Please Learn from Zimmerman Tweets

If another World War erupts or the apocalypse finally arrives, be certain the Internet somehow will orchestrate it. We’d be helpless in preventing such an uprising and probably would go freako like Michael Cera in “This Is The End,” but for now, we can control this much: Don’t use social media to vent outrage about volatile developments in the world, especially when you’re a professional athlete who can influence public thinking and fan vitriolic flames over a topic as powerful as race in America.

All of us felt something after the George Zimmerman acquittal. But other than the family of Trayvon Martin, the president of the United States, the jurors, a few trusted legal experts and Zimmerman himself, I have little interest in what anyone thinks about the verdict. Certainly, I don’t care what people in sports think unless they have intelligent ways of making the world better. In the cases of NFL receivers Roddy White and Victor Cruz, I’d like them to catch the ball when it’s thrown their way, do productive things in the community and earn their millions.

Tweeting what they did after the verdict? Not smart.

Wrote White: “All them jurors should go home tonight and kill themselves for letting a grown man get away with killing a kid”

Wrote Cruz: “Zimmerman doesn’t last a year till the hood catches up to him.”

I understand why people are emotional, but this is not why Jack Dorsey — is that the guy’s name? — founded Twitter. By now, you’d think athletes would realize the dangers involved in reckless usage of the 140-character missile. It’s perilous enough to engage fans or opponents in tweet wars amid league rivalries. But to suggest jurors kill themselves or that “the hood” will attack Zimmerman in the next year … my God, what are they thinking?

Both apologized quickly via Twitter. But the tweets already had been retweeted, the news stories written and the damage done. In a time when Aaron Hernandez has been charged with murder and the NFL faces more questions than ever about its criminal element, the league should enforce a social media policy — such as the one at ESPN — that forbids commentary about sensitive public issues. Any expressed thought of violent retaliation, for instance, should be considered unacceptable and punishable. There simply are too many creeps on the Internet who can be swayed, such as the 15-year-old in a far northern Chicago suburb who allegedly wrote this on his Twitter feed the day before the verdict: “If Zimmerman leaves free imma shoot everybody in Zion causing a mass homicide, and ill get away wit it just like Zimmerman.”

The teenager was charged with a felony.

The sports kingdom, I assume, has taken notice.