Words and Pictures By TJ Sullivan
Journalist, Author

Words and Pictures By TJ Sullivan
Journalist, Author

MyChicagoLife.com … All content made and assembled in the City of Chicago by TJ SullivanMyChicagoLife.com … Visit me on Twitter @My_Chicago_Life


The Pitfalls of Word Choice

By TJ Sullivan — July 26, 2016

Sarah Silverman could have said the wrong thing a thousand different ways last night, during the first prime-time hour of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

But she didn't.

Standing at the podium alongside Sen. Al Franken, Silverman found herself competing to be heard above the shouts and taunts of hundreds of self-described "Bernie or Bust" people, who'd made it their mission to torment anyone and everyone who took the convention stage.

The hecklers had worthy opponents in Franken and Silverman, both of whom are professional comics and therefore no strangers to being harassed during a performance, albeit never before a live television audience on all the major networks and a few minor ones. Regardless, no matter how adept the performer, no one is immune to mistakes. Some of America's most experienced comedians have responded to barbs from the audience with fury and indignation. This is one of the reasons YouTube was invented. And in those situations, no one but the comic suffers.

Of course, the source of this derisive behavior wasn't an intoxicated audience member, or some twisted celebrity stalker. This was a group of fellow Democrats expressing their heartfelt disappointment over the outcome of the primary, and venting their frustrations with the unfair treatment their candidate received from his own party. These Democrats didn't just vote for Sen. Bernie Sanders, they invested time and money and affection and admiration. Some of them have been involved in politics for decades. Others are young adults inspired by Sanders to become actively involved for the first time.

They aren't adversaries, they're allies with whom Silverman stood shoulder to shoulder for months.

Indeed, it's quite possible that one of the young voters among them could be a future president of the United States.

For those reasons, and many others, Silverman's word choice in that moment mattered a great deal.

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