controversy-n; 2 Senses

Sense Number 1: a state of strong disagreement, often public

Commentary: CONTROVERSY[+state][+disagreement][+strong]
NOTE: refers to a situation of disagreement, does not imply an actor/agent initiating it.

The election returns were enveloped in controversy.
Security laws passed to thwart terrorism have created some controversy.
The resignation of the university president finally ended the controversy. (the state existed before the president acted, so not Sense 2 - no initiation of a dispute implied)

WordNet 3.0 Sense Numbers: 1

Sense Number 2: the act of engaging in strong disputes

Commentary: CONTROVERSY[+activity][+dispute][+intense]
NOTE: implies an actor/agent who initiates the dispute.

He is a magazine writer skilled at controversy.
They were engaged in controversy over the merits of a new French film.
Mary tended to shy away from controversies started at lunch by her colleagues.

WordNet 0.0 Sense Numbers: 2