Meet Mizzou Protestor Jonathan Butler: Stealing, Misogyny, Crack Songs

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By Jillian Kay Melchior | 11:57 pm, May 8, 2016

Mizzou’s Most Famous SJW Has Said Some Pretty Awful Things About Women, Low-Income Workers and Drugs

University of Missouri graduate student Jonathan Butler grabbed national headlines last fall after embarking on a seven-day hunger strike that led to the ousting of the University of Missouri’s president and chancellor. Since then, he’s gone on a speaking tour, represented by celebrity talent booker All American Speakers.

“Butler did it,” gushed Southern Christian Leadership Conference president Vernon Howard, introducing the graduate student as he made the keynote speech at the Martin Luther King Jr. celebration in January. Since November, Butler has made half-a-dozen speeches, including addresses at the law schools of Harvard and Duke.

Perhaps these institutions should have done their research before portraying Butler as a social-justice hero. Heat Street’s review of Butler’s online presence, as well as video reviewed exclusively by the publication, reveals he’s chronically stolen items, denigrated low-income workers, and made troubling comments about women and drugs.

Most of the coverage of the events of last fall focused on claims of pervasive racism at the university, as well as administrators’ struggle to address the demands of student organization #ConcernedStudent1950. But our investigation has uncovered not only past controversial statements by Butler but also other dimensions to the unrest, including pervasive fears about safety on campus, as well as massive backlash from donors, sports fans and alumni.

Last fall, other student activists and social-justice warriors on campus began looking into Butler’s background because he hadn’t been involved in activism at the University of Missouri previously, and they had concerns about his speaking for everyone. Now that things on the campus have settled down, they’ve provided the information they found to Heat Street. 

MORE: Inside the fallout at Mizzou

In a blog post from August 2011, titled “My Summer Breakfast Experience,” Butler describes how, for 61 days, he swung by a hotel before work and “decided to indulge myself with ‘free’ breakfast items.”

Butler describes trying to get caught stealing food, making goofy faces in the camera and making sure staff got a good look at his face.

“Beyond even pure sport it was a [sic] adrenaline rush to find out when someone would approach me about partaking in this ‘free’ breakfast,” Butler writes. “Each passing day built up with more and more excitement and the anticipation of the hunt. The mere fact that confrontation was just around the corner drove me wild with passion.”

What was Butler trying to accomplish? He writes: “Now ideally in my mind I wanted S.W.A.T. team members to drop from the sky, tear gas to be thrown while I has [sic] attacked by 5 different german shepherds, and beat like Rodney King. But in my disappointment I was only greeted at the front by two managers.”

He describes one of these employees as a “’stubborn middle age crisis I’m a lonely old bag and I hate the world’ lady manager.” He writes that he “chuckled to myself but just loud enough to upset the two managers (on purpose) knowing that [the other] was too frail to honestly throw anyone out.”

Butler says he claimed to know the maid, Maria, and staff asked her last name. “Not knowing Maria’s real last name the first thing that came to mind was to say, ‘Sanchez,’ he says. … So was it wrong to eat the food, probably yea. Was it wrong to give a last-name like ‘Sanchez’ to Maria the worker, yea, probably.”

More: Protestors demanded generators, a fire pit from Mizzou admin

He also describes arguing with the managers when he was finally caught, boasting, “I spent too much time in debate class and different forums to let [the female manager] punk me with her below minimum wage salary.” Besides, he says, he doesn’t appreciate her “rehearsed establishment confrontation dialogue.”

Butler, a graduate student at the University of Missouri who is studying educational leadership and policy, did not respond to Heat Street’s request for an interview, sent by two different emails and Twitter over last week.

His disdain for low-income Americans is also apparent in another blog post, from July 2011, that was written about his visit to a Subway sandwich shop. Butler describes how he “stormed up to the counter inpatient [sic] and indecisive,” further detailing rude behavior to the worker. He describes watching the worker, “a grumpy older gentleman, about 70-75 years old,” making his sandwich.

“And at that moment as I was charging my phone and sitting down to my fast food meal,” Butler continues, “it dawned on me that I cannot live like this. I got upset at the world and in rage thoughts raced through my head of all the time I have wasted not investing my money and budgeting correctly because I cannot, I repeat cannot! End up like the older gentleman behind the counter working at Subway. I will not be old, grumpy, and working when I should be retired, relaxed and happy.”

MORE: Safety fears rampant on Mizzou’s campus last fall

Butler, who grew up in Omaha, Nebraska, is the son of an railroad executive whose compensation in 2014 was $8.4 million, according to regulatory filings.

Some videos published by Butler, also in 2011,  are equally controversial.

In one, nearly 15 minutes long that was published to YouTube in March 2011, Butler says he wants to “address the issue—a very important issue—of XX versus XY. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, male and female: which is better.”

Butler and a guest continue to discuss the problem of “ratchet women,” who flirt and generally are not well-behaved, by their reckoning.

“So you’re saying, she jumps from male to male,” Butler says, continuing: “So this would be like in the kingdom, the wild kingdom, where they’re trying to get their prey.”

At one point, Butler asks his guest: “So what he’s saying is that us as men, we don’t have issues, it’s all women, obviously, because what do we do? We just eat, sleep, work, we’re the backbone. Is that what you’re saying? … You’re saying all women are trash, is that what you’re saying?”

MORE: Mizzou students say sushi logo is as offensive as a swastika

Butler’s guest holds forth at length about how women “will lie, cheat, steal to get what they want. … That’s how females are these days. They will just—just lie.”

Butler chimes in, echoing the sentiment: “Just lie! Just lie! That’s dirty.”

Another 9-minute video, posted to YouTube in July 2011, features Butler singing about cooking crack cocaine with his love interest.

Jillian Kay Melchior writes for Heat Street and is a fellow for the Steamboat Institute and Independent Women’s Forum.