Mimesis Law
11 December 2017

A Murderous Blue Lives Matter Decal

February 28, 2016 (Fault Lines) — It’s pop quiz time. You’re a police chief interested in adding a cool-looking “Blue Lives Matter” logo to your department’s patrol vehicles. Which one do you choose?

(a) A pro-police design that promotes public trust and safety.

(b) The logo of a mass-murdering comic book character.

If you answered (b), you’re either a regular Fault Lines reader or a resident of Cattlesburg, Kentucky, whose police chief finally removed the logo of Marvel Comics character “The Punisher” from patrol vehicles. This was done after numerous people pointed out that the skull emblem was the icon of a guy who shot criminals first and asked questions later.

Cattlesburg Chief Cameron Logan wanted to give back to all the men and women who served on his force, and send a message that Blue Lives Matter just as much as any other. He worked with a vinyl shop in Louisiana to create a special decal featuring the Punisher skull, the Blue Lives Matter flag, and the words “Blue Lives Matter” in stylish font.

With the blessings of Mayor Randall Peterman and the city council, Chief Logan installed the decal on all Cattlesburg PD sedans and SUVs. It’s part of Kentucky’s efforts to drum up support for their version of a “Blue Lives Matter” bill. Chief Logan’s supporting efforts may be well intentioned, but installing Punisher skulls on Cattlesburg police vehicles sends the message “Our officers are above the law and will shoot you if we think you are a criminal.”

The skull sends that message because its wearer, Frank Castle, is a comic book character who dedicated his life to murdering criminals after his family was gunned down by the mob. Felt abandoned by the remedies of the criminal justice system, Castle made it his life’s mission to “Punish” the wicked by killing, maiming, and torturing anyone he deemed criminal.

Frank Castle’s kills don’t stop at firing bullets into those he deems worthy of punishment. He’s thrown perps off the Empire State building. The Punisher once incapacitated a dentist and pulled teeth from a mobster until he got the info he wanted, then shot the guy anyway. If a Cattlesburg citizen saw The Punisher’s logo on any law enforcement vehicle, they’d have good reason to fear a police bullet before the words “license and registration” were uttered during a traffic stop.

Chief Logan didn’t see the problem when first consulted about the decal:

“That design is basically to give back to the police officers,” Logan, who has been with the department for 13 years, said…“Our lives matter just as much as anybody’s. … I’m not racist or anything like that, I’m not trying to stir anything up like that. I consider it to be a ‘warrior logo.’ Just ’cause it has ‘Blue Lives Matter’ on the hood, all lives matter. That decal represents that we will take any means necessary to keep our community safe.” (Emphasis added)

 The good citizens of Cattlesburg weren’t entirely thrilled with Chief Logan’s “any means necessary” approach to community safety. After numerous phone calls from concerned residents, Chief Logan reversed course and removed the Punisher skull decal from all his department’s vehicles.

We’re getting so many calls, and they’re saying that the Punisher logo [means] we’re out to kill people, and that’s not the meaning behind that,” Logan told io9. “That didn’t cross my mind.”

He said he regrets using the image, calling it an oversight, and said in the future he’d do “a little more research” on the history behind some of Blue Lives Matter’s more popular icons.

 Chief Logan’s about-face on his Blue Lives Matter logo is hilarious and incredibly tone-deaf. On first request for justification on the Punisher decal, he defended it as a “warrior logo” which represents his department’s dedication to keep the community safe “by any means necessary.” That’s the Punisher’s mindset: a warrior who keeps the public safe by any means necessary, including shooting suspected criminals on sight.

When Cattlesburg residents pointed out in great numbers to Chief Logan the Punisher’s definition of “by any means necessary,” he quickly removed the decal, expressing great regret, and promised to do more historical research before calling up a Louisiana body shop for the next batch of Blue Lives Matter logos.

It’s good that Chief Logan realized the prominent display of the icon of a Marvel Comics character that doesn’t believe in upholding the law on cop cars was a bad public relations move for his department. The removal also saved Cattlesburg money, since Marvel Comics has a reputation for defending its intellectual property through litigation.

The design and display of the Punisher skull on any law enforcement equipment sends the wrong message for the men and women who put on a badge each day. As Beth Elderkin at io9 rightfully points out, the role of law enforcement is to serve and protect the community by upholding the law. The Punisher, in stark contrast, deems someone a criminal and then kills them.

Let’s hope the next “Blue Lives Matter” emblem Chief Logan selects for his department doesn’t carry the same connotations.

7 Comments on this post.

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  • Scott Jacobs
    27 February 2017 at 9:19 am - Reply

    The cops wish they were as competent as Frank.

    He pretty much never shoots people who aren’t guilty, and I’m fairly sure he doesn’t gun down bystanders while missing his target completely.

    • Chris Seaton
      27 February 2017 at 9:37 am - Reply

      The rampant Punisher fanboy in me would take about ten paragraphs pointing out how you’re wrong on both statements of Castle’s “competency.”

      The lawyer in me says to tell you the point of this entire post was that no law enforcement department should associate themselves with the Punisher’s logo. I don’t give a damn if it’s a “warrior” logo or a popular “Blue Lives Matter” logo, it sends a message to the community you’re more likely to get shot than have your rights upheld.

    • Dragoness Eclectic
      27 February 2017 at 11:40 am - Reply

      Depending on which version (comics (which one?)/movie (which one?)/TV), Frank Castle has a terrifying definition of “guilty”, and “due process” isn’t something he bothers with–as far as he’s concerned, he doesn’t make mistakes, and in his mind, his targets are sub-human monsters who don’t get rights. He’s so far into anti-hero territory that he’s better described as a Villain Protagonist.

      Also, the TV (Netflix Daredevil) version is profoundly messed-up in the head. As in, seriously mentally ill. He’s a fascinating and powerful character in fiction, but I wouldn’t use him as a role model.

      On the other hand, I’ll grant that he doesn’t miss his targets unless they’re named ‘Spiderman’.

      • Chris Seaton
        27 February 2017 at 1:07 pm - Reply

        Yet again, another terrific set of reasons why the Punisher skull has no place on anything related to law enforcement.

  • Jim Crane
    27 February 2017 at 8:39 pm - Reply

    With what that logo could have done to a child’s mind that just turned around and saw that thing coming his way should have stopped that in that cops mind immediately. That it didn’t and that he went that far gives one pause as to where his mind really was.. that could have stunned a peaceful adults mind if both new and sudden… such as a little old lady tourist’s.

    • Chris Seaton
      27 February 2017 at 9:16 pm - Reply

      I’ve attempted to parse your comment out to a rational, intelligent thought. It’s not happening. But you seem to get the point, which is why you get a comment on this post.

  • Why Mandatory “Thin Blue Line” Stickers Won’t Win Hearts and Minds
    3 March 2017 at 9:14 am - Reply

    […] story comes on the heels of a similar controversy in Kentucky last week. In Cattlesburg, the police chief was pressured by local outcry to remove decals from his […]