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.

RODNAE Productions via Pexels
True

The past year has changed the way a lot of people see the world and brought the importance of global change to the forefront. However, even social impact entrepreneurs have had to adapt to the changing circumstances brought on by the Coronavirus pandemic.

"The first barrier is lack of funding. COVID-19 has deeply impacted many of our supporters, and we presume it will continue to do so. Current market volatility has caused many of our supporters to scale back or withdraw their support altogether," said Brisa de Angulo, co-founder of A Breeze of Hope Foundation, a non-profit that prevents childhood sexual violence in Bolivia and winner of the 2020 Elevate Prize.

To help social entrepreneurs scale their impact for the second year in a row, The Elevate Prize is awarding $5 million to 10 innovators, activists, and problem–solvers who are making a difference in their communities every day.

"We want to see extraordinary people leading high-impact projects that are elevating opportunities for all people, elevating issues and their solutions, or elevating understanding of and between people," The Elevate Prize website states.

Founded in 2019 by entrepreneur and philanthropist Joseph Deitch, The Elevate Prize is dedicated to giving unsung social entrepreneurs the necessary resources to scale their impact and to ultimately help inspire and awaken the hero in all of us.

"The Elevate Prize remains committed to finding a radically diverse group of innovative problem solvers and investing unconventional and personalized resources that bring greater visibility to them as leaders and the vital work they do. We make good famous," said Carolina García Jayaram, executive director, Elevate Prize Foundation.

The application process will take place in two phases. Applicants have till May 5 for Phase 1, which will include a short written application. A select number of those applicants will then be chosen for Phase 2, which includes a more robust set of questions later this summer. Ten winners will be announced in October 2021.

In addition to money, winners will also receive support from The Elevate Prize to help amplify their mission, achieve their goals, and receive mentorship and industry connections.

Last year, 1,297 candidates applied for the prize.

The 10 winners include Simprints, a UK-based nonprofit implementing biometric solutions to give people in the developing world hope and access to a better healthcare system; ReThink, a patented, innovative app that detects offensive messages and gives users a chance to reconsider posting them; and Guitars Over Guns, an organization bridging the opportunity gap for youth from vulnerable communities through transformational access to music, connectivity, and self-empowerment.

You can learn more about last year's winners, here.

If you know of someone or you yourself are ready to scale your impact, apply here today.

Maybe it's because I'm a writer, but I'm a bit of a pen snob. Even if I'm just making a list, I look for a pen that grips well, flows well, doesn't put too much or too little ink into the paper, is responsive-but-not-too-responsive to pressure, and doesn't suddenly stop working mid-stroke.

In other words, the average cheap ballpoint pen is out. (See? Snob.)

However, Oscar Ukono is making me reevaluate my pen snobbery. Because while I'm over here turning up my nose at the basic Bic, he's using them to create things like this:

Keep Reading Show less
Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less