Sunday, July 14, 2013

I'M NOT SURE ZIMMERMAN WILL BECOME A FULL-FLEDGED RIGHT-WING HERO

Throwing some of George Zimmerman's most memorable words back in his face, Charlie Pierce predicts stardom for the killer of Trayvon Martin:
... there will be the victory tour on Fox. And the inevitable book deal. There will be the long career as a hero to the people in the communities that feel themselves besieged by assholes and fucking punks in their hoodies. There will be a long, lovely ride surfing the strange and wonderful celebrity that will befall him now because he stood up to the people who defend the rights of asshoes and fucking punks to walk in their hoodies through neighborhoods where they don't belong, according to him, George Zimmerman, American hero.
Zimmerman is already a hero of a sort to a certain segment of the public, which thinks he did absolutely the right thing and got crucified for it. But for him to become a real right-wing rock star, I think he's going to have to own his hatred of Trayvon Martin. He's going to have to go out in public and boast of what he did. He's going to have to do things like show up at Ted Nugent shows waving his gun in sync with Ted waving one of his, in a sort of NRA version of the twin-guitar attack. He's going to have to be defiant.

He hasn't looked that way through the trial. He's looked sheepish. Yeah, he won, and the wingnut population of America likes the fact that liberals' and African-Americans' faces were rubbed in the verdict, but he doesn't come off as having rubbed our faces in it, just because he looked cowed during the trial. Right-wingers want him to seem angry.

I'm thinking he won't do what right-wingers want. The press is running stories about how he's likely to live in fear now. CNN's is titled "Zimmerman a Free Man, but May Be a Marked Man":
... one of his attorneys, Mark O'Mara, has said that Zimmerman is a marked man and lives in fear for his life.

In fact, during court proceedings, Zimmerman didn't disclose where he had been residing for more than a year, and he dared to venture outdoors only when in disguise. Zimmerman also wore body armor.

"I believe his life is at risk, and I don't say that for dramatic effect," O'Mara said before the verdict. "There are a lot of people who think George killed Trayvon Martin for racial reasons, even though nothing supports that. And if they feel that anger enough, they could react violently."
A Boston Globe story is even more overheated:
Security experts and crisis management pros say the former neighborhood watch volunteer must immediately get a security plan in place. This could involve hiring an expensive team of bodyguards or consultants who will assess whether the threats against him are credible.

Richard Davis, the operations director for The Bodyguard Group of Beverly Hills, said that if Zimmerman were to hire his firm, he would have a stable of former Navy SEALS and Special Forces guards looking out for his safety around the clock. They would relocate him to a safe home (probably in a large city where he can blend into a busy community), quietly file court paperwork to change his name and create a "protective bubble."

"No one enters the bubble," said Davis, whose company has provided security for A-list celebrities and politicians. "It moves with you."

Davis described what he thinks is the optimal security plan for someone in Zimmerman's situation: a big team of guards for the initial few weeks following the verdict, a cross-country move, and an armored car. Restaurants would have to be pre-screened, exercise would have to be done in a home gym and a trip to the movies would be out of the question.

"You can't go in that store alone, you can't go to the movies ever, unless you rent out the whole theater for yourself," he said. "A movie theater is a death trap."
No, really, this guy is serious. (Me, I think Zimmerman just has to move to an all-white exurb in a deep red state that hasn't voted Democrat since LBJ. He'll be welcome, and nothing will happen to him.)

Zimmerman is also being advised not to leap into a publicity tour -- a "crisis public relations manager" tells CNN, "He's got to be careful to avoid the appearance of creating more divisions by accepting money or support openly from groups that maybe that would create more friction because of the tenor of this case" -- which is pretty much everyone who backs him -- while Jonathan Bernstein, another professional crisis manager, offers this advice in the Globe:
"If he’s doing a book deal, he should keep it quiet, and don't come out with a book in a hurry," said Bernstein, adding that he would advise Zimmerman not to speak to the news media in either paid or unpaid appearances.

"The more you talk, the more you are a target," he said. "The court has spoken for him. The best thing he could possibly do is go below the radar."
If this is the conventional wisdom, I think he's going to follow it. I don't think he's going to do a big, triumphant victory lap.

The person he reminds me of is Bernhard Goetz, the 1980s vigilante who shot four young men he said were attempting to mug him on the New York subway in 1984. He was acquitted on attempted murder charges, although he did serve eight months on a weapons charge. He subsequently lost a civil suit -- as Zimmerman might -- and was ordered to pay one victim $43 million. (It's not clear how much of that he's actually paid.)

Goetz hasn't exactly been a celebrity, even though plenty of people, here and across the country, thought he was a hero. Like Zimmerman, he seems like a frightened guy who was also a coiled spring. He did something a lot of people approved of, but they didn't idealize him personally, probably because he didn't make much effort to make people admire him.

Goetz gets interviewed every so often and comes off as a sad eccentric. He ran for mayor in 2001 and finished eighth, with 0.1% of the vote. The guy from the Marijuana Reform Party got twice as many votes as Goetz. Even Kenny Kramer, the inspiration for Kramer on Seinfeld, got more votes than Goetz. Goetz's big issue? Vegetarianism.

I think that's Zimmerman's future -- being a sad man who briefly became a hero to angry people for doing a horrible thing, but who, fortunately, will never fully exploit the situation.

7 comments:

Philo Vaihinger said...

Z has a lot of legal bills. And might have more, if the NAACP and Big Al Sharpton have anything to do with it.

Victor said...

Goetz is an interesting analogy.
But ultimately, Steve, I think the analogy is flawed.

The Reich Wing media Wurlitzer, and Wingnut Welfare, were still in their infancy.

Rush wasn't yet started spewing his hate-filled propaganda all over the radio spectrum.

FOX "News" was still a gleam in Roger Ailes's eye.

The Conservatives on the Op-ed pages, were William F. Buckley wannabe's - reasonable sounding, but racist, misogynistic, xenophobic, and homophobic, if you read between the lines.

If Goetz did what he did now, IF he wanted to take advantage of his situation, he would make a fortune.

This Zimmerman punk was cowed during the trial because he was scared - and I think his lawyer told him to show it, to his advantage.

Now, he may still be scared, but there's a lot of money to be made, a lot of face-time on TV and voice-time on radio, to be had.

He won't be allowed to disappear. He's too much of a hero, to too many of the sociopaths on the right.

Goetz, I think, was a little nebbish, who had an explosive moment.
Zimmerman, was a powder keg just waiting for the opportunity, to go off. He made countless calls to 911 before, but this time, THIS time, he saw his chance.

No, there'll be too many people clamoring for him for him, to turn down the opportunities presented to him.
Goetz never wanted to be "somebody."
This punk always did.
And now he can be.
And how can a lucky punk turn that down?

aimai said...

I think Zimmerman is more in the position of one of those people who win the lottery and blow it all in an instant, alienate their friends and family, and end up on skid row. I think he has an enormous ego--son of a Judge, domestic abuser, etc...etc... and he will go his limit to feed that ego. But he will be a disappointment to his new fans and he will be dispensed of by them in short order when a newer, shinier, less pudgy, less hispanic version of himself shows up.

Whatever he does he can't show any contrition--that I agree with. But if the parents decide to civil sue him and his new lawyers instruct him to keep his mouth shut he won't be able to feed the beast that keeps money flowing to his various "defenses." He is caught in a trap--keep shooting his mouth off and making appearances or lower his profile for a while. He can't do both.

I dismiss the "live in a bubble" advice from overpaid security experts. He can't afford security and he never will be able to. He will slink about being ignored by most people, a la Goetz, and having a few wander up and ask for his signature. Because he's a miserable shit of a human being he will continue to have a miserable existence, punctuated only by moments of intense fear when he sees a black person.

peabody nobis said...

I think we've seen the last of George Z, Neighborhood Watchman. He won't be doing anymore surveillance, which is good news for the young black men of his community.
For people angry about the verdict, direct your anger to the Florida legislature;they are responsible for the horrid laws that allowed such a travesty of judgment. Zimmerman was just playing by their rules.
I agree with Steve;GZ should move to Arizona, or Utah, someplace he will feel safe, and less inclined to use the weapon that has already been returned to him. I think the fear he displayed during his trial will be with him for the rest of his life. And I hope some tiny part of him feels just a little bit of guilt.

Rick Massimo said...

peabody: One can hope. The only decent thing that could come out of this would be for him to come out and say "Look, I killed a young man. I say I was attacked first and a court found I was right, but still, I killed someone, and that's gonna haunt me for the rest of my life. Everyone out there who owns a gun, listen: You don't want to be me. You go looking for a confrontation, you don't know what's gonna happen. I didn't commit a crime, but I made a mistake. Think about what you're doing."

That still isn't worth a boy's life, but it would be something. But given the performances of his lawyers and his brother so far, I'm not optimistic.

Palli said...

He already ask for his gun back. No, I suspect the power of violence is part of his DNA. Frankly, I think his ghost writer should be careful...Maybe do it all digitally long distance?

Four Bs said...

People should stay away from this Zimmerman guy. He's armed and dangerous and is apparently able to kill with impunity. He should be avoided.