Normally, this blog doesn't get political. Although you all know my view on politics and government, I try to keep them out of my posts. This one, however, will dig deep. So if you are the easily offended type, click here and you can head on out.
On the majority of issues that face us, I am open minded. I will generally listen to the other side of the viewpoint, and while I usually don't change my stance, it has happened. A couple weeks ago, we went to a same-sex wedding. Up until that point, I was uncomfortable with the idea of gay marriage. Not because of religious reasons; I feared it would be a slippery slope. However, seeing two people who clearly love each other, who are no different then me and T, well let's just say it changed my stance.
However, this issue, the Rolling Stone cover issue, that's one I refuse to bend an inch on.
For those of you who are not sure what I'm talking about, I'll quick fill you in.
Rolling Stone, the music and cultural magazine, is featuring Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on its cover. The picture of him is not one of a troubled man, or a mug shot, or him lying in a boat surrounded by Boston police. No, the picture of him is a cool, hip, young man, looking into the camera with a slightly smug look. A hipster, suave and composed. Looking at it, if you were clueless about this tragedy that struck in April, you'd think he was an up-and-coming lead singer, or maybe a DJ. You wouldn't dare think he was a terrorist who killed 3 people, wounded hundreds of others, caused irreparable damage, and struck fear in the hearts of the athletic community all over America.
The controversy isn't with the article itself. I don't care this this magazine, which has billed itself in recent years as less of a music magazine and more of a political magazine that calls out Republicans and right-wing policies, wrote an article about the Boston bomber. I don't care. What I care about is that they are featuring him on the cover like some sort of rock star. Like some sort of cool kid. I won't link to the picture out of principle, but take a look and judge for yourself if this picture is accurate of what I am saying.
David Draiman, the lead singer of Disturbed, called out the magazine, saying it can "go to hell" after featuring this man on the cover. Other musicians have joined in with him saying similar things. It's pretty clear that featuring this terrorist on their cover has upset the general public, and rightly so. He created terror! He killed people! He wrote in the boat "Fuck America". And yet this magazine featured him on the cover!
Now, here's where we're at this morning. A friend who reads this blog created quite the stir the other night by saying he would have to read the article before he made a judgement on Rolling Stone magazine. I reminded him that I wasn't making a judgement on the article; I was judging the decision to feature him like a rock star on the cover. After bantering back and forth and feeling like an episode of CNN's Crossfire, I asked him bottom line did he feel the cover was wrong. He said no, he did not. He said all he saw was a kid. He didn't see a terrorist.
To me, that says a lot.
You see, on April 15th, those of us in the running community had our lives changed. Altered. The rules changed. Races were no longer safe. A place of escape, a place where athletes gather to achieve great things, suddenly were under attack. The phrase "is nothing sacred?" gets thrown around a lot, but in this case, it's true. Running and races are, to the community, sacred things. Escape. Zen. Use whatever word you want, but it's reality, people. Even non-runners who have a connection to the city of Boston were affected. While not on the same scale as the 9/11 terrorist attacks, this was personal. It was deep. Days after the race, Boston Strong entered our lexicon. Much as "we will never forget" became a tagline after 9/11, and "support the troops" came into play in 2003 for the Iraq/Afghanistan wars, Boston Strong was a symbol of our unwavering support for the city of Boston, and the running community. It meant numerous things, and yet, tied it all together into one simple thing: we will not be afraid. We will not stand for terrorism. You cannot scare us. Your bombs hurt, but cannot stop us. You saw the support across the country, with runs for Boston, wristbands, and shirts that said "Colorado Runners for Boston".
I was at the Boston Marathon in 2012 cheering my dear friend Kris on, who was running Boston for the first time. It was hot. It was humid. A horrible day to have a marathon. And yet, it was magical being there. Camped out at mile 25, seeing athletes climb a hill, they were strong. Healthy. Most were in pain, having pushed themselves a ridiculous distance in sweltering conditions. And yet, there was joy. There was pride. There was an amazing sense of accomplishment. I remember distinctly a kid running near us, with a glassy look in his eyes. He was out of it. I gave him very clear instructions to put some ice on his head, drink some water, and keep going. He didn't respond, but he did everything I said to do. That's a connection right there. That's experiencing the race. That's what "Boston Strong" is all about.
And that's where the outrage at this magazine comes from. To showcase this disgusting human being on the cover, to frame him like some sort of star. It's horrid. Inexcusable. And if you are not outraged by this, I honestly have to question where your heart is.
Like I said earlier, I generally listen to both sides. This issue though? There is no other side. Plain and simple, Rolling Stone glorified a terrorist. And my outrage is not fake.