A police department in Kentucky came under fire recently because a number of its patrol cars were emblazoned with a logo that should be familiar to a number of people, especially veterans given its popularity in the military.
For those who don’t recognize it, that’s the skull logo worn by Marvel’s Punisher. Originally Frank Castle, he takes on the moniker of The Punisher after his family is killed by criminals. The Punisher deals out bloody vengeance to those those who break the law, acting as judge, jury, and executioner. He kills the bad guys, none of this beat them up and send them away with a warning stuff.
Which is why it came as a surprise to a number of people when the Catlettsburg Police Department painted the Punisher skull over its patrol cars alongside the “Blue Lives Matter” slogan. The logo and slogan have since been removed amid complaints that it’s inappropriate for police officers to affiliate so openly with a character who, in truth, is a cold-blooded killer, reports the Lexington Herald Leader.
— heraldleader (@heraldleader) February 24, 2017
And the criticism is fair, because the Punisher is defined by two key traits: He is a ruthless murderer, and he’s a vigilante. Those aren’t things that should be associated with the police.
The skull design was approved by the Catlettsburg City Council and mayor as a way to show support for the pro-police “Blue Lives Matter” movement. After receiving backlash from the local community, police chief Cameron Logan told io9 that it was a case of oversight, and in the future, they’d do “a little more research” on the history behind some of the movement’s popular icons.
Now I understand that the Punisher is a badass. I mean, he’s pretty much the only operator in the Marvel universe, and one of the few well-known veteran characters who’s not a boy scout. The others are Wolverine and Deadpool.
But police officers walking a beat in their community are there to protect and serve. They operate within the confines of the law, they uphold a system built on rules, and though they seek out bad guys, their objective is justice, not punishment or vengeance.
It’s a sentiment shared by Mitch Gerads, the illustrator for the 2014 Punisher series.
Law enforcement should be as distanced from Skullguy as possible. The job is to protect, not punish. https://t.co/cOGllCj65z
— Mitch Gerads (@MitchGerads) February 24, 2017
This isn’t a dig at cops. It’s only meant to illustrate the irony of seeing a pro-police movement identify with a figure, who if police met him on the streets, they’d have to arrest him for murder.