CSotD: Free speech, free kicks & dubious justice

We’ll start with the easy one. Adam Zyglis explains the gist of the matter: Kansas City Chiefs placekicker Harrison Butker spoke at Benedictine College’s commencement and told graduates, among other things, that while women might get jobs, they would find true fulfillment not in the workplace but, like his wife, as homemakers and mothers.

Particularly if their husbands sign $4 million contracts so they can afford to stay home and play June Cleaver.

He also explained that acceptance of LGBTQ+ people is of Satanic origin, that pro-choice Catholics are heretical murderers and that making people wear masks in a pandemic was very, very evil. You can read the transcript and watch the video here.

Juxtaposition of the Day

Drew Litton — AMS

Mike Lester — AMS

Litton and Lester get flagged for offsides, since it’s unfair to apply Butker’s antediluvian opinions to the entire league.

Certainly, there are brutes and fools among the players, but while the misdeeds of famous people draw national headlines, NFL players have a lower arrest rate than average for their age group. Moreover, the NFL has specifically distanced itself from Butker’s opinions.

The league says it disagrees with his views but upholds his free speech rights, as long as he’s acting in his personal capacity and not representing the team.

Which means he’d still get in trouble if he knelt in uniform at a game to protest something or other.

Clay Jones portrays him as a Puritan, which aligns with his social beliefs, though a Catholic in the Massachusetts Bay Colony would have been taking his life into his own hands. But Jones backs up his point with a most excellent rant.

As for Butker’s insistence on being a manly man, my experience of the world suggests that, just as true martial arts masters never get into fights, confident, truly masculine men go quietly about their business without sounding brass and tinkling cymbals. (They also pray in closets rather than dwelling in them.)

The Benedictine Sisters who founded the college have denounced Butker’s speech, but that’s irrelevant because they no longer have control of the school, now part of a backwards-facing rightwing Catholic movement that longs to undo the reforms of Vatican II.

Still, repellant, small-minded, cruel and bigoted as he may be, Butker has the right to his opinions, because we have a First Amendment.

At least until January 20, 2025.

Lapses of Judgement

Bill Bramhall wraps up the issue of Supreme Court ethical challenges in a single illustration: Not only is Mrs. Clarence Thomas an active, militant election denier, but Mrs. Samuel Alito seems also to have joined her in supporting the overthrow of the United States government by force and violence.

I say “seems” because everyone has suddenly declared that flying the American flag upside down — as Martha-Ann Alito did after neighbors put up pro-Biden signs — is specifically a sign of support for the coup, though the gesture of distress has been around longer than the Jan 6 traitors.

Granted, when she put it up in the aftermath of the attempted insurrection, it was associated with that effort, but Martha-Ann is nowhere near as deeply involved in attempting to overthrow the legitimate government as Ginni Thomas, who actively solicited White House staff on behalf of the rebels.

It hardly matters what her specific intentions were: It was a damned fool thing for the wife of a SCOTUS justice to have done.

It would be a damned fool thing for all sorts of people in the public eye: When I was in the newsroom, I was expected to not put up political yard signs, have political bumperstickers on my car or wear campaign buttons. Registering as a member of a political party was discouraged, and John Chancellor even avoided voting, though most journalists considered that gesture a bit precious.

Caesar divorced his wife for becoming involved in a scandal because it undermined his necessary reputation for being fair and unbiased. By contrast, as John Buss notes, Alito has chosen to defend his wife’s hare-brained gesture.

Family members of prominent people learn to live immaculate lives because, just as professional athletes shouldn’t say or do stupid things, the whole world indeed is watching.

Though speaking of saying stupid things, Sam’s own defense was half-assed: He explained that he didn’t notice that the flag was upside down. Pat Bagley illustrates his mindset.

He may not have to resign for harboring a subversive in his household, but perhaps he should step down for being too stupid to do the job. A reasonably bright five-year-old could tell which end of the flag is up.

And speaking of too stupid to do the job, how can we trust him to interpret complex Constitutional questions when he can’t manage to understand something as simple as the Supreme Court’s own code of ethics, which he helped write and then approved and signed less than a year ago?

Perhaps Sam can dance around the fact that, while Martha-Ann publicly declared her loyalties, and did so not with a button on her blouse but in a public gesture that implicated the entire family, she doesn’t have an official or financial stake in the betrayal of the nation the way Ginni Thomas does.

But, dear lord, that is weak reasoning. Again, if you can’t get him for ethical violations, he may be stupid enough that his continued presence comes under question.

And, to repeat, Sam’s thin veneer of justification surely cannot possibly cover Clarence, whose wife is professionally involved in seeking to overthrow the government.

But the rules have never applied to Clarence, seen here in the company of a group of fat cats whose largess he claims is merely the outcome of personal relationships, not professional connections.

Note that while the new SCOTUS ethics says they’ll be bound by the overall Guide to Judiciary Policy, they were originally excluded by the policy from its gifts provisions. Rank has its privileges.

Even assuming the new SCOTUS policy places them under that provision, Clarence will likely accept motorhomes and tuition at expensive private schools and modest gifts from personal friends who (certainly!) expect nothing in return.

Take heart: Perhaps they’re only pretending to be deeply conflicted, morally compromised examples of stinking corruption.

Maybe behind their masks of venal incompetence, they’re actually geniuses!

We’ve been fooled before.

10 thoughts on “CSotD: Free speech, free kicks & dubious justice

  1. Imagine being a woman in that graduating class listening to Butker’s screed, having just spent 4 or more years to earn a degree to pursue a career in any given field, many of whom have had to get loans they’ll be paying off the rest of their life or the parents who took out a second mortgage to pay for this education, only to be told they should have been husband shopping instead.

    And why was there loud applause by the audience instead of a loud FU and a raised middle finger for that sanctimonious misogyny?

    1. Because IIRC he was speaking at a small Christian college with a graduating class of about 200.

      1. Thanks, Brad. I’m old. But still don’t understand what difference it makes how big or small the graduating class was.

    2. I suspect that if they didn’t like his message they wouldn’t have stuck around that place for four years having it pounded into their heads.

    3. There are schools women go to for their PhDs, schools women go to for their MBAs, and schools women go to for their Mrs. When you’re looking at a small Catholic college that thinks Vatican II was a mistake, it’s a safe bet you’re looking at the latter.

  2. I’ve seen multiple people (not here) attempting to defend his speech by saying it wasn’t sexist and such because he knew his audience, as though he had a gun to his head forcing him to make the speech and doesn’t really believe the things he said.

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