George Zimmerman, who has been in hiding since he was acquitted of murder in the death of Trayvon Martin, emerged to help rescue a family who was trapped in an overturned vehicle, police said today.
Zimmerman was one of two men who came to the aid of a family of four — two parents and two children — trapped inside a blue Ford Explorer SUV that had rolled over after traveling off the highway in Sanford, Fla. at approximately 5:45 p.m. Thursday, the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.
I think this is going to bother a lot of people, or it’ll seem surprising or even suspicious. But not to me.
This is pretty much exactly what I would expect from someone who is so aggressively putting himself out there, trying unspecifically to do something good or heroic.
When you run around involving yourself in things you happen to see, sometimes you’re going to be a hero and sometimes you’re going to be a villain. Zimmerman’s actions here demonstrate that he’s going to be right back out there on patrol, trying to be a hero.
That he’ll occasionally help people — just as he’ll occasionally hurt people — is part of the bargain that he wants the public to embrace, as he assumes and wants everyone to assume that he’ll help more than he’ll harm and that he’ll be thoughtful about when and where he involves himself. This is the bargain that any vigilante wants to strike.
But as long as the rules of the game don’t change in Florida — as long as there’s no real cost to charging in and waving your gun around whenever you see someone who you deem suspicious for no other reason than your own perceptions — there’s no real reason for us to believe we’ll see more motorist rescue or crime-fighting and less racial profiling or shooting innocent kids.
The long and short of the matter is this: Heroism is something that is thrust upon those who take decisive action in a situation that demands it. Heroism isn’t about casting about for, or manufacturing, a situation into which a person can heroically interpose himself.
I don’t think for a moment that Zimmerman suddenly understands this point, but that doesn’t mean he’ll never act heroically. Consistently putting himself in these situations makes it likely, in fact, that he will act heroically sometimes … but also that he’ll sometimes act villainously too.