Harrison Butker believes in speaking truth

To judge by the internet reaction, Kansas City Chiefs place-kicker Harrison Butker is guilty of a dreaded double-doink — a missed field-goal attempt that embarrassingly hits both uprights — with his commencement address the other day.

The NFL has distanced itself from Butker’s unadorned socially conservative speech at Benedictine College, a Catholic school in Kansas. He’s accused, meanwhile, of potentially driving women away from the NFL and, even worse, perhaps offending Taylor Swift by quoting one of her lyrics.

The first thing to say about this is that Butker is a traditionalist Catholic who gave a speech to traditionalist Catholic students graduating from a traditionalist Catholic school. Should we be surprised he sounded like a traditionalist Catholic?

He wasn’t going to endorse abortion, or pride month, or transgenderism. And if you’re not a Catholic (I’m not), his views on priests and the power of the Latin Mass are going to leave you cold, for a simple reason — they aren’t for us.

Complaining about the intensely Catholic subject matter of his address is a little like listening to the keynote at a philately convention and being shocked that it’s all about stamp collecting.

Of course, the substance of Butker’s talk was much more serious, and he had important, indisputably correct things to say about men and women.

His line that has drawn the most fire was directed at the graduating women: “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.”

Butker was surely making a sociologically true statement about the women of Benedictine. If he had been talking at Vassar, he might have couched his remarks differently. Still, his observation has a more general applicability.

According to an analysis of public-opinion surveys by the Institute for Family Studies, “Strong majorities of mothers under 55 agree that housework is as fulfilling as employment. Depending on the year and the survey you prefer to cite, between 53% and 79% of mothers had this view.” Yes, some mothers find employment outside the home more fulfilling, but many stay-at-home mothers “see the work they are doing as valuable, important and satisfying.”

It should be OK for someone to occasionally give voice to their perspective. No one walked out when Butker delivered these lines; in fact, he got applause. And he wasn’t being callous — he broke down when talking about his own wife embracing “her vocation as a wife and as a mother.”

He had advice for the men in his audience, too, telling them to be “unapologetic in your masculinity,” and to “never settle for what is easy.” What’s the counter to Butker’s advice? That men should be defensive about their masculinity and always take the easy way out? That they should spend more time smoking pot and playing video games?

“As men,” he continued, “we set the tone of the culture, and when that is absent, disorder, dysfunction and chaos set in. This absence of men in the home is what plays a large role in the violence we see all around the nation.” What Butker said is strongly supported by the research, as fatherlessness is associated with child poverty and reduced educational attainment, increased idleness and more jail time among young men.

An offended columnist at The Kansas City Star hammered Butker, saying the kicker insisted on “belittling the human value of others.” But the kicker spoke of the importance of speaking and acting “in charity,” and the columnist admitted that when he has discussed these matters with Butker in the past, “he’s been remarkably respectful when I’ve expressed a contrasting view.”

That sounds like someone who isn’t a hater, but who has deeply grounded views and who believes — for good reason — that if he doesn’t speak the truth, few others in his position will.

The verdict regarding Butker’s address should be — good from 55 yards.


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