Dunno. Depends on who’s doing it.
Metalheads et al? More likely what you fear.
On the other hand, it is also “I Love You” in American Sign Language (a combination of the letters “I”, “L”, and “Y” in the One-Hand Manual Alphabet). That was the context that Richard Dawson on Family Feud used it.
I’ve also seen it used when a person wants to wave, but is holding something like a mike or such in their hand.
I believe that it’s also the same as the sign to ward off the “evil eye”.
Some purists – or pedants – may argue too whether the thumb position has any effect on the meaning, i.e. if the thumb is extended (necessary to form the “L” in “ILY”), closed over the fingers (malocchio), tucked into the fingers, or alongside the palm parallel to the forefinger (used for the Devil on the back of the Chris de Burgh album Spanish Train).
Of course, there are people who say that the Nazi swastika is “different” from an eastern/Buddhist swastika because it is oriented in an opposite direction from the latter, and therefore an “evil” doppelganger of a benevolent symbol.* :shrug:
You have to look at the intent of the user. The symbol doesn’t necessarily indicate the “evil” intent of the user, but the evil intent will influence the meaning of the symbol.
Take the inverted cross. For some, it’s a Satanic symbol and conjures up (sorry!) images of the Black Mass. On the other hand, it’s also an iconic symbol of the crucifixion of St Peter. Yo may be able to discern which meaning is preferred by whether you see the image at the Vatican or in Anton laVey’s rumpus room.
- Wrong: The Nazi swastika is evil because the Nazis used it and tainted it with their ideology. The effect would be the same whether the Nazis used the swastika or some other symbol – like even a carrot.