The appropriation of the Punisher skull logo by both military and law enforcement has long been controversial. Members of both organizations frequently apply the distinctive skull onto a variety of things from accessories to vehicles to even artwork displayed in offices, but other groups and individuals have appropriated the symbol as well. On Wednesday, the skull logo was spotted on some of those individuals, specifically a number of rioters participating in the violent uprising at the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C. It's just the latest incidence of the logo being worn during unrest seemingly in contrast to what the character actually stands for and now, Punisher writer Garth Ennis is speaking out.
Speaking with SYFY Wire, Ennis called those appropriating the Punisher logo during Wednesday's riots "halfwits" saying that they'd given no thought about what the symbol actually means.
"I've said this before a couple of times, but no one actually wants to be the Punisher," Ennis said. "Nobody wants to pull three tours of duty in a combat zone with the last one going catastrophically wrong, come home with a head full of broken glass, see their families machine-gunned into bloody offal in front of their eyes and then dedicate the rest of their lives to cold, bleak, heartless slaughter."
He continued, "The people wearing the logo in this context are kidding themselves, just like the police officers who wore it over the summer. What they actually want is to wear an apparently scary symbol on a T-shirt, throw their weight around a bit, then go home to the wife and kids and resume their everyday life. They've thought no harder about the Punisher symbol than the halfwits I saw [on Wednesday], the ones waving the Stars & Stripes while invading the Capitol building."
Ennis isn't alone in critiquing the misuse of the Punisher symbol. Punisher creator Gerry Conway has previously shared similar sentiments about the misuse of the skull logo and last year shared on social media that he wanted to reclaim the skull as a symbol of justice, specifically as part of a fundraising project for Black Lives Matter.
"I'm looking for young comics book artists of color who'd like to participate in a small fundraising project for #BLM to reclaim the Punisher skull as a symbol of justice rather than lawless police oppression," Conway wrote at the time. "Respond and follow so we can DM."
He continued, " To be clear, this little project is open to anyone who wants to contribute their time and effort. It's not a paying gig, it's intended to raise funds to support BLM. I hope to use multiple artists with a variety of styles and artistic approaches. As to the debate over whether the Punisher symbol can ever be a symbol for justice — I agree that's an open question. What it must *not* be is a symbol of oppression. I want to deny police the use of the symbol by claiming it for BLM. Call it irony. I hope the results will speak for themselves."
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