Thursday, July 18, 2013


Abby Ohlheiser of the Atlantic Wire reports:
A police officer who was there the night Dzhokar Tsarnaev was captured has decided to counter the "normalcy" of Rolling Stone's contorversial cover by releasing photos showing the bomber how many would apparently prefer to see him: bloody, covered in dirt, with the red circle of a laser target trained on his forehead. "This guy is evil," Sean Murphy, a tactical officer for the Massachusetts State Police told Boston magazine. "This is the real Boston bomber. Not someone fluffed and buffed for the cover of Rolling Stone magazine."
More, from a Boston magazine blog post (though the magazine's entire site seems to be down now):
Sgt. Sean Murphy, a tactical photographer with the Massachusetts State Police who has photographed the funerals of many officers killed in the line of duty, is furious with the magazine. Murphy, who also acts a liaison to the families of fallen officers, is so angered by the cover -- which he says is both dangerous and insulting to the victims of the bombings -- that he feels the need to counter the message that it conveys.

... Murphy wants the world to know that the Tsarnaev in the photos he took that night -- defeated and barely alive, with the red dots of sniper rifles lighting up his forehead -- is the real face of terrorism, not the handsome, confident young man shown on the magazine cover.
So what do we get from Murphy? A couple of photos of Tsarnaev, one of which is this (click to enlarge):

With all due respect to Sergeant Murphy, who's seen a lot of pain and suffering, I've got to say that this photo is more glamorous than the Rolling Stone cover photo.

You have a #FreeJahar cult that thinks Tsarnaev is a railroaded victim -- and you want to show him slumped and bloodied, brought to heel by the very people the cultists blame? The cult eroticizes Tsarnaev, and you want to show him with his shirt suggestively lifted, posed almost like a Renaissance St. Sebastian, or Jesus in a Pieta? You think that glamorizes him less?

I understand the pain of people who were upset at the Rolling Stone cover, but this isn't the remedy. Rolling Stone tried to make a point about the banality of evil and the fact that overt monstrousness is not a necessary precursor to a monstrous act, and that was lost on a lot of people. But the reality of the situation can't be willed away. A lot of people found Dzhokhar Tsarnaev appealing, engaging, and attractive. For people who aren't thinking clearly, that trumps the unspeakable crime he committed. And for other people, it mustn't be acknowledged, because acknowledging it is deemed to be a way of minimizing the horror of the crime.

It isn't. Those of us who defended the cover know what he did. It's so awful that the rest of his life doesn't mitigate it. But trying to figure out how the two parts of his life fit together is a mystery we think is worth examining. It's good to be forearmed with the knowledge that a monster can be someone a lot of people think has bedroom eyes.


UPDATE: I'm informed in comments that Officer Murphy has been relieved of duty.


BillyWitchDoctor said...

Mr. Murphy has just be de-jobbed for his unprofessional stupidity.

Victor said...

As I mentioned in your previous post on this, the 'banality of evil' is the first thing I thought of, when I saw at that cover.

He was a nice looking, fairly intelligent - apparently, based on the college he was at - Americanized kid, who ended up somehow or other doing something monstrous.

And I thought the photo did a good job a revealing just what he once was - or thought he was.

And I thought it did a great job of showing the innocence, and lack of guile or apparent evil, before the looming metamorphosis.

This was the "before" picture. This was, if I remember correctly, his own self-portrait.

What Murphy wanted to have on the cover - the "after" photo, we had already seen.
But it was a 2nd hand look. The kid didn't snap the shot of his own wrecked body - Murphy did.

And after he was apprehended, we all knew that this Gregor Samsa was now a cockroach - and we all know what cockroaches look like.
But what did he look like before he changed? And this cover, reveals that - in his own eyes.

We need to realize that the next one of these terrorists we encounter, will probably look something like that - the "before" picture.
It's only after he's apprehended, dead or alive, that we'll see the bloody, tired, and beaten, "after" photo.

And in our cowardly new world, if people are cautious, or apprehensive, which is not unwise, it's better to be on the look-out for someone who looks like that 'before picture.'
By the time we all see the 'after,' it'll probably be too late for some people - the victims of the man, turned into a monster.

Luigi said...

I don't get the animosity toward the Rolling Stone cover that some people display. It's a photo. Big deal.

Glennis said...

The RS cover is the way the man looked. It's the reality. I don't get that it's glamorizing at all - I can't fathom what people are reading into them.

These photos, OTOH, evoke a profound feeling of empathy in me - not exculpatory empathy, but the ability to put myself in the skin of a person who did something horrible, who put something relentless into motion, and who is in that moment realizing the terible impact of what he has done.

Whether he regrets it because of what he did to other people, or whether he only regrets it because how it has affected him, I don't know. I think these photos show the moment when someone who has played a fantasy game with his bombmaking and internet jihad finally realizing just what the fuck he has done. His brother is dead, he's committed an unforgivable act, and everyone in the known world hates him and he has a sniper's bead on his forehead ready to blow his brains own.

This is a man who has just become a pariah. He will never again be a member of the human family. I think these are photos any wannabe school shooter or fantasy-schemer should look long and hard at, and think twice.

John Taylor said...

I'm reminded of the women who swooned at each appearance in court of Richard Ramirez. No matter what hideous deeds this guy did there are some who would set him free. Not because he's innocent but because he's "cute". Never underestimate the power of stupidity.

Superfluous Man said...

Remember Ayn Rand's long-term crush on a murderer?