He called the companies that are pulling it from the racks "cowardly," noting that The New York Times used the same photo back in May. The photo doesn't glamorize Tsarnaev, he argued, but "humanizes" him for people "who want to see him as an animal from Day One."
"The facts are he wasn't an animal, at least to his peer group, for the longest time. They remember him as a dear friend," Wemple said. "That's a problem, because he was part of our society and he turned on it by all indications, or allegedly."
The article about the bombing suspect is a deeply researched account, the magazine said in a synopsis about the story, which it published online Wednesday afternoon. Among its revelations:
-- A public plea from his former wrestling coach may ultimately have convinced Tsarnaev to surrender when police surrounded the boat in which he was hiding.
-- In high school, Tsarnaev played down the fact that he was a Muslim. But he also took his religion seriously.
-- He once confided to a friend that he thought the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks could be justified because of U.S. policies toward Muslim countries.
Slammed across social media
But Rhode Island-based CVS Caremark Corp. said its decision "is the right decision out of respect for the victims of the attack and their loved ones," company spokesman Michael DeAngelis told CNN.
Tedeschi Food Shops, based in Rockland, Massachusetts, said it supports the need to provide news but not "actions that serve to glorify the evil actions of anyone. With that being said, we will not be carrying this issue of Rolling Stone."
Stop & Shop, a chain of stores based in Quincy, Massachusetts, said it won't carry the latest issue "due to the public response and our customers feedback," spokeswoman Suzi Robinson said.
Richard "Dic" Donohue, a transit police officer injured in a shootout with the bombing suspects, also criticized the cover.
"The new cover of Rolling Stone has garnered much attention due to its sensationalized depiction of one of the alleged bombers. My family and I were personally affected by these individuals' actions. I cannot and do not condone the cover of the magazine," which is thoughtless at best, he said.
And the magazine's Facebook post of the cover image had received more than 16,000 comments by Wednesday evening.
"Oh look, Rolling Stone magazine is glamourizing terrorism. Awesome," Adrienne Graham commented on the magazine's Facebook page. "I will NOT be buying this issue, or any future issues."
Others expressed similar sentiments, and words such as "tasteless," "sickening" and "disgusting" flew around social media.
"What a slap in the face to the great city of Boston and the Marathon Bombing victims," commented Lindsey Williamson.
But on The New Yorker's website, a column by Ian Crouch speaks out against the rush to judgment and in favor of the magazine.
The "vitriol and closed-mindedness of the Web response to the Rolling Stone cover, before anyone had the chance to read the article itself, is an example of two of the ugly public outcomes of terrorism: hostility toward free expression, and to the collection and examination of factual evidence; and a kind of culture-wide self-censorship encouraged by tragedy, in which certain responses are deemed correct and anything else is dismissed as tasteless or out of bounds," he wrote.
The cover image was not engineered, he wrote. "What is so troubling about this image, and many of the others that have become available since April, is that Tsarnaev really does look like a rock star. In this way, the photograph on Rolling Stone is of a part with the often unexpected, and unsettling, portrait of Tsarnaev that has emerged over the past few months."
S.E. Cupp, who will co-host CNN's new "Crossfire" program, tweeted, "To me, seems @RollingStone isn't glamorizing terrorism, but proving that it can look innocent and young and attractive. Important lesson.