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NFL Player Uses Commencement Speech to Discuss the "Deadly Sin" of Pride Month, for Some Reason

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Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker railed against Pride month, transgender people, abortion, “cultural emasculation,” and promoted an anti-semitic talking point in a commencement address at a Catholic liberal arts college last weekend. Amid a furious outcry, even the NFL is distancing itself from Butker’s comments, but hasn’t rebuked them outright.

Butker’s speech to the graduating class of Benedictine College in Kansas was generally focused on “leaders who don’t stay in their lane,” particularly President Joe Biden, a Catholic Butker called “delusional” for supporting abortion rights. Butker accused Biden and other prominent (but unnamed) Catholic leaders of pushing “dangerous gender ideologies” on society and bemoaned “growing support for degenerate cultural values and media.” He also took aim at LGBTQ+ people more broadly with a swipe at Pride month, referring to it as “the deadly sin sort of pride” that should be replaced with “God-centered pride.”

Later in his speech, Butker condemned the Antisemitism Awareness Act, which recently passed in the House of Representatives and would establish the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of anti-Jewish hate speech as a federal standard. Critics on the left have also pushed back against the law, saying it would be used to crack down on college protests against the ongoing bombing and blockade of Gaza, where Israeli military forces have killed more than 35,000 Palestinians since October last year. But Butker, echoing Republican politicians, objected specifically on the grounds that the IHRA’s definition could, in some circumstances, prohibit the accusation that Jews murdered Jesus Christ, telling Benedictine graduates that “stating something as basic as the Biblical teaching of who killed Jesus could land you in jail.” (This concept of “Jewish deicide” has been rejected as a teaching by the Catholic Church since the mid-1960s.)

Jonathan Beane, a spokesperson for the NFL, told People in a statement that Butker’s speech was “in his personal capacity” and not a representative of the Chiefs or the league. “His views are not those of the NFL as an organization. The NFL is steadfast in our commitment to inclusion, which only makes our league stronger,” Beane said. The league did not comment as to what consequences, if any, Butker would face, and Chiefs leadership has not made a statement regarding the speech. An online petition demanding Butker be kicked off the team’s roster had received over 105,000 signatures as of Thursday.

On X, formerly Twitter, the official Kansas City account posted that Butker “lives in the City of Lee’s Summit,” snidely noting that he, well, doesn’t even go here. Mayor Quinton Lucas later apologized for the post, saying it was “clearly inappropriate for a public account.”

Butker is also facing backlash from one fandom nobody wants to mess around with: Swifties. The athlete’s speech was cluttered with exhortations to fulfill Christian gender roles, with Butker calling especially on women to reject the “diabolical lies” of feminism and pursue being a “wife and mother” instead of a career — rhetoric lately associated with the right-wing “tradwife” movement. (Butker’s mother, Elizabeth Keller Butker, is notably a radiation oncologist at the Emory University School of Medicine.) Butker also quoted a Taylor Swift lyric in the course of his speech, while also referencing his teammate Travis Kelce, better known as Swift’s boyfriend, quipping obliquely that “as my teammate’s girlfriend says, ‘familiarity breeds contempt.’” On social media, Swifties proceeded to loudly mock Butker’s comments, comparing him in turn to a Swift song title: “The Smallest Man Who Ever Lived.”

The law states that people's anti-LGBTQ\+ beliefs cannot automatically disqualify them from fostering queer and trans youth.

Following Butker’s speech, the kicker received a standing ovation from the audience, the Associated Press reported. But several graduating women said they felt uncomfortable and confused by Butker’s statements, especially regarding gender roles and LGBTQ+ people.

“We should have compassion for the people who have been told all their life that the person they love is like, it’s not okay to love that person,” medical student Elle Wilbers, 22, told the AP. “It was sort of just a shock. I was like, ‘Is he really saying this right now?’”

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