When organizers of the star-studded tech conference TED invited comedian Sarah Silverman to speak, they might not have known what they were getting themselves into.
The comic has made a name for herself by trafficking in the taboo. Abortion, AIDS, racist slurs, you name it -- for the raven-haired, silver-tongued Silverman, nothing seems to be out of bounds.
On the Web site for the elite Technology, Education and Design conference, which has previously hosted Al Gore, Richard Dawkins, Bill Gates and the Google founders, Silverman is described as "Brilliant, funny, political and always inappropriate."
Apparently, TED wasn't fully prepared for that kind of comedy.
After the comedienne spoke Friday at this year's TED idea conference in Long Beach, Calif., the event's curator Chris Anderson and AOL co-founder Steve Case took to Twitter to express their dismay.
Though Anderson appears to have deleted the comment from his feed, after Silverman's speech, he reportedly wrote, "I know I shouldn't say this about one of my own speakers, but I thought Sarah Silverman was god-awful…"
According to tech blog TechCrunch and others who attended the event, Silverman's talk featured a bit about wanting to adopt a "retarded" child, presumably in response to Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's recent campaign to ban the "R-word."
In response to Anderson's comment, Silverman hit back with a barb of her own.
"Kudos to @TEDChris for making TED an unsafe haven for all! You're a barnacle of mediocrity on Bill Gates' a**hole," she tweeted.
Case then joined the tweet-fest, posting Sunday, "Shame on you @SarahKSilverman." And then later, "The sad thing is you're not that funny."
Those tweets drew even more jibes from Silverman.
"@SteveCase You should be nicer to the last person on earth w an aol account," she wrote, escalating the exchange even further.
"I left AOL 10 yrs ago. You need new material," he wrote.
Silverman tweeted back the question, "is 2005 10 yrs ago already?," with a link to an October 2005 story announcing Case's resignation from the Time Warner board of directors.
Case responded, "I stepped down as CEO of AOL in 2000. By my count, that works out to 10 years."
Representatives for Silverman, Anderson and Case did not immediately respond to requests for comment from ABCNews.com. But a media contact for Anderson pointed out a blog post published on his Posterous account today, offering some "final thoughts" on the online "kerfuffle."
"Yes, we did know we were taking a risk booking her," he wrote. "She's a smart provocateur with a wide range of material."
But, he added that TED asked her to create a talk specifically for the event, excluding her "more extreme content."
"TED talks work best when the speaker shows up for the full conference and takes the time to absorb audience and context. Didn't happen," Anderson continued. "Call me stuffy, but I still think humor about terminally-ill 'retarded' kids is an acquired taste. And not a taste I personally want to acquire."
Though some of the audience "got her and loved her," he said, some were "sickened by her."
"TED is all for edginess, intelligent humor, and, in the right circumstance, provocation. TED is not so big on humiliation and debasement," he wrote. "There's a fine line between the two, and different people draw it in different places."