Every once in a while, people get back from the universe what they put in. Call it karma. Divine justice. F**king around, and finding out. Whether it’s the will of the gods, a function of the universe, people’s choices, or random chance that leads to something approximating justice, it happens. Not as often as we’d like, but it does happen. Here now for you are 9 examples of exactly that happening in 2021, in no particular order. Clickbait? Absolutely. But clickbait at its finest, guaranteed to piss off almost everyone sooner or later.
It’s difficult to overstate the harm conservative grifters and religious zealots have done to the United States. Decades of televangelists on television and radio spreading lies about politics and science have led to a solid third of the populace more likely to believe in horse pills than vaccines. In the Covid-19 crisis alone, tens of thousands of deaths can be laid at their feet, if not more. That’s on top of the ignorance, bigotry, and conspiracy theories they’ve espoused for years. The pandemic exposed some of them as hypocrites as two-faced conmen talked shit about Fauci, public health measures, and basic science while at the same time skipping to the head of the vaccination line (looking your way, Tucker). But a funny thing happened to some of the true believers; they faced the consequences of their actions as over the past year at least five conservative radio hosts died from Covid-19. Like Herman Cain last year they allowed their complete lack of scientific knowledge to combine with overweening confidence in the most personally disastrous of ways. The best well-known of these, Bob Enyart, went from spouting anti-choice, homophobic, and anti-science propaganda to his deathbed with barely a moment’s hesitation. Dick Farrel, radio and NewsMAX host, called the Covid-19 vaccine a “poison” before he died of not taking it. They aren’t alone. The true believers are dying all around us, unfortunately taking some intelligent people with them. Every avoidable death is, in a certain light, unfortunate. But their crusade against public health condemned listeners to premature deaths and, as such, their own early demise rates only a disinterested shrug. Do I think they deserved to die? Probably not. Do I care they did? Not one whit.
Oh, and we can’t forget Rush Limbaugh. The archetype for every belligerent, science-hating host out there, he shuffled off his bloated mortal coil to the Great Beyond in February. Covid had nothing to do with it, but it may be the first time I felt bad for lung cancer. After decades of treating people of color, women, LGBTQ, and poor people like trash, he’s so much compost.
Did anyone step on their own dick as badly as Mike Richards this past year? The man went from a mostly unknown Executive Producer quietly working behind the scenes at hit programs like The Price Is Right and Wheel of Fortune to the dude in charge of picking the next Alex Trebek for Jeopardy!. All he had to do was pick someone charming, intelligent, and inoffensive *cough*LEVAR BURTON*cough* to fill the role and go back to making ridiculous cash while sexually harassing the women around him. Instead, Richards picked himself for the job, displaying in one grandiose gesture the overwhelming and unearned confidence of a rich white man who never faced a consequence in his life. But the universe, while disinterested in our fates, does have a sense of humor. And so shortly after announcing he would take over for Trebek his world quickly went up in flames. Reporters poured over his previously unremarked podcast and quickly discovered a trove of misogynistic and anti-Semitic material. He took it down, but the damage was already done and he was unceremoniously fired on August 31st. Michael Richards flew too close to the sun in his quest for television stardom and, like a dickish Icarus, fell to his demise. Given the slow-motion trainwreck that was the Jeopardy! host selection process the entire hiring committee deserves to be on this list. I don’t know how you go about picking Trebek’s replacement from a group that includes at least one sexual harasser and two anti-vax idiots and actually select two of them - Richards and Bialik - but they managed it.
Ahmaud Arbery was minding his own business on February 23, 2020 when he was murdered by the McMichaels and William Bryan for the “crime” of exploring a construction site. They armed themselves, hunted him down in their trucks, and shot him. Gregory McMichael, investigator for the local district attorney, called his former boss and she, in turn, did her best to sweep everything under the rug. But after a video surfaced showing that day’s events - a video ironically released by the McMichaels, so convinced were they of their own righteousness - they were charged, taken into custody, and convicted on multiple murder counts. Guilty verdicts shouldn’t be a surprise in such a clear-cut case and yet they are. And so I can say with absolute certainty that Bryan and the McMichaels made their bed, laid in it, and then set it on fire. It couldn’t have happened to a more deserving trio. All 3 face mandatory life sentences in prison with at least 30 years before the chance of parole.
This one is a stretch but too funny to leave out. In early December, a man named Craig Tamanaha set fire to the publicly displayed Christmas tree and it swiftly went up in flames. Talking heads were predictably outraged at this latest strike in the War Against Christmas, calling it a hate crime, a religious and spiritual attack, and a symbol of everything wrong in America. Did their “All-American” tree deserve being torched? I suppose it depends on how you see things. From my perspective not only was the arson not a hate crime, it wasn’t even a tree. It was a garish hunk of petroleum-based plastic full of harsh LED lights and self-satisfied smugness, which did at least make it a perfect metaphor for America. The only crime in its destruction was the release of toxic fumes.
I hereby motion to rename a cylindrical bowel movement from a “turd” to a “Jim-Bob,” because if there was ever a human-sized piece of shit then its surname was surely Duggar. Child-molester and convicted felon Josh is finally facing years in prison thanks to a conviction for possession of pictures and videos of child sexual assault. It’s been a long time coming; he confessed to molesting his sisters and other girls years ago, yet managed to avoid any sort of criminal prosecution thanks to the actions of his enabling father, Jim-Bob. The man used his influence and friendship with a pedophilic state trooper to keep his son out of trouble while serving up his own daughters as sacrificial lambs. He even refused to testify during a preliminary hearing, claiming he didn’t remember any details about his daughters’ molestation or his son’s confession. Jim-Bob suffered an ignominious defeat in his bid for state senate shortly after Josh’s confession and with any luck, the whole deluded clan will be forced to make it on their own from here on out.
Remember when the Charlottesville Unite the Right march organized by white supremacist Richard Spencer, among others, led directly to the violent murder of Heather Heyer? Because the world sure does. And as Spencer and two dozen of his hateful collaborators faced the consequences for their actions in a federal civil trial last month, Richard Spencer was revealed as the lying, pathetic coward he is. Most of us knew it already, of course; the man is the poster-child for the desperate insecurity of white supremacists everywhere. But his bid for infamy has led to his complete ostracization from any part of society not bent on a race war. His wife divorced him. His mommy kicked him out of her summer house. Spencer, facing millions in fines for his actions leading to Heather Heyer’s death and the violence faced by hundreds in Charlottesville, was already broke. Now? The dude won’t be able to get a loan for a prepaid mobile phone. It couldn’t happen to a more deserving guy. Because whether you hit them in the face or the wallet, it is always a moral good to punch Nazis.
Brothers, man. What is it about siblings that so often leads to catastrophe? For most of us it ends with childhood injuries, at least until it comes time for a will reading. But the Cuomo brothers went from being pandemic poster boys to pariahs when NY Governor Andrew Cuomo’s predilection for sexual harassment came to light. Already suffering political fallout from hiding Covid-related deaths in nursing homes, Andrew soon fell from grace and resigned on August 24. His brother Chris weathered the storm despite acknowledging he took part in strategic meetings on how to respond to the allegations until late November, when the NY AG’s office released evidence that Chris had used his media contacts and sources to uncover details about Andrew’s accusers. CNN finally took action and terminated Chris’s employment in early December. I remember grabbing an electric fence on a wet day and touching my kid brother on his nose, causing the sort of electrical shock that sends weaker people to the emergency room. I remember him tripping me, sitting on my chest, and trying to force-feed me moldy birdseed. Somehow we still had a healthier relationship than the Cuomos.
Oh, look. Another of the super-rich. By now you’re thinking I bear some sort of resentment against billionaires, and do you know what? It’s true. Not content being the kind of boils on society’s ass that require a good lancing, they insist on taking up cultural space as well. And, in Bezos’s case, actual space. Now, riding a giant metal cock rocket to the upper reaches of the atmosphere is enough to get him on this list. I will die without ever becoming a millionaire, let alone billionaire, but at least I didn’t take the Statue of Liberty’s sex toy to what I laughingly refer to as “outer space.” Like Elon Musk, he goes through life looking like a sapient dick; unlike Musk, there’s no disturbingly chia-like hair formation at the urethra’s terminus. But more important than his space-obsessed vanity project is his divorce from MacKenzie Scott and her subsequent donations to hundreds of charitable organizations. In the 2021 fiscal year alone, Scott donated $8.5 billion to 780 nonprofits. Now, she’s still worth over $62 billion, and the thing about being obscenely rich is that your wealth makes all the money for you; so long as her personal fortune remains 11 digits long, she’ll continue “earning” more money than she could ever spend. That said, she’s done a lot of good, and more importantly shown up her ex-husband as the self-centered little dweeb he truly is.
My final entry is as aspirational as factual. Trials for a number of the white nationalist, Q-Anon, and MAGA crowd who invaded the Capitol building in a spirited attempt to overthrow the federal government and place Donald Trump illegally in the White House are still ongoing. Many will never face any sort of punishment for their actions. Others already received slaps on their wrists. But more than a few are doing actual if brief jail time for their crimes. Some still remain on trial for more serious charges. This is a group of people who foolishly believed Donald Trump had their back, thus proving there’s no lie so ridiculous that some won’t fall for it, so long as the liar has a big enough bank account. Any punishment, no matter how paltry it feels from our perspective, is more than they expected. It will make their future employment more difficult. It will cause problems with family and friends. It will, if nothing else, make their balls clench in fear. And since they can’t all end up like Ashli Babbit, that has to be enough.
That’s my list! Got a favorite story of a terrible person facing consequences for their actions? Share it in the comments, and go into the New Year secure in the knowledge that someone, somewhere, is getting exactly what they deserve.