Dirty Skulls –
Justice or Revenge
We all stand on the shoulders of giants who have come
before us. This book is for all of those people who have
had an impact and influence on me and on my journey.
Thank you for helping to shape my life.
Skull symbolism has a very strong and personal meaning. The meaning of the human skull represents a few tangible and intangible things in life that this book addresses in the image or representation of death, mortality, loyalty, and honor. We can often recognize these words in the actions of those who are exposed to life and death situations almost daily and carry with them the stressors as well as the responsibility to keep things in order.
The skull represents more than just a shard of stone. The skull protects the brain and the brain is the main center of human thinking, actions, and responses. In this case, we are mainly talking about first responses, emergency type of actions that rely on training and skills that exceed those of the normal human being.
Under most conditions, we must protect the cranium of the skull under all circumstances. We must protect this specific regional area of our human body. For the most part, we know the human brain recognizes faces, dangers, etc. and is attuned to finding solutions for them even under the most extreme conditions.
It cannot separate the image projected with a wishful thinking or unreal perception. It deals with reality and the reality is that life is based on death. Because of this, the human skull symbolizes the vision of human faces, some with names and others anonymously existing or encountered under most difficult situations.
For many, a skull is obviously dead. There is no life in the skull. In the prison world, a human skull with large eye sockets displays or represents a degree of neoteny or a morphing of a face, role or existence into something he or she may find visually appealing or appalling in many cases. Yet in most cases, the skull is dead. A bone-deep dead.
Thus we deal with the morality of surviving the risks of death and overcoming the odds of beating whoever or whatever it is that attacks us. We defend with honor all those things we value in life. Whether it be life itself, morals and basic values or principles, we defend it with words, acts of violence or overwhelming power.
As such, human skulls often have a greater visual appeal than the other bones of the human skeleton and can fascinate even as they repel the emotions of those not engaged in special tactics or emergency response team training and activities.
Our present society is fickle and somewhat flirtatious too. When you come down to the facts, it is also more inquisitive to be sure. It predominantly associates skulls with death and evil. A sub-cultural perception and often associated with the grim reaper.
However, to some ancient societies, it is believed to have had the opposite association, where objects like human skulls represent "life": the honoring of humanity in the flesh and the embodiment of consciousness. Here we focus on the brain again and gather in all its emotions, thoughts, memories and visions.
The skull, often used by paramilitary and military organizations is an icon all by itself. It can represent so many different things but for the most part, it becomes a symbol or a substitution for a real thing – a mission, a code or a brand. It has the ambivalence of doubtful and daunting behaviors. One can see why risk takers use it as a symbol to reflect their own attitudes and behaviors. It could reflect the decorative nature of ‘still life’ or it can project the image of ‘the spirit of life’ when you run with the notion that life is full of energy and that energy is a force to reckon with during life and death situations.
Mankind has been taught to survive – to avoid death if possible and snuff out all those who yearn to kill you. That’s a reality we deal with at times and it takes a special person to take on such a challenge, night or day, twenty-four seven, inside a prison setting. In many ways, the skull represents loyalty unto death.
This means that a person is willing to die for those they love, honor or taken an oath to under the most extreme circumstances. It is almost like an apotropaic power – something that helps them cheat death or keeps away the evil influences in life itself.
Without a doubt, the skull may symbolize other things in life as well that are quite contrary to loyalty and honor. It could represent the imagery of challenging the natural order of life – or death.
Dirty skulls are quite a metaphor when you define its meaning. It may epitomize many things that are honorable yet controversial in the sense of political correctness. One has heard of dirty hands and envisions your hands being dirty but forget that good honest work can result in dirty hands, and not necessarily something evil.
Dirty skulls represent the valor of individuals who cope with stress under most challenges and then after they undress their black uniforms, go back to being an ordinary person not hyped into a state of frenzy or madness to overcome their opponents or obstacles and return back to the civility of life in the nature of routine and sometimes complacent world.
Thus within a moment in time, a person morphs from a rational human being into a mortal presence that is best described as persons possessed and confronted with a triad of limited elements – death, violence and time.
When a skull is worn as a patch, or as a trophy it is a constant reminder of death and the triumph over death. It’s like cheating in life to avoid death. On the other hand, it serves as a warning to some telling them that they should fear those wearing the patch of the skull.
Fear and fearless are all qualities of life and death. Veneered with blood and violence, the skull represents a lifestyle that only a few and select individuals can endure or sustain. While some live and die under the banner of “semper fi” others live under the code of “carpe diem” or seize the day..don’t wait for tomorrow.
The skull is a well-known symbol of the “Punisher”, a well-known vigilante who serves as a litmus test for all who enter the military and law enforcement. Corrections is no different – it is all based on the definition of war – “us versus them.” Even if you aren’t familiar with the story of the Marvel gun-toting vigilante, the chances you have seen his symbol, the leering white skull on a black shirt or background brings the concept of death into a reality.
No greater image has bestowed so much recognition or honor to those who wear it or live it in more than a symbolic manner. The mere presence hints the creation of conflict and violence. As it stands, the skull wearing individual is an anti-hero, someone who delivers justice to their targets and ends the conflict with a severe or extreme form of death.
It has been known that members of a SWAT team or CERT response team wear or carry a patch of the “Punisher” on their ballistic vest or body armor. The mere sight of such an emblem pushes the conflict or confrontation to a much higher level. Basically, it serves as a centralized part of their identity.
The thing that should stick with the reader is the fact that this skull represents a brotherhood. This image is an attempt to show that the world inside your head is colored by death, violence and limited time. It is a perception that cannot change – it is a fixed reality that has been carried down centuries of war by warriors of all types, races, and cultures.
In this book, there is another perception. A creation of a different cultural era and traditions where each of those who represent the skull has reinterpreted ideas, thoughts or ideologies to reflect the concerns of their workplace – the prisons.
What they do is justifiable and what they are trained for is hand to hand combat or physical violence. They get their hands dirty as the enforcers of the prison world.
The respect for them is enormous and not everyone can muster the test to be a dirty skull. The image projected is real and the risks are just as real rather than indicative of anything else one might think and to top it off, the respect is high for them as they feel no guilt or no shame in what they are doing. They are the armpit of the law enforcement world and somebody has to get their hands dirty to get the job done.
These men and women are committed to the cause. They are in fact, anti-heroes engaged in a war against evil that seemingly has no end driving them to perfection in execution of force and planned assaults on those who plot the death of someone and who possess the skill to kill with a prison-made knife or shank, capable of slicing the flesh of the victim’s neck in a split second if the attack is not thwarted.
The team’s mindset is all but relaxed. They are tuned to be in a very tactical and special operational mindset that pays homage to the warriors of the past who fought hand to hand combat with those opponents they met on the battlefield. The kind of warriors like the 300 Spartans who we learned to love and watch as their courage exceeds and surrounds everything else about mankind at war.
Within them, there is a code for accountability and responsibility. They are fearless and deemed to be many objective-oriented focused persons. One has to respect their abilities to fight and overcome obstacles as they execute with precision their solution to the approached problems. There isn’t a lot of room for nuance when you are faced with a conflict or fight….. but then, that by itself has a certain sagacity of appeal. It draws them to become more sinister than the sinister they are facing. There are no quarters or surrender attitude towards those they deem evil.
So when you think of the dirty skulls and the context of it being used by those on special first responder teams, and trained to handle special operations and conflicts, you may find it offensive or flattering depending on which side of the predicament you are in. whether you believe it or not – these guys are the good guys. Their role is not of heroes but yet, the perception is that they are indeed heroes.
Somebody or someone who rises up from the normalcy of life and faces death with a stare that breaks most men down. They are the solution when there is a social breakdown or splintering of rules and serious injury or death is imminently near. What they do is resist and face the reality of a cultural breakdown that is, in fact, violent and unpredictable.
They are the solution to what we call incredibly complicated problems inside prisons. Some say that like the Punisher, it is a fine line between justice and revenge. On the other hand, unless you walk in the boots of these dirty skulls and live the life of scrutiny they work in, the intent of what they do is justice – good old fashion justice.