Remember sitting at the lunch table in high school and feeling spitballs land on the back of your neck courtesy of the bullies one table over? Remember coming back to your locker and finding the handle jammed up with bubble gum? Or finding that someone had torn off the detachable hood from your jacket and left it floating in a toilet bowl? Or realizing that no matter what happened, none of the jerks who did those things habitually would ever have anything happen to them?
It took years for me to realize it was the last item on that list that stung the most. Having my books stolen out of my bag and thrown out the window was a minor headache compared to the terminal illness of knowing the kids responsible would ever have so much as a finger waggled at them. Not by anyone in authority at the school; certainly not by their own parents.
The lack of consequences for being a jerk is not confined to high school. Consider the bullies of the adult political world, the Ann Coulters or the Rush Limbaughs or the Bill Mahers, When have they ever suffered any genuine, material consequences for their calumnies? When have they ever lost business, been shunned by authority, been booed on the street or walked out on in person?
One possible explanation is that nobody ever expected anything from them that demanded consequences in the first place. They’re “entertainers” or “pundits”, not setters of policy or carriers of genuine responsibility. But that's as disingenuous argument as there is, especially when people are more inclined to take a blowhard more seriously just because s/he happens to tell someone what they really want to hear.