An Open Letter to America: Ignore George Zimmerman

Right after you read this story.

National Journal
Lucia Graves
Feb. 5, 2014, 9:54 a.m.

Today the guy best known for shoot­ing and killing an un­armed 17-year-old had his un­deserved celebrity val­id­ated. George Zi­m­mer­man was chal­lenged to a so-called Celebrity Box­ing match by an ac­tu­al celebrity, rap­per DMX.

Now it’s true that the “celebrity” in Celebrity Box­ing is sin­gu­lar, so we can pre­tend the des­ig­na­tion only ap­plies to DMX. A more ac­cur­ate name for the match would be “Celebrity-and-Guy-Known-for-Killing-an-Un­armed-Teen­ager Box­ing Match.”

Zi­m­mer­man is by no means the first guy with du­bi­ous celebrity cre­den­tials to get in­volved in these ex­hib­i­tion­ist box­ing fetes. Tonya Hard­ing, for in­stance, founght in a sim­il­ar match back in 2002. But Hard­ing was known for something oth­er than her in­volve­ment in the as­sault on Nancy Ker­rigan in 1994: She star­ted out as a world-renowned fig­ure skater.

Be­fore he killed Trayvon Mar­tin, Zi­m­mer­man was a neigh­bor­hood-watch co­ordin­at­or. Now he’s selling his lackluster paint­ings, or, more likely, stenciled-over pho­tos from Getty Im­ages, for $100,000 on Ebay and he’s get­ting to per­form in the same space as people like Dustin Neil Dia­mond, who played Screech in Saved by the Bell.

Of course there’s a long tra­di­tion of people us­ing their in­famy as a way to make money or con­vert­ing that in­famy in­to an­oth­er mo­ment in the lime­light. Take An­thony Wein­er’s 23-year-old sex­ting part­ner, Sydney Leath­ers, who cap­it­al­ized on her no­tori­ety by mod­el­ing for a leath­er ap­par­el com­pany and do­ing some film­ing for porn com­pany Vivid.

But what Leath­ers did was at worst, dis­taste­ful. It’s cer­tainly a far cry from killing a black kid in a hood­ie and then go­ing on to reap celebrity status for it. That has got to be a “celebrity cul­ture” nadir of sorts.

Or maybe the nadir was that time O.J. Simpson tried to sell the knife he al­legedly used to kill his wife for $5 mil­lion? At least he knew it was sick enough to keep it a secret.

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