Human Interest Story or PR Move?
Another development in the George Zimmerman verdict aftermath came out yesterday. According to news sources, George Zimmerman came to the rescue of a family who was involved in a car crash. The family’s vehicle overturned and suddenly Zimmerman appeared and helped the family out of the car. He waited around to give the police his statement and then left. The police said that Zimmerman was not a witness to the accident but just a Good Samaritan who stopped and helped a family in need.
This story brings up several interesting issues, none of which really deal with the sequence of events. The first thing that struck my attention about this story was that when I researched it, one of the first sources I saw reporting on the story was TMZ. TMZ is not so much a news source but a celebrity gossip column which is why I found this story in that publication amazing. Zimmerman has now reached the level of celebrity that is usually reserved for Hollywood movie stars such as Brad Pitt or George Clooney. It seems like America has now reached a new low with its “celebrity” obsessions. America has been fascinated with Hollywood actors for the longest time treating them like royalty. In semi recent developments, we have now been fascinated with those who have seemingly no skills and only are known because their parents have money. Now we seem to treat acquitted suspects like celebrities and even cover them on a tabloid program.
Another issue involving the Zimmerman car crash case involves the timing of the story. This event happened shortly after the not guilty verdict. According to sources, Zimmerman has been in hiding, because he has been receiving death threats. Now not long after that controversial verdict, Zimmerman is back in the news, this time not as a suspect but as a hero. This has led some to believe that possibly the event was staged or that Zimmerma hired a PR team. I tried to do some investigating to see if I could get both sides of the stories or see if any reputable news sources uncovered if this was in fact a staged event or at least a PR ploy. I couldn’t find anything definitive on either side of the argument. I did, however, find a transcript of a Rush Limbaugh rant saying that he knew the “liberals” would try to come out and say that this was a conspiracy or a ploy to make Zimmerman look good.
This part of the story brings two issues to mind for me: First, I do not know why this story is such a big deal (I mean I do but I don’t think it should be). I believe Zimmerman was wrong to shoot and kill Trayvon. I believe that he made some bad decisions and that some prejudices (even if they were subconscious) helped motivate his actions that night. I think he should be punished for his poor judgment, because an innocent boy is dead. But I do not think Zimmerman is an inherently evil man. We all make decisions that go against our better judgment, but unfortunately for Zimmerman his choices were worse than the ones most people make and someone ended up dead. That being said I don’t know why it is such a big deal he helped a family. His whole defense was being an avid neighborhood watch participant and wanted to protect his neighbors so of course it would be in his character to help someone involved in a car accident. That being said, just because he helped someone doesn’t mean I will forget his poor judgment that night and completely wipe his slate clean.
The second thing that came to mind after reading the Limbaugh article was, “How did this story become a liberal vs. conservative case?” Can this case really be politicized? I mean of course it can and it has but is it really a liberal issue to want to see a person punished who acted in poor judgment which led to a young man losing his life? Actually what I find interesting, if the roles were reversed and an African American man who was in the neighborhood watch, stalked a young white teenager because he thought he looked suspicious, and then the young teenager ended up dead would the conservatives still say the verdict was just and the liberals still be outraged? Or would the roles be reversed and the liberals say the verdict was just and the conservatives thinking the justice system did not live up to its job? Or would the race reversal actually unite the two sides and either have them agreeing that the verdict was wrong or the justice system worked the way it should? It is crazy how much race changes things in this country. We like to think that things are getting better with regard to race relations and in some ways they have, but still in other ways we still have some of the same ideas and viewpoints that have plagued this nation for many years.
These are just some of the thoughts I had concerning this little news story. I guess the news sources are running out of things to cover with the case if they are now covering car accidents. It will be interesting to see how long this story stays front and center in the news. Maybe the royal baby will knock it out of the news cycle for good.