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Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Do we really want to elevate George Zimmerman to the status of celebrity game show contestant?

ThinkProgress - The George Zimmerman-DMX Boxing Match Is Not Justice for Trayvon
Alyssa Rosenberg, ThinkProgress: In the aftermath of his acquittal in the death of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch coordinator whose shooting of Martin sparked a national debate about racial bias and so-called Stand Your Ground laws, has engaged in a series of provocative misadventures. He went rifle shopping. He’s begun a painting career. And on Tuesday night, right before what would have been Trayvon Martin’s 19th birthday, boxing promoter Damon Feldman announced Zimmerman’s latest stunt: he’ll be fighting the rapper DMX, theoretically for charity. (Feldman says the timing was incidental.)

My colleague Judd Legum has one great reason not to spend your pay-per-view dollars on the fight: it’ll almost certainly be a fraud. Feldman has a long record of promoting fake fights, though as Judd explains, “That’s not to say Feldman doesn’t like to promote his fights as genuine in an effort to attract interest. Feldman maintains that he doesn’t fix fights, but in 2011, he pleaded no contest to ‘charges of fixing fights and promoting fights without a license’ and sentenced to two years probation by a Pennsylvania court.” And it’s not clear that Feldman could actually set up a real contest between Zimmerman and DMX in which the blows are real and the outcome uncertain: he’d need a state or tribal commission to sanction the fight, and it’s not clear that any approval is forthcoming.

But I want to raise another issue. Feldman has tried to stir up support for the match on the grounds that it represents a way for Zimmerman’s critics to get some measure of fairness after the courts failed to convict them. “Say he goes and gets his ass kicked isn’t that justice right there?” BuzzFeed reports him saying.
"…Even if you think turnabout is fair play, the idea that a fight between Zimmerman and a black man represents some sort of cosmic rematch between Zimmerman and Martin ought to be profoundly troubling," Rosenberg argues, "Buying into Feldman’s reasoning requires us to accept Zimmerman’s version of the events that ended with him killing Martin: that this was a fight between combatants of equal size, skill, and ill intent that ended in a shooting that was purely an act of self-defense."

I’d further argue that George Zimmerman has been trying to cash in on his crime since he got away with it, trying to sell paintings and showing up at gun manufacturers like some sort of visiting celebrity. Do we really want George Zimmerman to be the next Ann Coulter — i.e., a person who’s a celebrity mostly because they’re so widely hated?

Or does Zimmerman deserve to slink off to infamy, forced to struggle along in a world where anyone with any brains at all would have nothing to do with him and would never trust him out of their sight?

It’s hard to argue against the proposition that if anyone on earth deserves to get his ass kicked, it’s George Zimmerman. But that’s not the question. The question is this: do we allow Zimmerman to use our need to see justice done as his ticket to fame and fortune?

I vote no.

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