cell photo

What Explains the Power of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s Middle Finger? – Glenn Greenwald

Apr. 23 2015

The penalty phase of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s trial began Tuesday in a federal courtroom in Boston. Already convicted of 30 felony counts relating to the 2013 bombing of the Boston Marathon, an attack that killed 3 people and maimed dozens more, the 21-year-old will now have the jury effectively decide whether he should spend the rest of his life in a maximum security prison without the possibility of parole, or be executed. Federal prosecutors are vehemently arguing for the death penalty.

Paying even casual attention to media coverage of yesterday’s proceedings was surreal. What dominated headlines and journalists’ commentary was the above still photograph of Tsarnaev, taken by prison authorities in July 2013 (roughly three months after the bombing), as he waited alone for hours in a holding cell.

The photo captured the then-teenager extending his middle finger up — flipping the proverbial bird — to the surveillance camera in his cell. The graininess of the photo, and the proximity of his face to the lens, created an image at once menacing and dehumanizing: this encaged, orange jumpsuit-clad monster was in your face, full of unbridled rage and hatred directed right at you. The photo was used to show that, even three months after committing such an atrocity, he lacked any remorse or other redemptive human emotions.


The Murdochian id of American journalism, the New York Post, asked: “Could a photo of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev giving the finger ensure his death penalty?” The reporter for Fox’s Boston station, Catherine Parrotta, observed that “a collective gasp was heard in the overflow courtroom as the photo of Tsarnaev giving the camera the middle finger was shown.”

It was, explicitly, the prosecutors’ intent to provoke exactly this reaction: this one photo, standing alone, was designed to produce a visceral, bottomless contempt for Tsarnaev which even disgust at his actual crime could not achieve. The expectation was that it would irreversibly establish the jury and public’s view of him as not just evil but sub-human, deserving of state-imposed death.”This is Dzhokhar Tsarnaev: unconcerned, unrepentant and unchanged,” said the federal prosecutor as she touted the photo. “Without remorse, he remains untouched by the grief and the loss that he caused.”

It worked. All over the TV airways and the Internet, all sorts of people cited the photo to argue that he should be killed.

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I was tagged by hightimeswithhiddles, littletime67, and velvet-muffin

This was the last picture on my phone. It’s from the cover of this month’s Physician Consultant and it made me lose my shit.
Apparently, a 17 year old honors student and athlete with a history of ADHD put magnetized BuckyBalls into his urethra. Since they got all stuck together, they had to be pushed into his bladder and then removed one by one during a ~2 hr. surgical procedure. Fun stuff. …and that was when his parents probably upped the dosage of his ADHD meds. His parents, by the way, are physicians and I just cracked up when I thought that they could’ve been the ones who sent the xray to the magazine as a “this is what happens when you do freaky shit like this” lesson to their son. 

I’m tagging hiddlesmaug yellowwhaleeye consultingtricksterofrohan zorped grandparogers