Sarah Silverman torches a guy mocking welfare recipients in a very Sarah Silverman way.
Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images.

A senator, author, and comedian walked into a bar — er, signed onto Twitter — but the "joke" that got told failed to impress.

In fact, it was wrong in more ways than one.

It all started on Feb. 5, 2018, when Sen. Tammy Duckworth blasted President Trump online for having suggested it was treasonous for Democrats to not clap for him at the State of the Union. That assertion didn't sit well with the Democrat from Illinois.



"We don't live in a dictatorship or a monarchy," she retorted, refusing to "cater to the whims of Cadet Bone Spurs" by clapping only when he sees fit.

"Cadet Bone Spurs," of course, was a jab at Trump, who infamously avoided the draft as a young man due to apparent bone spurs in his heels.  


Conservative author Jack Posobiec took offense to Duckworth's remarks, insinuating the senator was a hypocrite for using "juvenile language."

That's when Silverman jumped in.

Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Trevor Project.

"Oh Jack — another misunderstanding!" she tweeted, clearly having interacted with Posobiec before. "The left doesn’t have a problem [with Trump's] choice of words or that he’s crass or some shit — it’s the actual CONTENT — that he’s accusing actual treason [because Democrats] didn’t CLAP for him."

Posobiec answered with a "joke" that didn't really add up — and also pushed a harmful stereotype.

"Are you OK, Sarah?" he wrote. "Your eye is so lazy it’s collecting welfare."

"I’m trying to understand your joke," Silverman responded. "That people on welfare are lazy?"

She continued: "Wait — so people who receive welfare (ie most 40 hr/wk employees who work 4 the Walton family, 1 of the richest families in the world) are lazy? Is that the joke? Sorry! Need help 2 understand ur funny joke!"

Silverman touched on an important point: Why do people think welfare recipients are lazy?

As she noted, many workers at Walmart, one of America's wealthiest companies, are forced to rely on government assistance because their employer — and many other corporations like it — pays them such low wages. A 2014 report, for instance, found Walmart workers cost taxpayers $6.2 billion in public assistance. In other words, instead of Walmart paying their workers higher wages, you — the taxpayer — end up footing the bill.

It's not welfare recipients' "laziness" that's costing Americans — it's corporate greed.

Photo by J.D. Pooley/Getty Images.

Posobiec quipped that "next time" he'd "use more profanity" so that Silverman would be able to "keep up."

And in typical Silverman fashion, the comedian responded in earnest: "No! I really didn't get it! Can [you] explain?"

"Also, I see ur a sci-fi fan," she wrote, assumedly having read a line in Posobiec's Twitter bio. "Next generation or voyager? I loved Next Gen (Data: swoon!) but I was in Voyager! Or no trek? 2001?"

To that, Posobiec didn't reply.

Silverman's seamless segue into nerd culture banter may seem disingenuous, seeing as she and Posobiec appeared to be clawing at each other's throats. But recently, Silverman's made efforts to reach across the aisle in order to build bridges instead of walls. Earlier this month, she befriended an internet troll who'd been belittling her — and later paid for his medical treatment too.

We don't all have the luxury to cover hospital bills for strangers online, of course. But we can fight mischaracterizations about those less fortunate by using facts and a little friendliness (and maybe even pepper in a little nerd culture along the way).

Props, Sarah.

True

When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

Those of us raising teenagers now didn't grow up with social media. Heck, the vast majority of us didn't even grow up with the internet. But we know how ubiquitous social media, with all of its psychological pitfalls, has become in our own lives, so it's not a big stretch to imagine the incredible impact it can have on our kids during their most self-conscious phase.

Sharing our lives on social media often means sharing the highlights. That's not bad in and of itself, but when all people are seeing is everyone else's highlight reels, it's easy to fall into unhealthy comparisons. As parents, we need to remind our teens not to do that—but we also need to remind them that other people will do that, which is why kindness, empathy, and inclusiveness are so important.

Writer and mother of three teen daughters, Whitney Fleming, shared a beautiful post on Facebook explaining what we need to teach our teenagers about empathy in the age of social media, and how we ourselves can serve as an example.

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