Rush Limbaugh sees a media conspiracy to "define deviancy down" by portraying Dzhokhar Tsarnaev as an adorable kid through teenage anecdotes and photos that make him look handsome. "You notice also that the news media are doing to Dzhokhar what they did to Trayvon Martin," Limbaugh said on his radio show Tuesday. "They're regularly showing a photo of Dzhokhar that was taken when he was about 14. Soft, angelic, nice little boy, harmless, cute, big lovable eyes." Trayvon Martin was the unarmed teenager shot to death in Florida in 2012. His killer was initially not arrested because of Florida's Stand Your Ground law. The only thing they have in common is being young men who are not white Christians.
Limbaugh sees a dark conspiracy in the photos of Tsarnaev. There are only a few publicly available, and those of his bloody capture don't show his face very well. But there's another reason to show photos of Dzhokhar before he was a suspect. One of the eerie things about the younger Boston marathon bomber's social media sites is that he says and does a lot of banal teenager things. Music, TV, smoking weed, sleeping in, pizza ("pizzzzzzzzaaaaaa baaaabbyyy"). One of the most attractive pictures of Tsarnaev to surface since the authorities released his name is a former Twitter profile photo (above at right), which is exactly where teenagers post the most attractive pictures of themselves. We all have the impulse to sift through what we can see of Tsarnaev's life online to find telltale signs that he could commit a terrible crime. They're not there. Journalists have reported that Tsarnaev seemed like a normal kid. "He's not a normal kid," Limbaugh says. "There's nothing normal about this, and we don't want it to be normal." Well, yeah, that's the point.
Instead, the radio host says the liberal media is going with "normal" conclusions and "cute" photos is not to give readers what they what — an idea of why the bombing happened — but to normalize terrorism. Limbaugh says:
Daniel Patrick Moynihan: defining deviancy down. When a culture is unable to stop a deviant activity or a criminal activity or a perverted activity, they simply say, "Well, this is the new normal," and you move on. Defining deviancy down. Ah, normal college kid.
Making terrorism OK is part of an ongoing campaign on the left, Limbaugh says. He thinks, as he said on his show Monday, that the media is trying as hard as it can not to talk about Islam. On Tuesday, he pointed to an interview with Alan Dershowitz, in which Dershowitz said "terrorists" like Angela Davis and Bill Ayers were now respectable academics. He said Robert Redford's movie The Company You Keep is "glorifying the Weather Underground." He pointed to an interview with The New Yorker's David Remnick, in which Remnick talked about Chechnya and why the Tsarnaevs might have done what they did, saying Remnick was looking for an excuse for their alleged crimes. Limbaugh doesn't want a reason! He says:
Because you guys are gonna construct a reason that justifies why they did it. That's where you guys are headed on the left, it justifies it and in no way are you guys gonna be responsible for anything that stops this.
To state the obvious, knowing why something happened is not the same thing as supporting it. Many people wonder why Limbaugh says the things he says, even when they don't agree with them.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.