Punisher creator Gerry Conway decided to deride police and military members who use the Punisher symbol.
Conway described police and members of the military using the Punisher symbol “as offensive as putting a Confederate flag on a government building.”
Interestingly enough in an interview with SyFy, Conway praises Netflix’s version of The Punisher before deriding police officers and members of the military for sporting the Punisher symbol.
Conway described Netflix’s Punisher as “a heroic, damaged figure, someone you wouldn’t want your kids to emulate but who you could understand. That was a high tightrope to walk and they did it.”
When asked about his thoughts on the military and police co-opting the Punisher logo, Conway sang a different tune. In a lengthy response he concludes that police and military using the symbol are making a “very ill-advised statement about their understanding of the law.” Conway would even describe the use of the Punisher logo as “disturbing.”
Here’s his full response on the matter:
“To me, it’s disturbing whenever I see authority figures embracing Punisher iconography because the Punisher represents a failure of the Justice system. He’s supposed to indict the collapse of social moral authority and the reality some people can’t depend on institutions like the police or the military to act in a just and capable way.
The vigilante anti-hero is fundamentally a critique of the justice sysytem, an eample (sp) of social failure, so when cops put Punisher skulls on their cars or members of the military wear Punisher skull patches, they’re basically sides with an enemy of the system. They are embracing an outlaw mentality. Whether you think the Punisher is justified or not, whether you admire his code of ethics, he is an outlaw. He is a criminal. Police should not be embracing a criminal as their symbol.
It goes without saying. In a way, it’s as offensive as putting a Confederate flag on a government building. My point of view is, the Punisher is an anti-hero, someone we might root for while remembering he’s also an outlaw and criminal. If an officer of the law, representing the justice system puts a criminal’s symbol on his police car, or shares challenge coins honoring a criminal he or she is making a very ill-advised statement about their understanding of the law.”
It’s quite galling to see Conway praise Netflix’s version of the Punisher, who acts outside the law, as hero while condemning police and members of the military for viewing the Punisher as one as well.
Where Conway appears to go astray with his condemnation of police and members of the military sporting the Punisher logo is his idea that the Punisher is a criminal. By calling the Punisher a criminal, Conway seems to make the assumption that his behavior is wrong.
As Conway points out, the Punisher is more of an outlaw. While some may view his behavior as morally wrong, others see him as the embodiment of ultimate justice. The Punisher does what the law cannot or is incapable of doing. He takes on organized crime that have bought corrupt police officers, paid judges, and ultimately taken over the law and perverted it in their favor. The Punisher can’t be bought and paid for. He’s an unstoppable machine of justice and when he sets his eyes on you, he doesn’t stop until he metes out that justice.
The Punisher’s logo is not the logo of a criminal, it’s become a symbol of justice. A symbol of incorruptibility. My assumption is police officers and members of the military who sport The Punisher logo are doing it out of a responsibility and calling for justice. They aren’t doing it because they don’t understand the law. It’s more than likely they have an intimate understanding of the law, and have seen places where the law has failed at bringing scumbags to justice. They know the law can fail, but they still believe in justice, and that criminals won’t be able to escape justice. That’s not to say they plan on imitating the Punisher and acting as vigilantes.
The Punisher logo is about right and wrong, and sometimes the law might actually be in the wrong, but those sporting The Punisher logo always to try to do what is right. Because that’s what the Punisher logo has become. It’s a symbol of what is right and just and bringing that justice to the world.
And sometimes maybe they just like Frank Castle and The Punisher and think the logo is really cool, because how is a skull not cool?
The Punisher logo might also be used as a symbol for “a spectre of vengeance moving like a virus within the criminal psyche, he fulfills some primeval need within society to judge and punish its worst transgressors…In conclusion he is the blackest night at the heart of the American soul. He is an avenging archangel, the terrifying embodiment of the second amendment, come back to haunt us all.”
As Garth Ennis points out in the famous Punisher #3, the Punisher logo could be used in support of the 2nd Amendment as well.
There is nothing wrong with police and members of the military sporting the Punisher logo, they don’t have an ill-advised understanding of the law. They could be standing up for justice. Justice and the law don’t always go hand in hand. They could also be supporting the 2nd amendment with the logo. Or even using the symbol to let potential criminals know that they won’t escape justice even if they do escape the law.
What do you think about Conway’s comments regarding the Punisher logo? Do you think police and military members who sport the logo are making an “ill-advised statement about their understanding of the law?” Are you a military member or police officer who sports the Punisher logo, why do you wear it?