A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

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Location: Southeastern, Pennsylvania, United States

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Face of Terror

News flash: The latest issue of Rolling Stone does not have the face of a celebrated artist on the cover. People have been shocked to see the face of the accused (mind you, not convicted, therefore in the realm of the law he is still considered innocent) Boston Bomber. Those people are used to seeing lead singers of punk rock groups or the latest rock sex kitten on the cover daring them, luring them to buy the magazine. These people - who turn out to be the majority of people who were asked about the Rolling Stone cover - condemned the publishers. What were they thinking, these people must be wondering.

Well, let’s kick this around for a bit.

Perhaps the publishers felt that the Boston Bomber is newsworthy. Hard to argue with that point, since (after all) he is accused of one of the worst attacks on American soil since 9/11. They might have reasoned people must be wondering why he would do such a thing, what his motives were, and what had he hoped to gain through his random act of violence. Then, if we know and understand all this, we might prevent other young men from blowing up pressure cookers in other cities.

Oh, wait, that’s the purpose of learning history, and a lot people hate history. Maybe that’s why they resent Rolling Stone: the cover and the article forces them to think about a subject they hate.

The people have argued, “But Rolling Stone is a rock magazine.” 
Maybe it was exclusively about rock and roll at one time, but throughout most of its history Rolling Stone has been a bastion of alternative journalism. Articles published here would never show up in the pages of Time or Newsweek. Hell, one of its editors was the legendary Hunter S. Thompson; his most famous works begin their titles with the words “Fear and Loathing…” Fear and loathing, not warm and fuzzy…there is a big difference.

Or maybe it’s not Rolling Stone these people do not understand, but maybe its rock and roll itself they don’t understand. Yes, we all know that it started out as the bastard child of rhythm and blues, jazz, and country western music genres, but it didn’t take long for its rebellious roots to take hold in other facets of western culture. Fashion went first (long hair on boys and really, really short skirts on girls), followed by social mores, all designed to stand up to those long held cherished values of the status quo, defining a new set of values that we’re still formulating today. Think about it: was it really an accident that the civil rights movement and the gay rights movement were born just as the wild child known as rock and roll reached its recalcitrant adolescences?

The concepts of rock and roll and methods used by terrorists to further their agenda are not really that far apart. Both communicate change and challenges to the world at large. Early rock and roll was viewed as violence against the established melodies of our parents and grandparents youth. It dared to communicate change in an ultra-dramatic fashion.

So are not acts of terror — most often employing bombs — ultra-dramatic statements demanding change? The difference now is that rock and roll — the music — has moved towards more peaceful endeavors in its bid to change the world. Oh, it’s still rebellious, but rock and roll is middle aged now and arguably more mellow to its surroundings.

Or is that the pot talking?

Or perhaps it is the face of the bomber himself that people don’t like. What is there to hate? He seems to be clean-shaven, no scars and relatively acne-free (or did those dastardly photo shoppers at Rolling Stone air brush away any and all signs of dermatological imperfection from his face? If true, then a pox on all your houses, Rolling Stone!).

Most importantly, he looks more scared then terrifying. This doesn’t fit our notions of terrorists. He should look menacing as he seeks us out, willing to destroy all the values we hold near and dear.

He’s not even dressed for the part of playing a terrorist! Lord knows he isn’t wearing — as the far right might indelicately and highly prejudicial phrase put it — not wearing a rag on his head. This is inconvenient to see that the enemy does not look foreign, but indeed looks like one of us.

He looks like the kid down the block who wears his baseball cap backward, might spend too much time listening to his hate rock music and put too much stock in the works of Hitler. He looks like someone who would serve this country, then somewhere along the way have a radical epiphany and decide to use his military skills to bring down this country and destroy us all.

Timothy McVeigh looked like a lot of us, but he would never fit our current notions of a terrorist. News flash, people: there are thousands of other Timothy McVeighs living among us, sowing seeds of distrust in our government, working to change the status quo.

Sound familiar? Feeling uncomfortable yet?

Somehow this all brings me back to rock and roll; specifically, it reminds me of the Moody Blues Melancholy Man:

“Another man is what you’ll see
Who looks like you and looks like me
And yet somehow he will not feel the same
His life caught up in misery, he doesn’t think like you and me
Cause he can’t see what you and I can see.”

Fortunately the Moodies ended this piece on a note of optimism with the words:

“That we’re going to keep growing, wait and see.”

Maybe the editors of Rolling Stone know more about the Boston Bomber and rock and roll then we’re giving them credit for.

(Thank you for reading! Or is that the [insert controlled substance here] talking?)


Blogger Bob said...


As usual.

July 23, 2013 at 7:46 AM  
Blogger Amanda said...

Typical nowadays as people would rather hear stories from Fox News or CNN than educate themselves. That is why they are so easily manipulated. I didn't want to be part of the bashing on my favorite blogs or Facebook comments. (I noticed on FB that people want to see photos or read very short statements rather than reading an excellent article or viewing an informative video. Their loss).

July 23, 2013 at 7:57 AM  
Anonymous Janey said...

I second Bob, who already expressed the very reaction I had to your column: Brilliant!

July 23, 2013 at 5:14 PM  
Blogger todd gunther said...

Hello Bob and Janey!

Thank you for the compliment. Sometimes I get lucky and the words pour out very easily.

Hi Nadege,

it is scary where most Americans get their primary source of information these days. thanks for the comment.

July 24, 2013 at 8:04 AM  
Blogger Harpers Keeper said...

Great post. I blogged about this issue as well. Some relevant things I uncovered. Rolling Stone had a Charles Manson cover when he was in the news. I couldn't find any indication it was controversial. The cover photo was published in April in the New York Daily News and there was not a peep f protest. They pulled it off the subject Twitter page.

July 30, 2013 at 11:38 PM  

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