Harrison Butker at Allegiant Stadium before Super Bowl LVII
(Luke Hales / Getty)

Harrison Butker Is Playing the Victim as His Chiefs Teammates Defend Him

Harrison Butker is doubling down on his controversial commencement speech, which isn’t surprising considering his Chiefs’ teammates, including Travis Kelce, have begun speaking out to defend him.

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Butker recently went viral after he gave a bigoted commencement speech at Benedictine College. During his speech, he attacked DEI initiatives, the LGBTQ+ community, and working women. The comments that drew the most backlash were the ones in which he told the graduating women to “stay in their lanes” and accept their “vocations” as wives and mothers. He claimed that those pursuing careers had been told the “most diabolical lies” because their lives wouldn’t start until they married and had children. Butker also shamed women for utilizing birth control and cohabitating with their partners before marriage.

The speech drew shock and backlash, especially given the cruelty of making these statements at a ceremony that was supposed to celebrate graduating women’s achievements. While the nuns of Benedictine poignantly slammed Butker’s speech, the NFL, after facing pressure to speak out, offered a fairly brief and tame response distancing itself from the kicker’s beliefs. After continued backlash, Butker and several of his teammates broke their silence about the speech.

Harrison Butker unsurprisingly doubles down on speech

The chances of Butker retracting his speech were fairly low. Still, after a female graduate present during his speech spoke out about how he made her graduation “less special,” one would’ve thought he could, at the very least, acknowledge a commencement ceremony was the wrong place for him to tout his politics. However, in his first public comments since the speech, he immediately chose to double down on his actions and attempt to play the victim for the “shocking level of hate” he received.

Butker recently spoke at the Regina Caeli Academy Courage Under Fire Gala and addressed his speech. Of course, he mentioned how the gala’s title was “providential,” insinuating he was demonstrating “courage under fire” because of his remarks. He went on to say, “If it wasn’t clear that the timeless Catholic values are hated by many, it is now. Over the past few days, my beliefs, or what people think I believe, have been the focus of countless discussions around the globe. At the outset, many people expressed a shocking level of hate, but as the days went on, even those who disagreed with my viewpoints shared their support for my freedom of religion.”

The mention of people supporting his “freedom of religion” may have been in reference to recent comments made by his teammates Kelce and quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Both men commended Butker’s character and called him “a great person,” while Kelce described how he “cherished” the kicker “as a teammate.” Kelce conceded that, while he didn’t agree with “just about any of” Butker’s speech, he felt his teammates’ beliefs were “just him loving his family and his kids.” Similarly, Mahomes noted that he didn’t “necessarily agree with” Butker but understood he was just “trying to do whatever he can lead people in the right direction.”

Meanwhile, Butker made it clear he has no intention of apologizing, concluding of his commencement speech, “It’s a decision I’ve consciously made, and one I do not regret at all.” He also received uproarious applause the minute he stepped on stage, which will likely only contribute to this false narrative that he’s a brave and courageous victim standing up for his beliefs.

However, dismissing Butker’s speech as just his “religious beliefs” misses the point of why his speech was so wrong and dangerous. The problem is that people far too often try to mask their hatred as religious beliefs. Even the nuns of Benedictine made it clear that Butker did not represent the views of them or the Catholic Church in general. Instead, he was pushing his own very narrow view of what it means to be Catholic, even though he does not have the authority to dictate what the entire religion stands for. The nuns reiterated that there are numerous ways for women and men to bring glory to god that don’t involve marriage or children.

Butker is welcome to live in whatever manner he believes a Catholic should, but he has no right to demand that everyone else live this way, too. Additionally, you cannot make hateful statements about diversity and inclusion, the LGBTQ+ community, and women and say it’s just your religion and therefore off-limits from criticism. Hate is hate whether you cite your religion or not.

Even if Butker was just stating his “religious beliefs,” can’t we all agree there is a time and a place to express your beliefs, and a college graduation is not one of them? He twisted a commencement ceremony to make it all about himself, talk down to women, and push his agenda instead of utilizing it to encourage, inspire, and celebrate the achievements of those graduates, and that’s why he still owes the graduating women at Benedictine College an apology.


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Rachel Ulatowski
Rachel Ulatowski is a Staff Writer for The Mary Sue, who frequently covers DC, Marvel, Star Wars, literature, and celebrity news. She has over three years of experience in the digital media and entertainment industry, and her works can also be found on Screen Rant, JustWatch, and Tell-Tale TV. She enjoys running, reading, snarking on YouTube personalities, and working on her future novel when she's not writing professionally. You can find more of her writing on Twitter at @RachelUlatowski.