The Quest | The Free Press of Reed College

Comedian Under Fire for “misogynistic, racist, and homophobic” Comments

The following article contains extreme profanity. Reader discretion is advised.Sal Rodriguez’s routine has drawn intense criticism for being “blatantly misogynistic, racist, and homophobic.” Rodriguez says, “My performance, like much of comedy, is predicated on transgression, on playing upon the pretensions and anxieties of the crowd.”

Controversy roiled Saturday at a stand-up comedy show in the Student Union. During comedian Sal Rodriguez’s set, a student took the stage and grabbed the microphone from Rodriguez to criticize him for what she called his “blatantly misogynistic, racist, and homophobic” performance.

Debate has continued since the event, with a discussion and support group hosted by the Feminist Student Union on Monday, and discussion of a possible honor case against Rodriguez. Rodriguez, for his part, said via email, “I apologize for nothing.”

According to the accounts of students present at the performance, Rodriguez made jokes about diversity, gender pay equality, and Reed’s campus discussions about rape and sexual assault. He said that the audience “sit and watch [sic] as I trash talked them,” as he put it via email after the event. He called the audience out for this, calling them “faggoty pussies.”

Rodriguez quotes himself from a transcript of a video he says he has of the performance: “I don’t know what it is about this fucking school, but we have fucking signs everywhere just talking about ‘diversity’ and then we have signs saying ‘don’t rape people.’ It’s just fucking everywhere—‘diversity is fantastic and don’t rape people here.’ ‘You have to not rape someone to have a good time.’” On the topic of pay disparity, he quotes himself as saying, “I support equal pay for equal work. And women as a group do not perform equal work.”

Though Rodriguez has declined to share the video of the night in question, another person with access to the video has allowed The Quest to view it. It corroborates the quotations reported by Rodriguez, shows racially charged comments he made, and demonstrates the extent to which he antagonized the crowd.

He referred to one person, whose racial background was not clear from the video, as a “sand nigger.” When another spectator was talking in the front row, he criticized them, calling talking at shows “the negro way.”

He also gave the audience a good deal of provocation. “You should be fucking outraged, and you’re fucking sitting here like a bunch of little bitches, and then after the show you fucking bitch to Sean about it,” he said, as he criticized the crowd for a passive reaction to his antagonization. Later, he was quiet for a long stretch, then suddenly shouted, “You fucking just sit there like a bunch of bitches, what the fuck is wrong with you?”

“What would you do?” asked a spectator.

“I wouldn’t come here,” he replied.

Many audience members responded negatively; some attendees say that some people may have been crying.  One female attendee shouted back at Rodriguez. He responded directly, as attendees recall, calling her a “loud-mouthed cunt.”

The audience member then took the stage and grabbed the microphone, telling Rodriguez off for the offensive nature of his comedy. Due to the sensitive nature of what she said onstage, she has asked not to be named to protect her privacy.

According to the video, she said, “Sit the fuck down… Is this what you were waiting for? Is this what you were waiting for? Do you want to hear ‘fuck you your jokes aren’t funny because I was raped here?’ Do you want to hear that fuck you women aren’t in math and science fields because of fucked up male mentorship? Sit the fuck down.” Witnesses, including the girl who took the stage, also upheld the overall accuracy, if not the word-for-word correctness, of this version.

Later, when Sean Howard put an end to the dispute, Rodriguez and the girl continued shouting at one another. “Save this for after the show,” said Howard. “We’re trying to be funny.”

Throughout the set, Rodriguez received laughter, sometimes enthusiastically, though there were stretches with no laughs at all. When the girl who took the stage criticized him, she received cheers and applause as well.

Free speech or hate speech?

But the disagreements persist. The audience member who took the stage says, in a statement that she requested only be reproduced in full: “This was not offensive comedy. This was hate speech. His words were blatantly misogynistic, racist, and homophobic. These were not jokes—there was never a punchline or a hint of irony. He did not use slurs to engage in a conceptual discussion. He targeted and caused harm to specific groups of people. Please recognize his actions for what they were.”

Rodriguez remains unapologetic for his act. Comedy, he says, “is a means of expression and communicating a message. One may not like the message, the means by which the message is expressed, or neither, but that goes for all forms of artistic expression. My performance, like much of comedy, is predicated on transgression, on playing upon the pretensions and anxieties of the crowd.” Rodriguez, who has performed at Reed stand-up events before, claims this is the first time someone has told him they had a problem with his act.

He also says he doesn’t regret the interaction with the audience member. “Audience members in a comedy show don’t have a right to not to be offended. They only have a right to decide whether or not to attend or stay,” he says. “As I see it, hecklers deserve whatever response they get. Unless audience members are invited to speak (as I did allow at one point), they have no right to interfere with a performance.”

Even Reed’s performing comics don’t all agree on these points. “The implicit philosophy of the club (as I’ve understood it) is that anyone can go on stage who wants to, and while you are on stage, you can say whatever you want. This is typical of comedy clubs across the country,” says Brett “Boots” Beutell, who performs stand-up with Reed College Comedy Club, or RKKK, the group that hosts the SU stand-up events. There have been two other shows in this semester, RKKK’s first.

However, Beutell says, while some argue that audience members should never interfere, “in the context of Sal’s bit, which involved accusing the audience of being ‘pussy-ass bitches’ for sitting there and passively taking his barrage of insults, it seemed pretty apt that at least one person started to yell back at him.”

Beutell says Rodriguez “has done racist and sexist bits at Reed in the past. I’ve seen him perform to both uproarious laughter and stunned silence with the same bit on two separate occasions. Very odd.”

Another comedian who performed Saturday and wished to remain unnamed calls Rodriguez’s act “angry and hateful.” The comedian says, “I don’t really care,” but felt that “when he blew up at one Reedie in particular, that’s when he crossed the line.” That comedian went on, “I don’t want to see this kind of speech policed at Reed, but I wish we had more of a way to deal with idiots who want to abuse their power. I wish this could just be a common sense thing… I think it’d be good if Reed could be better in general with trigger warnings.”

Advertisements for the show bore the warning “This show will contain seriously offensive material.” Howard, the show’s organizer and another stand-up comic, says he decided to include the warnings after he received word of complaints about the content of this semester’s other shows. As for the effects of this event on the club, he says, “There won’t be any changes to the stand up events in the future as a result of this, except for maybe a rule along the lines of ‘Don’t bumrush the stage.’”

Audience members, too, have their own views about when it is acceptable to interrupt a performer. “You can’t say things like ‘I believe in equal pay for equal work, but women don’t do as much work as men’ and not expect people to get upset and want to say something in response,” says one audience member who asked not to be named because of “general shyness.” She goes on, “And I think that’s all the performer was doing – seeing how far he could go before someone stopped him. He almost seemed pleased when the mic got taken away.”

Joel Hawkins, a student who was at the show, differs with Rodriguez over the comedic value of the performance. “In an environment like Reed, it’s unbelievable that a seemingly intelligent person would be so violently misogynistic and at the same time seem completely solemn, adamant, and sincere,” he says. “That concept is so farcical that it seems like it could only be the facetious commentary of tasteless irony, but as far as I can tell, it wasn’t.”

Along with the Feminist Student Union’s support event Monday, affected parties have discussed the possibility of an honor case against Rodriguez. One student plans to stage a walkout the next time he performs. Rodriguez responds, “I find it silly that someone would be so activist about a comedy routine. If anyone wants to make a difference in the world, they should go volunteer somewhere in the greater community, where there are lots of actual problems that should yield ‘outrage’—not ‘outrage’ over an artistic performance at some uppity liberal arts college on a Saturday night.”

Beutell says the issue falls in a “murky area.” Comedy, he says, “is not inherently safe, nor is it inherently inclusive.”

As he puts it: “The Honor Principle and comedy have a tenuous relationship.”


Student Services has released the following comment:

“Student Services is aware of the concerns over the content of the comedy show on Saturday night. The administration takes these reports very seriously. Jyl Shaffer, Assistant Dean of Students for Sexual Assault Prevention and Response, is our point person for collecting student concerns about this event. Anyone who would like to share their experience from the show can contact Jyl Shaffer, either in person (in 28 West), by e-mail ( or by phone (503-517-7966). Reports can be made anonymously. If students need additional support we encourage them to seek the assistance of the Health & Counseling Center.”

This story has been revised to reflect the following correction: Sean Howard is a senior, not a junior.

This story has been updated to reflect the following change: This story originally stated that Rodriguez had not responded to a request for the video; he has now declined to share it, though another person, who prefers to remain anonymous, has shared the video with The Quest.

222 Responses to “Comedian Under Fire for “misogynistic, racist, and homophobic” Comments”
  1. All,

    I encourage commenters to use their real names in their responses. There are obviously cases where there are legitimate reasons for replying anonymously, and I won’t begin refusing comments simply because they are anonymous—though a review of The Quest’s comment policy is in order—but using one’s real name should increase the quality of this conversation and dissipate any hostile atmosphere that has developed. At the least, I see it as a sign of respect for those who are using their names.

    And a general reminder: keep it civil. Don’t make ad hominem attacks. The Honor Principle prevails, but I am moderating these comments and have denied a few, nonetheless.

    The date of this post has been modified so that it will appear at the top of the comment section; I am posting it at 3:57 on November 24.

    Questions or concerns may be directed to me at

    Kieran Hanrahan
    Quest [Web] Editor

    • Allen Isaacson says:

      At the bottom of this page, it says, “The Quest | The Free Press of Reed College.” I ask only that you keep this in mind when moderating. Thank you.

      • Manuel Arturo Abreu Rodriguez says:


        I am absolutely certain that Kieran will be doing that. He’s an upstanding member of the community with an obligation to honest, productive dialogue.

        As well, please keep in mind that you have commented both on this page and in response to Auden’s letter that you believe Sal’s performance justifies legal action against him, and that it is not protected by the First Amendment. How come you are advocating freedom of expression in your comment here, but argue in your other comments that Sal should not have freedom of expression? The First Amendment applies to everyone, and it protects all freedom of expression.


    • Shantanu Chatterjee says:

      I don’t know if it’s wise at this point to contribute to this discussion, because I doubt I have anything original to say–but I’ll give my two cents worth anyway. My name’s Shaan and I performed prior to Sal. All of Sal’s sets were funny to me, and were also offensive to me. I liked his sets because in them, Sal’s bigoted character voiced views that are seldom heard at Reed (or at most predominantly liberal communities), however false I think those views are. I’d just like to say that I don’t think anonymous girl should have got up on stage and interrupt the performance. Some have argued that at least one point during Sal’s set, it was difficult (if not impossible) to determine whether Sal was acting or being ‘serious’. Even if he was being serious, he was still on stage. At a SHOW that was explicitly advertised as a COMEDY show. Not a drama show, not reality television. My point is that, if I accept that it’s justified for an audience member to interrupt a performance if she is offended, then so many performances would get interrupted that the concept ‘performance’ would be meaningless. If when Eddie Murphy used the word ‘faggot’ in his ’80s sets a LGBTQ person got up on stage and told Murphy to “sit the fuck down” until the show stopped, then we wouldn’t have the comedic masterpieces (ex. Delirious and Raw) that Murphy produced. As someone who does stand-up sometimes, I hope that I can make jokes about Indian people (I’m Indian, by the way) without another Indian person to interrupt me and ruin my set.

      If you see any holes or logical flaws in my argument, please respond.


      • Jennifer Turner, '12 says:

        A number of people have pointed to the fact that this was a show/performance in regards to the inappropriateness of the girl’s getting up on stage and interrupting. Normally this would make sense, but in this case, wasn’t Sal specifically berating the audience for their passivity? To quote the above article, “You fucking just sit there like a bunch of bitches, what the fuck is wrong with you?” That, followed by a pointed (and in my opinion derogatory) insult at the girl in question, seems to me to break the inviolability of a performance and the sanctified division between audience and stage. So, normally I would agree, storming a stage is not at all an appropriate response, but in this case, it seems to me that a different variety of context was created by Sal, whether or not it was his intent. (Please note, that I was not in attendance.)

        • KC Lewis says:

          I agree with the first post that it is inappropriate to interrupt a performance, even if it is offensive. You can’t have a dialogue unless each person gets to finish talking. The performer should get to fully express him or herself, then anyone is free to respond in whatever format he or she wishes.
          That said, I also agree with Ms. Turner that there was something of an ambiguous invitation for audience participation in this case, so it is harder for me to say outright that the interruption was inappropriate. That being said, I think the use of any amount of physical force in retaliation for mere speech is inappropriate.

        • Shantanu Chatterjee says:

          Sal did indeed berate the audience for their passivity. He said something along the lines of people not doing anything when they had beef with what he said (and called the audience ‘faggoty pussies’ for it). Now, the statement ‘It was inevitable that someone was going to interrupt the performance because they were explicitly provoked’ is a factual claim, a true one I think. But the statement ‘Whoever interrupted the performance was justified in doing so because they were provoked’ is a normative claim, with which I disagree. Sal (or at least his comedic persona) did criticize the audience for their passivity, but it was all part of his performance. I don’t think the audience/stage distinction is ‘inviolable’ or sacred, but if it isn’t acknowledged, then how are there to be complete performances? If we take this case of interrupting a performance as a justified precedent, then all future performances are doomed to incompleteness.

          • Shantanu Chatterjee says:

            In other words, the separation of audience and performance isn’t ‘objective’ or ‘absolute’, but for most performances, it’s a pragmatic one that should be recognized by attendants.

    • mc says:

      Glad to see political correctness controversies are alive and well at Reed :D

      PS holy shit it’s only 5:20 over there!

  2. *********** says:

    If you defend what you say by saying “it’s free speech,” your argument is: “at least the horrible shit I’m saying isn’t illegal.” We don’t accept that kind of legalistic defense at Reed. We defend what we do by appeals to honor.

    This “comedy” is not subversive. If it were, its purpose would be to SUBVERT the current power structure (see: Lenny Bruce, George Carlin). Instead, it reinforces that power structure (see: South Park, Daniel Tosh, Dane Cook). It’s totally regressive. Just awful, awful misogynistic bullshit.

    • Sal Rodriguez says:

      I never said “it’s free speech” as a defense. I’m just reminding everyone that it is comedy (or “”comedy”” as you call it) show. People actually laughed during the set on Saturday. I know how much that probably kills the people who were offended and those who weren’t there but need something to be offended about, but that’s what happened. It was a comedy show. A comedy performance. A stand-up comedy performance. If you don’t like it, don’t go. If you’re there and don’t like my set, quietly leave, as some adults did.

      • You're Not TheAmazingAtheist, stop it says:

        This is the equivalent of a “DON’T LIKE, DON’T READ” on a thirteen year-old’s fan profile. Learn to take criticism and grow up.

        • What he’s saying is that comedy shows aren’t forced performances. In other words, unlike a fire drill in your dorm, you are not forced to actually go there. Your attendance is optional, and you can leave at any time. Further, if you want to perform, you can, but you also can’t interrupt other people’s performances. (If you think you can, then they have every right to interrupt *your* performance, and everyone can interrupt everyone else’s performance, and then no one can perform.) For comedy shows to even exist, they have to go by this sort of rule, or else the show’s format isn’t sustainable and everything is in constant disorder.

      • Alum says:

        Why the FUCK should people “quietly leave” when you offend and/or trigger them? Why are you the only one who gets to have a voice?

        • Sal Rodriguez says:

          Practically speaking, if someone has been offended or triggered, they probably won’t be laughing and will just be hurting themselves if they can’t handle a comedy show that was advertised bearing a warning that offensive material would be presented by a comedian who has a reputation for “offensive material” in a show that was started with a moment of silence for “sticks and stones.”

          Performers should be allowed to perform their material. Even if its to an empty room if they reserved it.

          • Alum says:

            Okay, next time you want to sling hate speech, why don’t you go ahead and reserve that empty room? If you feel entitled to an uninterrupted performance, that’s where you can get it. Otherwise, audience members have a right to act on their feelings, to protect themselves and their community, and to call you out. Being a performer does not protect you from other people’s actions and/or reactions — in fact, it does the opposite.

            • Daniel M. Levitan says:

              And yet, Hollywood exists. Your point has been defeated by the first words out of your mouth. This is why I went to the University of Oregon, a superior university to that of “Weed” Reed College.

              • Jordan Horowitz says:

                Dear Dude Who Replied To A Months-Old Issue With Literal Nonsense,

                In the future, you can just say “Weed College”.



            • Audience members actually do not have a right to interrupt a performance act, if you’re using “right” in the way that I think you are. The woman who interrupted him has the *ability* to interrupt him, in the sense that she is physically able to interrupt someone, but there is no clause in the organization of comedy performances that says “audience members are entitled to interrupt as they please.” To equate the physical ability to interrupt with a “right” to interrupt is might makes right — all that’s required to counter you is that the performer be larger than the interrupter is, so that the interrupter can’t physically grab the mic from the performer.

              But perhaps you mean that audience members *are justified* in interrupting someone if what they are saying is sufficiently horrendous. This would only be true if you had a limited number of timeslots for each performance, and you had to make a choice between one performer or another, such as on American Idol. If everyone is showing up by their own volition, then no, you aren’t justified in interrupting a performance.

              Finally, calling this “protecting yourselves and your community” is self-aggrandizing. You are merely shouting over a performance; you are not carrying tactical weaponry and taking down gangs or violent criminals. This wording is grandiose and pretentious, and is an attempt to glorify a shouting match.

        • Forrest York says:

          The reason people should leave quietly, is because they do not have the right not to be offended. But more importantly, what good does yelling at someone do? The world is way too big for us to make others and ourselves unhappy by yelling and screaming about something that could be easily forgotten and be replaced with something entertaining and non offensive.

          Yelling about stuff is what causes real problems, just be mature enough to walk away from the idiot spouting nonsense rather than engaging them on their own level.

        • A comedy show is a non-forced performance. That is, you’re there to see who is performing, and the onus is on you to leave or stay. Your argument would hold weight if you were forced to see the show, but you’re not. The people who “get to have a voice” are the performers: you’re there to see them. If you want to have a voice, you’re welcome to perform yourself. This is how it works normally in comedy, anyway.

          An aside: I think, based on your vocabulary — “trigger”, “the power structure” — that we can get a rough idea of where you are, ideologically speaking, and that you’re firmly entrenched with the leagues of Social Justice bloggers/tumblr-users who typify the usual outrage against this sort of thing. (I also question whether you’re actually an alum. I am not, for transparency’s sake.)

    • htay says:

      south park is progressive in every way possible

    • Marcus Phillips says:

      Seriously, do even watch south park? That IS ironic comedy that points out the flaws with the current power structure, and doesn’t try to defend or justify them. It throws the truth about society in your face without apology and leaves it up to you to decide how you feel about it and if you’re willing to do anything to change it.

    • Sometimes people disagree about which things shouldn’t be said. You don’t want to take sides in the obvious cases at the cost of taking sides in the not-so-obvious cases. What’s the relevant difference between the extreme cases where someone says something that everybody finds offensive and the less extreme cases where only an overwhelming majority or even just a moderate majority find it offensive? You don’t want to cut someone off in the extreme cases if that creates a precedent for cutting someone off in the less extreme cases. It just happens that in this situation the opinions you favor are in the majority, but in other situations the opinions you oppose might be in the majority, and you wouldn’t want such a community to have the power to shut people up in that case.

    • Offense is at least partially derived from how you think the world should be and what you think is acceptable or not acceptable. Most people tend to get their ideas of acceptability from norms. If you’re offending someone, you’re at the very least going against what they think should be ideal, and probably going against what they think should be the norm. Sal’s comedy is very probably anti-normative, and can be thought of as subversive or transgressive in this way.

      You seem to think that it’s not possible to be subversive unless it is anti-institutional. It’s very clear where you stand, ideologically — “the current power structure” is derived from post-Marxist theorists, yes? Either way, you seem to be interpreting what “the power structure” is in a very broad way, and your criteria aren’t clear.

      By contrast, if drop “power structure” all together — more sensible than you’d think, since it gets rid of the business of interpreting what is ‘power’ and what isn’t — you can easily think of comedy in terms of the anti-normative, since power structures would be a subset of the normative anyway.

  3. herpderp says:

    I must take issue with this article. He had almost no racist material on this particular show. I was deeply disappointed.

    • *SO* activist says:

      “almost no racist material”

      Any racist material is too much racist material. But maybe you missed that bit where Sal called a fellow performer a “sand n*****”

      • Sal Rodriguez says:

        Yes. It was a joke. I said: “A sand nigger trying to be a nigger.” He got that joke. Everyone got the joke. You had to be there and see his act to understand my joke. It was a joke. It was a comedy show.

        • *SO* activist says:

          Oh, I was there. If you had written what you said on a wall somewhere, it would be considered a hate crime. Because you said it out loud, under the guise of performance, you can make yourself a martyr for “free speech” at the expense of the well-being of your fellow students, slaughtering honor in the process. You say that art is a means of communicating a message. I guess I am just confused about what your message is, or where the humor lies.

          • Sal Rodriguez says:

            First, I’ve never said anything about “free speech.” It’s one way to frame the discussion over the show, but not one I’ve said anything about.
            Secondly, if you’re interested in what my performance is about, ask. Shoot me an email or ask me in person.
            Thirdly, there is a distinction between the on-stage persona and myself. I would be on board with considering someone an asshole if they said the kinds of things I said on stage in a conference, for example, or in Commons. But that wasn’t the case. It was a comedy show. And even worse, the joke in which I referenced rape was a joke that seemingly everyone understood to be a mocking of how pathetic it is that Reedies need to be reminded of the need for consent.

  4. Katelyn Best says:

    I really think the emphasis in this article is misplaced. The thing that was so weird about this act was that there was really no attempt at humor. There were one or two jokes, and otherwise all he was doing was standing onstage yelling his weird political views at the audience. I’ve seen him before, and I’ve seen him tell what could be described as offensive jokes. There is a clear difference between (potentially) offensive humor and this recent act, which was just a bizarre display of disdain for the audience and what he perceived to be their beliefs.

    More than anything, the whole thing was just kind of surreal. It was really hard to tell what he was trying to accomplish beyond insulting everyone. I don’t even mean this in the sense that he was being “edgy” by talking about race or gender, and that some people could’ve been offended; he was literally just trying his hardest to be a huge dick to everyone present for no apparent reason. It really couldn’t be described as comedy. Maybe Sal thought it was funny, but no one in the audience would have thought that.

    As for why we in the audience were sitting there like a bunch of “faggoty pussies,” the reason is that when people go to comedy shows, they expect jokes to be told onstage, and it tends to feel very strange and catch you off guard when instead you get a barrage of insults hurled at you.

    • Sal Rodriguez says:

      That’s funny, because I recall quite a bit of laughter. Sorry you take yourself so seriously :(

      • You're Not TheAmazingAtheist, stop it says:

        Sal, you’re a psych major. You know about confirmation bias. Maybe apply that kind of stuff to yourself? I’m sure you’ve heard of the false-consensus effect.

        Also you talked about how women don’t do equal work, even though myriad studies have disproved that statement. Would you like sources? Are you after discussion, or just incoherent yelling from both sides?

        Also, please decide if the audience is ‘faggoty pussies’ or ‘hecklers’ who deserve what comes to them. Either they are allowed to respond (which you quite obviously want them to do) or not.

        I appreciate that you do not apologize for your art. That is admirable. However, you have hurt people (not just trust fund liberals looking for reasons to be offended– it’s a little strange that you’re cultivating this ‘martyr for free speech’ routine when you are actively seeking this sort of reaction).

        The problem with George Carlin wasn’t his comedy, it was everyone else thinking they could be George Carlin.

      • anon says:

        Quit being a dick. Your “comedy” just amounts to standing around and being a bigot for a few minutes. I’d be less offened if you even attempted to be funny, instead of ranting about how much you hate minorities. If I wanted that shit I’d hang out with my grandparents, jeeze.

      • Katelyn Best says:

        I’d say “quite a bit” is stretching it. There was some laughter. I laughed at the lamppost joke. In the past, I have even laughed at your “trying to call my friend a nigger” story, which I know is pretty unbelievable for a pussy-faggot liberal who takes myself super seriously. Not many people would interpret “do you support Obamacare? Do you really want the government in charge of healthcare? You fucking liberal pussy bitches, what I can’t believe about you is how you want women to get equal pay! And you just sit there and take it!” (paraphrasing here) as a joke. Mostly I remember dumbstruck silence and some murmuring about when a joke was going to happen. It was WEIRD in there. If you honestly don’t think the atmosphere was, for the most part, just incredibly uncomfortable, you’re deluding yourself.

        • Sal Rodriguez says:

          That’s a shame that you consider yourself a pussy-faggot liberal. That said, your paraphrasing of the jokes shows that you completely misinterpreted every part of my act.

          And yes, the atmosphere I create is part of the performance.

  5. anon says:

    Sal, please share the video to allow the greater community to participate in this discussion. No one can accuse or defend something entirely accurately without seeing it in its entirety. If you “apologize for nothing” please show us what you’re not apologizing for.

    • Neil Anderson says:

      I think anon really makes a good point conceptually, and a release of the video would probably settle things instantly. But also consider that the release of this video could potentially be very damaging to not only everyone in it but also the Reed community as a whole.

      • Sal Rodriguez says:

        Having written, performed, and watched the act–the whole discussion over this act is probably causing more damage than the act did. Watching it will be anti-climactic at best and probably render this whole uproar even more ridiculous than it already looks. But, I will not do so until all investigations are completed and it is decided whether or not students will be filing an honor case.

    • Catherine says:

      Sharing the video will only increase the likelihood this appears in the newspaper

  6. Sal Rodriguez says:

    Only at Reed could a long-haired, Chicano vegetarian who jokes about how sad it is that we need to be reminded to get consent become the symbol of the patriarchal, racist, sexist power structure.

    Also, just saying: Feminist Student Union, I’m willing to talk to a representative or all of you. As adults. I saw that piece you’re trying to put together.

    • You're Not TheAmazingAtheist, stop it says:

      You called someone a “loud-mouthed cunt.” Get your story straight.

    • spaceportal says:

      Sal, your angle obviously isn’t in the least bit constructive. Yeah, it sucks that people need to be educated about consent, but both consent and sexual assault are social constructs that need to be discussed in order to be managed. If you actually cared at all about survivors’ rights or feelings your commentary wouldn’t serve to make people feel pathetic about education around consent, but empowered. You’re being a troll, and on an ideological level your arguments are incredibly boring. On a pragmatic level, you’re actively endangering people’s lives. I really don’t give a shit about whether or not what you did was “comedy” or whether or not your right to speak in public should or shouldn’t be protected. I care about the people whose lives you’re destroying right now. This isn’t a game. It’s completely unconscionable that you’re knowingly putting people at risk of self-injury or worse because you’ve decided to take on the cis-man’s burden. This kind of behavior is grossly negligent. Please think about that, instead of yourself and your ego.

    • *********** says:

      You have a seriously warped view of the world if you think “only at Reed” could you be considered a misogynistic asshole. And that being a long-haired, Chicano vegetarian somehow negates that fact… that’s just the “I can’t be racist; I have black friends” argument in different clothing.

  7. snow says:

    The intention of your performance is irrelevant if it caused grave emotional harm to people in the audience. I have confirmation that this happened. The only people you’re going to be meeting with “as adults” are JBoard.

    • Sal Rodriguez says:

      Sure. If people don’t want to meet and discuss like adults and would prefer to drag this out, so be it. Likewise, if people would rather be cowards and speak filth behind anonymous names, so be it.

    • Orestis says:

      I believe part of the goals of the Honor Principle and the Honor Process should be to facilitate discussion. If both parties are willing to come together and discuss (with or without a mediator), that should be the first step. J-Board should only be the last resort, used only when other attempts fail.

  8. realsupergirl says:

    Being politically incorrect is one thing, being offensive is another. And I don’t buy the “it’s comedy” argument since nothing quoted here is FUNNY. It just seems like an angry young man looking for an excuse to make racial slurs. Free speech means he has a right to say those things SOMEWHERE in the United States, but Reed is a private college and a community and has a right to say they don’t want that sort of hatefulness in their/our community

    • Sal Rodriguez says:

      Yeah, reading the text of any offensive joke would probably not lead to immediate laugher. The problem: people were laughing. A lot of them. And like it or not: it was a comedy show. A performance. Something doesn’t stop being a performance just because it offends you.

    • Shelly says:

      He gives more than you’ll ever know oh sheltered one…now run along your mommy’s calling…

  9. Sal Rodriguez says:

    “If you’re so eager for an angry response, I am more than happy to give you one, in a private sphere, where nobody can be hurt.”

    Alright, who are you?

    • Moon Unit says:

      Sal – if you are financially disadvantaged how do you afford the $55,920 for tuition and board?

      I love all this talk about privilege…I hope you all know how privileged you are to be at Reed?!

      Did no one else see the comment from the gentleman who got knocked over by the woman that took the mic, hitting his head and breaking his glasses? Let’s reverse the genders and say that a man rushed the stage, knocking over a woman and breaking her glasses and causing her to hit her head against the floor? Who’s traumatized now?

      From an outsider’s perspective, I sense an odious self-absorption reminiscent of characters in the HBO series Girls. So glad I did not go to Reed. I feel bad for your parents.

      • Sal Rodriguez says:

        Reed gives me the money. Hell no I wouldn’t have gone to Reed without the significant money they provided me. Half of Reed students don’t get financial aid. Hence, there is a high level of spoiled brat entitlement among Reed students, and the obnoxious response by “radical” rich kids to a comedy show.

        Reed is a silly, self-absorbed “community,” no doubt. You made a great call not going to Reed. Of course the professional victicrats didn’t care about the individual who was actually physically harmed by the outraged student who ran on stage. If it were a woman, all hell would have broken loose. If you’re a white, heterosexual male at Reed, you’re expected to be full of guilt (for no reason).

        Also, the whole thing ended with a series of absurd rules from the Reed administration. They have demanded that the comedy club must create posters, among other things, specifically stating that the purpose of a comedy show is to make people laugh and that people might expect to hear “letter-words, jokes about sexual activity”, etc. Pure reactionary crap by the Reed administration.

        • Jennifer Turner, '12 says:

          As much as this thread really ought to die, I feel compelled to chime in here. Having parents that can afford a high-priced private college does not a spoiled brat make. Being offended by offensive material does not a radical make. As a female and a self-proclaimed sane person I have no idea why it would make any difference whatsoever what the gender of the person inadvertently knocked over was. The suggestion that it would seems in itself rather ignorant.

          Anything more would devolve into rather more poignant and targeted attacks on my part, so I will refrain from further comment at this juncture.

        • To the spoiled belongs the victory.

  10. Jake Bassi says:

    Sal is a childhood friend of mine and his particular style has some shock value in many views. As an actor and former comedian myself, I know what it is like to have a joke not work. Sal is a young comedian and his act will mold as he grows as a performer. Knowing Sal, he does not back down on his intentions. He is an observer and he is finding humor in what he observes. That is the very nature of a comedian. It’s very simple. If you don’t like it then leave. If anything, this negative article is great PR for him because now people will be curious to see his act and that might lead to greater things. On television there are many programs that are very offensive. Some examples are family guy, and south park both shows that are animated and because these are cartoons they get away with crude humor because it’s not a simulation on life. It is a parody. What Sal was doing was making a parody of what he observes and if his stand up really causes a campus walk out, the people that follow that action are wasting their time as well as their precious college education. Should certain groups boycott Sal, let them. As long as it goes without putting anybody in any physical danger then it’s fine. Three weeks from now nobody is going to care.

  11. this is insane says:

    He has a right to say whatever he wants. You have a right to not listen. If you were offended by what he said you should have left -or better- booed him off the stage. It was a transgressive act. be transgressive. Don’t let a bull**** show bleed into real life.

    • LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL O GOD. THIS IS BULLSHIT HOGWASH JABRONIE REVISINOSM. STUPID STAND-UP. STUPID COMEDY. STUPID PEOPLE WHO TRY TO PRESERVE THE SANCTITY OF SOME LAMEASS COMEDY FRATERNITY BULLSHIT. W.E. One thing I can agree with fellow ‘haters’, we can’t depend on dumbasses to concede the fact they are dumbasses. Protect your own and forget this wannabe bigshot phonys. you ain’t hard, you ain’t special and you ain’t edgy. you’re just all too easily riding the wave……cmon bruh. the whole ‘context’ argument is bullhonky. Everything has it’s own proper context…..that’s redundant. what is at issue is the plain stupidity of the entirety of what is presented. PEACE OUT REED ARROYO COME AT ME HOMIE.

  12. Manuel Arturo Abreu Rodriguez says:

    If we look closely at this situation we will see that free speech is not really the issue at hand. Naturally, censoring Sal after the fact is impossible, and preventing him from developing his act on campus (whether or not you find it funny, whether or not you were offended) seems to be a somewhat fascistic response. Sal can (and will) say whatever he wants in the context of developing his art.

    People seem to be confused about Sal’s intentions. Let me clear: Sal’s intentions are irrelevant. Whether he is simply an “asshole” insulting the audience (in fact, insult comedy is an old tradition in stand-up), whether he was trying to test the limits of the audience and provoke reactions from them which they would not expect at a comedy show (in which case, the interruption of his set shows that he succeeded), or whether he was simply asking the age-old questions “what does it mean to be funny? Why are certain things funny and certain things not?” –it doesn’t matter.

    Here’s what I mean: the issue here is one of triggers. Sal’s show may have triggered people. So does much of the world. Sal has performed on-campus twice before, to my knowledge, to an audience of 60+ students, and RKKK MC and fellow comedian Sean Howard has made it clear that RKKK’s shows contain highly offensive material (perhaps mostly due to Sal’s set). No-one was up in arms when Sal performed his “Nigger” bit for the previous two RKKK shows. Further, not only are there many phenomena on-campus which are triggering in all realms, some of these have been school-sponsored. I am confused about why Sal’s act is being singled out. No-one seems to have reacted this strongly a few years ago when the performance of a student’s theater thesis called for an actor to masturbate on-stage. I wonder if the popular perception of comedy as ‘not art’ has something to do with this.

    The fact is, though, that the performance of comedy IS art. Anything can be potentially triggering. Anything can cause re-traumatization. Less seriously, anything can be offensive. Art that has value is art that brings up questions about the artist-audience emotional contract. While I do advocate protecting survivors, I also advocate self-protection. As a minority, I have been victim to racial trauma and when a triggering or traumatizing situation arises I know better than to stick around and risk my physical and mental health. Why did people simply sit through Sal’s set? Does Sal owe something to his audience? I can imagine this train of thought going as follows: “the audience has taken time out of its busy schedule to attend a comedy show and they expect to enjoy themselves.”

    Fair enough. But if you aren’t enjoying yourself, or if you are offended, or if you are triggered, you can leave. Or you can bumrush the stage and prevent Sal from continuing his set. In my opinion, any kind of reaction during the performance, positive or negative, is welcome. Stand-up as an art is not like others; it requires a real-time audience in order for the performer to hone her/his act. I think Sal would agree with me. Further, I agree with Sal that he has nothing to apologize for. While I would welcome the public availability of a recording of his set, as well as an “artist’s statement” of sorts outlining his intentions (though, as aforementioned, this is not relevant to me), I think an honor case is uncalled for.

    Instead of ‘jumping the gun’ and opting to discipline Sal, I think the next step in the process of honor would be for concerned parties to approach him directly, with or without a mediator present. Sal would most likely gladly talk to anyone who expressed interest in talking to him. The honor principle is about effecting productive dialogue.

    Another good point Sal made: there are actual societal and systemic asymmetries to be fought, and there are concomitant tragedies occurring right here. If you want to work to end violence against women, children, trans people, the poor, the homeless, and ethnic minorities, you’ll have to do more than advocate for an honor case against an amateur comedian.

    Here is one valuable resource: the Oregon Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence.
    Phone #: 503-230-1951

    If you read this far, thanks for your time. I look forward to your responses.

    • anonreedie says:


      You are right, censoring Sal might be a bit fascistic. But a similarly fascistic censoring occurs every time a swastika gets drawn on the campus walls and is then painted over, and I have never once heard any opposition to this type of censorship. It seems that there is a general consensus within the community that censorship is called for in some circumstances, and that the fascistic qualities of censorship do not make it inherently wrong.

      In fact, saying that censorship is fascistic and should never be taken as a course of action is blatantly false at Reed, where the most common definition of the Honor Principle is “do not cause unnecessary harm or discomfort to others.” Situations where someone, including someone’s ‘art,’ causes obvious discomfort and harm to others are clearly dishonorable, and should not be tolerated or encouraged at Reed. Just because Sal can say something triggering doesn’t mean he should, and we should refer to Honor most of all in deciding on our course of action, not some idea of freedom from censorship.

      • Manuel Arturo Abreu Rodriguez says:

        Thanks for your reply, anonreedie.

        I never said censorship should never be taken as a course of action. I don’t think it makes sense to make such categorical statements. You make a good point regarding the swastikas, though. The difference to me is that I know Sal personally, and he is not a classist, racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic bigot. He’s a polite and soft-spoken guy who, in his act, is interested in the limits of comedy and the extent to which the audience will ‘stomach’ said act.

        You wrote ‘art.’ Why? Stand-up comedy is performance art.

        I don’t think Sal’s performance was ‘clearly’ dishonorable. I’d like to hear more about why you think it’s so clear– I stated in my original comment that there are many phenomena on campus which can potentially cause unnecessary harm or discomfort to people, and these are actions that are not in an artistic context. They range from microaggressions to full-on intolerance, and none of them in a performative context. I’d also like to know to what extent you think the school should tolerate transgressive art.

        Finally, I don’t think it’s our place to say what Sal or anyone ‘should’ do in their art. Thanks again for your time. Hope to hear back from you.

        Manuel Abreu

      • Sal Rodriguez says:

        A swastika popping up in a public space versus “offensive jokes” being told in the context of a comedy show. There is a clear difference between these two. “Clearly dishonorable” is jumping the gun. “The community” hasn’t decided anything in terms of whether or not a performance can be considered “dishonorable.” Especially when “the community” has completely failed in reacting to even my prior comedy shows.

        If we choose to go on a witch hunt against any words that might possibly be triggering, then we’d be saying we shouldn’t be talking about or making jokes about the subjects most difficult for us to be talking about. And I will repeat again: the joke in which I said rape was a joke that everyone I have spoken to understood. It was a commentary on how pathetic it is that we need to be reminded how to conduct ourselves in terms of rape.

        Comedy is not just dick jokes. It is not just simple set-ups and obvious punch-lines. It is not just a means of joking about things that conform to our worldviews. Most people at the show understood this. I undoubtedly sympathize with those who were triggered by whatever words I used. But that doesn’t mean performers should be prevented from joking about difficult topics. If you can’t laugh at racism, sexism, or trauma of various sorts, then you’re not ready to laugh about them. And that’s understandable.

        But again, I need to remind everyone: this is all over a performance. A performance no one was compelled to attend, a performance no one was compelled to watch, and a performance that has been blown so far out of proportion that the discourse over my act is probably contributing to even more discomfort and anger than my performance could have caused.

        • Neil Anderson says:


          We acknowledge that your supposed intent may have been a transgressive performance, illuminating truths about the state of racism, misogyny, homophobia, ect. in the Reed community or even provoking change. But there is a huge gap between your alleged intent and the real effects of your actions. Many were offended, shaken, and hurt.

          Moreover the argument that people can just get up and leave is just not true. Many attending don’t know what to expect and so not everyone can just not show up, just not listen, or just get up and leave. When confronted with hate speech, be it in your sanctified comedic space or elsewhere, not everyone has the same capability, or ability at all, or let the words just roll off. I am not marginalized, but I do know what it’s like to be verbally and emotionally abused, and when you’re paralyzed like a deer in headlights “just leaving” is really not an option.

          So you can’t write off your behavior as a comedic performance expecting exemption under the larger umbrella of art. Art is not without consequences. Whether they find your performance to be distasteful, offensive, or downright damaging, people of the audience do not all have a way of shutting the performance down.

          • Sal Rodriguez says:


            Your claim that “people can just get up and leave is just not true” is just not true. People quietly left during pretty much every set. And I repeat something I said before: If you’re so emotionally fragile that a comedy show is going to completely destroy you, you shouldn’t be at a comedy show that was advertised as having offensive material.

        • anonreedie says:

          Obviously it is my own opinion that your act was “clearly dishonorable,” which I think it was, without a doubt. It is one thing to make a joke about sexual assault, it is a whole other thing to call the girl who heckled you a loud-mouthed cunt. that is neither comedy nor honorable behavior.

      • Sam Hopkins says:

        The owners of a building have every right to choose what graffiti they allow on their walls. Censoring public speech is completely different from painting over a swastika. Fascism is inherently wrong; sorry.

        Just because someone acted in a way we think is dishonorable does not mean we should use community force against them. There is a basic distinction between “minimal decency” (comporting with laws) and “correct action”- I can’t believe some Reedies don’t understand this. For instance, I think it is dishonorable to advocate for lowering taxes on the wealthy and lessening business regulation; however, it would be horrendously totalitarian to honor case someone because they publicly air their reprehensible political views.

    • T says:

      Manuel, I’m baffled why you say you advocate survivor support and call the response to Sal “jumping the gun” and “fascistic.” Your comment derails from the issue at hand: that Sal’s performance is part of the “actual societal and systemic asymmetries” you speak of. The people bringing an honor case against Sal should not have to prove to anyone that they have done other things to address other forms of violence, especially when they themselves have dealt and are still dealing with sexual violence. And if anyone were to look at what else students have done to address sexual assault in and outside of Reed, they would find that they have done much work in addition to confronting fellow students.

  13. The issue isn’t whether you can circumscribe some ‘safe’ place to say potentially ‘unsafe’ things; and no one is questioning his right to be himself…..we’re trying to prevent an after-the-fact cover-up where everything can be neatly put into it’s ‘appropriate’ context. Every stupid shit that stupid people do has an appropriate context in their own eyes……..we’re not arguing for some bullshit transcendental arbitration……maybe the straw-man ‘liberal’ would do that, but fuck, no…..we’re just calling you out like any sane person would do.

    Chicano, long-haired, vegetarian……..what do those mean? It’s 2012 and long-hair isn’t risque, in fact it proves nothing and no one cares. Chicano……word, I look like you….I was born in Mexico….but I wouldn’t do shit like that to people I don’t know. Vegetarian……wait, what? PEACE OUT. BASHBACK.

  14. And I understand, that it’s a voluntary choice to participate as an audience member. Maybe Sal should of done his thing, just avoided potentially triggering things; but the argument that you should just leave if you’re offended is what appears to me to be really…..fascist. Things aren’t so impersonal, even when you wish they were……if someone simply takes your bashing then they are dis-empowering themselves…..I mean, realistically, any self-respecting person is going to BASH BACK. perioooood. As much as you’d like to take advantage of the perceived notion that no one would do so…….yes perhaps we put TOO MUCH FAITH in you previously, but……hey we’re all special in some way honey boo boo, not just the people on stage.

    • Sal Rodriguez says:

      There’s a difference between shouting back (as people in the crowd did) and furiously rushing the stage. People did shout back. And that was fine. In response to hecklers at the prior show, I shouted at them and called them “cocksucking faggot” or “cunt.” The heckler who ultimately rushed the stage was just another heckler to me. But there is a difference between heckling and completely disrupting the show and completely changing the mood of the show as the student who rushed the stage did. She shouted during the end that she had been at my prior show where I made equally (if not more) offensive jokes. In other words, she chose to attend and stick around for my set when she already knew the nature of my performances, and chose to be disruptive.

      • the girl who grabbed the mic says:

        You said, “Typical liberal response. I never said anything about rape. I was just talking about women as a group of people.”
        I said something along the lines of, “Earlier in your set, I fucking heard you. Don’t act like I didn’t hear that shit.”

        I had never been to one of your shows before. I was not too pleased to hear that you had also done pieces entirely centered around the n-word. Obviously we need to talk about rape as a community if people get raped here. Your jokes were dismissive of that dialogue. You used violently misogynistic language throughout your set and provoked the audience. I didn’t sit there and plan that interruption because I am just oh-so-mean. It was completely necessary. Multiple people thanked me after the event. Yes, I “completely changed the mood of the show”– I broke the intensely threatening atmosphere that you created.

        Getting up to leave is not the only “right” we have as audience members. You do not get to stand on an unapproachable pedestal because of the context of the event. Hecklers want to actively berate/discourage a comedian. What I did was not heckling, it was self-defense.

        You were obviously playing with the power dynamics between performer and audience member–seeing how much we would be willing to take before doing something. You welcomed heckling, because it allowed you to maintain your position of power and berate people on an individual level, but you were not too keen on me taking the mic because it took that power away. It was a necessary act at that point. I was not the only person in the audience that you had done harm to.

        You remain dismissive of claims to harm. Yes, you are just one amateur comedian, maybe you’re not worth our time. I don’t care if you want to call it activism or not, people need to feel safe in this community. It is not like we are completely divorced from the power structures of the rest of the world. In the end, this really isn’t about you. This is about our community norms and how much we are willing to exert ourselves to make Reed a space where all students are given the opportunity to thrive.

        I would like to remind everyone that being triggered at Reed is not the same as being triggered out in the world. If you see a movie with a violent rape scene, you can go home and make yourself a cup of tea. If you a triggered at Reed, you are reminded that your community where you live and work is not a safe place.

        • Sal Rodriguez says:

          “You were obviously playing with the power dynamics between performer and audience member–seeing how much we would be willing to take before doing something.” You got it. Yep. Thank you. You recognized that I was a performer and chose to disrupt anyway.

          You can call it “self-defense.” But self-defense from what? Jokes? A comedy performance?

          We all have had our traumas and our problems, but we don’t go around causing a scene whenever our feelings are hurt or troubling memories or ideas come up. I choose to express myself through stand-up, and you apparently choose to do so by rushing the stage at comedy shows, as if you’re entitled to do it. You’re not. If you had a problem with my performance, you could have talked to me about it, but you didn’t.

          Yes, my joke was revealing the uncomfortable truth that beyond the fairy tale of Reed, people here are as messed up as everywhere else, with the same problems as everywhere else. If you couldn’t laugh about how pathetic it is that we need to be reminded how to behave, fine, but others could and did.

          • Jordan Horowitz says:


            In another comment I just posted, I characterized your comments as glib, sarcastic and devoid of content. I hadn’t gone through all 52 comments so I didn’t see ones like this where you go a little more in-depth. So I take that back.

            You just said it’s pathetic that we need to be reminded how to behave.

            I want you to look at that.

            Meditate on it.

            Groove on it.

            Now look up the word “irony” in the dictionary.

            Is anything clicking??

          • Jordan Horowitz says:

            Also, you just implied that you were entitled to call a girl you didn’t know a loud-mouthed cunt but she wasn’t entitled to rush the stage.

            My head is spinning.

            • Sal Rodriguez says:

              Yes, heckling is a common part of stand-up comedy. So is transgressive language.

              • Jordan Horowitz says:

                Reed’s honor principle isn’t based on what’s common in stand-up comedy.

                If you’re going to justify your actions, do so on the basis of the honor principle, not on the precedent of “I’ve seen people do this on Comedy Central.”

                Otherwise your argument is: “People do this. Therefore, I can do this.”

                It’s hilarious to me that you’re trying to cast yourself in the role of the victim here. “She wasn’t entitled to rush the stage!” Oh, did you feel threatened? Did you feel like your personal space was violated? Did you feel like she was crossing boundaries that harm the community when crossed?

                If so, take those feelings and apply what’s known as “empathy” to them to find out why people are so pissed off at you.

                • Sal Rodriguez says:

                  There is nothing dishonorable about performing a comedy act.

                  No, I didn’t feel threatened by the disruptor. Nor did I feel like my personal space was violated. But yes, she did cross boundaries (the performer-audience, performance-reality boundaries).

                  • Jordan Horowitz says:

                    Have a look through this, Sal, and tell me why you feel there should be a “DOES NOT APPLY TO STAND-UP COMEDY” disclaimer at the bottom:


                  • Jordan Horowitz says:

                    …specifically the parts about the need for students to
                    “respect others’ rights and persons… take responsibility for the effect of their behavior on the college as a whole” and not humiliate or mock others in a public forum.

                    Why should there be an exception made for stand-up comedians?

                  • Austin says:

                    “There is nothing dishonourable about performaing a comedy act” a priori, obviously.

                    Also obviously, there is nothing about a comedy act that negates the possibility of dishonourable behavior, which seems to be the assumption you’re working on.

        • Nicholas Padinha says:

          Hi, I was sitting a few seats down from you. When you got up to rush the stage, you knocked me out of my chair. I’m going to assume you didn’t notice that, or for that matter the sound of my head smacking against the floor and the crunch of one of the lenses of my glasses breaking. It’s okay, I don’t even think the people sitting next to me noticed. Was that “completely necessary”? “Self defense”?

  15. O and one more thing to add to my bombing this comment section—-’look ma’ i’m commandeering people’s lives, and no one can do shit bout it………*smack to the forehead from Mama*’

    It’s really a cliche of a liberal arts student to be all like, ‘O i’m edgy and therefore I know everything about suffering” etc. Cmon bruh, read some books, stop being antisocial and talk to people, realize they might know things you haven’t yet realized. Assume your own ignorance, and then either shut up or let other with their own traumas enlighten you bruh.

    • Sal Rodriguez says:

      bruh they can deal with their own traumas like everyone else. bruh. Doesn’t change that it was a comedy show that people laughed during. bruh. If you don’t like it, don’t go. Simple. I don’t waste my time going to anything put on by Infoshopp’ers, the only difference being, they think they’re serious, and I’m telling jokes.

      • L says:

        Grow up. You aren’t defending your freedom of speech, or freedom to ‘perform to an empty room,’ you’re trying to defend some perceived “right to be right.” The extent to which you have described your intentions with your show amounts to “I did it because I can, and I should be able to do it.”

        At Reed there is a higher standard of community interaction than in the larger world. In the professional comedy business, you might be booed out of your livelihood (Michael Richards of Seinfeld) but you still have your precious imagined ‘right to perform to an empty room.’ At Reed, the Honor Principle allows us to raise the standard of interaction so that everyone should be able to exist in a safe environment. Maybe you won’t be booed out of the college, but you certainly aren’t meeting the standards of Honor or, frankly, intellectualism, of the school. You claim that your show was supposedly about ‘breaking down walls’ or whatever but the portions that you yourself have shared are obviously traumatizing. “Sand n****rs,” “n****rs,” heckling people with “cunt,” and “faggot,” these are all absolutely unacceptable expressions for the Reed College environment. On that note, I’d like to echo other comments that a video (or, preferably, a transcript of a video) be posted.

        It’s not so much that you are going to be censored or go to jail for a violation of the First Amendment, so stop acting so affronted. It’s that you are clearly making the school a less safe environment for other students. PTSD from sexual assault is well documented (if not appropriately appreciated), but you can also develop PTSD from racist events or prolonged exposure to racism. You hurt people. And for you to say “they can deal with their own traumas,”…that can fly on the sidewalk, in public, where we unfortunately have to process our own traumas that may be triggered without warning, but at Reed students deserve better. The Honor Principle is not just some flowery bylaw meant to inspire freshmen. It’s a tool for students to protect themselves and their community, to make it a safe place to go to class and hang out, and it’s also probably a factor in why no one’s jumped you yet. You want to make a name for yourself? Bringing 4chan to life in front of a comedy show audience is not going to work.

      • Jordan Horowitz says:

        “they can deal with their own traumas like everyone else… it was a comedy show”

        With these words, you have proven that you have no desire to foster an inclusive, non-threatening community at this school and that you think your own “need” to call people hateful terms trumps anyone else’s right to go about their day unharassed, to just live without being made to feel ashamed for the body they were born into (female, gay, etc.).

        As Reed pointed out, the “you can just leave” argument is a terrible one because it ultimately disempowers the people on the receiving end of your hateful tirade. If they’re made to feel like shit in multiple arenas (even by people who claim it’s just for comedy), and then told they need to get over themselves, take themselves less seriously or exit the building, that robs them of a voice. What you’re seeing in this comments section is people who are sick of being treated like that, and are standing up for themselves. Your “argument” has just been the verbal equivalent of the trollface/U Mad? bullshit that horrible nerds on the internet seem to love (you’re probably one of them). Another analogue would be the dude with the “America: Love It Or Leave It” bumper sticker on the back of his pick-up.

        You aren’t advancing anything. You aren’t saying why what you do is good, or helpful to the community, or honorable, or what the point of it was. You’re replying to everything with glib, sarcastic, unfunny comments, all the while telling other people they need to act like adults. So, do you have anything to offer or are you just going to keep trolling? Can we actually engage in meaningful discourse now?


        Bruva, I remember you at some SSDP meetings. what would Mckenna think…….:(

  16. At the end of the day, it’s all love…..just don’t expect the binary—silence or laughter—-the world isn’t like that. I know. I called a kid fatso, he trhew my backpack on the roof. I won’t do it again.

  17. anonymous says:

    I believe that the idea that people should approach and talk to to Sal one-on-one is misplaced. He created an extremely threatening environment in a public setting. The discourse that follows these events should be made public, too. This was not a conflict between two people. If people you expect people to leave a performance if they feel triggered, why would you expect people to put themselves in an almost certainly triggering situation by engaging with Sal one-on-one? Anonymity in and of itself is not dishonorable. So often in my time here, I have heard people misinterpret the honor principle to always, always place the burden of approach/evidence/mediation/.etc. on the person who has been harmed. Honor at Reed means that we should actively be fighting to *prevent* doing harm and creating a space where fellow Reedies can be safe to flourish. If we apply this burden on the person who is harmed to come forward to issues of sexual assault and harassment, that is basically the version of “consent” we all understand to be tied with rape culture– Everything Is Just Dandy Until You Hear “Stop, Don’t Do That.” It is great when people do speak up when they have been harmed. And after you have been notified that you have harmed someone, you should do everything in your power to avoid future harm. People *have* come forward. Mostly anonymously. This is telling. This means that people do not feel safe enough to engage without that protection. Reed doesn’t have very many policies because we are governed by the Honor Principle. We are supposed to be special snowflakes who are capable of solving our problems internally. Time and time again, we have floundered. Honestly, I think I would feel safer at a school with more concrete protections for its students. Clearly we are not capable of minimizing harm to each other on our own. This is not just about Sal. This is about the insidious aspects of our campus climate that work to make this campus only feel safe for *certain kinds* of students. We all deserve the room to make the most out of our education that we possibly can. This event is only one extreme example of the minimizing, intellectualized climate that makes that exponentially more difficult for so many students.

    • Shelly says:

      Sal knows how it is in the world…he’s worked or rather volunteered in refugee camps & aids hospice in five different countries..he has done work with homeless men, women, & children. Seen overdoses and pregnant teens on meth at 13, when he was asked to work in the ER..he knows the truth and he can handle the truth. Comedy is an outlet…if you don’t laugh at the pain out there, you and all the sheltered kids are in for a rude awakening…hope you don’t drown in your tears….Living is easy with eyes closed……

      • *********** says:


        • Sal Rodriguez says:

          Are there “racist jokes” in my comedy routine? Yes.

          What is your point?

          • Neil Anderson says:

            Probably that you are racist.

            • *********** says:

              No, that was not my point. My point was that all your volunteer work doesn’t negate the harmfulness of your stand-up routine.

              • Manuel Arturo Abreu Rodriguez says:

                Shelly’s point was that Sal’s act does not come from a place of sheltered privilege (except perhaps for cis-male privilege). While Sal’s background in activism may not negate the potential harmfulness his routine may have caused on Saturday, I should hope that it affords significant perspective to the context of his act.

                Let me also express my disappointment regarding the extent to which character defamation informs so many of these comments. Not many of you know Sal in person, yet many of you are equating the bigoted persona he adopted in his act with his own personality in real life. Further, some of you have made assumptions about his lived experience and ideology. As someone who has also suffered character defamation on-campus due to misunderstandings arising from incomplete information and from peoples’ reticence with respect to approaching me personally, I’d like to stress the importance of being fully informed.

                Some have said that approaching Sal in person is not a good idea in light of his performance on Saturday and his comments on this page. The fact is, though, that it’s easy (for both Sal and his vehement detractors) to be inflammatory over the internet. There is potential for a productive dialogue regarding this issue, but that potential is stymied due to the medium. Of course, I can’t speak for Sal, but I can confirm that in my experience transparency and face-to-face dialogue will always trump online comments.

                One last thing: I want to applaud the editors, Kieran and Alex, for trying their hardest to portray this issue objectively and to offer as much information as they could. They did a good job broaching such controversial subject matter.


                P.S. Let me leave you all with Judith Katz’s definition of racism in her book “White Awareness: Handbook for Anti-Racism Training.” It is as follows:

                racism = prejudice plus power

                I hope this informs the discussion at least a little.

                • Wait, you guys saw Shelly as more than just a troll? O my, so Sal was asked to work with paramedics at 13? What exactly would that entail? And he’s worked with refugees in 5 different countries? No wonder he’s moved onto comedy, he’s out of activistism…..

                • anonreedie says:

                  *except perhaps for cis-male privilege*

                  • Manuel Arturo Abreu Rodriguez says:


                    Sorry, also ableist privilege. My bad for forgetting to mention that, though I’m not sure if there was any explicit ableism in Sal’s routine.

                    May I ask what you meant by placing asterisks around my parenthetical? Is it, as I suspect, a form of emphasis? Thanks.


      • Mike says:

        Shelly, you need to get your facts straight. Sal never volunteered in a refugee camp or AIDS hospice. If that’s what he’s communicated to you (and you believe it), then you’ve been seriously bamboozled. And shame on Sal for not correcting her mis-statement in his response to her post. But that just further defines Sal’s true character.

        • Sal Rodriguez says:

          I never volunteered in a refugee camp or AIDS hospice, and don’t know a Shelly nor anyone nicknamed Shelly.

          However, typing my name “+” Reed College into google does yield a page that does contain information where some of this appears to come from.

    • anonreedie says:

      I don’t necessarily agree that we at Reed are not capable of minimizing harm to each other, but I wholeheartedly agree that people who have been harmed by Sal’s show should NOT approach him and expect anything productive from it. Sal doesn’t want meaningful dialogue, he wants people to react, which is exactly what he’s getting from this comments section. I heard a couple weeks ago from a friend who knows him that he was actually trying to get honor cased by his show, which is just an indication of his bad intention from the get go…i hope he enjoys his punishment.

      • Sal Rodriguez says:

        How do I have meaningful dialogue with people hidden behind screen names who have made up their minds that I’m a sexist, racist, homophobe?

  18. sparkles says:

    I love that Sal’s crude comments are posted… but my perfecty clean ones are not

    • Profane ad hominem attacks are most definitely not “perfecty clean,” and will not be approved.

      • L says:

        I don’t know what the “ad hominem attack” was but I just want to say to the Quest, nice glamour shot. Nice title. Nice framing of the issue as a seemingly fair and balanced debate between rational and sensitive parties. The Quest has gone beyond complicit bystander to a facilitator of the perpetrator. Not to mention, Alex Blum has had a problem historically with outright misquoting people with whom he doesn’t agree.

        • L, I wouldn’t call the above photo a “glamour shot,” and I don’t believe that it or the headline somehow paint Sal as a hero—or a villain. As Alex’s fellow editor and the editor responsible for editing this piece before it was published, I stand by his presentation of the issue. I disagree that the article has portrayed the event as a “seemingly fair and balanced debate between rational and sensitive parties” and think instead that all involved parties have been treated fairly. There is a difference between dealing with someone as if they are rational and dealing with someone rationally.

          The mainstream media have, in reporting on the opinions of every minor figure with a blog, Twitter account, or microphone, transformed flamewars into national “controversies.” Whether because conflict gets ratings or because the press has become too lazy to fact-check the absurd statements that candidates, pundits, and unscrupulous politicians make daily, the press has largely failed its duty not to objectivity, but to truth. The media have dealt with these figures as if they were rational, rather than dealing them rationally (i.e. fact-checking on air or in print, or not giving voice to them at all).

          The Quest has not made that mistake here. Alex presented Sal with comments made about his performance, Sal did not apologize, and we printed his refusal to apologize. We did not let Sal off easy. We confronted him. When Sal did not share the video of his comments, we obtained access to the video from someone else. We included his comments, some of which he did not include in his response to us, in the article. Those comments speak for themselves. What we did not do was make an editorial assault against Sal, or, for that matter, mount an editorial defense. Whether Sal’s comments make him a hero, a villain, or a misguided college student is not a judgement that it is our job to make. In fact, it is a judgement that it is explicitly our job not to make.

          If anyone takes issue with how they were quoted in the above article or in any other, I ask them to contact the editorial board at so that we may apologize and adjust the article in question accordingly.

        • Alex Blum says:

          L, you say I have “a problem historically with outright misquoting people with whom he doesn’t agree.” I find this hard to reconcile with your opinion that, in your words, “Alex Blum is Reed College’s most trustworthy, objective, and hardworking reporter, not to mention the fact that he is exceptionally handsome.”

          Seriously, though, if anyone would like to give specific examples of misquoting or any other faulty reporting in any story of mine (or of any of my staff writers), or if you’d like to talk about anything else, hit me up at or @AlexCBlum.

      • sparkles says:

        Any profanities in my comment were simply using Sal’s own comments against him. As for “ad hominem attacks” I based my judgement after psychology statistics… a subject Sal should allegedly know much about. I apologize if anyone felt they were expressed in bad taste.

  19. anon says:

    The argument that people should just stay home if they’re gonna get all triggered is stupid and boring. Especially considering that most people live *at* Reed. you know, where this event happened.

    • Sal Rodriguez says:

      They don’t live in the SU at a comedy show, you know, where this event happened.

      • anonreedie says:

        They may not live in the SU, but they still live at Reed, or at least consider Reed their home. And they should not be verbally abused in that space, which is what happened.

        • Sal Rodriguez says:

          “I undoubtedly sympathize with those who were triggered by whatever words I used. But that doesn’t mean performers should be prevented from joking about difficult topics. If you can’t laugh at racism, sexism, or trauma of various sorts, then you’re not ready to laugh about them. And that’s understandable.”

  20. anonymosrex says:

    Sal has said hateful things which have caused harm to students who have heard them. If these people hadn’t heard what Sal had said, they wouldn’t have been hurt. Is there some cost to the student for avoiding Sal’s speech? No, besides not being able to access the SU during his set. Do students have the ability, and information required to avoid Sal’s speech? Yes, there was sufficient precedent, communicated via fliers and word of mouth to inform viewers that Sal’s Routine would contain hurtful speech. Students also had the ability to leave at any point during Sal’s performance. Do I think Sal’s hateful speech indicate that he is physically dangerous? No. For these reasons, the girl who grabbed the mic’s actions cannot be justified as self-defense.

    If our primary goal is to preserve the physical and mental wellbeing of Reed’s students while keeping censorship to a minimum, the best way to do that is to promote transparency by making it increasingly clear that Sal’s routine is potentially triggering, and to rely on students to avoid the show if they think they’ll be triggered

  21. Sal Rodriguez says:

    So. What are people actually saying in this screaming match? What do they want?

    Beyond voicing their outrage and making personal attacks.

    What are we saying? More advisories? No more performances that might be offensive? Certain words cannot be uttered in a performance? What?

    • Jordan Horowitz says:

      I’m not advocating censorship. I don’t think anyone else is either. I’m saying that your performance fell short of the standards of this community. I’m condemning you for what you did.

      It seems to me that you very much want people to try to censor you and are trying to provoke people into saying that so you can act like a martyr for free speech.

      I’m SO sorry that people are making personal attacks against you! It feels really bad to be called rude names in a public forum. Good thing you’re a male, so the names you’re being called are only rude and don’t constitute an attack on your very existence as a person. Wouldn’t it be a shame if you were in a less privileged position and someone were to call you a derogatory term to your face in front of a crowd of people?

      You’re almost there, Sal. You’ve condemned personal attacks. You’ve noted how it’s sad that at Reed, we need to be reminded to behave like decent human beings. I think with a little push, you could realize that you’ve done harm to this community and maybe even apologize. I believe in you.

      • Sal Rodriguez says:

        I congratulate you Jordan on exemplifying what my performance is based on: the self-righteousness of Reed College students. I congratulate you, Jordan, on taking a bold and courageous stand against hate speech and sexual assault. And of course, I congratulate you on your valiant efforts to condemn my on-stage persona AND myself.

        Cis-man, able-bodied, socioeconomically disadvantaged member of a historically underrepresented minority group,


        • Sal Rodriguez says:

          I ask again to those who want to do more than express “outrage”: What do you want?

          • Jordan Horowitz says:

            “I ask again to those who want to do more than express ‘outrage’: What do you want?”

            Personally, and I think others would share this sentiment, I just want to engage in dialogue about this issue and let my views be heard.

            You keep asking about pragmatic consequences for your actions: “What are we saying? More advisories? No more performances that might be offensive? Certain words cannot be uttered in a performance?”

            This is just speculation and I can’t prove anything (and I’m *sure* you’d deny it), but I think you’re trying to provoke people to initiate some sort of sanction against you, whether it be through J-board, honor council or some kind of censorship. You want to make a martyr of yourself, to be the bold, courageous Randian superhero who stood up for free speech against the evil, politically correct, feminazi cesspool that is the modern liberal arts college.

            You said audience members don’t have a right to not be offended. Well, according the Honor Principle, which you swore to uphold when you came here, you have an obligation not to cause unnecessary offense. I’ve yet to see an argument from you about why the offense was necessary, beyond “it’s comedy and I can do whatever I want.”

            The problem is that you conceive of freedom as a “freedom to”: the freedom TO call people derogatory terms loaded with connotations of oppression, the freedom TO say whatever you want without having to justify it. The Honor Principle, it’s been said, is a doctrine of unfreedom: it means having to restrain yourself, question yourself, constantly keep yourself in check and ensure that what you’re doing is having a positive effect on our small community. In this way, it’s more of a “freedom from,” with the concern placed not on the agent but on those he or she is affecting: freedom FROM harassment, freedom FROM unnecessary offense. So your “right to not be offended” line might fly in some Richard Dawkins polemic but that’s just not how we roll here at Reed.

            • Sal Rodriguez says:

              I’m not a Randian, actually, and I don’t take myself particularly seriously. I don’t desire to waste my time with an Honor Case or anything else. I have repeatedly made offers for people who want to actually ask me about my act to do so, and a few people have taken me up on that, though most who have approached actually understood what I was doing in the performance. Here in the Quest comments section, I’ve had to instead tediously remind people that it was a performance.

              I didn’t cause unnecessary offense. And the fact that it was a comedy performance is the only thing I need to state. I believe that no artistic performance for which attendance is voluntary is dishonorable. If I had physically assaulted someone in the audience, you’d have a point that parts of an act COULD be dishonorable. But responding to a heckler and heckling in itself isn’t dishonorable. When someone decides to become a heckler, they are not free to simply shout without a response. I was called a “bitch” by one heckler, but I don’t believe that was dishonorable nor offensive because of the context.

              “…but that’s just not how we roll here at Reed.” Who appointed you the spokesperson of Reed? You represent yourself as a community member. The voices here in the comment section are overwhelmingly against me because those are the people who would be most motivated to be spending their time here. From the many Reed students I have spoken to, more students recognize this all for what it is: a monumental waste of time and an incredibly overblown reaction to a comedy performance in the Student Union on a Saturday night.

              • Jordan Horowitz says:

                The voluntary nature of the performance doesn’t matter. A person can leave after being offended but the damage has already been done. If you say something dishonorable to me in Commons, no one was forcing me to be there but “it was voluntary” is not an excuse.

                No one appointed me spokesman of Reed. I extrapolated what I said from the Honor Principle, you know, the thing we HAVE to make reference to when discussing things like this at Reed, the thing you keep ignoring.

                I’m sure most people you’ve talked to think this is an overblown reaction; that’s because you surround yourself with people you agree with. You’re a psych major; you should understand what the sampling bias is.

                “If I had physically assaulted someone in the audience…” if you think the only harm you can do to another person is physical, then we have so little common ground that we should probably stop talking.

                • Sal Rodriguez says:

                  I disagree. The choice to attend and stay at a comedy show does matter. As does the choice to participate in a heckler-performer exchange. Are you claiming that the audience member who called me a bitch is dishonorable?

                  Actually, most of the people who’ve talked to me did so voluntarily and I didn’t know them when they approached me.

              • Jordan Horowitz says:

                Also, if it’s a “monumental waste of time,” why do you keep replying?

                I would choose not to do something if I considered it a waste of my time.

        • Jordan Horowitz says:

          The Quest needs to add a new option at the bottom of this page: “Notify me when Sal is done trolling and ready to make an actual point.”

          You could start with something you haven’t responded to: my response to your claim that comedy is exempt from the honor principle. That comment of yours demonstrated to me a lack of understanding of what the honor principle actually is.

          You want people to see a sharp divide between your on-stage persona and your real self yet you defend things you said on stage, like your critique of how much we talk about consent at Reed. So who’s talking there: Sal the comedian or Sal the person? The line between performer/true self is a lot blurrier in stand-up comedy than it is in say, a play, and you should take that into account when you’re performing.

          If you had said “I like killing babies,” the audience would know to bracket that as an unserious comment and not representative of who you actually are. Instead, you mixed your actual views with ones you didn’t actually have and left your audience confused as to who the real Sal was. When you called the girl a cunt, was that you talking? Or was that just ol’ comedian Sal, having a laugh at the expense of someone he’d never even talked to?

        • Jordan Horowitz says:

          Also, by characterizing me as “self-righteous,” you’re implying that I think I’m some kind of hero, like I see myself as single-handedly bringing about the end of hate speech and sexual assault at Reed, or even that I’m going to contribute to the end of those things in any way.

          I don’t. I’m just saying that I think what you did was bad and dishonorable. You don’t need to read into it any more than that.

          • Sal Rodriguez says:

            Oh? You’ve defined the Honor Principle? And decided its application to performances? Who gave you that charge?

            I’ve never heard of a dishonorable performance at Reed College.

            And yes, parts of me come through my performance. That doesn’t change that it’s a performance. I’ve also spoken against illegal immigration in my act, when I’m actually a proponent of amnesty. Likewise, I speak against government, which is in line with my politics. Again, it’s part of the performance. A performer doesn’t need to preface every act with “this is a performance” because when an audience is attending a performance/comedy show they should be smart enough, and generally are, to know that they are watching a performance. Not at Reed College apparently. Apparently, a lot of Reed students can’t fathom a performance they disagree with and need to be explicitly told not to rush the stage.

            • Jordan Horowitz says:

              No, I haven’t defined the honor principle. But there are many loose definitions out there and I took those and applied them to what you did.

              “I’ve never heard of a dishonorable performance at Reed College”… um, before the Beatles existed, there had never been a band called the Beatles. But then there was. Amazing, right?

              Actually, that’s a bad analogy because I’m sure similar controversies over performances have arisen in the past. Maybe an alum reading this could weigh in.

              So you admit to mixing your own views with fake views in your act. And then you just assume people should know the difference.

              I think Reedies are smart. I don’t think they’re psychic.

              • Sal Rodriguez says:

                Whether or not they understand it isn’t my responsibility. Likewise, however they interpret it isn’t my responsibility until someone approaches me for an explanation.

                • Jordan Horowitz says:

                  Actually, it *is* your responsibility to carefully consider your words, including likely misunderstandings resulting from them. Because of– you guessed it– the Honor Principle.

                • Francis Dieterle '12 says:

                  Maybe you should be working on your material/delivery if people don’t understand your jokes. I don’t know what your personal philosophy of performance is, but it seems to me that if the audience doesn’t understand the act that’s the performer’s fault, not the audience.

                  • Sal Rodriguez says:

                    As the article and as MAAR (who has seen the video) have noted: there was laughter. People did understand the jokes. Most of the people complaining were not at the show and have decided to form an opinion on second or third hand information. It was clear to most in the audience that this was a comedy show. Even the “rape” joke was well received. The FSU would have you believe that the audience was either in stunned silence or were audibly crying everywhere, and that’s not true.

                    • Jordan Horowitz says:

                      “The FSU would have you believe that the audience was either in stunned silence or were audibly crying everywhere, and that’s not true.”

                      No one said that.

              • Jennifer Turner '12 says:

                Let me refer you to the 2009 controversy surrounding a Pamphlette article accusing Lewis & Clark students of killing all the Jews on their campus in Holocaust fashion, complete with ovens. Discussion of that incident went on for several months, if I remember correctly, and spanned several back-and-forth articles, an administrative inquiry, and resulted in the resignation of one Senator. Not only that, it made local news, both written and televised, as well as national and international coverage, including publication in Haaretz, a prominent Israeli newspaper.

                On that account, let me say that, everything else aside, Sal’s refusal to publicly release the video is the most wise decision that I can pluck out of this whole mess. Let me reiterate: DO NOT, under any circumstances, RELEASE THIS VIDEO IN ANY WAY THAT CAN LEAD TO PUBLIC ACCESS OR DISTRIBUTION. Please keep in mind, that if this hits outside news coverage–and local Portland news enjoys a good Reed bashing from time to time–not only will this harm current students, but will sap administrative resources and reflect poorly on alums and anyone else affiliated with Reed who rely on Reed’s reputation as an upstanding educational institution in any way.

                A good and accurate coverage of the issue can be found here:
                I suggest people read it. It includes interviews with Pamphlette editors and others that are highly relevant to the current discussion. A few selections of interest:

                “It seems that many people have taken issue with things that we’ve written, and have been carrying these issues for a while. For whatever reason, none of them felt it was necessary to contact us directly with their concerns, and instead all waited until the forum to vent their frustrations. In the future, we would like to see a more direct and personal dialogue between our publication and the members of our campus community.” — Pamphlette editor

                “Her [Rachel Hall, managing director of the Greater Portland Hillel] sense, from the discussions this week [at a Reed town hall on the issue], is that many Reed students think “it’s cool to be postmodern and think that racism and sexism are gone, and that Reed is such a safe space so you can make any jokes you want and not think about it.” After the meeting Tuesday, Hall said she was approached both by Jewish and racial minority students from Reed who told her that they didn’t feel secure raising questions about comments that were offensive to them, and that they felt the expectation of many on the campus was not to consider such issues.”

                As a side note, the major difference between the Pamphlette issue (which was much larger and more serious) and the current controversy is that, while both the Pamphlette editors and Sal stood by their rights to creative freedom and the legitimacy of the original publication/performance, the Pamphlette was quick to apologize for the outcomes, if not the actions, they had perpetuated, and to sympathize with those who had been inadvertently harmed, while Sal seems to have consistently (at least in this forum) refused to issue any positive sentiments towards those hurt (which is a notably distinct act from admitting any wrong-doing or apologizing for the actions themselves).

                • Sal Rodriguez says:

                  –”Sal seems to have consistently (at least in this forum) refused to issue any positive sentiments towards those hurt ”

                  A sample of what I’ve said in this comment section:

                  “I undoubtedly sympathize with those who were triggered by whatever words I used. But that doesn’t mean performers should be prevented from joking about difficult topics. If you can’t laugh at racism, sexism, or trauma of various sorts, then you’re not ready to laugh about them. And that’s understandable.”


                  “I sympathize with those who were triggered or harmed or felt badly. I understand completely why someone would take offense to being yelled at. I understand completely that someone who doesn’t know me could possibly just see my whole act as being a racist and sexist tirade. But that doesn’t change the fact that it was a performance.”

                  • Jordan Horowitz says:

                    I’m glad you saved me the trouble of having to search for a counterexample by quoting it yourself.

                    “…then you’re not READY to laugh about them.” (emphasis mine)

                    This implies that people who do not find jokes about trauma, racism or sexism funny are in some sort of underdeveloped state and that they’ll eventually be “brought into the light” and realize that these things are worthy of laughter. That’s a totally condescending attitude and it negates any sympathy you might feel towards those people.

                    You’ve also said that this whole discussion is “a waste of time” and delegitimized sincere criticism with glib comments (e.g. “you tried too hard”). I could find many more examples if I didn’t have so much work to do.

                    The point is: unlike the Pamphlette in 2009, you haven’t demonstrated that you do feel real sympathy towards those hurt by your performance. You’ve only stated that you have. Most of what you said points towards a sneering attitude of “I have the right to say whatever I want, consequences and real human feelings be damned.”

                    • Jordan Horowitz says:

                      Oh wait, I found another good one:

                      Reed Arroyo told you to “let others with their own traumas enlighten you” and you replied “they can deal with their own traumas like everyone else.”

                      So sympathetic!!!

            • Jordan Horowitz says:

              I just read over your comment again and I’m absolutely baffled, specifically at the line “Who gave you that charge?”

              All of us at this school are constantly defining and redefining honor and applying it to real-life situations that arise. That process is built into the principle itself. You’re asking me who gave me the right to do that? Dude… that’s what it IS!

              I think the problem here might be sheer ignorance on your part. Please take time to read over this so you can at least possess a basic grasp of the Honor Principle:


              Or at least this part:

              “The Honor Principle is not a static document housed in a leaflet, but rather an active dedication to a set of principles followed by all members of the Reed community, including students, alumni, faculty and staff members. It is constantly redefined and kept alive by the community through our actions and continuous discussion.”

              So please don’t tell me I don’t have the right to invoke a commonly-understood conception of the Honor Principle and apply it to something that happened on our campus. That’s the most basic obligation a Reedie has.

              • Manuel Arturo Abreu Rodriguez says:


                Were you at the performance on Saturday? I’m interested to know.


                • Jordan Horowitz says:

                  No, I wasn’t. I’m relying on the excerpts in the article and descriptions of what happened in the comments section.

                  I’m sure if I had gone, I would have noted the soft-spoken, gentle demeanor of Sal as he called the girl a “loud-mouthed cunt” and my heart would have fluttered with joy at all the good being done at our fair school.

                  • Manuel Arturo Abreu Rodriguez says:


                    I’m disappointed that you feel informed enough to condemn Sal (not his actions, but his person, his entire existence, ironically) without proper context. This invalidates your points in my eyes because you feel confident in condemning Sal with only a Quest article as evidence. I suppose I should congratulate you on the strength and temerity of your convictions given that you’re not fully informed.

                    I’ve seen videos for all the sets, and here are some interesting facts:

                    (1) There were _actual_ rape jokes preceding Sal’s set. Sal’s joke about sexual harassment and assault was a commentary on signs around campus which, according to him, say “Diversity is good, and also don’t rape people.” As far as I can tell, no part of his set (or any other set that night) actually endorsed rape.

                    (2) Regarding the potentially-triggering nature of his comments– another comedian was on stage naked. This seems to be equally if not more triggering than crude language directed at audience members. Then again, the only trauma I’ve experienced is racial and physical, so I can’t speak to what triggers other individuals.

                    (3) If you had been at the show, you’d realize a major flaw in your argument: people were laughing throughout Sal’s set. It wasn’t as if the audience was sitting there shell-shocked at his comments. Every joke that he made received laughter. Even the gender-inequality one.

                    One last thing: at least in text, sarcasm doesn’t suit you. All it does is reveal that you’ve already made up your mind in condemning Sal, and no amount of discussion or evidence is going to make you change your mind.


                    • karen silbert says:


                      I agree with a great deal of what you have to say.
                      However, your post further emphasizes the fact that we can’t have a real, valid dialogue without Sal (+other community members, if they’re out there) HONORABLY posting the video or a transcript of the set. I agree: without context, people can’t react directly to what was said in Sal’s set (but they can contribute to discussions of larger community issues, of course, or general dialogues on what qualifies “art” or “comedy” or a “public space”).

                      Sal, I skimmed a good portion of the comments above. If you have reasons for not positing the video (i.e. ones that extend outside the circumstances of this forum), I understand–that makes things trickier. However, please GIVE US those reasons and perhaps a way to understand exactly what transpired during your set so we can have a valid forum.

                    • Jordan Horowitz says:

                      Not sure where I condemned Sal’s entire existence.

                      1) I never said he endorsed rape, or that there wasn’t another performer who told rape jokes, so I’m not sure what your point is here.

                      2) What does the naked guy have to do with anything? We’re talking about Sal.

                      3) The fact that people were laughing means there was a flaw in my argument? Which part of my argument? I don’t understand.

                    • Jordan Horowitz says:

                      Some people who were present said they felt threatened, triggered and emotionally abused by Sal’s performance. Do you think the fact that people were also laughing negates those experiences? I’m not being sarcastic when I say this: I genuinely have no idea what part of my argument you were responding to in your comment about people laughing.

                      The main problem is that Sal caused that reaction, could have foreseen that reaction, did what he did anyway and will not take responsibility for causing that reaction.

                      In addition, he keeps citing the precedent of comedy instead of the honor principle. The world is, more or less, a shitty place. And the HP exists so we can create a haven from that shitiness in this little corner of southeast Portland. We have it as a bedrock to rely on so we don’t have to replicate all the awful stuff that goes on outside the bounds of this community. What Jim Norton or Lisa Lampanelli do in their stand-up routines has fuck all to do with what’s considered honorable at Reed College.

                    • Boots says:

                      @Jordan The naked guy has everything to do with this.

          • Wyatt Alt says:

            You’ve been the most vocal critic on this page for more than 24 hours, and it’s only now come to light that you (1) didn’t see the show, (2) hadn’t (as of your response to Manny) taken the time to track down the video, and (3) made no attempt to make these facts clear until you were asked point blank. Meanwhile, other people who didn’t see the show (like me) have been reading this page to catch up and naively assuming you (as the loudest commenter) are more informed than they. I’ve seen the video. I barely know Sal, but emailing him for it took all of one minute and a promise not to redistribute, and he responded within an hour. I didn’t think it was funny, but if your only sources are friends and this webpage, it’s probably less extreme than you think it is. The fact that you felt sure enough of yourself to repeatedly comment without that *minimal* effort leads me to take you a lot less seriously when you say things like

            “I think what you did was bad and dishonorable,”

            and particularly,

            “I think the problem here might be sheer ignorance on your part.”

            Your idea of what Sal did is vague at best, and from a community standpoint, I don’t think it’s constructive for you to be posting with such frequency on so little actual information. There are many people like you and me, who didn’t see the show and are looking to this page for clarity. You’re muddying, not clarifying. I don’t doubt your good intentions, and I don’t even disagree with much of what you’ve said, but if that’s not the height self-righteousness then I must not know what the word means.

            • Jordan Horowitz says:

              Well, I was operating under the assumption that Sal wouldn’t distribute the video to anyone since he didn’t distribute it publicly.

              The reports by attendees as feeling triggered and assaulted combined with the excerpts in the article seem sufficient to me because that means: a) damage was clearly done b) there was a reason for damage being done. Seeing the video would of course not change my mind about a) (since the source of that comes from reports of attendees) and, since i already know there was a barrage of slurs, some directed at audience members, I consider that sufficient reason for damage being done, even if I wouldn’t have had the trigger/assault reaction myself.

              You’re definitely right that my not seeing the performance doesn’t put me in the *best* position to criticize Sal. I should have been more upfront about that in the beginning. But I do think I have enough of the relevant facts to say what I’ve said here.

              On a semi-related note: 100% of the criticism I’ve faced on this website has been male. 100% of the support I’ve received through e-mail and social media has been female. Make of that what you will.

            • Jordan Horowitz says:

              I should also clarify something that I should have clarified earlier: when I say what Sal did was dishonorable, I’m referring to what I know him to have done. I’m not referring to every single millisecond of his performance.

              I shouldn’t have reacted to Manny’s comment with sarcasm but I found it hard not to because I think it’s ridiculous to claim that I would need to see a video of him calling a heckler a “loud-mouthed cunt” in order to form an opinion about whether or not that was honorable act.

              To reiterate: I am not saying every single thing Sal said on stage was dishonorable. I don’t know every single thing he said on stage. But I have enough evidence before me to say that at least some of it was.

              • Nina Liss-Schultz says:

                it is absolutely ridiculous to claim that Jordan can’t form an opinion about Sal’s performance because he wasn’t there. The quest wrote this article, and many people have formed their opinions about the performance given the information in the article. Others have formed opinions from second-hand information, which is sometimes how it works, and their opinions should not be completely discounted on this basis. furthermore, just because Manny saw the video doesn’t mean he necessarily has any more information than what a person can gather from reading this comments section. For example, i talked to several people who were at the show who said the mood of the show changed significantly when Sal began making certain jokes, and changed for the worse when he made the comment about rape. Could Manny have really understood this mood from watching the video? probably not, yet we are still crediting his opinions as true.

                On another note, it really doesn’t matter if people were laughing during Sal’s set, because clearly not everyone was laughing, and one person who wasn’t was singled out as a loud mouthed cunt.

                Lastly, while I see why it might be important to release the video, I don’t think it’s necessary to do so. For one, the “girl who grabbed the mic,” as indicated by her decision to remain anonymous online, might want to continue to be relatively unnamed. Perhaps that should be taken into account when deciding whether or not to release the video.

                • Wyatt Alt says:

                  I disagree with nothing that either of you have said. My only point is that the truth process benefits when people disclose exactly where they’re coming from.

                  • Wyatt Alt says:

                    Actually, let me nuance that a little. Nina, I think anyone has the right to form an opinion on as little information as they wish (even none), and anyone has the right to state their opinion as well, and it could well be constructive, but I think someone who has read and absorbed the comments necessarily has less information than someone who has done that and seen the video. Likewise, someone like me has less information than someone who has read the comments and was there. That is in no way to suggest that anything anyone says should be categorically accepted or rejected (I for one do not ‘credit’ Manny’s opinions as true), but as a reader, I think it’s important to know which category commenters fall into.

                    I agree with you about laughing, and it’s certainly reasonable to consult “the girl with the mic” on the release of the video, though I’m sure she knows she has the support of virtually everyone who has heard of this issue (myself of course very much included.) My first response to Sal was that he should release the video.

                    • Wyatt Alt says:

                      Sorry for all the posts, but let me add a couple more points to Jordan:

                      To your first comment, I don’t think anyone doubts that damage was done, by Sal. I also think that nobody (least of all Sal) disagrees that he was being a total asshole, and abusive to his audience, for much of the second half of the set. The question is whether that’s an honor principle violation, and that question is subjective. I feel like the third question is being obscured by rehashings of the first two.

                      To your second, statements that you believe something is dishonorable need to be backed up, and (this case completely aside) I can definitely imagine scenarios that would produce the same direct quote and wouldn’t be dishonorable in your eyes or mine, so it’s not enough just to say that quote is a self-evident HPV.

                      My opinion is that speech in Reed comedy clubs should not be more restricted than it is off-campus, and so in my mind, Sal’s performance is not an honor principle violation. There are issues on which I think the honor principle should be more restrictive than the law, but freedom of expression isn’t one of them. I don’t blame anyone for forming a negative opinion of him, but in my opinion that’s as far as any ‘punishment’ should go.

                    • Jordan Horowitz says:

                      Hey Wyatt,

                      I think we’re pretty much in total agreement. I don’t think Sal should be punished for anything either.

                      I guess a lot of what I’ve said here is premised on my *not* being “post-everything” as others here seem to be. Certain words in certain contexts and certain jokes in any context make me uncomfortable, and I can take those feelings of discomfort and extrapolate them to understand people whose reactions to certain kinds of humor goes beyond mere discomfort. And that’s why your words have to be carefully-considered and why you have to come up with better justifications than “if you don’t like it, leave,” “professional comedians do this all the time,” or “I can say whatever I want and I’m not responsible for how it’s received.”

                      I wish people would stop invoking this mysterious “right to not be offended” that they think Sal’s critics support. If the Honor Principle had to simplified to its basic form, like if there was an ’80s arcade version of it, there would only be three basic moves: the decision to act, community discussion about that action and the decision to call that action honorable or dishonorable. There aren’t “rights” anywhere to be found.

                    • Jordan Horowitz says:

                      My last post was mostly tangents and I wasn’t really responding to you, Wyatt. But now I am.

                      I have to disagree that freedom of expression should be less restrictive under the honor principle than under the law. To the best of my knowledge, it isn’t illegal to walk up to a gay guy on the street and yell “FAG!” But would it be dishonorable to do so at Reed? Absolutely.

                      So in some cases it is more restrictive, in others it might be less so. Maybe the thing to do is just to not really compare it to the law at all. I don’t know.

                    • Jordan Horowitz says:

                      aaaand one more thing: I agree that the same quote in a different context might not have been dishonorable. But I’m viewing it in context and I think it is.

                      Any time I say “dishonorable,” there should be an implicit “in my opinion” attached to it. I never said it was self-evident. I’m saying that I view it this way.

                      I agree that statements about honor principle violations need to be backed up. I’ve probably written the equivalent of three Hum papers in this comments section and I think that’s what I’ve been doing, even if you don’t agree with my conclusion.

                • Sal Rodriguez says:

                  –”On another note, it really doesn’t matter if people were laughing during Sal’s set, because clearly not everyone was laughing, and one person who wasn’t was singled out as a loud mouthed cunt.”

                  To clarify: she wasn’t singled out for not laughing. She was responded to for her constant heckling.

                • Manuel Arturo Abreu Rodriguez says:


                  First point: I don’t think anyone is ‘creditng [my] opinions as true.’ At least, I should hope no one is. My opinions are simply that: opinions, and they’re as important as everyone else’s. Further, I completely agree that I don’t have any more information than everyone, since some of the commenters here were at the show. Finally, I never claimed that Jordan ‘can’t form an opinion about Sal’s performance because he wasn’t there.’ All I said was that he shouldn’t have already made up his mind without being as informed as he could be. He should be open to considering other viewpoints (regardless of whether they are in agreement or disagreement with him, or whether they are male or female or other).

                  Second point: I definitely do not fully understand the mood of the show during Sal’s performance. Neither do you. As far as I can tell, neither of us were there so neither of us understand the mood of the show. I’ve talked to six people who were there too (some of them commenters on this page who are against Sal), and I’ve seen the video, because I consider it my duty to be as fully-informed as I can be if I’m going to state my opinions in a public forum and be open to the opinions of others. This may not be your ideal for public discussion like this, but it’s mine.

                  I consider being informed part of my duty because there are people who undoubtedly have formulated and will continue to formulate their opinions based only on these comments. Like Wyatt said, these people are looking to this page for clarity, and if you are implying that it’s not important for us as commenters to be as informed as possible in order to provide them with as much information as we can, then you and I have different ideals of what a productive discussion is. And that’s okay. I just think we need to find a middle ground where all opinions are considered with equal importance (even anonymous commenters) but where being fully informed is a priority.

                  Final point: I was shown the video and don’t have access to it. While I do advocate releasing it — with the consent of the girl who grabbed the mic — there are a number of complications with respect to releasing it (of which you seem to be aware), not least of which are the privacy of the girl who grabbed the mic and the probability of Reed students sharing the video with community outsiders who are less informed than literally any person on campus. Anyway, I’ll stop rambling. thanks for your time.

                  Manuel Abreu

    • I don't even go to Reed, but I live in Portland:Drewid says:

      Hardly a screaming match if you ask me, of course I haven’t read the denied comments. Personally I am perplexed why you seek to offend people and take offense to their being offended.

    • Pink Freud says:

      Well, Sal, my personal opinion is that you should put on a monthly get-together for misunderstood prophets instead of wasting your time prowling in ponds several sizes too small for you (e.g. stand-up comedy shows in the SU, but also maybe Reed itself).

      Consider this: If such a tradition were to be instituted, you could take your pearls of realness to a more enlightened audience. I am sure you cannot be the only student at this school who realizes that only a nation of battle-hardened, self-sufficient libertarians could survive the inevitable crumbling of the welfare state; who sneers at the pale, fleshy, pink-haired Portlandic multitude’s propensity to get upset about everything; who marvels at women’s refusal to understand that they simply need to get over it, Jesus, the real world doesn’t come with a trigger warning; or who is capable of making the fine, almost imperceptible distinctions between racist jokes, jokes about racist jokes, being a racist and cathartic profanity. So yes, I’m sure Reedies like you do exist! Obviously, however, they did not show up at the last stand-up comedy show, possibly because it had been advertised as a comedy night instead of Sal’s real talk night and they didn’t know you would be there to monopolize everybody’s attention–or maybe because cultivating a political mind as sharp as yours can take up all of one’s free time, thus rendering social and recreational events an unaffordable luxury for many. Surely you consider this a crying shame just as I do?

      Now, let me make a brief detour: I am not suggesting you were not funny. I am sure your routine was the height of sophistication, a superb piece of performance art that took you years to fine-tune. I have the utmost respect for the artistic skill involved in stand-up comedy, by the way. In fact, given the spirited reaction your act has provoked, I feel justified in ranking your virtuosity, your ability to tug on the heartstrings of your audience, somewhere above Liszt’s and slightly below Chopin’s. So yes, I am sure you were very funny indeed. But you already know that, of course; you have been defending the artistic value of your performance with the argument that it was stand-up comedy, which suggests to me an admirable degree of self-awareness on your part, the recognition of your own funniness in the face of so many people telling you that you are not funny. I really do admire your steadfastness and your refusal to be swayed by the ignorant heckling of the crowd. If I were you, I would have probably begun to doubt myself by now. I would have asked myself, “What if I’m not actually a stand-up comedian? What if all these people who watch my performances are right, and I have no natural talent or even a whiff of wittiness about me, and my so-called shows are nothing but a waste of everyone’s time, a tumorous outgrowth dangling from the backside of the Reed student body? Isn’t comedy, after all, defined by the response it elicits, the volume and tinkle of the laughter it draws from the audience, rather than by the author’s own opinion of himself?” But you do not suffer from the same bouts of crippling self-doubt as me, and so these treacherous questions don’t seem to occur to you. I salute your impeccable judgement! If only we all had your knack for objective self-evaluation.

      But it seems to me there was much more than mere comedy in your performance, is what I’m saying. There was also superb social commentary, penetrating insight about the moral weaknesses of the Reed student body and modern Western society at large, maybe there was even a poignant air of self-negation to your last stand against wilful ignorance and sloth. You see so much–you know exactly how weak and pathetic we liberal Reedies are, and what we need to do to train our minds and bodies to deal with the real world, to avoid falling prey to the natural evils of rape, racism and unemployment. Instead of listening to your real talk, however, we hound you, we brand you a racist and misogynist, a perverse pariah… How short-sighted of us! This is how Cassandra and Confucius must have felt. And yet you persist. Again, admirable.

      Admirable but ultimately fruitless. Hear me out, Sal. We will remain incapable of grasping your wisdom. We have been lost, slumbering in our incense-scented lair of tumblr-wave bullshit, white liberal guilt and gratuitous bisexuality for far too long. Our spines have curled in on themselves, our baby-carrot dicks have atrophied, our hands have long forgotten how to do anything other than flick cigarette butts and apply lube to our assholes. You’re wasting your wisdom on us for we are all Apple-worshipping hipsters, a lost generation.

      You need to go underground. You need to seek out those other genius Reedies I mentioned and form a resistance network with them, or a support group. Whichever works for you. Maybe a fight club. Don’t ask me how to find them; I don’t know. All I know is that they must exist, and you must find them. Don’t waste your time trying to awaken the rest of us to the truth of what the real world is like; we know nothing of the real world, and never will. Once Obamacare implodes and Iran nukes Israel off the face of the planet, we will all turn into a rampant horde of gay-married mixed-race Muslim zombies, and there’s nothing you can do about that.

      You have been put on this earth for a higher purpose, namely to lead those special few who will survive the liberal apocalypse. The misunderstood prophets. Do not rock the boat now, do not come to our stand-up comedy shows. It is better if we don’t know you’re out there. As I said, we’re beyond saving now and you must, for your own safety, treat us as your enemy. An enemy that vastly outnumbers you and reacts with hostility to even your most benevolent displays and exquisite performances. So let us, for now, have our pathetic little shows and our pathetic little delusions.

      But fear not, your time will come. When the self-involvement, moral decay and laziness of the misandric plebs brings about America’s downfall and the resulting splash sweeps away all human civilization, you will have been proven right. The last word will be yours. What’s the satisfaction of crashing a stand-up comedy show compared to that?

      • Sal Rodriguez says:

        I enjoy procrastinating as much as anybody, but holy shit.

      • Shawn Flanigan says:

        Pink Freud, whoever you are, I would very much like to buy you a malt (or whatever) beverage of you choosing.

      • Manuel Arturo Abreu Rodriguez says:

        Pink Freud,

        First off, admirable wall of text. For the record, tl;dr. It’s 3:48am and I just got back from a concert. I will read the full extent of your comment (which seems quite sarcastic, but maybe I’m a bit sleep-deprived and am reading into your writing stlye incorrectly). Regardless, I read far enough to see this:

        “Isn’t comedy, after all, defined by the response it elicits, the volume and tinkle of the laughter it draws from the audience, rather than by the author’s own opinion of himself?”

        Yes. Naturally. And what’s problematic is that, having seen the video of Sal’s performance, I can confirm that people were in fact laughing throughout Sal’s set. Consider the fact that, since it seems you haven’t seen Sal’s set, you might not be informed enough to offer such a logorrheic diatribe.


        • Pink Freud says:

          I apologize for taxing your attention with too much text, Manuel! Getting through eight paragraphs can be a bit of an ordeal, I admit. I, too, occasionally find myself unable to concentrate on a page of reading for too long, especially on late Friday evenings, when I can sometimes overindulge in the ole smoking herb. But I’m sure your attention kept straying for some other, more important reason than mine. Again, my apologies.

          To address the charge unfairly levied against me–that the thrust of my composition was shrouded in sarcasm, of all things–I wouldn’t dream of treating the issues of racial relations and sexual assault with anything but the utmost gravity. And here we’re dealing with the even weightier topic of what, exactly, constitutes offensive and dishonorable behavior and what, exactly, honest men like Sal can do to protect themselves and their craft from the rabid mob of females that has taken over this once-fine institution. Can you imagine any decent, civic-minded person approaching this situation with levity, or worse, addressing the people involved with sarcasm and disrespect? No, of course not. Just like Sal himself, I have been engaging in this debate with nothing but constructive intent, sincerity and good faith from the get-go. Please feel free to take every single thing I say at face value.

          Your failure to do so probably accounts for the fact that you seem to have latched onto a hypothetical rhetorical question I would have asked were I to find myself in Sal’s position, and presented it as an argument I allegedly made against Sal. I assure you, I am certain he was the soul of wittiness on that night. What I said, let me remind you, was that if I had been in his shoes, the onslaught of negative feedback would have probably prompted me to scrutinize “the volume and tinkle” of the laughter my act evoked. The number of people who laughed at my jokes, the expressions of pained embarrassment on their faces–which in some cultures have been known to indicate shock and confusion, nervous laughter being a natural reaction to uncomfortably tense situations and all that–the deafening silence of the stone-faced majority, that sort of thing. But! Let me reiterate, these doubts should not, and apparently do not, occur to Sal. Good for him. We live in an age of contrition and self-effacement, surrounded by meek, effeminate voices that preface even the most indisputable statements with “I feel that,” “I don’t know enough about this to comment,” and “I’m really not sure about this, but it seems to me…” –fluffy little rodents waiting for guidance, an expert opinion, seeking to make themselves look small and stupid, to absolve themselves of any responsibility for the words coming out of their mouths.

          As I said, I am very glad that Sal does not suffer from this regrettably common affliction. And why would he? Self-doubt is the disease of the far left. Those who live in the real world know better than to doubt their own integrity.

          Truly, I was only criticizing myself.

  22. Sal Rodriguez says:

    Beer Nation, Feminist Student Union: If you want to talk. In person. Send me an email.

    • Rodney Mastick says:

      This is echoing what an anonymous commenter said a couple days ago, if I remember correctly, but I think it’s misguided to put so much emphasis on others engaging with you, Sal, especially those that may have been most impacted by your performance. As that commenter mentioned, I don’t think one should be expected to put themselves in a position where they have to engage with another individual that has deliberately created (though, as you keep emphasizing, as part of a “performance”) a threatening environment in which they could possibly be triggered or put through emotional turmoil. More importantly, I don’t think that lack of engagement on their part is unwarranted or dishonorable (though you have never, as far as I can remember, accused it of being such, I still feel the need to make it explicit), because it comes from a motivation to care for self, which in instances like these takes precedence over any competitive motivation to engage, constructively or not, with the individual whose performance precipitated it. Though it’s true you are addressing groups now and not particular individuals, I think ultimately the distinction is small, and the basic concept holds true. The individuals who make up these groups have a right to care for themselves before engaging in any discussion with you personally and one-on-one if they so choose.

      Above all else, though you keep asking offended individuals to engage with you directly, I want to mention that any apprehension they may have in doing so is, in my mind, entirely justified by the lack of good faith you have displayed so far in the discussion surrounding this event. In my impression of these comments, which I have read the entirety of, you have been antagonistic, dismissive of the emotional impacts your performance had on others, and nonconstructive. You have not, in my opinion, engaged with criticisms and concerns genuinely, with an honest desire either to right the unfortunate consequences done (however unintentional they may have been on your part, or avoidable it may have been on the audiences’ part (by getting up to leave, as you keep saying) (your opinion)), understand where your critics are coming from, or really explain what you were trying to do (besides mentions of the transgressive nature of comedy as an art form). Taking these impressions into consideration, I don’t think you should expect others to engage with you one-on-one, because that needs to be predicated on assumptions of good faith coming from both sides, and you up to this point have not demonstrated that–no real desire to clarify and understand positions, and reach a healthy conclusion. I can hazard to understand how you could be put on the defensive by all this and conduct yourself accordingly, but I just want to say that I, personally, am disappointed in the way you have conducted yourself in the wake of this event, however blown out of proportion it may have been (your opinion), and I think others are owed a certain degree of respect in this discussion which you are not acknowledging or acting on. I think framing the discussion in such a way that others are made to look unreasonable for not approaching you directly to talk about your performance and their reactions to it, even by email, when you have by your behavior created an environment in which they can not anticipate being respected, is disingenuous.

      This is my opinion regarding everything so far, and that may mean nothing to you, which is fine, that’s your prerogative, it’s just my opinion, but as someone who was offended enough (and, frankly, angry enough) with your performance on …(looked for the date of the event on facebook but couldn’t find it–but it was the one where Quinn talked about “Get to know your bank teller.” Very funny. Props to you Quinn) to not go to any other RKKK events, who was very upset to hear secondhand that your next performance included rape jokes, and who was relieved that someone was courageous enough to confront you at your most recent performance, I just wanted to express my feelings regarding the issue, which I think I have distilled down to their most constructive/non-reactive essence. I want to emphasize that these are my impressions of the situation up to this point, and as such have no real implicit weight or bearing on anyone’s behavior, but I would venture to assume that others, possibly many, are equally frustrated with your engagement in the way I have above described. I can’t (and don’t want to) tell you what to do, but I would guess that taking what I’ve said into consideration could help both sides of this reach a more productive level of engagement, with a consequent clearer understanding of the situation and a better possibility for resolution.

      *Also, just want to mention, I think to say that people shouldn’t be offended by your performance and should instead invest their energies on “real” problems out in the real world, arguments you and Manny have put forth, is extremely dismissive of others’ emotional lives here on campus. Though there are certainly problems outside of Reed that need to get tackled, and I don’t want to minimize them or the work others do in that realm to help reduce those problems, to say individuals at Reed who were impacted in a very real way by your performance are misguided and should instead focus on “real” issues effectively reduces their personhood as an individual allowed to feel things to zero. That is, though maybe delivered from a position of genuine concern for problems outside of Reed, in my opinion offensive, and a red herring of an argument regarding the issue at hand.

      This is all I wanted to say, and for my own mental wellbeing it is all I’m going to say. Please do not use my example as someone who deliberately stopped going to RKKK events as a means to criticize others for not doing the same. I could have just as easily been at any of the club’s subsequent events for the first time if I had not gone to the one I went to, even with the most recent’s “seriously offensive material” disclaimer, and, not knowing to watch out specifically for your set, still been exposed to your performance. As such, even if I decided to leave halfway through your set, the damage which you say an individual could have prevented by “just walking out” would have already been done, because the way I see it a person won’t know to leave until they’ve already been exposed to potentially triggering material from which to leave. Again, my opinion.

      • Sal Rodriguez says:

        I understand this completely, and largely agree with you. That’s fine that you don’t understand my act and that you take it at face value. I too am waiting for some idea of what kind of resolution people want. But as I said before it is hard to have a meaningful discussion with people hiding behind anonymous names who have already convinced themselves that I am a racist, sexist, homophobe. This is complicated by the fact that a lot of people making noise and commenting weren’t at the show, and only have second hand reports to go by.

        This situation has, however, gotten out of hand. I have been threatened with violence, the legitimacy of my performance has been called into question by people who have already made up their minds, and I’ve been condemned as a racist, sexist, homophobe. Meanwhile, those who were triggered have to see this whole circus dragged out. I take no pride in being the target of this outrage.

        I will preempt the Feminist Student Union by saying that I think that publishing or writing anything about my act without consulting with me for readership in the Reed community is irresponsible. It is using the trauma of those who deserve to live their lives without constant reminders of their suffering to advance a political agenda without the full facts of the incident in question. That to me is dishonorable.

        That said, I do plan on releasing an answer to the Letter in the Quest asking me about my intentions for the community to understand why I did what I did, though I am waiting for the editors of the Quest to approve of this idea.

    • Zach Babb from Nation says:

      What would you like to talk about?

  23. the girl who grabbed the mic says:

    I want to address an argument that you have been reiterating throughout this forum. It is summed up with this statement:

    “There is a distinction between the on-stage persona and myself. I would be on board with considering someone an asshole if they said the kinds of things I said on stage in a conference, for example, or in Commons. But that wasn’t the case. It was a comedy show.”

    There is distinction between your on-stage persona and yourself, you say? Well, who writes the comedy routine for your on-stage persona? I’m gonna go ahead and say it’s you. I never called you a “sexist, racist, homophobe.” I said that you said “misogynistic, racist, and homophobic” things. Whether this critique is addressed to you or your on-stage persona is really irrelevant.

    Stop side-stepping responsibility for your words by contextualizing them as a performance. Here, I am going to recontectualize them for you. These are things you said ***in a public forum.*** I will argue that saying these things (slurs directed towards specific people) in a public forum is actually worse than in conference or in Commons for several reasons.

    1. Mocking people in a public forum is an honor principle violation. (Seriously, just go read it.)
    2. You are engaging people who’s personal histories you do not know. (Yes, I am talking about rape survivors. But especially survivors of verbal and emotional abuse. Additionally, you have no way of knowing if your homophobic slurs are being directed towards an *actual* queer person or not.)
    3. When you speak in a public forum—no matter if it is small or large, open or closed—you are speaking as a representative of the college. Like it or not, you become Sal Rodriguez, Reed College Student. Whether or not audience members agree with your speech, it (and other’s response to it) actively shapes the environment of our campus.
    4. By saying these things in the context of performance, you severely limited possible responses to your actions. This was intentional. This is not an environment where a meaningful dialogue or debate is possible. We all have years and years of socialization telling us to sit in our seats, remain quiet, and be good auidence members. If you want to talk about stand-up canon, people who get up to leave during stand-up shows are regularly called out and degraded. The fact that you didn’t do this is irrelevant. My point is, that even if someone is capable of leaving, in this context, it must be a completely conscious choice and it is not the first reaction most people will have. Disagreeing with your speech vocally is another matter entirely.
    5. The argument that people laughed during your racist jokes is really irrelevant. Has it ever occurred to you that this laughter might also contribute to a negative atmosphere for many students? I am white, but I would imagine that sitting in a room as a person of color, hearing your white peers laugh at racist jokes would be rather disconcerting.

    It is my belief that if you say vile things in a public forum, you deserve to be called out in a public forum. Talking to you privately (as you suggested) would have done nothing. This was not an interpersonal conflict. Other people deserve to know that I refuse to be represented by hate speech, and I refuse to let Reed College exist as a space where that kind of behavior goes unchecked.

    As I mentioned in the article, this was not offensive comedy. This was hate speech. Labeling the show as “offensive” does little. I am capable of handling offensive jokes; I usually quite enjoy them. Wanda Skyes tells rape jokes. I laugh at them. The difference is that she is not actively targeting people who are oppressed, as you were. Even if the show had a full trigger warning, that only declares what topics will be mentioned, it does not say, “Prepare to be verbally abused when you enter this space.”

    I reacted to hate speech by adding my own voice. In what world is that not an appropriate response?
    I am not advocating for censorship. I am asking that you understand your capacity for harm and hold yourself accountable for your actions. You have done neither of these things.

    As a community, I am asking that we learn to identify hate speech and confront it. We need to come forward and state that it does not meet the expectations we hold for each other as a community. I ask that we educate ourselves about what it means to be triggered and actively attempt to avoid triggering others. We need to understand that we all contribute to the climate of this campus, and goddamn it, we need to make it a safer space.

    • Sal Rodriguez says:

      —”Whether this critique is addressed to you or your on-stage persona is really irrelevant.”

      It is relevant. Complaining about my comedy act is like complaining about a writer-performer in a play or movie for portraying and saying things you didn’t like. Do I go around addressing people using the kind of language I said on stage? No. I agree with you in disliking my persona. I find him distasteful myself.

      –”Stop side-stepping responsibility for your words by contextualizing them as a performance.”

      Context is important. Had there just been a microphone in the SU and people were just hanging out and I walked in and started saying the things I said in my act, I would be in complete agreement with you. Likewise, had Boots gotten naked in the SU while I was just hanging out, I would be angry about that too. Context matters.

      –”1. Mocking people in a public forum is an honor principle violation. (Seriously, just go read it.)”

      No disagreement. But what is a public forum? Does the honor principle only apply to the performer? A heckler called me a bitch, does that make him dishonorable? Here is my argument: When you chose to engage in a heckler-performer exchange, you lost any protections from being shouted back at. That’s how heckling goes in a comedy performance.

      –”2. You are engaging people who’s personal histories you do not know. (Yes, I am talking about rape survivors. But especially survivors of verbal and emotional abuse. Additionally, you have no way of knowing if your homophobic slurs are being directed towards an *actual* queer person or not.)”

      Yes. That goes with any performance. I do not know everyone in the audience (I can’t even see beyond the first couple rows because of the lights on me), and that statement goes for anyone.

      –”3. When you speak in a public forum—no matter if it is small or large, open or closed—you are speaking as a representative of the college. Like it or not, you become Sal Rodriguez, Reed College Student. Whether or not audience members agree with your speech, it (and other’s response to it) actively shapes the environment of our campus.”

      Sure. Perhaps I wrongly assumed that Reed College was a place for freedom of expression.

      –”4. By saying these things in the context of performance, you severely limited possible responses to your actions. This was intentional. This is not an environment where a meaningful dialogue or debate is possible.”

      Right. Meaningful dialogue and debate can happen after the show. The show is what it is, however, and just as a movie or play doesn’t stop for clarification questions and meaningful dialogue during the performance, the same applies to a stand-up show, in my mind.

      –”We all have years and years of socialization telling us to sit in our seats, remain quiet, and be good auidence members. ”

      Yes, that was part of what I was playing off of.

      –”If you want to talk about stand-up canon, people who get up to leave during stand-up shows are regularly called out and degraded.”

      This is cherry picking stand-up canon, though in the years of performing I don’t know that this one is canon. People walked out during my set, and I never said anything. Never have.

      –”The fact that you didn’t do this is irrelevant.”


      –”My point is, that even if someone is capable of leaving, in this context, it must be a completely conscious choice and it is not the first reaction most people will have. ”

      I think this is irrelevant. Audience members are individuals who make their own choices. Some heckled, others stayed quiet, some left.

      –”5. The argument that people laughed during your racist jokes is really irrelevant. Has it ever occurred to you that this laughter might also contribute to a negative atmosphere for many students? I am white, but I would imagine that sitting in a room as a person of color, hearing your white peers laugh at racist jokes would be rather disconcerting.”

      It is relevant. This was a comedy show. I was trying to be funny. Correct me if you disagree, but I believe that people have a right to try and make things funny. Especially if they are performing a comedy show. Do I use offensive words? Yes. Partly finding humor in words, partly shock value, partly a subtle critique at the power of words. Will some people be offended? Sure. Will some people laugh? Sure. Will some people understand why I’m doing what I do? Yes. Will others completely miss the point of the performance and misconstrue the whole thing as hate speech? Apparently so.

      –”It is my belief that if you say vile things in a public forum, you deserve to be called out in a public forum.”

      Sure. I’m willing to have a discussion about words and my act, publicly and privately, as I have been doing the past week.

      –”This was hate speech.”

      I know myself. I know my intentions. I know the venue I was at (comedy show). I know the response I got (laughs, groans, cringes). I know what hate speech is, and I know what a performance is. I know the difference between A hate speech and the use of hate speech in a performance.

      –”Labeling the show as “offensive” does little. ”

      I don’t think there is much ambiguity in a flier that states that there will be “highly offensive” material at the comedy show.

      –”I am capable of handling offensive jokes; I usually quite enjoy them”

      But you didn’t enjoy mine. And that’s fine. But does that make me dishonorable? Because your sense of humor is different from mine?

      –”The difference is that she is not actively targeting people who are oppressed, as you were.”

      Sam Kinison made sexist jokes and performed bits about starving Africans. Lisa Lampanelli has built her career on racist and sexist jokes. Jim Norton and Louis CK have joked about child molestation and race. Nothing is off limits in comedy. If you had bothered to talk to me in private, you’d know that my race bits are jabs at white guilt and white perceptions of race.

      –”“Prepare to be verbally abused when you enter this space.””

      Then there can be a reminder that heckling will be responded to. Though there are significant numbers of rules that we in the comedy club have assumed people would know about performances. Though apparently you’ve seen comedy shows and have referred to stand-up canon, so tell me, how was I supposed to differentiate your pain-filled complaint of my performance from a heckle? All you were shouting was “get off the stage” and I think a “fuck you.” (Someone shouted “fuck you.”)

      –” I am asking that you understand your capacity for harm and hold yourself accountable for your actions. You have done neither of these things.”

      I understand it completely and take full responsibility for my act. That is why I have been having meetings, have contributed my perspective to this story, and have repeatedly made offers for people to email me or speak to me in person, as I have been doing. I have stated and will state again: I sympathize with those who were triggered or harmed or felt badly. I understand completely why someone would take offense to being yelled at. I understand completely that someone who doesn’t know me could possibly just see my whole act as being a racist and sexist tirade. But that doesn’t change the fact that it was a performance.

      For you, what would holding myself accountable for my actions look like? What are you looking for in terms of understanding my capacity for harm?

    • Sal has mostly addressed what I was going to say, but you’ve made a distinction between “offensive comedy” and “hate speech.”

      There is a volume of literature — the most popular coming from writers like Glenn Greenwald — showing just how arbitrary and subjective the definition of “hate speech” is. Much like “terrorism” or “torture” or “democracy”, ideological groups and politicians have an interest in defining this word their way. I doubt you are exempt from this. “Hate speech” used to mean “stuff the KKK says”, but with the advent of social justice blogging it has just become “really offensive speech”, a necessary distinction for when you realize that “offensive speech” will not win over the liberals in your crowd who are fans of George Carlin et al.

  24. karen says:

    Disappointed that nobody has made this comparison yet (publicly):

    Definitely an interesting case to parallel; I definitely recommend seeking out opinions (both sides) from professional comedians in response.

  25. Allen Isaacson says:

    From what I’ve heard, Sal’s main point is: “it was a performance.” “It doesn’t stop being a performance if you get offended.” However, Sal seems to be confusing the main point here; just because it is in a performance setting doesn’t make it a performance! I believe content is important to determining what is a performance and what isn’t.

    That point aside, let’s focus on something else: assuming that I am wrong (because Sal probably disagrees with me) and that this was a performance, does that mean it still did not constitute verbal assault and/or hate speech?

    Sal, what you seem to be missing is that your “performance” was intentionally injurious. Your main defense is, “it was a performance!” But that doesn’t negate the fact that it was verbally assaulting the audience members and it consisted almost entirely of hate speech. Even if 1% of your performance was funny, that doesn’t excuse the parts of your performance that intentionally caused direct, grievous emotional harm toward your peers. I encourage you to look further into the effects of triggering (perhaps in the context of PTSD) and try to understand that someone who was triggered and/or emotionally injured may have been so shocked that they were unable to leave. I have heard of at least one person who was so shocked, taken aback, and mentally injured that this person was unable to leave. This clearly pokes a hole in your argument that they simply should have left. Also, perhaps people wanted to stay for the other performances, or were hoping you were simply going to start actually being funny and less aggressive to the crowd.

    Your conduct was clearly disrespectful and intentionally injurious to your peers, your community, your fellow performers, the comedy club, and actual comedians everywhere. In this context, you quite clearly violated the honor principle and, at the very least, basic tenets for how to be a good human being. Frankly, I’m surprised you have not yet had a suit filed against you in civil court by one of the audience members. Had I been there, I would have been looking for reparations for the damages you caused to your peers.

    • Sal Rodriguez says:

      Your comment makes sense given that you weren’t there.

      I don’t blame you for misunderstanding what actually happened. The show sounds horrible, especially with descriptions from triggered audience members. However, every controversial joke in question actually received very audible laughter. If I had to guess, perceptions from those actually in attendance and from those who actually have seen the video differ dramatically from hysterical comments like yours.

    • Manuel Arturo Abreu Rodriguez says:


      Please cite the legal precedents and clauses in US law which would justify filing a suit against Sal’s performance in civil court. If you’re surprised it hasn’t happened yet, I’d like to know the legal research you’ve done to back your claim up. I’m interested because what you’re implying here is serious. Thanks for your time.


  26. Moderator [not actually] says:

    ” I ask that we educate ourselves about what it means to be triggered and actively attempt to avoid triggering others. We need to understand that we all contribute to the climate of this campus, and goddamn it, we need to make it a safer space.”

    It is comments like this that make me think we need more Sals to wake you people up. Is Reed really not enough of a bubble for you? Maybe you should just give up and live in a nursing home.

    • T says:

      It sounds to me like you haven’t heard about what being triggered entails. I fully support Allen’s suggestion that people should educate themselves about triggers because in general this is not a well-understood term. Although I do not have triggers myself, I’ve talked with a couple of my survivor friends who were interested in publishing a guide to triggers in the Quest because of the general ignorance on campus about what it means to be triggered. I believe that there are Reedies keeping up with this conversation because they don’t understand the controversy and genuinely want to be informed, so maybe this resource by a sexual abuse survivor on triggers and the importance of trigger warnings will be of use to them:

      If more Reedies knew about triggers (whether for sexual assault or other trauma), I’m sure we could reduce the frequency of incidents that trigger large numbers of people. There are numerous well-known general triggers, such as making light of sexual assault, that are easily avoidable.

      • Sal Rodriguez says:

        It would similarly be productive if it were explicitly stated what parts of my act were triggering and how the triggering elements in my act differed from other mentions of rape/sexual assault in other comedians acts that night.

  27. Anonymous Female-Identified Reedie says:

    Sal –

    Here are two articles you might wish to read. Please respond affirming you have done so.

  28. the girl who grabbed the mic says:


    “I know what hate speech is, and I know what a performance is. I know the difference between A hate speech and the use of hate speech in a performance.”

    So you’ve acknowledged that you used hate speech in your performance? Great. Good steps. Now acknowledge that the people in the audience aren’t hiding behind on-stage personas. When you call someone a “sand n****r” or a “loud-mouthed cunt” you are interacting with them as a REAL LIVE FLESH & BLOOD HUMAN BEING. When you call the entire audience “pussy bitches” and “cunts,” for many women(/people), you are activating memories of trauma and abuse. You used violently misogynistic language ON PURPOSE. You have conceded that your performance might be triggering. But WHY. Why does it have to be triggering? Why do you use hate speech in your performance? Whatever your end goal was, it cannot be worth all the harm that you have caused.

    You think this has blown out of proportion? I agree. I don’t understand how this is even a question or a debate. It should be pretty simple for us to say “Using hate speech and berating marginalized groups (using slurs) is a violation of the Honor Principle and our community standards.”

    Whether or not it was a performance, whether or not you would say those things in another forum, you still said them to real live people who were harmed by your actions. I think people are trying to have a bigger conversation that you just keep dodging.

    • Sal Rodriguez says:

      –”When you call someone a “sand n****r” or a “loud-mouthed cunt” you are interacting with them as a REAL LIVE FLESH & BLOOD HUMAN BEING”

      That’s a given. But you are purposely trying to disregard the context, which is crucial.

      I ask again: What were you heckling? What differentiated your heckling from that of any other heckling? What entitled your heckling to go without the same kind of response that any potential heckling faces? You have made it clear that you understand stand-up comedy. You have referred to “stand-up canon” and I’m sure you are perfectly aware of the very well established heckler-performer relationship.

      –”When you call the entire audience “pussy bitches” and “cunts,” for many women(/people), you are activating memories of trauma and abuse”

      Not necessarily. Though as I’ve said before, if a student attends a comedy show advertised as having highly offensive material, they have no right to no be offended. Where is the outrage over seeing Boots’ balls? I didn’t want to see that, I never signed to see a naked performer. But I would never accuse him of being anything less than an honorable performer, because of the context. If he had walked into Commons like that, it’d be a different story.

      Comedians and performers of any kind should not have to preface every single performance with the litany of possible things that might offend an audience member. I made the joke that a performers joke about me (committing a hate crime) “bombed more than Israel.” Is that a dishonorable joke? That joke has the potential to trigger thoughts of people dying and suffering. Where is the outrage over rape joke that preceded mine? What about the joke that involved a retelling of the horrible atrocities Native Americans faced? Where is the outrage over the joke about pornography, a market that sexually exploits people? Those are all potentially triggering, and yet my set got singled out by you.

      –”Why does it have to be triggering?”

      I don’t think that a comedian yelling at an audience has to be triggering. But I don’t know the emotional well-being of every single audience member. I don’t know who has or hasn’t been called a racial epithet in their life.

      –”Why do you use hate speech in your performance?”

      As I said: It’s part shock value, part mocking the power people give to words, and part giving people an opportunity to laugh about these words. Confronting an audience with offensive words is nothing new.

      As I’ve said before: I don’t believe that freedom of expression or performance should be suppressed. What disclaimers do you think would be appropriate to communicate to a community member considering attending the comedy show that they may be offended or triggered?

  29. sparkles says:

    Something Sal should consider: Good art is considered to be creative, novel and useful. Your act, from what I can tell as your cowardice will not allow you to post a video, was none of the above. Seeing as how you are not pleased with your audience’s reaction you were clearly unable to make the audience feel what you had intended. For this you have no one to blame but yourself. Good artists are also capable of taking critique maturely, respectfully, and with humility. Comedians especially must have a great deal of humility. Once again you have failed in those aspects that make a good artist. I would hope that at Reed college they would teach you that. Clearly they haven’t.
    Something Reed college should consider: Regardless of whether you agree with this student they are a representative of your school. Some people will ONLY see this one singular representative and not all the other students standing up against him. Sal has created an environment out of your school that feels, at the very least, uncomfortable, quite possibly unsafe, and ultimately undesirable to many current, graduated, and perspective students. This is not the student you show to visiting perspective students to say the least. Furthermore, a liberal arts college should teach its students to take criticism properly. I’m sure most students attending Reed are very much adept at taking such criticism. Sal does not seem to be one of those student. In short, Sal does not make your school look good.

  30. wussy anonymous reedie says:

    Let’s take Sal’s statement that what he said was, indeed, an artistic decision that has little to do with his real life persona to be true. I think the issue then arises with the public’s perception of the relationship with the medium and the performer with regards to standup comedy. If similar disparaging things were said in a film, or even a theatrical piece presented as such, it probably would be a little less of a big deal. At least for me, there’s something about standup comedy that feels so goddamn personal — there is rarely that same suspension of disbelief. Sal’s beliefs relies on standup being just as abstract and removed as formal theater or film; I don’t think that’s widely viewed enough to be true.

  31. Axcelle Bell says:

    My thoughts generally:

    When other people let you know that you have harmed them in some fashion, the honor principle should compel you to seek out remediation of that harm, whether or not the action was justified to either party. Misunderstanding or disagreement is a part of the nature of conflict.

    There are two themes in question:

    Is there a line to be drawn for what can be said/ done in a comedy show and still be within basic decency outlined by the honor principle? I would think that the answer would be, yes there is a line, even in the realm of verbal and emotional contact, but this is complicated by it being a performance and there being misunderstanding as to the nature of the artist enough to where the audience-performer boundary was skewed.

    Less emphasized: The issue of how we respond as community members when people feel others are in danger, are triggered or harmed. This gets at the question of whether or not the “girl who grabbed the mic” was justified in her action as well as gives us some insight into appropriate action in response to this harm done and resulting controversy.

    My comment:

    I can’t say much on this. I can only say I think there are a lot of statements coming out of emotion on the forum. I hope people have the grace to be able to forgive crudeness or slight personal attacks, or even dismissal of points that may be valid. It’s a sticky issue; people are going to get dirty. I hope they remain accountable for the dirt they dig up, however.

    Furthermore it is my perspective that the issue is not so much of “should sal have said what he said where he said it” or “should people have expected to be offended” so much as it is a question of what is appropriate to do, now that harm has clearly been done. Staying within the arguments of whether or not people should have been there, or whether or not Sal’s performance had enough jokes or artistic value to merit the offensive language used allows both sides to dismiss one another’s actual and impending harm. I might actually agree with Sal that the individuals who were offended should be engaged with support first, more so than engaging the whole community, the benefits of this kind of dialogue (or potential harms) aside. For most of us, we can only hear things second hand, and were not directly involved. It doesn’t seem our place to say what should and should not be in a skit or performance, so much as it should be our concern that all members of our community feel safe, supported and empowered. This is a hard question. If it were not now a community discussion it would be clear that the honor principle compels you to take responsibility for your harm whether or not it was justified, or intentional. If I walk briskly by someone and accidentally knock them over, it is expected as a compassionate member of the community that I will be concerned with their well being whether or not I intended to knock them over, and whether or not they somehow were in the way. Understandably, this is not so simple of a situation.

    I want to say that while I do not appreciate all of Sal’s comments, and don’t agree with all of Sal’s comments personally, I do find it admirable that he has continued to be engaged with a very difficult discussion and has responded in kind to many of the community members who have addressed him. I also think that many community members’ comments are ultimately coming from a place of concern, though that concern may often look like paternalism, or censorship.

  32. Nima Subramanian says:

    Wow you would think for all the postmodern lit theory taught here people would have learned something. You guys are taking absolutely no responsibility for your personal reactions to Sal’s, yes, provocative but in my opinion, hilarious performance. If you think the mere mention of the pathetic sexual assault situation at Reed is triggering, you are way too sensitive to ever attend a comedy show much less one that even tried to warn you it would be offensive. If you think being called a cunt because you were trashing someone’s performance because of your own fucked up personal issues is what misogyny is, then you don’t know the meaning of the word misogyny. Frankly you can find anything triggering and if this is what you find triggering you live one fucking sheltered life and nobody in the real world is going to care about your bullshit. Yes it was your right to express your reaction to that performance but then don’t act all surprised and call “sexist” when your shit gets called out too! You are all using the ASSUMPTION that this performance was offensive to support your consequentialist argument about how dishonorable it was while failing to recognize your responsibility for your interpretation.

    What about the comments that Sal made that night was actually used to support a misogynistic or racist world view? What great philosophies about the inherent virtues of straight white males was Sal expounding that night? None. He was using words to bait you to realize that you give them too much power and you bit. You’re all so stuck on political correctness and the idea that these words (cunt, fag, nigger) can only be used in one context. And frankly I think Sal’s comments about Reed’s pathetic campaign to fake inclusivity and fake diversity are spot on and the signs about the sexual assault all over campus reflect how absurd and pathetic the situation is at these white privileged colleges. You’re assuming it was hate speech because you get off on the idea that you are so self righteous and now you have someone to villianize rather than see it as a piece of shock performance and be outraged about REAL issues and work for REAL change. Maybe the only comedy that’s funny to you is one with an obvious set up and punchline, but personally I think its Sal’s perfect anticipation of your own fake “open-mindedness” is quite entertaining.

    -brown dyke, so don’t get your panties in a bunch

    • lol wtf is uppppppppppppp! For the real though, a couple of things:

      1. Denigrating people for being offended without providing a specific reason why they shouldn’t be just makes you a meanie. “I’m so tough and hard and so aware of the nature of suffering that I can do this, and it’s all some sort of expedient means for……….’ for what? For anything productive? I doubt it.

      But you’re points to me seem rather vacuous, as if you were only talking to yourself. I mean, check it,your allusion to some pomo literary theory that teaches the virtue of hermeneutic prudency WTFE (what the fuck ever) is kind of just a straw-man……..I mean, duh, yes we are supposed to recognize our own agency in interpreting any text…..but I think this argument is really an antisocial one that again… simply talking to itself. I mean, what I’ve seen throughout these responses is the idea that……’Sal is a really good person, so you hating on him is just so judgmental and assumptive….but c’mon, a person can’t hide within their private little lives with illusions of grandeur concering how they’re so removed from the liberal biases of our community, and believe oneself to just simply be ‘a good person’, and on top of that one who has understood suffering enough to council others on when their suffering is unwarranted……I mean, this could be reasonably done, but I don’t see it here; there’s no specific reason why people are overacting in your eyes; no, you are simply so certain that….any response would essentially be reactionary…..because, again, we somehow are ‘narrowsighted’ about the cause or the meaning of decency, or unaware of the presumptuousness of our feelings of pain and victimization…….O god, how have we been soooo blind.

      I mean, it’s too antisocial in my opinion…..of course I’m not going to simply assume whatever about a person, especially because they go to this college. No, I’m going to go off of what I have, the words people make public……..that’s the truth……no we can’t purview your inner sanctum of an Ego to realize you’re all the really maginalized Boddhisatvas, ironically manipulating our own sense of what is threatening, to teach us something greater…..I can’t assume that, I have to go off of what you say…..and since you’re a stranger to most the people in the audience, they will too. Please, we’re not mindless automatons conditioned by some reactionary unthinking liberalism……hahaha, we are just people giving an ear to whatever you have to spew, whether it tickles our fancy or it pisses us off.

      The comedic context isn’t some reified stasis, like any other officially sanctioned social space….the actions of people always have a chance to transcend that meaning.

      Sal, Boots didn’t rub his family jewels in my face…….and you didn’t frame your attempt at ‘ mocking the power people give to words, and part giving people an opportunity to laugh about these words.’ as that……so of course we’re bound to be confused. Again, we’re not mindless…..and as a stranger I’m gonna give you the benefit of the doubt……BUT AGAIN, we’re working with what we have and we can’t peer into your actual innocence… might as well not exist when your are yelling at strangers.

      I’m down for doing that sort of performance….but you can’t make it so surreal…..we might interpret it to be real. To say this is a mistake of ours is to, and people who assume it is, are imposing too rashly their own sense of being immaculate……how the fuck is stranger supposed to know you’re not actually a sociopathic threat? I mean, you can say we should know from the context of the comedic performance…..but hear me out, in real life, that’s how you get sucker punched by best friends, family members etcccccccc.

      People making these sorts of arguments^^^, and they’re not even mainly Sal, are really the sheltered ones.

      And Sal, I’m not trying to say these things were unknown by you, I’m just trying to give some context to the aftermath.

      • Sal Rodriguez says:

        –”But you’re points to me seem rather vacuous, as if you were only talking to yourself. ”


      • Nima Subramanian says:

        “Denigrating people for being offended without providing a specific reason why they shouldn’t be just makes you a meanie”

        Why would I have to provide you with a reason to NOT be offended? You should provide me with a reason to be offended based on what was said (which you have not). Is you default reaction to every performance to be offended until you convinced that it is not actually offensive? Seems like a rather backwards way to go about things. I try to justify my reactions rather than just having a reaction and then trying to justify them. But obviously you don’t go about it like that.

        “what I’ve seen throughout these responses is the idea that……’Sal is a really good person, so you hating on him is just so judgmental and assumptive”

        for the record, I have never met the kid. So my argument had nothing to do with that point. And it also proves that one doesn’t have to necessarily know the person to not jump to the conclusion that he’s a “sociopath”.

        “there’s no specific reason why people are overacting in your eyes; no, you are simply so certain that”

        have I not provided specific reasons? That the slurs weren’t used to articulate any misogynistic or racist point but simply to draw attention to the power words have over us. What reason have you provided me for your reaction? Your point has been simply to allude to this mysterious “suffering” of others.

        “Please, we’re not mindless automatons conditioned by some reactionary unthinking liberalism”

        Well, kind of…

        Maybe the real world wouldn’t react well to this sort of performance. But the real world is full of reactionary people who think the mere use of a word is more important than the context its used in. The real world tried to take the word nigger out of huckleberry finn and replace it with slave. I have poor opinion of the real world to be frank. But I actually think that that sort of over the top reaction to Sal’s performance just demonstrates his point. I kind of was expecting better of Reedies, however.

  33. Alberta Bleck says:

    As a member of Honor Council, I would like to encourage everyone to continue this dialogue respectfully and honorably if this is something we think will help the community come to terms with what has happened.

    I would also like to take this chance to remind everyone of the community resources available: Honor Council has office hours (posted on our office door in GCC-033a) if you would like to speak to us in person. You can also email us at or email any of the members individually. All communication with Honor Council will remain confidential. Furthermore, formal mediation is available to those who wish to pursue it. Finally, I urge everyone to take care of themselves and each other. This can be a difficult time of year, and showing concern for others in all of our actions is not only ideal, but necessary if we are going to live in a community that supports all of its members.

    Thank you.

  34. KC Lewis says:

    There’s a long and proud tradition of various forms of comedy at Reed College, and I imagine an equally long and proud tradition of people being offended by said comedy. As someone who was present for Pamphlette-gate, and who was involved in the performing arts during my entire three and a half years at Reed, I can assure you all that this kind of controversy is certainly not new to the Reed community. Ongoing dialogues are one of the key elements of the honor principle, and when I say ongoing, I mean not just between individuals, but within the community over the span of multiple years and classes, bringing in new viewpoints every year.
    The trouble in a case like this is that we have two seemingly irreconcilable rights. On the one hand is the comedian’s right to express himself and attempt to work through his ideas even when they might be offensive to some or many (and as someone cited above, most who have been considered the greatest comedians in history have tackled offensive and controversial material). On the other hand, we have the right of an innocent audience member not to be mentally and emotionally harmed. Now, I certainly am not equating these rights, but I think a good first step in this conflict would be for people to acknowledge that both rights exist, and that both are very important to a large number of people in our community.
    There’s no undoing the damage that’s been done, of course, nor should it be marginalized. The Honor Principle has never been a painless process; it’s about rights and ideas colliding, and determining which can coexist and how. There’s some experimentation inherent in the system. Hopefully this event will be constructive in the long run. While the comedian has made many legitimate defenses of his actions, he seems somewhat more devoted to self-justification than self-reflection, and I imagine if he were willing to put some more thought into whether changes in his act might get his points across better, he might both get a better reaction from his audience and end up a better comedian in the process. It’s important to remember that just because offending people can be a part of great comedy does not mean that offending people automatically makes for great comedy. There’s a reason why the masters of offensive humor became some of the greats: they worked for decades refining their craft, and were able to deliver their ideas with the timing and delicate touch necessary to drive the point home.
    On the other hand, it would be nice if more of the people who are attacking the comedian and his set could acknowledge that (at least from what I’ve seen here) he does not seem to be devoted to hurting others, or motivated by hate. He genuinely does seem to be a comedian motivated by a desire to do what he does well, and you can hate his set and abhor the effect that it had on some people without having to hate him personally. Free speech is certainly very important at Reed, and it covers both the right to say offensive things and the right to object to those offensive things. But if it degenerates into just shouting at the people we don’t like, then it isn’t speech anymore, just a bunch of noise.
    Then again, I’m halfway across the country, and haven’t seen any portion of the act. I just miss the old ReedLJ flamewars, and really didn’t feel like studying for my law school finals tonight.

  35. mc says:

    It would be interesting to see the actual footage of the routine.

  36. trickywicket says:

    I’m an alumnus, and a fellow aspiring comedy-writer. I don’t have anything new to say on the argument of artistic expression versus community norms. Current Reedies pretty much have that covered here.

    However, I do want to talk to you on a personal level.

    This may very well be the decision of a lifetime in terms of your personal growth. This is where you have the chance to grow up a whole lot. I was there too, a few times, letting my ego run wild because I was being so funny!

    While your fantasies of Transgressive and Serious Artist are running away with your young man’s soul, what you aren’t considering is that you’re just being a bully. It doesn’t matter how you tart it up with First Amendment platitudes.

    You’re stomping around in your privilege boots and you’re telling people how to feel because your artistic urges are apparently more important than peoples’ actual beating hearts.

    My advice is that you walk away from this and chalk it up as the most idiotic thing you’ve ever done. Tell your parents you made a huge mistake and call it a phase. Take a psych leave. Blame it on drugs, on whatever bullshit you were reading, or some surge of hormones. But whatever you do, don’t go down with this ship.

    Who knows? Maybe you’re a sociopath or something, and this won’t shake your soul in the least. But I hope you reconsider. I’ve known plenty of absolute fucking nutcases at Reed who shriveled into cuckoo-house existences with piled pizza boxes. I’d like to think you might, instead, heal the wounds you’ve caused and rejoin an honorable [AND FUCKING INCREDIBLE] community.

    Because once you leave there, you’re going to regret filling the role you’re playing now.

    -Devin Bambrick, 2008

    • Taylor Farnham says:

      What a mature, coolheaded response from an alumnus. “Take a psych leave,” or else “you’re a sociopath.” I wish I had the detachment and objectivity that must come from being outside the bubble.

      • trickywicket says:

        Honestly? It might be that or he gets himself honor cased so hard his head spins.

        • Sal Rodriguez says:

          Devin Bambrick, I will very likely not get honor cased. The people who have considered it know it would go nowhere (at most it would be referred to mediation, aka talks) and they aren’t willing to engage in actual dialogue about it, formal or informal. Most of the people who were either at the show or who have seen the video know that the show wasn’t so outrageously offensive that it warranted this response.

          You’re too old to be so childish. You come off as a spiteful adolescent, not a Reed alum. Grow up.

  37. JD Eveland says:

    I can’t resist a couple of observations here, from the perspective of one currently fast closing in on his 50th reunion (i.e., ’64) First, I am fascinated to see that the capacity of Reed folks to engage in Creative Intellectual Dialogue continues unabated (the current thread, in case you were curious, consists of at this point some 111 MSWord pages and 31,147 words, or somewhat greater than the volume of anyone’s thesis that I even encountered, and all within a period of a couple of days!) Some folks clearly have a great deal of time on their hands. Second, the meaning of speech varies a lot according to context. As one of the relatively few students from my era to have subsequently come out as gay, let me assure you that in the early 1960′s, the term “faggoty pussies” meant something rather significantly different from the context described here: namely, at that time, it was a pretty good indication that someone was intending to actually KILL you, not just jostle your funnybone. The fact that you all here can engage in 31,147 words worth of controversy about speech without anyone actually getting sliced up or having their career terminated with extreme prejudice is a testimony to the times that I and my classmates lived through, and the degree of easing of the social climate that you now live within. As you’ll recall, Marx commented that history repeats itself, once as tragedy and the second time as farce. For what it’s worth, coming from an old fat guy who was once as you (maybe weirder), enjoy the 31,147 words of farce; once upon a time, it really was tragedy, and I seriously doubt that you would care to reprise those days.

  38. Wells L. says:

    As an alum I am totally unsurprised that some twerpy insecure reedie would let loose his bitter nerd rage on the student body like this. Reed was full of kids like that when I was there.

    The whole free speech at Reed thing is bullshit. I know we all like to consider ourselves somehow in this weird societal wormhole where we simultaneously escape judgement from the rest of the world yet reap the benefits of a cherry-picked few of their ideals (including the quintessentially american right to free speech), but get real. Reed is a private college and the podium that this kid used to spew douche all over everyone was 100% funded by tuition dollars. Reed College and its student body is under no legal obligation to somehow honor that.

  39. Wells L. says:

    To elaborate, I would be perfectly OK if reed banned any public performance that allowed whiny, sex deprived nerds the chance to unleash all their resentment on a massless group of people. Reed already suffers too much from allowing skinny white boys to fester in their insecurity, I see no reason why it should be given a stamp of approval in the name of some abstract concept that has no legal backbone at Reed whatsoever.

    • KC Lewis says:

      I don’t think name-calling adds anything to this discourse. I also don’t think your contention that the concept of free speech “has no legal backbone at Reed whatsoever” is based in fact.

    • Whiny, sex-deprived nerds have as much right to express their opinions as do any plain-spoken sexually satisfied folks, don’t they, even if they do happen to be white and skinny to boot? If they don’t, then a whole lot of us would have been silenced back in the day, and since then not infrequently as well. Free speech really isn’t contingent on avoidance of fashion faux pas.

  40. Moon Unit says:

    What was the result of this “controversy?”

  41. Alummmmmm says:

    You can always apologize. If anything about this performance actually had to do with blurring boundaries and understandings of audience participation and performer dynamics…then you can definitely still apologize. You can engage in a dialogue with your audience, be open to a dialogue with your audience. Obviously there is a lot of heat coming your way, Sal, but I’m interested in knowing why you don’t feel you can apologize. If people were offended by your performance, how about you blur some traditional boundaries from the performer end and recognize your audience as a group of individuals coming with their own perspectives, each influenced in varying ways by the structures and campaigns and insecurities your comedy is trying to draw attention to… The whole, I’m a comedian, I will apologize for nothing, this is a performance, people are too sensitive is pretty black and white thinking for someone trying to use their comedy to mess with audience biases

    • Sal Rodriguez says:

      Well, I’ve already written both in this comment section and in the Op-Ed I wrote entitled “Wow,” that in fact I do sympathize with those who were (truly) triggered, both by the event and the huge majority of people who were harmed not by my act but by a hysterical minority who triggered them by misrepresenting what happened at the show. However, I do not apologize for the act.

  42. Michael Smith '92 says:

    I hate to be so obvious, but shouldn’t it be said that there is nothing the least bit funny about any of the quoted material? It what sense is Rodriguez a “comedian”? There are indeed very funny comedy routines that challenge the boundaries of race/gender/etc. Chris Rock’s “Civil War” routine on race comes immediately to mind. The late George Carlin was hardly p.c. It takes quite a gift to test the boundaries of the offensive and still be funny. If the quoted material in this article is any indication, Rodriguez does not have that gift.

  43. Jim Kahan '64 says:

    Never mud-wrestle with a pig. Everybody gets filthy and the pig loves it.

  44. From

    “Now. You can talk about controversial subjects—in fact, you should talk about controversial subjects, because comedy is an incredibly powerful subversive tool—but if you want people like me to stop bitching at you (a dream we share, I promise!), you need to stop using your comedy to make those things worse. You don’t have to make things better—you are under no obligation to save the world—but if you are actively making things worse for people, especially when you are not a member of the group whose existence you are worsening, don’t be surprised when people complain.”

    Technically skilled artists usually have thoughtful and consistent ethics; Shitty artists usually have shitty ethics.

    • Sal Rodriguez says:

      The woman (womyn?) who wrote that isn’t a comedian. She isn’t an artist. She is a professional whiner.

      Leftist thought police who think comedy can only be one way, that art can only be done through a certain perspective, can go screw themselves. But that’s just my take.

      Also, you’re late to this discussion. You can sling your bullshit all you like, but the “controversy” was settled months ago. More people came to our shows than before the controversy. All in all, I think most people who actually attended our shows and didn’t just read this article by the Quest recognize that backlash against comedy shows are quite silly.

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