Jason: I don’t think it’s “intentional” per se. I mean, I don’t know, but I don’t suspect so. Even I am not THAT cynical. I do think that being a cop is a high stress job. Hell, lots of things are high stress jobs. And honestly, it doesn’t pay very well given the risks of what being a cop entails. I mean, it’s a good job, and as has been pointed out by other people, the vast majority of cops spend their entire career never actually having to touch their gun. And that’s great. But it is a horribly dangerous job. In this sense I agree with Keith McSlam here (who I assume is a cop based on his comments).

In my view (and this isn’t sociology or cultural studies this time… it’s just me) Keith’s job (I’m assuming he’s a cop based on what he’s said here) is a dangerous job. It’s a job that I don’t want. As far as I’m concerned his job is to walk around with a target on his chest so that people shoot at him and not me. I honestly believe that cops are underpaid. Criminally underpaid. As far as I’m concerned, starting salary should be WELL into the six figure range. That said, as I pointed out in the original post, I’m also OK with cops being shot at. That’s why I don’t want the job.

I don’t say that callously. I am thankful for cops. I know other cops. Even my cousin Jason, who I grew up with, love dearly and shared birthday parties with for my entire childhood, is a prison guard; I feel the same way about that job. It’s a tough job and a dangerous job and I don’t want it. I’d rather sit here and hide behind my computer and criticize you from afar. I think you should all make a lot of money (I am aware that you don’t) and should all be covered in body armor at all times (i’m aware that you aren’t) but in return for that you should NEVER shoot first. As far as I’m concerned, your job is to “protect and serve” and in protecting, I’m ok with the idea that that means that maybe you take a bullet for me. And when you do, I’m with you (or another cop) icing the motherfucker who shot you. But up until that moment, I’m in favor of restraint being used even to the point of it being illogical.

Sociological cultural studies hat back on….

The most telling thing here is that Keith’s icon is the Punisher logo. I don’t know Keith and I’m assuming Steve Shaffer doesn’t either, but Steve pointed to the cops he knows (and given his line of work, I’m going to assume that he knows more than I do) having power and race issues. I have no idea what kind of person Keith is and I don’t really care. What I do know is that the semiotic message (see, I told you I was putting my critical academic hat back on) encoded in the icon that you have chosen is indicative of the social problem of which I am referring. Symbols have meaning. And the connotation sent by the Punisher logo is that “as a criminal you deserve to be punished with death.” Do I think that Keith goes around just shooting random drug dealers? No… or at least god I hope not. But I do understand how cultural messages are encoded through visual language. And in fact, specifically in the area of how are cultural messages encoded in visual language pertaining to superheroes, I am LITERALLY AN EXPERT. And whatever the intent Keith has in choosing that icon (and I expect that intent is probably “I’m a geek and I like Punisher comics… and I’m also a cop so, what the hell… why don’t I draw a blue line over my favorite superhero logo”) the message encoded within the imagery, especially when commenting on a thread like this, has to be read in that social context.

And that is… disconcerting. It adds to the narrative that Steve was discussing. Assuming Keith is a cop, the message connoted implicitly becomes one of “punishment” rather than “protection.” And when coincided with what amounts to (even in Keith’s words, since he agreed with Jason’s second paragraph) a gang land execution of a suspect, plays towards the message of systemic racism and the impossibility of testing for it that Jason mentions in his third paragraph that Keith disagreed with.