All of [Sarah] Silverman’s controversies are essentially large-scale pieces of PC performance art—but instead of settling anything about race and humor in America, they just expose the incoherence of the debate. If her humor does have a larger purpose, it is that it maps the outer limits of our tolerance; it exposes ambiguities in the discussion that we don’t like to acknowledge; it taps into our giant unspoken mass of assumptions, tensions, fears, and hatreds—not to resolve them, but to remind us that they’re there.

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