George Zimmerman has once again emerged from the murky depths of the public view to call attention to himself. In the past couple of weeks, the man who shot unarmed teen Trayvon Martin over three years ago has made a big stir in the media over his Twitter posts, which range from retweeting photos of Martin’s body to comparing President Barack Obama to Oregon school shooter Christopher Harper-Mercer.
People magazine published an article on Oct. 2 stating they had a source report that Zimmerman’s family are worried over what Twitter is doing to him. According to People’s Steve Helling, the source reportedly said, “I do hope that he’ll step away from the computer and live his life. The Twitter thing isn’t doing him any favors.”
Part of the problem is that Zimmerman thrives off the media and public attention netted through his bizarre and often offensive actions. The other part is that the media is also enabling this behavior by making him a pseudo-celebrity.
The relation between Zimmerman and the media is an ouroboros of controversy. The fact that celebrity news-oriented People magazine reported on his addiction to controversy speaks volumes as well.
When Zimmerman first shot Martin and was acquitted of what is practically first-degree murder, it was completely newsworthy. It was also acceptable and perhaps even necessary to report on his actual prison sentence for spousal abuse, for it represented the punishment that many of his detractors thought he deserved.
It was unacceptable and outright tasteless for the organizers of Celebrity Deathmatch to even think about the hypothetical concept of putting him on their show and the continued reporting by news outlets on every little thing that happens on his Twitter is also tasteless and unnecessary.
To make Zimmerman a “celebrity” means that in some way the populace “celebrates” him, which should not be happening at all.
Forget about the First Amendment – the media needs to stop enabling Zimmerman’s behavior. We don’t need to hear about every controversy he is involved in because they are completely public and speak for themselves. Twitter itself is also at fault considering they did not outright pull his account for retweeting a photo of a corpse, especially considering it was that of Martin’s after he had shot him.
Zimmerman is the spokesman for both vigilantism and racism. The photo of Martin in question held the caption “Z-Man is a one man army,” which was coined by the “fan” of Zimmerman who uploaded the photo to Twitter in the first place. His Twitter has 11,000 followers, most of whom are most likely white supremacists and radical adherents of castle doctrine. By silencing the media’s coverage on Zimmerman, we silence the controversy-loving man himself and, in the end, the tide of vigilantism and racism that he stands for.
What happened in the case of Martin and what it represented should never be forgotten. However, all controversy regarding Zimmerman after a certain point needs to be forgotten lest his legacy become twisted and he becomes remembered as a celebrity, or even a “hero,” rather than a murderer.