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It’s easy to get bogged down by all the terrible things happening in the world and the awful people who get off scot-free. So when the universe delivers justice to a bigot, it’s only fair to relish in it a bit.
With that in mind, we present the top 10 times a nasty person got their comeuppance this year. Schadenfreude, a German word for satisfaction from someone else’s misfortune, is a rich pleasure. Sit back, relax, and savor these bigots and creeps getting their just desserts.
1) The racist Lyft passenger
Many people who have worked in the service industry can tell you a story (or 25) about a horrible, entitled customer. Lyft driver Shawn Pepas Lettman was caught in an outstanding customer meltdown this fall when passenger Robert Oritz became upset that he couldn’t play his music in the car. He and his two companions started arguing with Lettman, so Lettman pulled over. Oritz decided he should call the police. That’s when Lettman started recording.
For 16 and a half minutes, he sits patiently and silently while Oritz and his companions flip their lids in all sorts of bizarre ways, including swearing at him and calling him racial slurs. Some highlights from Oritz’s side of the call with Lyft support:
“How am I being racist?”
“Your driver is racist against gay people.”
“I know my legal rights as an American citizen that voted for Trump.”
Oritz didn’t know his legal rights.
Despite his claims that it was illegal for Lettman to be recording him, New York is a one-party consent state, so Lettman was actually fine. In further delicious irony, Oritz’s attempt to get Lettman fired resulted in him losing his job at CityMD. Also, he gave his phone number out on camera, and we all know how that goes.
2) Roseanne Barr
2018 was a big year for reboots. From American Idol to Queer Eye, the year saw more than its fair share, both good and bad. The Roseanne redux premiered in May with record-high viewership, but the good news did not last for the star and namesake of the show, Roseanne Barr. She just couldn’t stop saying terrible things.
The same week the show premiered, she tweeted in support of a conspiracy theory about Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg. She was also criticized for hinting at the QAnon conspiracy when she tweeted about how Trump “has freed so many children held in bondage to pimps all over this world.”
Folks finally drew the line when Barr tweeted about former Obama aide Valerie Jarrett: “muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby.” Within hours, ABC’s president, Channing Dungey, issued a simple statement: “Roseanne’s Twitter statement is abhorrent, repugnant, and inconsistent with our values, and we have decided to cancel her show.”
The thing was, people did like the idea of a Roseanne reboot—they just didn’t like Roseanne Barr that much. The series now holds the unique distinction of being rebooted twice in six months, though the second time was under a new name: The Conners. The new show features the same main cast, minus Barr, and has been well-received by critics.
3) Alexander Gauland
For those not versed in current German politics, Alexander Gauland is a member of German federal parliament, representing the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party.
He’s also a Nazi-apologist who thinks that Germans should be “proud of the achievements of German soldiers” in World War II.
In June, Gauland tried to have a swim in a public lake outside Berlin. Some good Samaritans walked by while Gauland was splashing about and sprung into action. They grabbed his clothes and ran, reportedly yelling, “There’s no swimming for Nazis here” and “Nazis don’t need bathing fun.”
Incredibly, that’s not the best part. Gauland’s keys were in his pants pockets, so he had to walk in his sad, plaid bathing shorts to the nearest police station. People took pictures, of course, and circulated them with a hashtag that quickly soared to the trending tops, #Badespass (bathing fun).
4) That guy who groped a waitress and got slammed
Working as a restaurant server can be one of the most emotionally damaging jobs. Besides the spectacularly low wages and demanding physical labor, 80 percent of women restaurant workers say they’ve been harassed.
In June, Emelia Holden, a 21-year-old server at a pizzeria in Georgia, laid down the law with a pervy customer. In security footage, 31-year-old Ryan Cherwinski can be seen quickly groping Holden’s butt as he walks by her. Holden reacts without hesitation, grabbing Cherwinski by the back of the shirt and swinging him around to slam him onto the ground in full view of customers. She points and yells at him and then calls for assistance.
Holden told People, “I didn’t even think, I just reacted. I don’t know how I reacted the way I did. I’ve never done that before.” Thanks to her excellent instincts, Cherwinski’s entitlement to women’s bodies didn’t go unnoticed. In fact, it’s being punished by the law. Police arrested Cherwinski in front of his wife and children, and he is being charged with sexual battery.
5) Alex Jones
Alex Jones has been mid-nose-dive for a while now. He lost custody of his kids in 2017 in a bizarre case where his lawyer tried to argue he doesn’t believe what he says. How much worse could it get for him in 2018? Quite a bit, it turns out. Early in the year, two former employees accused him of sexual harassment and anti-Semitism, and that was just the beginning.
Jones is well known for sharing conspiracy theories with his audience, but one of the most disturbing and damaging is that particular mass shootings are orchestrated farses, or “false flags.” In the six years since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, he has continually implied that the massacre was faked and that the grieving parents are actors. After more than half-a-decade of harassment and threats from Jones and the people who believe him, eight separate families and an FBI agent filed lawsuits against him.
Jones tried a similar routine with the students who survived the Parkland shooting, but folks were not having any of it. Over the course of 2018, Jones and his company Infowars have been banned from Facebook, Apple, YouTube, Spotify, Stitcher, Pinterest, MailChimp, LinkedIn, iTunes, Instagram, Google+, Twitter, Periscope, the Apple App Store, and PayPal.
If you want to get an idea of how relevant Alex Jones is these days, check out how Marco Rubio responded to him visiting the Capitol.
A cherry on this sundae is that he totally accidentally showed porn on his phone while on a live broadcast.
6) Permit Patty
Permit Patty stands out, even among all the ridiculous instances of white people calling the police on Black people for existing this year. Alison Ettel earned her nickname this June when she called the police on an 8-year-old Black girl for selling water bottles in front of her apartment building without a permit.
The video the young girl’s mother took went viral, and #permitpatty was faced with a swift and severe backlash.
Trying to mitigate criticism, Ettel said that she didn’t actually call the police, but within a few days, the record of her 911 call was public. Besides earning the ridicule of all the reasonable people who would encourage kids selling drinks on the sidewalk (lemonade stand, anyone?), Ettel faced economic consequences herself. Ettel was the CEO of budding marijuana company TreatWell, but in the days following her 911 call, TreatWell’s partnerships with major area dispensaries went up in smoke, forcing Ettel to step down as CEO.
7) Milo Yiannopoulos
Disclosure: Milo Yiannopoulous was the founder of the Kernel, a publication the Daily Dot acquired in January 2014.
Milo Yiannopoulos spent the last several years on a wild ride. Yiannopoulos started in tech journalism, but later moved on to writing such gems for Breitbart as “The Solution to Online ‘Harassment’ Is Simple: Women Should Log Off.” While he had built an audience of devoted fans online, he was also widely reviled, often causing protests when he spoke publicly.
Universal justice started to tip when he was banned from Twitter for inciting harassment. Then a video leaked of Yiannopoulos seemingly supporting adults having sexual relationships with 13-year-old boys, and he lost his book deal. He attempted to sue Simon & Schuster for terminating the deal; in early 2018, he decided he would abandon his lawyers and represent himself because the judge would only let his lawyer see certain documents. He’s not a lawyer, so it went quite poorly for him.
How's Milo Yiannopoulos's attempt to represent himself in a lawsuit going? Oh... pic.twitter.com/00ZdYwWl1Q— Will Sommer (@willsommer) February 7, 2018
Yiannopoulos walked away with no settlement, but a lot of legal fees.
Over the course of the year, Yiannopoulos has also complained about how folks have responded to his schtick. In April, he said that he’d been chased out of a bar by people screaming “Nazi” and “KKK” at him. In August, he ranted at his fans in the replies on a Facebook post when commenters pointed out his lavish vacations and lack of promised journalistic output. “I have lost everything standing up for the truth in America, spent all my savings, destroyed all my friendships, and ruined my whole life,” Yiannopoulos wrote back.
While he represents it in a self-aggrandizing way, it is true that Yiannopoulos has spent a lot of money doing his thing for the last several years. In fact, he’s millions of dollars in debt for it. Court documents originally had people estimating that he was around $2 million in debt, owing money to former attorneys, employees, expensive jewelers, and more. His attempt to start a Patreon to mitigate some of that debt was shut down within a day.
Hi there, thanks for the tweet. Milo Yiannopoulos was removed from Patreon as we don't allow association with or supporting hate groups on Patreon. For more info, please see our Community Guidelines. https://t.co/L7737I1ENi— Patreon (@Patreon) December 5, 2018
He later confirmed that he is more than $4 million dollars in debt, saying, “Two years of being no-platformed, banned, blacklisted and censored … has taken its toll.” It’s hard to feel bad for a guy who sold T-shirts that said, “Stop being poor.”
8) That guy who tried to take upskirt pics
Even though they’ve been pushed off social media, communities of people who take nonconsensual up-skirt photos have continued to thrive on the internet. While the majority of states have outlawed “revenge porn,” there are no federal laws against it, and hidden private forums continue to flourish for sharing these images.
A Wisconsin man thought he was going to revolutionize being creepy when he tried to create a contraption to attach a camera to his shoe. Probably because he was very foolish, something went wrong, and the camera exploded, destroying both his voyeuristic plans and his foot. Talk about a sick burn.
9) Jacob Wohl
Untangling the many ways that Jacob Wohl made a colossal fool of himself while trying to smear Robert Mueller is no easy task. Here are the basics: 20-year-old conservative internet personality Wohl did a very bad job trying to fake a sexual assault allegation, and did an even worse job covering up that he was behind it. If you want an in-depth guide, read here.
hey dumbass jim hoft and jacob wohl: Robert Mueller was SERVING JURY DUTY IN DC the EXACT DAY you claimed he raped a woman in NYC (August 2, 2010). that's some surefire intelligence for ya pic.twitter.com/h1P0y85cAP— ˡᵛˡ ⁴⁵ XMAS POTUS (@thetomzone) October 30, 2018
The highlight of Wohl’s extremely public discrediting was people coming together to pick apart Surefire Intelligence, the “investigation firm” tied to offering women money to say they were assaulted by Mueller. Wohl repeatedly, vehemently denied being involved with Surefire Intelligence. In spite of those claims, the company’s official phone number redirected to his mother. You read that right, the 20-year-old wannabe political operative tried to use his mom’s phone in his big secret plan.
New from me + @brandyzadrozny + @tom_winter:— Ben Collins (@oneunderscore__) October 30, 2018
A company called “Surefire Intelligence” has ties to this Mueller smear.
Jacob Wohl denied having ties to Surefire.
Surefire’s official phone number redirects to a voicemail box registered to Jacob's mom.https://t.co/aVPzVDjGR4
The evidence against Wohl stacked up quickly. People found that pretty much all of the employees listed at SureFire Intelligence were not really working there.
Surefire Intelligence's "Financial Investigator" in Zurich is Christoph Waltz. What a great hire! pic.twitter.com/Leu1KLe0XC— Aric Toler (@AricToler) October 30, 2018
Wohl’s denial wasn’t helped by the fact that he tweeted about these “credible allegations” at the same time women were getting offers of money from Surefire Intelligence. Also, his partner in the scheme, Jack Burkman, just straight-up told journalists that Wohl ran Surefire Intelligence.
The gaffes were so thorough and so obvious that some people thought Wohl might have done it on purpose. But most people think he was just really bad at everything he was doing.
Jacob Wohl’s entire life pic.twitter.com/DnIs8sON0i— SwiftOnSecurity (@SwiftOnSecurity) October 30, 2018
10) That racist New York lawyer
Aaron Schlossberg went viral this summer when he was filmed freaking out in a Fresh Kitchen because a few customers and staff were speaking Spanish.
Who this this bigot in Midtown Manhattan? What's his name?— Shaun King (@shaunking) May 16, 2018
Please share this.
Here he is harassing & insulting two women for speaking Spanish...TO EACH OTHER in the middle of Manhattan.
Trump has empowered ugly white people like this to say whatever they feel like saying. pic.twitter.com/WbHlet6H7c
In the video, Schlossberg can be seen speaking to the manager. “Your clients and your staff are speaking Spanish to staff when they should be speaking English,” he says, trying to get the manager to enforce language on not just his own employees, but customers as well. He continued, “My guess is they’re undocumented, so my next call is to ICE to have each one of them taken out of my country. If they have the balls to come here and live off my money—I pay for their welfare. I pay for their ability to be here.”
Schlossberg was quickly identified but didn’t like being confronted over his actions. Hilarious videos of Schlossberg fleeing at a full sprint from reporters and hiding under his umbrella flooded Twitter.
Oh, Aaron Schlossberg, it must be awful to be accosted by a stranger when you're just trying to work and go about your day. pic.twitter.com/tndpgYB6VC— Greg Hogben (@MyDaughtersArmy) May 17, 2018
Schlossberg’s law firm was review-bombed on Yelp, and the business center the law office was located in said they were terminating their contract with him. Both a state representative and the Bronx borough president also submitted a formal complaint to have Schlossberg’s law license suspended.
The Latinx community of New York City had by far the best response to Schlossberg’s bigotry, though. A GoFundMe raised money to bring a mariachi band and taco truck outside of Schlossberg’s law office, where hundreds gathered to serenade Schlossberg with beautiful Spanish-language music.
Even though Schlossberg kicked off this whole saga by trying to intimidate Latinx New Yorkers, he ended up bringing many together for a song and dance party outside of his job. If that’s not poetic justice, we don’t know what is.
Alex Dalbey is a writer and zinester currently living in Saint Paul, Minnesota. They have written for The Daily Dot, Kill Screen, The Lingerie Addict, and Bullet Points.