Along about the time that I started blogging … no, even well before that point, I was well-aware that there were personalities who could say and do flamingly stupid and insulting things on the public stage, and some would take no permanent career harm from having done so. Jane Fonda, for example, went on having a career for decades after getting the nick “Hanoi Jane” for her anti-war antics in the 1960s. Other personalities – equally prominent, having said and done things just as injudicious – appeared to walk away unscathed. It seemed to be a given that some public personalities were basically Teflon; as it would become even more obvious in the last decade, they had something that I call – for lack of a better term – douchebag privilege. Generally speaking, the lefty-intellectual-media lot – like the Kennedys, the Jesse Jackson/Al Sharpton brand of racial activists, and jerks like Michael Moore had douchebag privilege, whereas those of the other persuasion didn’t.
But gradually over the fifteen years, the well of douchebag privilege is running dry, and the previously immune are feeling some heat. The initial example of this public impatience – a harbinger as it were – which comes to mind was that of the faux-Indian, Ward Churchill, he of the scholarly misconduct, cultural appropriation and ‘little Eichmans’ crack, referring to the dead at the World Trade Center. He lost a cushy position in academia, and has maintained a low profile ever since, although I suppose he makes an occasional appearance among lefty fellow-travelers now and again.
The toleration of regular people for a double standard in douchbag privilege has been worn to a frazzle within the last six months; observe the rapid-fire sacking of Kathy Griffen and Reza Aslan, and corporate sponsors speedily withdrawing from an association with the Shakespeare in the Park production of “Julius Trump”.
Not only has toleration been rasped as thin as tissue paper over the last six months, but I suggest that enough of the public has been voting with their dollars just long enough and in such numbers as to have caught the attention of the more perspicuous bean-counters and managerial suits. In the bowels of CNN, the NFL, the corporate HQ of Target stores, certain universities like Mizzou, as well as dozens of other entities which embraced dubious social justice causes and/or an anti-Trump tone assuming that it was the wave of the future, the warning klaxons are blowing. It appears that some entities – especially the ones dependent on the consumer dollar – are trying to reverse course and mend fences. Discuss: can they recover the trust of conservative consumers, or has the rot gone too far?