Harrison Butker controversy: 6 things Chiefs player said in his graduation speech that sparked backlash

Harrison Butker controversy: 6 things Chiefs player said in his graduation speech that sparked backlash
Chiefs player Harrison Butker's speech has elicited backlash from all corners (Benedictine College/YouTube)

6 most controversial remarks Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker made at his graduation speech

(Benedictine College/YouTube)
Several of Harrison Butker's remarks have sparked controversy (Benedictine College/YouTube)

Harrison Butker's commencement speech at Benedictine College has stirred significant controversy due to his comments on various topics. Here's a breakdown of some of his most controversial remarks:

1. Misinterpretation of Taylor Swift's lyrics

PARK CITY, UTAH - JANUARY 23: Taylor Swift attends the 2020 Sundance Film Festival -
Butker quoted a lyric from Swift's 2022 song 'Bejeweled,' and referred to her as his teammate Travis Kelce's girlfriend (Getty Images)

Butker quoted a lyric from Taylor Swift's song 'Bejeweled' but seemed to misinterpret its meaning. The song is about Swift embracing her independence, but Butker referenced it in the context of Catholic Church values, attributing it to his teammate's girlfriend, Travis Kelce. This sparked criticism from Swift's supporters. Butker reflected on the values of the Catholic Church, noting, "As my teammate's girlfriend would say, familiarity breeds contempt." However, he seemed to overlook the fact that the song's message revolves around Swift embracing her independence from a former boyfriend.

2. Criticism of President Joe Biden and COVID-19 policies 

Joe Biden (Getty Images)
Harrison Butker criticized President Biden's leadership and policies, particularly on issues such as abortion, IVF, surrogacy, euthanasia, and cultural values (Getty Images)

At the beginning of his speech, Butker acknowledged the challenges the class of 2024 faced due to the COVID-19 pandemic. "I'm sure your high school graduation was not what you had imagined and most likely neither was your first couple years of college. By making it to this moment through all the adversity thrown your way from COVID, I hope you learned the important lesson that suffering in this life is only temporary," he said. Butker criticized President Biden's leadership and policies, accused him of being delusional and attacking his stance on abortion, implying contradictions between his Catholic faith and support for abortion rights. Butker continued his critique saying, "Bad policies and poor leadership have negatively impacted major life issues. Things like abortion, IVF, surrogacy, euthanasia, as well as a growing support for degenerate cultural values in media, all stem from the pervasiveness of disorder. Our own nation is led by a man who publicly and proudly proclaims his Catholic faith, but at the same time is delusional enough to make the sign of the cross."

3. Remarks on LGBTQ+ pride

Harrison Butker of the Kansas City Chiefs speaks to the media during Kansas City Chiefs media availability ahead of Super Bowl LVIII at Westin Lake Las Vegas Resort and Spa on February 08, 2024 in Henderson, Nevada. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Harrison Butker equated LGBTQ+ pride with the deadly sin of pride and contrasted it with what he described as true God-centered pride (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Butker praised Benedictine College for upholding Catholic values and criticized the LGBTQ+ pride movement. He said, "Benedictine has gone from just another liberal arts school with nothing to set it apart to a thriving beacon of light ... I'm certain the reporters at the AP could not have imagined that their attempt to rebuke and embarrass places and people like those here at Benedictine wouldn't be met with anger, but instead met with excitement and pride, not the deadly sin sort of pride that has an entire month dedicated to it, but the true God-centered pride that is cooperating with the Holy Ghost to glorify him."

4. Attacks on IVF and surrogacy

Harrison Butker #7 of the Kansas City Chiefs arrives before Super Bowl LVIII at Allegiant Stadium on February 11, 2024 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
Harrison Butker asserted that it's crucial for the current generation to acknowledge surrogacy is not normal (Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

Butker continued his criticism by targeting families who opt for IVF and surrogacy to conceive children. He asserted that it's crucial for the current generation to acknowledge that these practices are not normal, even within Catholic circles. Butker argued against the notion of playing God by controlling the timing and number of children, stating that Catholic birth control is unnatural. "Heterodox ideas abound, even within Catholic circles. Let's be honest, there is nothing good about playing God with having children, whether that be your ideal number or the perfect time to conceive. No matter how you spin it, there is nothing natural about Catholic birth control. It is only in the past few years that I have grown encouraged to speak more boldly and directly because as I mentioned earlier, I have leaned into my vocation as a husband and father and as a man."

5. Remarks on working women

Place kicker Harrison Butker #7 of the Kansas City Chiefs celebrates kicking a field goal in the fourth quarter against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium on November 26, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Chiefs defeated the Raiders 31-17. (Photo by Candice Ward/Getty Images)
Harrison Butker made controversial remarks regarding working women and their aspirations (Candice Ward/Getty Images)

Butker made controversial remarks regarding working women and their aspirations, suggesting that women have been deceived by what he described as "diabolical lies." He implied that societal expectations may lead women to prioritize their roles as wives and mothers over pursuing successful careers. Butker speculated that many female graduates might be more excited about their future marriages and motherhood than their professional careers. He praised his own wife, Isabelle, for embracing her role as a homemaker saying, "I can tell you 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 on this stage today and able to be the man I am because I have a wife who leans into her vocation. I'm beyond blessed with the many talents God has given me, but it cannot be overstated that all of my success is made possible because a girl I met in band class back in middle school, who would convert to the faith, become my wife and embrace one of the most important titles of all: homemaker."

6. Remarks on masculinity

Harrison Butker #7 of the Kansas City Chiefs speaks to media during Super Bowl LVIII Opening Night at Allegiant Stadium ahead of Super Bowl LVIII on February 5, 2024 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Robin Alam/ISI Photos/Getty Images)
Harrison Butker encouraged the audience to strive for virtue within their vocations and to remember their ultimate goal of reaching heaven (Robin Alam/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

Butker emphasized the importance of masculinity and the role of men in shaping culture and communities. He suggested that there is a misconception that men are not necessary in the home or in society. Arguing that men play a crucial role in setting the tone of the culture, he noted their absence can lead to disorder and dysfunction. Butker encouraged men to embrace their masculinity unapologetically and to resist societal efforts to emasculate them. He also urged them to take on challenges and to avoid settling for what is easy, emphasizing the importance of perseverance and hard work.

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