July 19, 2013

Bill Nemitz: No rock star status for a monster

By Bill Nemitz bnemitz@pressherald.com

(Continued from page 1)

This is serious, investigative journalism by the same magazine whose expose by Michael Hastings two years ago this month ended the career of Gen. Stanley McChrystal, then commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.

Try telling that to the handful of people (so far) who have lambasted Bowe for, as one poster said on Longfellow Books' Facebook page, his "hugely inappropriate disrespectful choice obviously meant to illicit (sic) controversy to boost sales."

Boost sales of what? A dozen magazines that net Bowe about 20 cents per copy?

Announces another Facebook poster: "We are launching a boycott against your store due to your action."

It's hardly the first time Bowe, whose website features the slogan "a fiercely independent community bookstore," has taken heat for trusting in "the intelligence of my customers."

Back when he sold Salman Rushdie's "The Satanic Verses" in 1988, Bowe received actual death threats along with promises to blow his entire store to high heaven.

And when former President George W. Bush's "Decision Points" hit the shelves in 2010, one woman told Bowe she would boycott Longfellow Books unless he moved the 481-page memoir to the fiction section.

Bowe's answer then was the same as it is now.

"Boycott away," he said. "This is America. You vote with your wallet. If you don't want to buy it, don't."

The closer you get to Boston, of course, the easier it becomes to at least grasp the notion that Tsarnaev's visage on the Rolling Stone cover (the same Facebook photo that ran, large and in full color, in the May 5 edition of the Sunday New York Times) somehow bestows unprecedented rock-star status on an alleged mass murderer.

(Unprecedented? See: Rolling Stone's cover story "A Special Report: Charles Manson -- The incredible story of the most dangerous man alive," June 25, 1970.)

But to hear the quotes coming out of Boston on Thursday, it was hard to separate the righteous indignation from the post-traumatic denial.

"Why would we want to heroize this guy?" asked a visibly angry Boston Mayor Tom Menino. "He's a terrorist. We don't want him in our neighborhoods. We don't want him on magazines. We don't want him anywhere."

Except he is here. And so, we have to believe, might be others just like him.

"This isn't the former Soviet Union, where we go back and take people out of photos," Bowe said. "This kid lived in Cambridge. He did a heinous thing. What are we going to do going forward? Put our heads in the sand? Or try and understand so we can better protect our kids?"

Put more simply, that cute-as-a-button kid "on the cover of the Rollin' Stone" in no way resembles a terrorist who, one sunny day in April, blew up a crowd of innocent people.

Which, if you're lucky enough to find a copy, is the story's point.


Bill Nemitz can be contacted at 791-6323 or at:



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