Feedback from May 16 and Beyond | Letters | Salt Lake City Weekly

Feedback from May 16 and Beyond 

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Just For Kicks
It's graduation time in America! By which I which mean: it's "problematic" commencement speech time in America!

For a couple of days, the big story (if commencement speeches can really be said to constitute news) was the Duke University student walkout during comedian Jerry Seinfeld's talk, less because of anything he had to say than because they regarded him as too "pro-Israel."

But, as we've seen over the last five years, the Kansas City Chiefs almost always find a way to win.

Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker's speech at Benedictine College took place the day before Seinfeld's outing, then methodically marched down the news cycle field to score.

While I've browsed an account or two of Butker's speech—in summary, he seems to think women belong in the kitchen, LGBTQ people belong in the closet and Joe Biden belongs somewhere other than in the White House—this is one of those rare opinion pieces where studying the material misses the point.

I don't care what Harrison Butker thinks about politics. I don't care what Harrison Butker thinks about religion. I don't care what Harrison Butker thinks about women or gender and sexual minorities. I'd rather not even know what he thinks about those people and things.

Harrison Butker's job involves kicking a football through a goalpost to score points in a game. He's good at that—very good. He saved the Chiefs' bacon in several games last season and kicked the winning field goal in Super Bowl LVIII, after a Super Bowl record kick (57 yards) earlier in the game. He boasts the second-best career field goal percentage of any kicker in NFL history.

That's all I want from the guy. If he runs around babbling nonsense at college graduates in the off-season, that's his business, so long as he avoids injury and comes back this fall to kick more footballs through more goalposts.

I watch movies featuring actors whose politics and/or personalities I might find odious (Sean Penn, James Woods and Kevin Spacey come immediately to mind). Why? Because I love good movies and great acting.

In the mid-1990s, I saw REM live in concert at Sandstone Amphitheater (now Azura) outside Kansas City. The band's singer, Michael Stipe, vocally supported gun control, which I oppose. I bought the ticket and enjoyed the show anyway. Why? Because they were hands-down the greatest American band of the time, that's why.

If I engaged with Harrison Butker on political or social issues, I'd care about Harrison Butker's deep thoughts on political and social issues.

But I engage with Harrison Butker as a Chiefs fan watching a Chiefs player kick footballs (and opponents' rear ends). And he delivers the goods.

Thus endeth the lesson.
THOMAS L. KNAPP
The William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism

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