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Eddie Vedder Joins Harrison Butker Naysayers After Divisive Speech

Eddie Vedder Joins Harrison Butker Naysayers After Divisive Speech


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Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder and an order of nuns at Benedictine College can be added to the growing list of those denouncing the divisive commencement speech given by Kansas Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker at Benedictine College last week. 

At a sold-out Las Vegas Pearl Jam concert on Saturday at the MGM Grand, Vedder joined Butker naysayers — including the National Football League — in denouncing the speech where Butker condemned abortion, euthanasia, IVF, surrogacy and the LGBTQ community. He also denounced the “diabolical lies told to women,” suggesting that enforcing traditional gender roles is the better route.

After the concert’s opener, “Deep Sea Diver,” warmed up the Vegas crowd, Vedder thanked the band, led by singer Jessica Dobson and featuring Patti King on keyboards.

“That’s some good men and good women making up a great band,” Vedder said of the Seattle rock band. The singer, Jessica, and the keyboard player, Patti… they must not have believed that ‘diabolical lie’ that women should take pride in taking a back seat to their man.”

Vedder then questioned the logic displayed by Butker, who during the 20-minute address to undergraduates on one of the biggest days of their lives, specifically told the young women graduates to embrace the “vocation” of homemaker. 

“You’re going to benefit by giving up your dreams? I couldn’t understand the logic, so I’m questioning it in public right now… It’s not a graduation speech,” Vedder told the crowd of howling fans, some of whom can be heard briefly booing. 

“The irony was that the football player — well, kicker… You see the kicker doesn’t have the pads because he doesn’t tackle anybody or get tackled — but he started telling men, ‘Don’t forget to puff up your chest and be more masculine. Don’t lose your masculinity.’ “The irony was that when he was saying that, he looked like such a fucking p***y,” he concluded. 

The Hollywood Reporter has reached out to a rep for Vedder for additional comment.

While Vedder had some fun mocking Butker, who played for Georgia Tech while earning a degree in industrial engineering, as he noted from the podium, the sisters of Mount St. Scholastica denounced his speech, particularly the section addressing the young women graduates, in a far more serious manner. 

“The sisters of Mount St. Scholastica do not believe that Harrison Butker’s comments in his 2024 Benedictine College commencement address represent the Catholic, Benedictine, liberal arts college that our founders envisioned and in which we have been so invested,” the sisters wrote in a statement posted on Facebook on Monday. “Instead of promoting unity in our church, our nation, and the world, his comments seem to have fostered division.

“One of our concerns was the assertion that being a homemaker is the highest calling for a woman. We sisters have dedicated our lives to God and God’s people, including the many women whom we have taught and influenced during the past 160 years. These women have made a tremendous difference in the world in their roles as wives and mothers and through their God-given gifts in leadership, scholarship, and their careers.”

Rejecting what they say is Butker’s “narrow” version of what it means to be a Catholic, the sisters said that rather than teaching young people how to be “homemakers,” the Benedictine community instills in them “how to make a Gospel-centered, compassionate home within themselves where they can welcome others as Christ, empowering them to be the best versions of themselves.”

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During his speech, Butker evoked his wife, Isabelle, telling 485 graduates that she “would be the first to say her life truly started when she began living her vocation as a wife and as a mother.” He also began to choke up while discussing meeting her at a young age, a moment of raw emotion which garnered applause from the crowd. 

Butler’s list of speech detractors also includes GLAAD, who said it missed the mark” in a statement; Kansas City Star columnist Sam McDowell, who also took issue with the address to the women graduates regarding homemaking and their careers; as well as hundreds of those following the story online. 

“Harrison Butker gave a speech in his personal capacity,” Jonathan Beane, the NFL’s senior vice president and chief diversity and inclusion officer, had said in a statement. “His views are not those of the NFL as an organization. The NFL is steadfast in our commitment to inclusion, which only makes our league stronger.”

Meanwhile, conservative leaders and pundits have been praising the speech. Everybody Loves Raymond’s Patricia Heaton on Sunday told fans he should not be considered “a monster for stating what he believes.” 

Heaton said, in part, “I am a Catholic woman, who worked through my kids’ childhood and I believe God opened those doors for me. Thankfully, it was a schedule that allowed me to also be a full-time mom, basically. I find nothing offensive about what he said, even though my life is very different. He might even look at my life and say that’s not the way it should be. That’s okay. That’s his opinion.”

On The View, Whoopi Goldberg echoed, “He’s at a Catholic college, he’s a staunch Catholic. These are his beliefs and he’s welcome to them. I don’t have to believe them, I don’t have to accept them, the ladies that were sitting in that audience don’t have to accept them.” And on Real Time, Bill Maher expressed confusion over the backlash, saying, in part, “I don’t see what the big crime is, I really don’t.”

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