Rolling Stone magazine sparked a heated social media debate today after releasing a cover image promoting an upcoming profile of alleged Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
The Twitter and Facebook firestorm resulted in calls for boycotts, and drugstore chain CVS announcing that it would not carry the issue in its 7,000 stores nationwide.
"As a company with deep roots in New England and a strong presence in Boston, we believe this is the right decision out of respect for the victims of the attack and their loved ones," the statement said. CVS is headquartered in Woonsocket, R.I.
The cover, released online as a preview to Friday's edition with an in-depth article chronicling Tsarnaev's life leading up to the Boston Marathon bombing, features a "selfie"—or self-taken photo—by Tsarnaev with the teen's hair falling across his face.
Some online noted that the photo called to mind previous Rolling Stone covers of Jim Morrison or Bob Dylan and glorified the teenage suspected killer. Others pointed out that the photo had also appeared on major news sites like The New York Times in the days after Tsarnaev's capture.
"This is obviously a big story and there are a lot of people who are going to be interested in it, but in my mind it isn't deserving of the cover," said Duran Fernandez-O'Brien, who lives in Boston and joined the "Boycott Rolling Stone Magazine for their latest cover" Facebook page.
Tsarnaev is suspected of setting off two bombs at the Boston Marathon with his older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, on April 15. At his first public appearance since his arrest, Tsarnaev pleaded not guilty to 30 charges brought against him by federal prosecutors in the U.S. District Court.
Fernandez-O'Brien echoed other online critics, voicing concern over whether the magazine is glorifying Tsarnaev and his actions by giving him so much attention.
"Obviously it's what people want to see," he said. "Definitely. But at the same time it creates a culture where people who may be on the fringe of thinking about doing something like that will then push forward and go through their ideas because they think this will make me famous: 'I will leave my mark history if I do something like this.' "