Tony Norman: The recurring curse of George Zimmerman
May 13, 2016
By Tony Norman / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
People are generally reluctant to mouth George Zimmerman’s name. Regardless of where one stands on the merits of his claim that he shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in self-defense four years ago, he’s consistently proven himself to be a despicable human being after his acquittal for that shooting.
Even his most ardent defenders, those who can always be counted on to swarm talk radio with all manner of caterwauling defending his inalienable right to kill unarmed black kids, aren’t crazy about him anymore. Now widely regarded as a chronically unemployed drifter who is only one road rage or domestic violence incident away from his own demise, Mr. Zimmerman can only attract a fraction of the Internet trolls who used to fill the comments section of stories about the shooting with their own racial anxieties.
When your notoriety is based on a cowardly shooting nearly half a decade old and some assorted scrapes with the law, staying relevant in the age of Trump is harder than ever — especially when you don’t have a steady income. What’s clear to everyone, even to those who are sympathetic to him, is that George Zimmerman is unemployable. Even before the shooting of Trayvon Martin that made him a household name, he was only marginally employed. The only way someone like this guy can generate cash is to periodically prime the pump of public outrage.
Last year, the former cop-groupie-turned-artist tried his hand at painting for dollars. He sold canvases featuring the Confederate flag, a potent symbol of racial resentment and pride throughout the south. He experimented with monochromatic versions of Old Glory. His most outrageous painting featured the iconic, hooded portrait of Trayvon Martin superimposed on the American flag with thick, amateurishly rendered brush strokes. The idea that Trayvon’s killer was literally making money from his image disgusted many of those who previously defended him during his trial. It was clear that George Zimmerman was about as empathetic as a cockroach skittering over a wedding cake in view of horrified guests.
Between his short-lived stint as an artist and a violent confrontation with a motorist who shot at him in his truck last year, Mr. Zimmerman would periodically surface in the news like some unmentionable flotsam and jetsam in a backed-up sewer. Perhaps answering some primordial urge to disgust even more people, this week he announced that he would auction off the gun he used to kill Trayvon Martin. With an opening bid of $5,000, the auction was scheduled to take place at Gunbroker.com, the same site that sold targets made to look like Trayvon in 2012 before public outrage forced them to stop selling the targets.
“I am honored and humbled to announce the sale of an American firearm icon,” Mr. Zimmerman wrote in the post announcing the sale of the Kel-Tec PF-9 the Justice Department recently returned to him. “The firearm for sale is the firearm that was used to defend my life and end the brutal attack from Trayvon Martin on 2/26/2012.” He then added that the Smithsonian had expressed interest in acquiring the gun for its collection, but that great institution shot that down as a lie fairly quickly. He might as well have declared that the Museum of Modern Art and Louvre were interested in acquiring one of his Confederate clown paintings while he was at it.
National Review columnist Charles C.W. Cooke, who generally defends every citizen’s right to resort to Second Amendment solutions, said that Mr. Zimmerman “may have acted legally, but the man is a sociopath” — a perfect summary of the Florida shooter’s inability to retain human form before reverting to his natural lizard state whenever he opens his mouth.
His plan to auction the gun generated predictable outrage on social media, but Trayvon Martin’s family refused to rise to the bait. They dismissed the stunt and blatant cash grab out of hand and issued a statement reiterating their intention to focus on reducing gun violence in America.
For its part, Gunbroker.com never went forward with the auction, perhaps spooked at the prospect of being forever associated with a creep like George Zimmerman in the public imagination. By late afternoon, he had moved the gun to another auction site less obsessed with its reputation.
As of this column’s deadline, there were no reports that anyone had actually purchased the gun. It may take awhile or just a few hours. Because we’re thick in the swill of the emerging Age of Trump, it is more likely than not that someone will bid on the opportunity to own a piece of something that symbolizes the darkest heart of a racially paranoid and violent America. Before disappearing on the roads of Central Florida, Mr. Zimmerman has to hang around long enough to make just enough dollars to preclude the necessity of real work and finding a job.
Like the annual waves of rats and fleas that once carried the bubonic plague to Europe, George Zimmerman can be expected to return with even more heartless antics — until the karma that has long eluded him finally catches up with him.
Tony Norman: [email protected]
or 412-263-1631. Twitter @TonyNormanPG.