Voices: From Donald Trump to CM Punk: is 2023 the year toxic men finally get their comeuppance?

Punk and Trump are among several prominent men who finally got their just desserts this year  (Getty)
Punk and Trump are among several prominent men who finally got their just desserts this year (Getty)

There’s a great, now-deleted tweet by American comedian and writer Jesse Farrar that reads:

“Well, I’d like to see ol Donny Trump wriggle his way out of THIS jam!

Trump wriggles his way out of the jam easily

Ah! Well. Nevertheless,”

The context is pretty obvious: in 2016 Donald Trump was well on his way to winning the presidential election, despite a string of statements and actions that could generously be described as “gaffes” but could un-generously be described as “a terrifying glimpse deep into his rotten soul”. Since then the tweet has remained somewhat evergreen: Trump does something that would get a normal person banned from a McDonald’s (never mind the presidency), the liberal left crows about how “this is it, this is the one”, and then Donald Trump continues on being extremely rich and powerful.

That’s why a lot of us didn’t really know what to do with ourselves these past few months when, against all reason and logic, Donald Trump actually seemed to begin facing some sort of consequences for his actions. Trump was indicted by a grand jury for his efforts to overturn his 2020 electoral defeat in Georgia, bringing the total number of criminal cases the former president is facing to four. We even got a mugshot out of the deal. God bless America.

If that wasn’t enough to satisfy your need for total-justified schadenfreude, senior Proud Boys member Ethan Nordean was recently sentenced to 18 years in prison for his involvement in the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol. If you aren’t familiar with the Proud Boys, they’re a far-right group with a history of political violence in service of the cause of fascism. They’re also huge dorks, but that doesn’t make them any less dangerous.

In all honesty, the Capitol riots have been a buffet of well-deserved punishment, with more than 1,000 arrests having been made in conjunction with the attack. Nordean, however, is a cut above the rest due to both the severity of his punishment and his key role in assisting the violent neo-fascist organisation, proving definitively that sometimes it really is about quality over quantity.

And who could forget our dear old former premier Boris Johnson, who proved that you can only lie to the British public a few thousand times before they won’t let you be in charge of the entire country anymore. Sure, his version of “accountability” may involve a lucrative column at the Daily Mail, but since he’s now officially been branded a liar by court order it means I can use that word to describe him in this newspaper as much as I want, which feels like a win in my book.

It seems to be part of a heartening trend that goes well beyond the political sphere. Professional wrestler CM Punk was officially fired from All Elite Wrestling yesterday, after becoming involved in a violent incident with fellow wrestler “Jungle Boy” Jack Perry that spilled over to involve the company’s billionaire owner Tony Khan. The incident was the culmination of two years of malfeasance by the so-called “best in the world” (which is a nickname that only sounds cool until people realise you picked it yourself), including brawling with the company’s executive vice presidents following a pay-per-view last year. Like the other men in this article, Punk was able to hold on to his position despite his behaviour due to his popularity and perceived indispensability to the company, despite being a clearly toxic locker room presence.

I know that Punk isn’t quite on the same level as some of these other examples, but as a wrestling fan, it’s just heartening to see some accountability in an industry that sees so little. And to such a deserving candidate, at that. Wrestling may be fake, but what are you going to do, brother, when basic human decency runs wild on you?

All in all, after what feels like a never-ending run of news stories about powerful and influential men being granted a pass for their behaviour, despite repeatedly doing things that would get you or me excommunicated from public life, it’s heartening to finally see some scant evidence that, hey, maybe the system really does work.

Beware, those who f*** around – this may just be the year that you find out.