An Open Letter to America: Ignore George Zimmerman

Right after you read this story.

National Journal

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.