The cover photo makes Tsarnaev look like a moody lead singer from a boy band. Critics from actor and comedian Albert Brooks to Boston Mayor Thomas Menino say the image -- a self-portrait snapped sometime before the bombing -- is way too flattering, given the horror of the crime. But there is a small group of people who probably will be keeping the magazine close to their pillows so they can give their favorite heartthrob a goodnight kiss.
Yes, like every celebrity, Tsarnaev has fans who think he is innocent or has been mistreated or is the fall guy in another evil conspiracy perpetrated by the U.S. government -- or maybe just a sweet boy who had a couple of bad days because of his crazy big brother.
These Tsarnaev apologists -- both female and male -- are of a type that is becoming disturbingly common: People who will believe anything, even the most preposterous conspiracy theory, rather than accept facts that fail to align with their tiny little world of warped perception.
The editors of Rolling Stone may have made a poor judgment. I’m not so sure they did; the Tsarnaev photo evokes the mystifying dichotomy between the fairly typical, self-absorbed college kid Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was and the coldblooded terrorist he apparently became. That is the story they are presenting in their magazine.
As far as Tsarnaev’s fans are concerned, though, poor judgment does not begin to describe their misguided enthusiasm for their hero. There are other, better descriptive words starting with irrationality, paranoia, vapidity and ignorance. One attribute they cannot claim is empathy -- empathy for the dead and horribly maimed victims of the bedroom-eyed bomber.