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Off My Mind: What if the Punisher Shot an Innocent?

It's his job to punish the guilty but what if he became guilty himself?

The Punisher has been seen as both hero and villain. Many simply call him an anti-hero. He may be a killer but he is on a mission he feels is just. There's no denying that Frank Castle has suffered through the worst thing that could happen to a man. While living a normal life, he and his family stumbled across a gangland killing. To avoid having witness that could identify them, the killers attempted to do away with Frank, his wife and children. Luckily (or unluckily) Frank managed to survive. He forever has to live with the memory of seeing those he loved more than anything shot down before his eyes.

That day Frank Castle did die and the Punisher was born. He is now determined to rid the world of evil...to punish all those that commit evil acts. He feels it is now his duty to ensure the horrible incident he had to witness doesn't happen to others. There is is no discrimination when he sets his sights on this target. Criminal scum all have the potential to kill in some way and he believes the world will be better off without their existence.

But the Punisher is still human. No one is perfect. With the unpredictability of the gunfights he becomes part of, there's no way he can account for every possible scenario. He might do his best to ensure there is no one in harm's way but it would be impossible for him to be sure someone doesn't turn up at the wrong place at the wrong time. What if while having a shootout with criminals he accidentally shoots and kills and innocent bystander? Would the Punisher be able to live with himself if he killed someone that was innocent?

In the Ultimate Universe, this is something that does indeed happen. While convinced he was doing the right thing in protecting Nick Fury, the Punisher targeted Captain America (he wasn't gonna kill him, just shoot him in the kneecaps). Spider-Man saw this about to happen and did the only thing he could, he pushed Cap out of the way. This resulted in Spider-Man, an innocent teenager, getting shot (don't worry, he's not dead...yet).

Needless to say, the Punisher flipped out, demanding that he be punished for this.

While this was Mark Millar writing the Punisher in the Ultimate Universe, it raises the question of what would his reaction be? When I first read Ultimate Comics Avengers vs New Ultimates #4, I thought his reaction was a little extreme. It was almost comical.

The thing to consider is, we're talking about a man who could be considered either obsessed or crazy (or more likely both). His only mission is to rid the world of the bad guys and protect the innocent. By shooting an innocent, he becomes one of those bad guys.

This almost happened before. You've probably heard about the infamous Punisher Meets Archie comic. The premise is Punisher is after a druglord known as "Red" Fever. Punisher chases him to Riverdale. It turns out he looks almost identical to Archie Andrews.

Punisher could have easily accidentally shot Archie. Imagine how heartbroken Betty and Veronica would have been. Riverdale would never be the same and it would be all Punisher's fault.

Was this polar bear guilty or innocent?

I have to admit I have not read every single Punisher appearance. In the 90s alone he was appearing practically in every Marvel book. I'm a little surprised that there hasn't been any innocents caught in the crossfire. Has it happened and I've missed it. For the Punisher to shoot and kill an innocent, it would be devastating. I could see that really pushing him over the edge (over a different edge at least). He may be an expert marksman and tactician but nobody's perfect. There's bound to be innocents caught in his one-man war against the criminal scum. When that day happens, Frank is going to need some serious counseling.

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Edited by LB70145
@BransonHuggins: I respect your opinion because you have conveyed it very differently than other users would have done. I appreciate that you also respect my opinion while supporting your own. Alas whether you were joking or not, the world I live in is one that will never be perfect nor will never be rid of violence. My world is one filled with darkness, but do what I can to shine a light against the darkness. I do have a few questions for you as well as some answers as per your examples. 
 
1) History is my proof that violence does not solve anything. Because this is not a perfect world, violence is needed. Let's take some of the examples you have given. Now, I know it may be a bit semantical but I would not need the gun or knife to prevent a rape. In life, the choices I have are more than doing one of two things. Can I not shove the man off of my loved one? Why is it that I have to either kill them or let them commit the crime? Why is it that I would be in this situation in the first place? I know what you are trying to demonstrate with your example. My answer, if I am limited to your two choice ultimatum would be to use the weapon to stop the rape. My answer, if I am allowed more than those choices would be to shove the man off and disable him to hand to the authorities. Would I need to beat him up? Most likely, but I do not have to kill him. This situation is not ideal and realistically I would try to get him to the authorities so he may see justice and learn the error in his ways. I myself could never live with taking the life of an individual. Also, remember that stopping evil and doing good are not the same thing.
 
As for your other examples, again why do I have to kill the 9/11 terrorist? Shouldn't I hand him to the authorities so they can get information on other terrorist attacks? With your Hiroshima and Nagasaki example, there were methods of defeating Japan that didn't involve killing Japanese or Invading in any way. At the time of the bombings, the U.S. had their main ports blockaded. We could starved them out. The Japanese will was already broken, the bombs were a means of showing the power the U.S. harnessed. Arguably, because the U.S. demonstrated the power of nuclear technology, it sparked every countries want of such technology. The U.S. had the Japanese on the ground, they just felt the need to kick them one more time to show every other country what they were capable of. 
 
2) I would rather die holding on to my ideals than let myself be subjugated by the very thing I am against. I would die happy knowing that my death would be known to those I stood up to, and show them people are not afraid. I would rather die having lived shortly and stuck by my ideals, than lead a long life where I had betrayed myself. I know that my ideals are not one everyone can abide by realistically. But idealists are needed for this world. To bring this to a more comic themed discussion, take Professor X and Magneto and their respective ideals. I would rather be on the side of Professor X. Even Magneto eventually learned that his actions against humanity were very similar to those of the Nazis that destroyed his family. Captain America said it best to Thanos.  

 
 
3) Batman is an interesting example. He is the definition of the person who transcends the act into symbolism. However, he does not do enough to stand by his ideals. If he truly wanted to stop the crime in Gotham, then he would do more to make sure his actions stay permanent. Why hasn't Bruce Wayne designed a better prison for all its criminals. There must be some kind of revolving door at Arkham. So to answer your question, Yes. Batman does have blood on his hands. He hasn't kept up with his ideals. He utterly fails his mission because he has not wiped crime from the streets of Gotham. Batman/Bruce Wayne must use their full assets to detract crime. Create means to put super criminals into stasis in Arkham. Give money to the police department to improve it. Improve the cities infrastructure (schools, hospitals, streets, etc.) to create places for children to learn for free, families to receive health care at a reduced cost and better lit alleys and parks. Batman is doing his job putting the scum where they belong, but his other half Bruce Wayne is not lifting a finger. Yes he gives to charities and such. But that is not enough. I do stick by his moral code to not kill though. That is part of his being and the only thing that separates him from super villains. Yes in a way it is selfish but it is one of the only things that is keeping him from going insane. That is why I usually compare Batman to the Punisher. The Punisher is what Batman is afraid of becoming. As for your question on justified violence, there is no such thing. Violence has never been justified by any means throughout history. I would like you to name a time it has. There is a clear line. Once one kills or enacts violence what makes them better than their foe? The crusades taught us killing in the name of God is no different from regular killing. Take away the "justification" of the act of violence. What makes that act of violence different from others? If the Punisher's family were brought back to life, would they truly proud of him for killing in their name? If his family went to heaven, is going to hell because of his mindless vengeance worth not seeing them even in death?
 
You said, "At what point does someone quit thinking about themselves, and start thinking about others?" However, is it truly just for themselves? Those who don't use violence always think about others. They think about the life they are about to extinguish or destroy. They think about their loved ones and what they will think of them. They think about the repercussions of their actions within their society. They do not use violence because it is not worth all the anguish they will create in the world. In a perfect world we would not need violence. We do not live in a perfect world so violence persists. I understand that. As much as I am not fan of using violence, there will always be those that will. But those who are willing to use violence are not always bad. Some are good. But like you said, "The road to hell is paved in good intentions." 
 
I hope I answered some of your questions adequately. Please let me know if you would like clarification for any of my answers. Also, if I had not answered any questions you would like to hear the answers to, please feel free to ask them again.
Posted by BransonHuggins
@LB70145: I appreciate you answering me.  But I would like to point out one thing.  You are correct, you do not need to take the stances in which I stated, you would not have to kill the preposed rapist, but as you stated would you have to beat him, probably.  Well the problem I have with this is quiet simple, even something such as that, is a violent action.  Sure, it's not killing someone, but it is still violent.   
 
You spoke of blocking the ports to Japan, you could do this, you are correct.  But would this not lead to individuals fighting each other for food?  Would this not in and of itself breed a different form of violence?   Also, we did not just drop the bombs for the purposes in which you stated.  It was a military play of power yes, but it was also because the Japanese, even with embargos, even beaten down, simply would not have stopped.  With out that massive show of violence, things would have turned out much, much worse.  look up Operation Doomsday.  
 
Just because you do not kill, does not take away from the use of violent action.  I can incapacitate you, in a much more violent way then actually killing you.  You used Captain America, someone who has done just this on a number of occasions.  You could make someone suffer, much more violently letting them live, then ever killing them. 
 
You also used the exapmle of Professor X.  Now, this is an interesting one.  Because if I am not mistaken, one thing that has been pointed out, and is currently being explored is the increase in the necissary level of violence that the mutants are having to take in order to ensure the survival of there species.  So was he really right?  Not really.  There needed to be a balance between his and Magnetos ways of thinking.  Cyclops (as much as I may dislike him) has brought this to light to a certain extent, through the use of X-Force.    
 
The world simply is not black and white, not that you ever implied that it was.  It is shades of grey.  I appreciate the pacifism, I honestly do.  But you must realize, that there are times in history when someone most certainly is worth a bullet.  Would you argue that Osama Bin Laden did not deserve the 1 to the head and 1 to the chest he got?  Would you say that the Japanese aircraft that were reigning down bombs on Pearl Harbor did not deserve to be shot out of sky?  Would you not say that if we were to simply stand by our resolutions, and have stopped Hitler when he annexed Poland things would have been better?  Hell, would you say that if Hilter would have been sitting just a little bit further to the right and the bullet in the bunker during WWI had actually hit him, it would have been a bad thing?   
 
Finally I only have one simple question, when Captain America, Spider Man, Batman, Daredevil, Nightcrawler, Cyclops, anyone beats the living hell, within an inch of there life, puts them in traction, breaks there bones, out of anyone, is this really any better?  I mean at the end of the day, no matter how you cut it, that's violence in the simplist of terms.  Violence does not equal death.  So my question is, are you simply against the idea of killing someone, or do you truly stand by what you say, that violence does not fix anything?  Because if so, I have to point out, that I am pretty sure, Thanos up there, ended up getting violently beaten by just about everyone, and all he wanted to do was die....which is worse?
Posted by LB70145
@kev17 said:
@LB70145: Dude, your trying to psychoanalyse(sorry if i mispelt that) a comic book character. Hes not real. You said hes a one dimensional character, i disagree with that because hes one of my favourite characters, but if you dont like him, why do you spend so much time writing a thesis on him? I can enjoy a character for what he is and sum up my own opinions on him, but im not gonna write a paper on him.  So heres my opinion for what its worth. he wouldnt do it in the first place. Castle doesnt make mistakes. Hes not reckless, he can plan to avoid the situation. If he was a psycho he would not take such a precaution. looking back over this conversation i realize how pointless it is. Theres different people with different opinions, But for once and for all, Frank Castle does not kill innocents. Just because he does kill criminals does not mean hes jeffrey dahmer. I havent seen anybody make a post like this on several other pages, including high powered superheroes with powers much more dangerous than a gun.  
Don't worry about the spelling. The reason why I am talking about him so much is that he is part of a bigger conversation. That and a certain someone wouldn't stand down about said subject. Like I said, I am not out to change the minds of Punisher fans. I don't have anything against the Punisher or his fans. I understand he is not real, but he does exhibit all the aspects of one that is insane. I analyzed him because I was asked to prove it. So I did. You are right to say I didn't have to write about him, but it was interesting and fun to research him. I learned a lot about the Punisher. Still not a fan, but I can understand why others would be. Simple characters are fine, I have nothing against simplicity. Complexity can ruin a character as well. I have read a lot of Punisher and he just doesn't bring anything to the table I like. If you like him that's cool too. I understand people disagree.
 
I like your answer to the topic though. But remember things can go wrong no matter how much one plans for a situation. He wouldn't kill an innocent on purpose, I agree to that. But innocents get caught in the crossfire (sometimes literally) and information can be wrong. I am pretty sure it has happened in the comics before. But I cannot say when, you got me there. The one thing he has over Dahmer that is his kill count is way higher. Either way I don't see much of difference between the two. Again just my opinion.
 
You are right though, several characters can be called to question when it comes to the killing of innocents or killing in general.
Posted by LB70145
@BransonHuggins: I must say its nice to see someone who can dish out the arguments like you can. Definitely gave me a lot to think about.
 
In the first instance yes, I would still need to enact violence. But your question was not talking about whether he problem would be fixed, the question was about stopping it. Again, this may be a bit semantical but hear me out. I stopped the rape from happening, through my show of violence there is now a new problem. What should one do with the wannabe rapist? Violence created a new problem. My violence hadn't fixed anything. Putting the wannabe rapist into jail and with rehabilitation he might see the error in his ways. The justice that would be enacted was not solved by disabling him, but putting him through the system. 
 
I will give you that blockading could lead to violence over food. Depending on the actions of the Japanese people in response of a blockade, there are many possibilities. The bombings are still largely debated over for morality, legality, and a whole host of other reasons. While the possibility of hunger turning the people against one another is just another form of violence, it was war violence was going to happen no matter what. The unfortunate thing is, in our world acts of violence are met with greater acts of violence, which then brings more violence. You are correct in saying one of the greatest acts of violence ever committed was needed, but there could have been other ways. Given the alternative, I am pretty sure one would try to correct that mistake. You present a good scenario. You are correct to say that the blockade could breed new violence. Are there worse alternatives? Yes. Are all violent or could lead to more violence? Yes. Would it have solved any problems? Debatable. 
 
I agree with your point about Captain America and the X-Men. Like you said violence does not mean killing. In the case of the status of Mutants in the Marvel Universe, they need to be more vigilant. Vigilance doesn't mean violence though. Shouldn't the world of the Marvel Universe be a lot more worried that Mutants are dying? Cyclops has embraced that violence will keep his people alive in certain cases. But how many have died at his feet? How many must he sacrifice before he understands fighting the world means losing many along the way? I myself have grown tired of Cyclops' hypocrisy and dislike the character as well. They should be trying to come up with ways for the government to help them rather than sitting on his version of Genosha as more mutants are lost by the day. I feel that Xavier should take the reigns away from Scott at this point. 
 
You have presented essentially the biggest problem with how the world unfortunately works. Our world is a paradox because to end violence (most of the time anyway, there are examples otherwise), violence must be used. However, violence creates more violence. We live within this cycle and there is so far no going against it. For your examples, Hitler, Bin Laden, Japanese soldiers during Pearl Harbor all deserved death. They deserved death yes, but would I be the one who kills or beats them? Its hard to say. All I know is that even though I  wouldn't someone else would. Its the whole "what would you do if you could go back in time?" thing. What's to say if Hitler was killed or died earlier, someone else would have done the same things as he? We have yet to see what killing Bin Laden is going to mean for the U.S. There are many possibilities that may occur. 
 
My answer remains that violence does not solve anything. Like you said, beating the hell out of someone doesn't fix anything. Killing doesn't do that either. Violence is not greater nor less than killing. If anything they are just as bad. Either way, problems will result in either act and neither one is more preferable than the other. Like I said before, stopping evil and doing good are different. I understand that I will never stop all violence or death. Enacting violence or dealing death are one in the same. Transference of negative energy into the world that cannot be taken back. I myself want to contribute as much positive energy in everything I do. In this way, more solutions can be found and less problems created. I like characters like Captain America, Spider-Man, Batman, and Superman. As much as I don't agree with everything they do, I like what they stand for. They use violence, but there will always be problems for them to deal with whether the violence is lethal or not. Their violence stops villains for a time. However, they do more than just beat up people. They inspire people to do good and not do evil. They help in a multitude of ways. I could never be one because I know the extent of what violence does. It doesn't stop me from liking comics or appreciating the troops who fought, killed and died so I can be here. I live and act for what they could not. But rivers of blood will always be here and good intentions can always plant the seeds of destruction. 
 
As for Thanos, he did want to die. But he wanted to die because he no longer wanted to be surrounded by destruction and violence he created. Because if he truly wanted everything to be destroyed he could have done so instantly. But instead he created the amount of destruction and death that would cause heroes to question their own codes of morality. In the face of death of all that lives, would they succumb to a path of death themselves? Thanos got an answer. And the answer was no, no one would do it. As much as they wanted to they would not and would have rather died. Thanos saw he could not get them to kill him because he also didn't feel he deserved the power. Thanos saw the error in his ways and undid all the destruction he had done. He then lived as a farmer away from death and destruction. He tried to push the heroes to do what they fight against day after day and he failed. His resolve was not strong enough to hold power and the motives behind his actions were left unfulfilled. He wanted death and destruction and I think that he really wanted peace and love as a result. He saw that peace and love could not be attained by those means and corrected his actions. He saw that his acts of violence would never yield his true desires.
 
P.S. Is this the Operation Doomsday you spoke of? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Doomsday
Posted by djotaku

Interesting question.  Although looking at a few "Off My Mind" topics makes it seem that maybe these are supposed to be more on the funny side, if I think about it seriously in terms of Punisher as a character in a fictional world, I'd be quite disappointed if he had to kill himself if he killed an innocent.  It would turn him into a 1930s Superman-like goody-two-shoes.  Those who killed his family and set him on this path are evil.  They did not accidentally catch his family in the crossfire; they killed in cold blood.  If Punisher is unable to make the distinction then he fails as a compelling fictional character.  However, many other commentors DID mention he's crazy.  So if he is crazy, I guess it's valid - just makes him a character I wouldn't care to follow.

Posted by kev17

i wish he killed archie. such a stupid story.

Posted by Casshern

DC/Marvel Cross over... 
 
Green Arrow/ Punisher!! I think the two should play off their violent needs for revenge and True Justice to cure themselves or find a different path.

Edited by LB70145
@cody1984 said: 

 Cotton was profitable to the south due to slavery and the invention of the cotton gin which caused slavery to grow more in the South (it was actually starting to die out before the cotton gin was invented) due to increased production, that is a historical fact.  Ending slavery would cost southern plantation owners to lose out on a ton of money and the plantations in the South were the main drivers of the Southern United States wealth.  The Northern states wanted to outlaw slavery which would've hurt the South and the conflict started right after the nation won its independence with the founders split down the middle on the issue.  This split continued with the Missouri compromise.  Even during the Mexican-American war congressmen from the southern states wanted to take what are now northern Mexican States (Tamaulipas, Nuevo León, Coahuila, etc) from Mexico.  Congressmen from the North refused because the Southern States would gain more slave states and more power.  So yes slavery was the main issue for why the civil war was fought.  The legislation banning slavery wouldn't have come to pass unless the North won the civil war since the South wanted to suceed from the Union and had they won they would've done so.  So please brush up on your own history before telling me to do so.      The Iron Curtain is the reason why the cold war happened and was due to the USSR not the Nazis so yes WW2 ended the holocaust because the Nazis couldn't continue there genocide.  The Soviets did cause genocides however them commiting them over eastern Europe happened after WW2.   There's also the matter of the U.S. gaining its independence through war which I could get into the same goes with Asia but quite frankly this is not the place for it.  This is really a topic for the off topic forum and if you wanted to continue this with me do it through PMs because quite frankly this has absolutely nothing at all to do with the topic.    

You really have to brush up on your history man.  
 
1) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Origins_of_the_American_Civil_War 
 
Not everything was about Slavery. Slavery is the reason they teach 5th graders so they understand.

2) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cold_War 
 
It was paranoia that started the Cold War. The Iron Curtain was minor in comparison to other issues. Africa, Asia and South America were some of the areas that scared the U.S. more. 

3) The Punisher is still insane according to my observations. 

4) Violence and Killing does not solve problems just creates more. See conversation above.
Posted by SammyGabryl

Anybody remember the Punisher series from 1995 which began with Punisher on death row after killing the Dreyer family by accident. After learning of his mistake Frank turned himself in and pleaded guilty.

Posted by TheRedHelm
@Pokeysteve: I actually agree, Frank Castle may have saved more lives than Rogers. He's also stopped a nuclear war and a virus that would've killed off the human race. This was in MAX.
Posted by Pokeysteve
@TheRedHelm: I forgot about the virus. That was a great story. What do we never do? The thing is that Castle does all of this by himself. Cap has the Avengers with him most of the time. It's frustrating. Every murderer and/or rapist Frank takes out is another person who isn't going to murder and/or rape any longer. I don't understand how people can argue that. 
Online
Posted by Bionder

there are too many "bleeding hearts" among us lol

Posted by TheRedHelm
@AbsMan2: Your logic is wrong, Punisher deals almost exclusively with men who either kill, destroy or ruin lives. For instance, he'll take out drug cartels because they ruin lives, he'll kill mobsters because they run on misery and death. He'll punish these men because they are the corruption and disease that plague the Earth. 
 
Now, Frank is lenient when it comes to other things. He tolerates prostitution, even using them for information. He allows other vigilantes to do their work, and I'm sure he'll deal with theft and stealing but not with direct and fatal means.
Posted by Bionder
@TheRedHelm: I almost agree with you, but i have seen Frank killing robbers.
Posted by TheRedHelm

Being honest here, no lies and no misunderstandings. Frank has done more for the cause of good than most other characters. He's stopped the virus that would have destroyed humanity from being deployed in the MAX series Mother Russia, he ended a world wide slaving ring, sparing thousands of girls from being sold as sex slaves and he asks for nothing in return. 
 
That's what's great about him, he isn't doing this for publicity or fame but because it's his cause.

Posted by Bionder

True, and he is more efective than the other superheroes. The other heroes are responsible for thousands of deaths, because they don't put an end to the evil.

Posted by GERALD

"he accidentally shoots and kills and innocent bystander?"

AN innocent bystander. Frank should punish you for not proof reading.

Posted by kilon

i see the punisher killing himself if that ever happens. the guy wants crime extinct like batman.

Posted by lifeofvibe

@kilon: now here a question would if batman accidentally punches a kid to death? One punch batman pretty damn strong compared to a kid