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Lay Off Rolling Stone, Look in the Mirror

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Thanks to CNN's Jake Tapper for posting a short, but excellent story by Erik Wemple in The Washington Post on the Rolling Stone Boston bombing suspect controversy. Among Wemple's counterpoints:

Presumably the protesters would have a tabloid treatment in which Rolling Stone would place horns on Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Perhaps that would have made this nonsense go away ...
Some are saying that Rolling Stone is exploiting this image -- this story -- for commercial gain. Well, Rolling Stone is a magazine. It exploits all its stories for commercial gain, some more effectively than others.

Of course, you could argue that, due to the impact of some social media-driven boycott, there will be a commercial loss. People will not buy the issue. They'll cancel their Rolling Stone subscriptions or not click online articles from the publication. Confusion might even cause a temporary decrease in downloads of Rolling Stones music on iTunes.

Don't hold your breath.

You don't see much, if any, outrage over the crap we endure in the checkout line at the grocery store on a daily basis. It's fine to photoshop celebrities to create fat and disgusting caricatures, assign them phantom drug problems and charge them with eating disorders. This entrenched part of American pop culture doesn't turn our stomachs enough to impact sales or generate backlash.

On a MUCH lighter matter, the same logic that triggers outrage over the provocative headlines I frequently use on Apple (AAPL) articles applies to angst over the Rolling Stone cover:

Truth be told, most people who complain about outrageous headlines don't actually have a problem with the outrageous headline. They just use the spectacle of the headline to project annoyance with an argument their psychological filters keep them from considering.

Sure, you think you have a problem with the Rolling Stone cover, but, really, who are you to judge?

I will defer to the parents of that beautiful little boy who died (the Boston Bruins fan in the disturbing "before and after" the bombing photo) or one of the many victims who had a limb blown off. The opinions these folks have actually matter because they're derived from the experience of profound emotional connections with the massacre.

That said, I have to think that the victims' greatest hope (next to wanting their son or their limb back) is that something like this never happens again.

As was the case after 9/11, too many Americans opt to call killers "animals." We invest little time and energy in trying to piece together the complex web that drives people to commit such despicable acts.

I highly doubt Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was born with the intent to commit a cowardly act. Somebody -- or groups of somebodies -- somewhere along the way socialized him in such a way that drove him to (allegedly - I use that word merely because I have to) kill innocent people seemingly without humane forethought or subsequent remorse.

If you want to stop a repeat of the madness, you have to understand the forces that drive it in the first place. We should credit Rolling Stone for doing what I assume, on the basis of their past work, is a thorough piece of reporting and investigative journalism on the circumstances germane to a bred, not born killer. Hopefully, we can look past the cover and address the meaningful issues Rolling Stone raises.

--Written by Rocco Pendola in Santa Monica, Calif.

Rocco Pendola is TheStreet's Director of Social Media. Pendola's daily contributions to TheStreet frequently appear on CNBC and at various top online properties, such as Forbes.

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