This Missive Must Also be Applied to Education Reform, for it truly Takes A Village…

Ideas

George Zimmerman wasn’t charged with murder last week; “neighborhood-watch captain” George Zimmerman was. Whatever the outcome of his trial, Zimmerman has given a decidedly bad name to the neighborhood watch — enough so that 20th Century Fox decided to pull the trailer for a comedy of that name.

(MORE:Neighborhood Watch Movie Suffers Seriously Bad Timing)

The image of Zimmerman as a gun-toting vigilante is a violent twist on the suburban busybody stereotype that the Fox movie plays with — and, indeed, a severe departure from the unarmed norm. But the flaw in neighborhood watches isn’t that they can tempt a “captain” to abuse make-believe authority. It’s that they embody and can promote a narrow, fear-driven approach to citizenship.

Local anticrime watches emerged in the U.S. during the social turmoil of the late ’60s. In 1972, the National Sheriffs’ Association created the National Neighborhood Watch Program to standardize a…

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