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Conspiracy theories about Zimmerman’s car crash rescue

I don’t know if you’ve seen these, but they’re setting off all sorts of wishful-thinking and conspiracy theory alarms on my bullshit detection kit. Four days after being declared not guilty of murder after having shot and killed 17-year-old unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman quickly reentered the news. CNN reports that he “stepped out of seclusion” and, happening upon the scene of a family of four having overturned their car, helped pull them from the car before it erupted into flames.

By the time a deputy arrived, Zimmerman and another man already had helped the two adults and two children out of the vehicle, Smith said.

Zimmerman did not witness the crash, and he left after making contact with the deputy, Smith said. No injuries were reported in the crash.

Only there are some minor inconsistencies with the report: that Zimmerman didn’t mention the rescue to his lawyer when they next saw one another; that the family didn’t mention a crash on social media; that the first officer on the scene was a self-described “friend” of Zimmerman even before the verdict.

Some less-than-reputable news sources are even reporting that Zimmerman arrived after being called by the reporting officer, and that the family cancelled a public appearance to thank Zimmerman after threats from Trayvon Martin supporters and thus never showed up to prove they existed.

It appears they canceled any such event because they did not want to be part of the FRAUD of making Zimmerman out to be a hero when his story was not true.

Another of them demands photographic evidence of a crash.

Why do NO pictures exist of the car crash! Not from cops, not from media, not from witnesses with their ever handy cell phones & twitter apps ready to tweet away. Why? Did the state really stage this story using a family of 4′s identities to try & portray Zimmerman in a better light so people would not want to kill him & race protests would simmer down?

And of course, as a result of the conspiracy theories, one of the usual theorists gets to play judo on liberals:

It’s all over the place now, that Zimmerman staged it, that his lawyers helped, that the family was paid off. They were given a new car. The whole thing was faked, every aspect of this. And, of course, the Tea Party is behind it. The Republican Party is behind it. Before it’s all over, the Royal Family is gonna have had something to do with it as part of a distraction to the birth of the baby boy.

I’m feeling a significant bit of irritation by this tendency of human beings, playing as it does into the Just World Fallacy — to refuse to believe an ordinary event (statistically speaking) without extraordinary evidence because it doesn’t fit in with your preconceived notion of Zimmerman as an evil man.

Zimmerman committed a horrible crime but was not convicted because of reasonable doubt. The idea that he’s trying to burnish his reputation unfoundedly in such a manner is grossly unlikely. Sure, it’s POSSIBLE he and his police officer friend hatched a scheme to get Zimmerman involved tertiarily in a heroic scene, in order to make him seem like not such a bad guy, but by the laws of averages, and by Zimmerman’s own psychology regarding his inflated self-image of heroism, a person committing a terrible act could absolutely have a scene where they become the heroic actor shortly thereafter.

One action does not wipe out the other, though. Fighting back against the propagation of news of this later event without actual sufficient cause, just because you’ve developed preconceived notions about the character of the principal actor after the earlier event, is grossly antiskeptical. People helping unfortunate victims at the scene of an accident is absolutely not an unusual event. That Zimmerman might be one of those people is entirely in the realm of plausibility. That he thinks himself a good man is well-evidenced, despite the evidence that he’s also latently racist. That he would help at the scene of an accident is entirely believable, and yet, it does not erase his earlier crime, nor the travesty of justice that came after it when he was acquitted.

So good luck convincing me that this was faked. If someone came up with something actually proving this was faked in any way — you know, hard evidence — I might change my tune. But you’ll need extraordinary evidence to pull that off, because your conspiracy theory is the extraordinary claim.

Comments

  1. says

    Zimmerman’s own psychology regarding his inflated self-image of heroism, a person committing a terrible act could absolutely have a scene where they become the heroic actor shortly thereafter.

    Exactly what I thought when I first read the story. It’s completely consistent with what we know about GZ.

  2. says

    It’s not as common as car crashes, but Hero Syndrome, where people create situations that they can play hero, is a real thing too. Given Zimmerman’s prior history of wanting to be a police officer, and confabulating a rather high-profile situation where he was going to apprehend a “fucking punk” “asshole” who otherwise would “get away” and was presumably going to commit some crime or another, I don’t think it’s out of the realm of plausibility either.

    I’m not convinced that there was some grand conspiracy to try to make Zimmerman look like he wasn’t a puffed-up murderous vigilante, but the situation itself perked my skepticism nodes well before I heard any of the wilder allegations.

    Also, a nitpick: Zimmerman wasn’t acquitted because of “reasonable doubt.” There’s no doubt that he stalked, shot, and killed Trayvon Martin. What got him off the murder/manslaughter charge was the question of whether or not he acted in self-defense under Florida law.

  3. says

    It really is a stretch to think Zimmerman staged this somehow. I do not like the guy. I think he should be in jail. But he helped a family in need. That is not an extraordinary event, though is a good thing to do.

    Widely reviled man does a good deed. News at 11!

    Except our actions are not defined by binary ‘good/evil’ thinking. We are all capable of good, bad and the shades of grey in between. Nothing shocking about that.

  4. jinxmchue says

    What “evidence that he’s latently racist?” That he was pissed off that people had been breaking into homes in the area and were getting away with it? Yeah, gosh, that’s soooooo racist. Oh, and the whole 911 call that NBC (or whoever) had to edit to make Zimmerman sound racist? That’s not evidence. That’s defamation and you shouldn’t be supporting it. Sorry, but Zimmerman is no racist — not even latently.

    Beyond that, this is a good post.

  5. Anthony K says

    It’s completely consistent with what we know about GZ.

    My thoughts too. And even if it weren’t Zimmerman, but someone we knew nothing about, it’s not at all uncommon for people to step up in times of crisis.

  6. machintelligence says

    I have no reason to doubt the truth of the rescue story, but isn’t it fun to see a genuine Left Wing Conspiracy Theory (TM) for a change?

  7. says

    So your BS detector went off? Mine to. I only studied journalism in high school, but never made it a profession, but the reports I’ve seen aren’t final stories, but items an investigative journalist would use to find the real story. When I see speculations printed as fact, and being accepted as such, the detector rings louder than Big Ben at noon.

    Two prime items that I learned in high school were gather information: Who, What, Why, Where, When, and How. The second thing I learned was to verify your facts. So far, the only fact I’ve seen was the police report. A missing fact there would have lead me to look for a few other things. One fact I looked for in the police report was what happened to the vehicle? The report shows the towing company. If I wanted a pic of the actual wrecked vehicle, I’d start there and take my own. A little sugar to get in the gate to investigate the vehicle, even if to just look at it from the outside, would tell me a lot about the accident. (Flaming inferno? Air bag deployment? child seats?)

    Secondly, I’d consider the lack of other first responders. Generally, the local fire department is dispatched, along with the paramedics, in a roll over crash. I would have followed up with the Sanford Fire Department to find if an units were dispatched around that time and date to the location of the accident. Even if it was canceled, there would be a trail (station XXX dispatched @ X:XX to XXXXXXXXX. Engine #XX and Rescue #XXX responded. Call canceled while enroute)

    As a story, this was a bust. As a lead for a good reporter, though, a possible treasure trove, especially if that reporter were looking for national fame. Forget the speculation, just get the facts. While a news service like Faux wouldn’t like it, or even air it, a reporter that could prove fraud would be welcomed at a lot of other outlets. While it might not be Pulitzer Prize stuff, it might qualify for a nomination.

    Alas, we’ve given up on true journalism.

  8. lorn says

    I don’t know what to think of this, and rally don’t care. I’m not the Catholic church, which will grant indulgences for good deeds. I also don’t give a rat’s ass if Martin’s intentions were good, in his actions following Trayvon, or in this situation, no mater what the details may be. Plus or minus.

    Martin stroked his ego by playing hero. Nobody asked him to. He was stupid and a coward. IMHO, if he was half a man he would have taken the beating he so richly deserved and learned from the experience. But he was a frightened little hero who wasn’t really fighting Trayvon so much as fighting an imaginary archetypal ghetto thug he had constructed out of his own deepest fears of powerlessness and projected onto Trayvon. So he simply couldn’t allow himself to lose. It would crush his fragile self-image. Trayvon died because Martin couldn’t face the reality of his own bigotry and weakness. The hero isn’t allowed to lose.

    So Trayvon had to die. And Martin had to try use his own fear as a defense and an excuse. An excuse Florida law allows. It doesn’t make mister Zimmerman any less a murderer. Any less a fool. Any less a craven coward who sacrificed Trayvon to keep his illusion of being a hero alive. Saving a bus load of orphans from going off a cliff won’t change that. Nothing he will ever do, or could ever do, will change that. He will always be the ignorant, self-inflating fool who wasted a promising young life, and then played the victim card to get out of taking responsibility for it.

    I suspect he will eat his gun within a few years. He knows the debt needs to be paid. For the comic book hero to have honor he has to take responsibility and punish himself if others won’t. It may take some time but he knows deep inside what he has to do to complete the story and balance the books. After his fame subsides and his supporters crawl back under their rocks he will be alone with his thoughts of how the world is supposed to work. Odds are it will be late at night and around the holidays.

    …and to all a good night.

  9. Adrienne Knight says

    I don’t disagree with a word you have written. I do, however, think you spent way too much time on it and that your time could be better spent. You just fed into the continuation of the story. A simple ” yeah, right…” would have conveyed the same message with an added touch of deserved disdain.

  10. brucegee1962 says

    Up a bit too late with that last post, were you lorn? Your surnames seem to have entered the twilight zone.

  11. says

    and by Zimmerman’s own psychology regarding his inflated self-image of heroism

    Those were pretty much my thoughts as well. Assuming the crash was real, how many people might have just drove by? I don’t know, but I would expect Zimmerman to be the type of person to stop. Not because he’s a good person, but for the purpose of enlarging his ego. Which may be something all these conspiracy theorists should stop and consider. Zimmerman stopping to help does not make him a good guy, so there’s no reason to freak out over this. (I figure some people may be dealing with cognitive dissonance, thinking on one side that Zimmerman is a Bad Guy. They may be thinking that this makes him look like a Good Guy, so they must find a way to resolve this contradiction.)

  12. pianoman, Heathen & Torontophile says

    Hmm…whether or not this is true, the issue for me is that -yet again – anything can be dragged down into a conspiracy theory. I understand the timing of this “rescue” is a little weird, perhaps a little suspicious, but that’s all it takes for the Tinfoil Hat Brigadiers to grab it and go. Most of them will surely find a way to involve the federal gov’t in this, also.

    To echo your sentiments: show me the evidence of a conspiracy theory and I will accept it. Until then, 9/11 was not an inside job, Obama was not born in Kenya, and the moon landing did happen.

  13. unbound says

    Although there are definitely questions around the story, I don’t see enough to even remotely buy into the conspiracy theories. My impression of Zimmerman is that he is a well meaning idiot that doesn’t understand his own prejudices and how they led to the death of an innocent. I think he truly is stupid enough to believe he did the right thing with Trayvon. This is the primary issue I have with guns everywhere…even the idiots have them.

  14. says

    jinxmchue @ 8

    That he was pissed off that people had been breaking into homes in the area and were getting away with it?

    The burglars had been arrested, three weeks before the shooting, an. So, no one was “getting away with it”.

    Yeah, gosh, that’s soooooo racist.

    The racist part is the assumption that Martin had anything to do with burglary, on the basis of no evidence at all besides his skin color.

  15. Phillip Hallam-Baker says

    Oh I believe the Zimmerman rescue story alright.

    But I ain’t going to consider him no hero till I see proof that he wasn’t the guy who shot out the car’s tires in the first place.

  16. says

    What’s the evidence that George Zimmerman is racist? First there is the fact that he mistook an innocent, unarmed teenager for a criminal. Why’d he do that? Hard to figure why unless you take Trayvon’s race into account. A non-racist neighborhood watchperson would not have mistaken Trayvon for a dangerous person. A non-racist person would have wondered, “How can I help this kid get home safe – perhaps he doesn’t know there’s been a rash of break-ins around here lately.”

    Then there’s the fact that the people he called into the police during his previous “watching” were overwhelmingly black men – even at one point he called in a person described as a “7 – 9 year old black male”. Since when does an 8-year-old kid constitute any kind of threat?

    The fact that both Zimmerna’s father and his brother have made unabashedly racist comments, in which Robert Zimmerman Sr. alleges that the “true racists” in the case of his son’s prosecution are all African-American, and Robert Zimmerman Jr. alleged that it was totally reasonable that Zimmerman thought Trayvon Martin was a dangerous criminal (even though he was not, remember), because some other black kid in Chicago did something bad.

    Having a racist dad and a racist brother raises the probability that George himself has similarly racist sentiments. Certainly he’s said nothing to contradict his family members’ statements.

    I find it curious that anyone would find it hard to believe that a person who shot and killed an unarmed black teenager based on his thoroughly mistaken assumption that the kid in question was a criminal would be racist. Why else would a white (or white-ish, if you want to be nit-picky about the influence of Zimmerman’s Peruvian mother’s influence on his racial self-identification, even though Zimmerman himself has never contested the “white” label) assume that an unarmed non-criminal black person was a criminal? Why else would one take the extra steps from thinking that person is a criminal to actually pursuing, confronting, and killing them? Please, present your hypothesis.

  17. Skip White says

    @pianoman #16,

    Well of COURSE the moon landing happened. How else would Obama have built his FEMA death camps on the dark side of it?

  18. jinxmchue says

    Wow. Some of you people are thoroughly pathetic.

    Break-ins were happening and unsolved. Burglaries, even if solved, rightfully heighten suspicion.

    Martin was a stranger in a gated community with few strangers and was acting odd. Had he been white, Zimmerman still would have been suspicious of him.

    Martin was once caught with obviously stolen jewelry in his backpack. Unfortunately, it was never followed up on.

    Martin had been in trouble at school multiple times. At the time of the shooting, he was on his third suspension.

    “Mistaking someone for a criminal” is not inherently racist. You see a stranger who is completely out of place in a gated community that has seen a rash of burglaries and what would you think? “How can I help this kid get home safely?” Uh-huh.

    In the last city I lived in, there were several Hispanic kids — some as young as 6 or 7 — who were caught with pocket knives given to them by some older Hispanic boys who were idolizing some violent Hispanic thug who stabbed someone at a party. The young kids were using to cut or scratch other kids or damage their belongings. My own daughter had the sleeve of her shirt sliced. So yes, an 8-year-old CAN constitute a threat. (Oh, I bet I’m a racist now because I repeatedly pointed out the fact that all the parties in question were Hispanic.)

    George Zimmerman’s dad was exactly right about racist blacks and the whole Zimmerman case proved it beyond any doubt.

    It’s interesting… Robert Zimmerman can’t think it’s reasonable for his brother to assume that Martin was a potential threat, but it’s perfectly okay to absolutely conclude that George Zimmerman is racist because of something his brother said. Brilliant.

    Given Martin’s social media activity, his truancy and tardiness, his being caught scratching graffiti into a school door, his marijuana use, and his likely use of “lean,” yes, he was a thug. The conclusion has nothing to do with his skin color. White kids with the same background are thugs, too.

  19. says

    Had he been white, Zimmerman still would have been suspicious of him.

    The evidence, specifically the fact that all of Zimmerman’s previous calls about suspicious persons involved black people, suggests otherwise.

    Martin was once caught with obviously stolen jewelry in his backpack. Unfortunately, it was never followed up on.

    Not a capital offense, and not something Zimmerman could have known at the time.

    Martin had been in trouble at school multiple times. At the time of the shooting, he was on his third suspension.

    Not a capital offense, and not something Zimmerman could have known at the time.

    “Mistaking someone for a criminal” is not inherently racist.

    Mistaking only black people, including unarmed black teenagers engaged in the clearly criminal activity of walking, is.

    You see a stranger who is completely out of place in a gated community that has seen a rash of burglaries and what would you think?

    Except Martin wasn’t “completely out of place.” He was heading to his dad’s residence. Does Zimmerman call the police on every person who’s visiting someone in the neighborhood? (Unless all those visitors are black, the evidence suggests not). What marked him as out of place?

    At best, what Zimmerman should have thought as a Neighborhood Watch member was “I should report this activity that I consider suspicious to the police and let them handle it.” See, it’s Neighborhood Watch not Neighborhood Follow and Shoot.

    In the last city I lived in, there were several Hispanic kids — some as young as 6 or 7 — who were caught with pocket knives given to them by some older Hispanic boys who were idolizing some violent Hispanic thug who stabbed someone at a party. The young kids were using to cut or scratch other kids or damage their belongings. My own daughter had the sleeve of her shirt sliced. So yes, an 8-year-old CAN constitute a threat. (Oh, I bet I’m a racist now because I repeatedly pointed out the fact that all the parties in question were Hispanic.)

    It’s racist that you think the race is relevant. There are plenty of white kids (and teenagers, and adults) who idolize violent people and carry weapons. Live in the fucking midwest some time; you’ll meet them. The relevant factor is rarely race and far more often class/socioeconomic status; correlation isn’t causation, and all that.

    Incidentally, do you think Zimmerman would have been just as justified if Trayvon Martin had been eight years old?

    George Zimmerman’s dad was exactly right about racist blacks and the whole Zimmerman case proved it beyond any doubt.

    Yep, it’s all those racist blacks keeping the white man down. White people truly are the real oppressed minority here.

    Given Martin’s social media activity, his truancy and tardiness, his being caught scratching graffiti into a school door, his marijuana use, and his likely use of “lean,” yes, he was a thug. The conclusion has nothing to do with his skin color. White kids with the same background are thugs, too.

    Notice that being a rebellious teenager is enough to label Trayvon Martin a “thug,” thus apparently justifying his murder, while having an actual history of violent crime leading up to the vigilante murder of an unarmed child is not enough to label George Zimmerman a “thug.” It’s true, all that urban rap music extols the thug culture of scratching graffiti into school property. It’s only white wholesome music that talks about driving through your neighborhood with a gun and killing the people who don’t belong, then getting away with murder.

  20. says

    I see why jinxmchue has trouble believing George Zimmerman is racist. jinxmchue is racist, and has a vested interest in denying it, since even though he only has the vaguest notion of what racism actually is and how it functions, he does understand that it is nominally A Bad Thing and would prefer that people not think he’s racist. So, admitting Zimmerman’s racism is out of the question, since that would necessitate some self-reflection about harboring racist stereotypes on jinxmchue’s part.

  21. John Horstman says

    @8: *sigh* The racist bit was suspecting a Black teen walking back from the convenience store of wrongdoing with zero evidence. He didn’t call 911 to report White people walking around the neighborhood, just the Black kid. That’s racist, yo.

  22. John Horstman says

    @10: Well, we have the massive unwarranted domestic surveillance program we’ve been decrying (as a possibility or actuality) since the PATRIOT Act was passed (or earlier, for those of us aware of the NSA’s e-mail and phone surveillance dating back to the beginnings of the technology in the case of e-mail and agency in the case of phones), but those are of course actual government ‘conspiracies’ (perhaps simply “activities”?, while you may only have been referring to imaginary ones.

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