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Παρασκευή, 21 Ιουνίου, 2024

Kansas City Chief’ Harrison Butker rails against Pride month in commencement speech

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Thousands are demanding the Kansas City Chiefs release kicker Harrison Butker after he railed against President Joe Biden, the LGBTQ community and “diabolical lies told to women” during a commencement address.

At the weekend, Mr Butker spoke at Benedictine College, a private Kansas college. The three-time Super Bowl champion delivered the roughly 20-minute address, telling the graduates that poor leadership has negatively impacted major life issues.

“Things like abortion, IVF, surrogacy, euthanasia, as well as a growing support for degenerative cultural values in media all stem from the pervasiveness of disorder,” he said.

Video and text from his speech quickly spread online as he’s been blasted by advocates and a petition calling for his release has been signed by 10,000.

“His comments were sexist, homophobic, anti-trans, anti-abortion and racist. These dehumanizing remarks against LGBTQ+ indiuals, attacks on abortion rights and racial discrimination perpetuate division and undermine human rights,” a Change.org petition demanding his removal reads.

“These comments reinforce harmful stereotypes that threaten social progress. They create a toxic environment that hinders our collective efforts towards equality, diversity and inclusion in society. It is unacceptable for such a public figure to use their platform to foster harm rather than unity.”

Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker gave a divisive commencement address at Benedictine College (AP)

Mr Butker, who has made his conservative Catholic beliefs well known, began his address by attacking what he called “dangerous gender ideologies” in an apparent reference to Pride month, which has been celebrated in June since the Stonewall riots in 1969. He said the annual celebration was an example of the “deadly sins”.

He also criticised an article by the Associated Press highlighting a shift toward conservativism in some parts of the Catholic Church.

The 28-year-old then aimed at Biden’s policies, including his response to Co-19, which has killed nearly 1.2 million people in the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Mr Butker later addressed the women in the audience, arguing that their “most important title” should be that of a “homemaker”.

“I think it is you, the women, who have had the most diabolic lies told to you,” Mr Butker said. “Some of you may go on to lead successful careers in the world, but I would venture to guess that the majority of you are most excited about your marriage and the children you will bring into this world. I can tell you that my beautiful wife Isabelle would be the first to say her life truly started when she started living her vocation as a wife and as a mother.”

He had a message for the men in the crowd as well; “be unapologetic in your masculinity” and “fight against the cultural emasculation of men”. He later quoted Taylor Swift, saying “As my teammate’s girlfriend says, ‘familiarity breeds contempt,’” though he failed to realise Swift lifted the line from a common phrase.

The Chiefs declined to comment on Mr Butker’s commencement address.

Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker embraces Taylor Swift after the NFL Super Bowl 58 against the San Francisco 49ers (AP)

The 2017 seventh-round pick out of Georgia Tech has become one of the NFL’s best kickers, breaking the Chiefs’ franchise record with a 62-yard field goal in 2022. Mr Butker helped them win their first Super Bowl in 50 years in 2020, added a second Lombardi Trophy in 2023, and he kicked the field goal that forced overtime in a Super Bowl win over San Francisco in February.

His accolades did not spare him from internet backlash.

“Harrison Butker doesn’t represent Kansas City nor has he ever. Kansas City has always been a place that welcomes, affirms, and embraces our LGBTQ+ community members,” former county commissioner Justice Horn wrote in a post on X/Twitter.

“This is atrocious. I hope someone with the Chiefs pulls him aside and instills empathy and humanity into him. Hell, cut his ass, too. As talented as he is, you can find a kicker that’s not homophonic and misogynistic pretty easily, I bet,” another user said.

The Swifties – Swift’s fan base, known for swarming her critics like feeding piranhas – were not pleased that someone so close to their idol would hold such odious views.

“I hope that Harrison Butker tries to tell Travis that Taylor emasculates him cause she works and isn’t at home cooking and taking care of babies. And I hope Travis beats the s*** out of him,” one Swiftie wrote.

“One of the worst parts of this NFL player’s awful speech is that he quoted a Taylor Swift song before telling women they should be homemakers and serve their man’s career,” another said.

Kansas City Chiefs placekicker Harrison Butker watches his field goal during the first half of an NFL wild-card playoff game against the Miami Dolphins (AP)

It has been an embarrassing offseason for the Chiefs, though.

Last month, voters in Jackson County, Missouri, soundly rejected a ballot initiative that would have helped pay for a downtown ballpark for the Royals and an $800 million renovation to Arrowhead Stadium, the home of the Chiefs. Many voters criticised the plan put forward by the Chiefs as catering primarily to VIPs and the wealthy.

The same week, wide receiver Rashee Rice turned himself in to Dallas police on multiple charges, including aggravated assault, after he was involved in a high-speed crash that left four people with injuries. Rice has acknowledged being the driver of one of the sports cars that was going more than 100 mph, and shows him leaving the scene without proing information or determining whether anyone needed medical attention.

Last week, law enforcement officials told The Dallas Morning News that Rice was also suspected of assaulting a person at a downtown nightclub. Dallas police did not name Rice as the suspect in detailing a report to the Associated Press.

Chiefs coach Andy Reid said he had spoken to the receiver and the team was letting the legal process play out.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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