to say that Boston residents and the mayor are intellectually bankrupt by being offended, and that they “get the journalism they deserve”. This kid quite recently terrorized their city, and they are entitled to their opinions, and not at the expense of being called “wicked fahkin retahded”.

  16. J-Bone says:

    “…almost no country music…”

    You don’t get out of Boston much, huh?

  17. Elissa says:

    If you, whatever your name is that wrote this small minded blog, were AT ALL educated as to WHY we in Boston are upset over the COVER, you wouldn’t have wasted your meaningless day on this. It’s the cover we are upset over, not the article. You want to write an article on this POS go right ahead. I’m sure he was a corrupted son of a bitch and was brain washed by his dickless older brother. ITS THE FUCKING COVER WE ARE PISSED OVER. He does NOT deserve to be on the cover of an American magazine, one that has been such a corner stone in music’s history. He hates this country, hates all of us, abused the our welfare system, and yet there he sits, on the fucking front of a magazine, all over this country. A country that welcomed him with open arms, helped him get an education, along with other numerous things his family took for granted while walking our city streets. Mayor Menino’s letter was not “pretty stupid”, it was professional, thoughtful, and supportive of those victims. A classy letter defending this city that he grew up in and has served for many years. Have an open mind and understand where he’s coming from before you start throwing out such negative comments.
    As for your little article here, it’s a ego stroking, narrow minded, waste of time. Clearly you have no problem throwing your opinion out there for people to read, but the second someone voices their’s you make fun of them like a childish 15 year old. Get a life, you and your little minions.

  18. Do you know how many dumb ass little girls already are in love with him and have groups about worshiping him? I feel this just made that all ok. And I personally do NOT want to go shopping and see this PUNK on the cover. What happened to Rolling Stone being about music. As a Bostonian, Rolling Stone and you, can kiss my ass :)

  19. […] Marc Randazza, a first-amendment lawyer, said it harshly on his blog. […]

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