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. […] 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.
I'll only say this once: We're not the same. You took an oath to uphold the law. You help people. I gave that up a long time ago. You don't do what I do. Nobody does. You boys need a role model? His name is Captain America and he'd be happy to have you.
(This is also a reminder to read Nate Powell's brilliant comic essay on the fashion of fascism, if you haven't already)
But now the Punisher appropriation has taken a step further, with militia groups handing out flyers at QAnon rallies emblazoned with that familiar skull:
A souvenir from yesterday's Tampa QAnon rally:
A flyer encouraging QAnon followers to "consider forming your own mutual assistance group with like minded friends. Or check out existing Patriot groups such as Oath Keepers, Three Percenters, Sons of Liberty, and State Militias." pic.twitter.com/8k5ynpK1ZS
— Travis View (@travis_view) January 12, 2020
This use of the Punisher logo makes at least some sense, as it more encouraging of vigilantism through violent extremist fringe groups. I suppose, if we're being technical, the QAnon-inspired murder of the Gambino crime boss is very much something the Punisher would do. Except the Punisher has the benefit of (a) being a fictional character, and (b) living in a world inhabited by super-beings and narratively satisfying crime syndicates, which negates the need for him to invent elaborate conspiracy theories about pedophile pizza shops to justify his madness.
That being said: this Punisher-avatar'd QAnon tweet is pretty incredible.
I go back and forth between unfollowing QAnon accounts but sometimes their brain genius is truly awesome to behold pic.twitter.com/w1SS8MlS1v
— Luke Barnes (@LukeBarnes_92) January 14, 2020
Image via Mike Mozart / Flickr