Harrison Butker Commencement Speech, What Did Harrison Butker Say?

On May 11, during Benedictine College’s graduation ceremony, Kansas City Chiefs Kicker Harrison Butker issued an unforgettable commencement speech which has since stirred a storm of debate on social media. At 28-years-old NFL player used this platform to address what he termed as the “diabolical lies told to women”, including topics such as abortion, in vitro fertilization (IVF), surrogacy and even remarks directed toward President Joe Biden.

Butker began his speech by discussing COVID-19’s effect on college years of graduating students before transitioning into criticisms against what he saw as “bad policies and poor leadership,” impacting “major life issues”. Additionally, cultural shifts supported “degenerative cultural values”.

Why Is Speech Generating Reaction?

Butker’s critical remarks toward women were at the core of much of the outrage that ensued, particularly his comments that directly addressed female graduates congratulating them but suggesting they might prefer marriage and motherhood over career advancement. His generalization, coupled with his comments regarding controversial subjects like abortion and IVF treatment, caused deep distress among many in attendance.

Critics allege that Butker’s speech imposed his personal views upon an otherwise diverse graduating class, overshadowing their achievements with divisive comments that came unasked from him. Additionally, including Taylor Swift lyrics as references in a politically charged narrative made headlines for quite some time after hearing it all unfold live onstage.

What Are Reactions on Social Media?

Social media reactions have been varied. Some users support Butker’s right to express his viewpoints at Benedictine College, which may resonate more closely with him; other feel his speech was unsuitable for a commencement event that should honor graduates instead of acting as an arena for personal agendas.

Discussions surrounding women’s rights and autonomy have become highly contentious, with many individuals disappointed that Butker chose this event to voice controversial opinions on sensitive matters. His use of Taylor Swift as part of an argument against legislation also caused major outrage from some in attendance.

What Does This Signify For Benedictine College?

Benedictine College, a private Catholic liberal arts college, could experience long-term effects from Butker’s speech on public perception and potential speaker selection decisions in terms of public relations and speaker selection processes. With varied reactions among alumni, students, faculty and the broader public in response to Butker’s address, the college will need to address any controversy stemming from Butker’s talk and consider potential measures that might rectify it in future speaker selection processes.

Institutions should revisit their criteria for choosing commencement speakers to ensure future addresses reflect better the values and diversity of its student body, avoiding speeches which could overshadow graduation celebrations with controversy.

Harrison Butker’s commencement speech at Benedictine College serves as an illustration of the strength and impact of public speaking in settings designed to commemorate educational achievements. Freedom of expression should always be protected; however, depending on its delivery mechanism it could either engender opposition or provoke celebratory responses – in future ceremonies it will be crucial for institutions to balance freedom with inclusivity and celebrations of achievement.

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