Nothing Sacha Baron Cohen has done, leading up to today's release of "Borat," has been as controversial as Borat's performance in a rural country western bar of what he describes as a Kazakh folk song called "Throw the Jew Down the Well." The Anti-Defamation League heaped scorn on Cohen, writing: "While we understand this scene was an attempt to show how easily a group of ordinary people can be encouraged to join in an anti-Semitic chorus, we are concerned that the irony may have been lost on some of your audience or worse, that some of your viewers may have simply accepted Borat's statements about Jews at face value." It's tempting to scoff it off, blaming the ADL for p.c. humorlessness. But, as Stephanie Zacharek shrewdly explains here, great satire sometimes, inescapably, can be terrifically cruel.
Kerry Lauerman is Salon's Editor in Chief. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.