May 20, 2024

Harrison Butker

The commencement speaker at Kansas’ Benedictine College, a private Catholic liberal arts school, congratulated the women receiving degrees — and said most of them were probably more excited about getting married and having children. Harrison Butker, the kicker for the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs, is getting attention for those and other comments last weekend in which he said some Catholic leaders were ‘pushing dangerous gender ideologies onto the youth of America.’” AP News

The NFL has distanced itself from a commencement speech by Kansas City Chiefs placekicker Harrison Butker… Jonathan Beane, a senior vice president and the National Football League's chief diversity and inclusion officer, said Butker's views ‘are not those of the NFL as an organization’ and reiterated the league's commitment to inclusion…

“[In addition] the Benedictine Sisters of Mount St. Scholastica, which co-founded the institution that eventually became Benedictine College, said they did not believe Butker's speech represented the school.” Reuters

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From the Left

The left criticizes Butker, arguing that his remarks reduced women’s value to only domestic responsibilities.

“We’re always asking athletes to be role models, and it’s more than a little hypocritical to praise football players when they protest cops but to stifle one for being religious or conservative. Enough with the outrage over his beliefs… I’m more concerned with his scaremonger, doomwatcher language. It’s his symptomatic inflationary alarmism that’s worth worrying about…

“In Butker’s view, women are too encouraged to define success as attainable only through professional rewards, rather than through family. A fair enough point. But here is the inflationary way that Butker phrased it to the young women in the audience that rendered it idiotic. ‘I think it is you, the women, who have had the most diabolical lies told to you.’…

“Actually, here is a more appropriate use of ‘diabolical’: It describes the thousand-year persistence of teaching that young women are such dumb defenseless prey they cannot discern lies on their own and need a man with medieval monastic face hair to guide their morality and define their happiness.”

Sally Jenkins, Washington Post

“[Butker stated that] ‘My beautiful wife Isabelle would be the first to say that her life truly started when she began living her vocation as a wife and as a mother.’ ​​I’m not being snide when I say I thought life truly started in the womb; all people at all stages of life and in all walks of life are valued in the Catholic faith, and I see nothing traditional about his implication that only marriage and parenthood confer true worth on women.”

Melinda Henneberger, Kansas City Star

“In addition to speaking on women’s behalf, Butker also reduced the primary goal of their lives to one biological function. Being a homemaker is an important role that should be celebrated, but it’s far from the only one a woman can choose — a key reason his remarks spurred such backlash. Butker also described women’s roles very differently than he described men’s: While he touted the virtues of being a present father, he did not say that being a dad was likely the primary goal of a man’s life

“[Moreover] Butker’s statement explicitly argues that there’s a correct way to be Catholic, even though in reality, most Catholics are supportive of abortion and LGBTQ rights. ‘Harrison Butker got a lot wrong in his commencement speech, but one thing he did get right is that Joe Biden and pro-choice Catholics are not alone — 63% of Catholics support legal abortion,’ Catholics for Choice, a Catholic group that backs abortion rights, said in a statement on X. Fifty-seven percent of Catholics in the US also favor same-sex marriage.”

Li Zhou, Vox

“I can’t help but wonder what Colin Kaepernick is thinking as he stares from afar at the recent backlash, or lack thereof… We have to take a moment to recognize the blatant hypocrisy that exists in how players jumping into politics today are treated by the NFL and its teams versus the way they were treated less than a decade ago. Kaepernick’s career crashed and burned, with many cheering said crash on the grounds that athletes shouldn’t be weighing in on such weighty matters.”

Jason Page, MSNBC

From the Right

The right defends Butker, arguing that his remarks were not anti-women.

The right defends Butker, arguing that his remarks were not anti-women.

“The mass outrage over a Catholic football kicker’s speech at a Catholic school is laughable. Some 130,000 people have signed a petition to get this kicker fired from his job. His sin? He expressed thoughts that offended 130,000 people who weren’t at the graduation. At Benedictine, Butker received a standing ovation for his address…

“[He is] a serious Catholic, who was invited to give a commencement address by a Catholic college. His goal that day was to critique a culture that, to say the least, isn’t everybody’s cuppa tea. Most people of a certain age don’t recognize much of what passes for American culture today, including the inclination of some to censor or cancel the thoughts of others…

“Rather than offer a mealy-mouthed ‘apology’ to appease the wee-minded, the NFL should have defended Butker’s right to speak his mind.”

Kathleen Parker, Washington Post

“Rashee Rice, a teammate of Butker’s, has faced a tumultuous offseason of his own making. Rice was arrested after a multivehicle crash occurred in Texas. He is also under investigation in connection to the assault of a photographer at a Dallas nightclub. But while the NFL has time to comment on Butker’s commencement address to a Catholic college, it has no interest in weighing in on another Chiefs player who is accused of multiple crimes.”

Jeremiah Poff, Washington Examiner

Critics have gone to great lengths to misinterpret Butker. They argue that he pigeonholes women, even though he acknowledges explicitly that not all will pursue domesticity (‘Some of you may go on to lead successful careers in the world’)… Some have blasted Butker for failing to emphasize women’s right to choose their own path. Of course, women are not a monolith. But Butker never said that…

“The point is that no other choice for women but career is seriously entertained by our culture. A peer once confessed to me that it would scandalize her family if she didn’t go into finance and didn’t wait until her late 30s to have kids. Nothing else was ever put on her radar… Rather than patronize women by prescribing their path, he elevated homemaking to what should be its rightful place of honor in our republic.”

Caroline Downey, National Review

“Five decades of feminist disdain for homemaking have ushered in alarming realities. Women are not having children, and understandably so. It is hard to do it all. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest report shows the U.S. birth rate is at a historic low. The problem isn’t limited to the United States. What women aren’t being told by daytime TV, Hollywood, and pandering politicians is that every civilization needs babies. No civilization that fails to reproduce itself can survive…

“Regrettably, not every woman who wants to stay home can. But rather than twist this decision into a caricature or a source of scorn and disdain, we can do something better. We can, as in most of human history, recognize the incredible value and hidden benefits that come when we honor those who make a home that allows present and future generations to thrive.”

Carrie Gress, Washington Examiner

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