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.
We don't live in a dictatorship or a monarchy. I swore an oath—in the military and in the Senate—to preserve, prote… https://t.co/DZoAN6ltMm— Tammy Duckworth (@Tammy Duckworth)1517875454.0
"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."
Oh Jack- another misunderstanding! The left doesn’t have a problem w his choice of words or that he’s crass or som… https://t.co/z67nWaTe8L— Sarah Silverman (@Sarah Silverman)1517939004.0
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!"
I’m trying to understand your joke. That people on welfare are lazy? Wait -so people who receive welfare (ie most… https://t.co/N0jGyQTfU2— Sarah Silverman (@Sarah Silverman)1517958157.0
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?"
No! I really didn’t get it! Can u explain? Also I see ur a sci-fi fan- next generation or voyager? I loved Next Gen… https://t.co/1BXmBuuEoy— Sarah Silverman (@Sarah Silverman)1517959457.0
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).