Follow up to the Punisher cops: Logo Lawyer is Troubled

And FREEZE PEACH activists, for that matter.

One of the things that struck me the hardest in that story, at least after excluding the revelation that cops had actually placed punisher logos on their patrol cars anywhere, ever, much less huge logos covering nearly the entirely of the hoods, was the DeepThoughtsing™ of batshit dingleberry Roy Gutterman, head of the Syracuse Tully Center for Free Speech.

What did this “expert on communications law and the First Amendment” have to say that could help us appreciate precisely what had happened in Catlettsburg, Kentucky?

Well, he began with this:

the Catlettsburg Police Department was within its rights to feature the decals, which are often “an ordinary governmental administrative decision.”

Bwuh? When we worry about the police displaying a character whose entire superpower is killing people with guns and torturing people with knives without bothering with such niceties as due process because, hey, he’s fairly sure they’re probably guilty of something, we are not worrying about the administrative authority of local governments over decal expenditures. For Freud’s sake, here.

Moreover, with a little more DeepThoughtsing, this lawyer takes the opportunity to contradict himself:

If the department is using an actual comic book character, I suspect this usage is an infringement of intellectual property rights, specifically the copyright held by the creators or owners of that character

So, when you said the Catlettsburg Police Department was within its rights to feature the decals, what you actually meant was that the CPD was NOT within its rights to feature the decals, although it was within its rights to give money to a decal maker?

Gosh, wouldn’t the fact that the CPD was NOT within its rights be kind of relevant to the question of whether the CPD was within its rights? Or is that too complicated for someone who runs a free speech center? No matter! This warrior for FREEZE PEACH is about to sum up, to tell us what REALLY matters:

The appropriation of that image might be more troubling than whatever the character may stand for.

That’s right, in FREEZE PEACH land, cops not knowing whether or not they owe royalties to Disney, and the tens of dollars of income Disney might therefore have been unlawfully denied, is “more troubling” than cops announcing to the world that they idolize someone whose vision of justice is kidnapping, torture, and murder without trial. Fuck the 4th, 5th, 6th, 8th and 14th amendments! If we allow a government agency to appropriate intellectual property in the process of declaring war on civilian citizens, who knows what might happen next?

They might as well put Batman or Superman on the cruisers while they’re at it.

A dystopian nightmare more frightening than Judge Dredd, if I’m allowed to say that.




  1. says

    One wishes that some media giant that owns, say, Porky Pig, would offer them the use of their property. Maybe even print stickers for their cars for free. Maybe apply them after midnight. Using epoxy.

  2. Allison says

    FREEZE PEACH might apply to the cops — when they are clearly not acting in their official capacity. When they put on the uniform, though, they are acting as the government, and they are subject to whatever restrictions the government may be subject to. Not to mention, it is up to their bosses — the police chief, and above him the town council, and above him the state — to decide what officers and vehicles of the government may “say.”

    The same goes for any official government vehicle, such as a police car. They do not belong to whatever cop is driving it, and whatever is written on it counts as speech by the government.

  3. lochaber says

    Maybe a year or two back, I was in line to get a coffee and bagel at a corner deli in San Francisco. Their was a couple of cops in line in front of me, and I noticed one had a Punisher skull decal on the bottom of the magazine in their sidearm.

    Not something that inspires a lot of trust in that cop’s perspective and judgment.

    Along with the militarization of police, I feel like all these cops playing dress-up soldier-boy should enlist in the infantry, and get to wear all the gear and do all the activities they fantasize about, but for far less pay, far more risk, and far less personal freedom. Also, enlisted personnel don’t get to go slapping skulls or other non-unit insignia on their gear all willy-nilly.

  4. ridana says

    QAnon has also adopted it as one of their logos (the barrage begins about 6 images down).

    A companion piece from yesterday’s Salon.
    Best line from the article: “It is difficult to quantify with precision, but a large percentage of Americans, mostly white men, do not have the interpretive skill to comprehend a comic book…”

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