Sen. Ben Sasse Gives “Demoralizing” Commencement Speech That Draws Wide Criticism

U.S. Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska speaking at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. Photo by Gage Skidmore.

Psychologists, China, Fremont School Board members and guys named Jeremy.

Those are just a few of the people that Sen. Ben Sasse upset this weekend with his virtual commencement speech streamed to graduating seniors at Fremont High School on May 16.

It came days after Sasse won a shot to run for his seat again in Congress with the most votes cast for a candidate in Nebraska primary history. Now he’s making national headlines for his “weird,” “despicable” and “pot shot” thoughts meant to inspire the 2020 graduating class.

One school board member demanded Sasse apologize while the district itself officially distanced itself from Sasse, who graduated from Fremont High School in 1990.

The Nebraska Counseling Association released a statement this morning calling his comments about mental health professionals “tasteless” and “demeaning.”

“Ninety-five percent of all gainfully employed psychologists — and I’m serious, there are dozens of them that are gainfully employed — their job is really just to help people forget high school and the other 5%, they just research hamsters who get lost in mazes, which come to think of it is a lot like high school and that’s why we want to forget it,” Sasse said.

“There will always be money to be made in psychology,” he said later. “Now that’s a joke… If you’re headed to college, do not major in psychology. That part’s not a joke.”

In its statement, the Nebraska Counseling Association asked whether Sasse considered Nebraska had a mental health professional shortage before a pandemic that’s turned into a great source of trauma for many.

“Perhaps as a politician it is easy to take pot shots at our field,” the statement read. “After all, you are not the one sharing the space with children enduring abuse, people of all ages who are struggling to gain normalcy in their life after rape and sexual assault, people who are trying to gain sobriety after a long battle with addition, which almost always ties in with another diagnosable mental health condition.”

The statement also said Sasse showed an alarming lack of sensitivity toward graduating seniors.

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