Johns Hopkins University medical students have called for neurosurgeon and conservative author Dr Ben Carson to be dumped as a commencement speaker at the university in response to his comments likening those pushing for marriage equality to the pedophile group the North American Man-Boy Love Association (NAMBLA) and people who have sex with animals.
A group of students from the Health and Human Rights Student Group of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health wrote an open letter to the university and organized a petition yesterday.
‘We are writing to express concern about the selection of Dr. Ben Carson as the commencement speaker for the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine Class of 2013,’ the students wrote.
‘At the time of his nomination, Dr. Carson was known to most of us as a world-class neurosurgeon and passionate advocate for education. Many of us had read his books and looked up to him as a role model in our careers. Since then, however, several public events have cast serious doubt on the appropriateness of having Dr. Carson speak at our graduation.’
The students noted their concerns about Carson’s comments about same-sex marriage on Fox News and his speech at the National Prayer Breakfast in February.
‘On February 7, Dr. Carson used the National Prayer Breakfast speech – which, like our commencement ceremony, is an historically non-partisan event – to deride Obamacare, advocate lower taxes for the wealthy, and suggest that Christianity requires supporting Republican policies,’ the students wrote.
‘We retain the highest respect for Dr. Carson’s achievements and value his right to publicly voice political views. Nevertheless, we feel that these expressed values are incongruous with the values of Johns Hopkins and deeply offensive to a large proportion our student body.’
‘As a result, we believe he is an inappropriate choice of speaker at a ceremony intended to celebrate the achievements of our class. We hope the administration of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine will select an alternative speaker that better represents the values of our student body and of our great University.’
In response, Carson told MSNBC that he would not be speaking at the event.
‘This is their day and the last thing I would want to do is rain on their parade,’ Carson said.
Carson told MSNBC that if anybody had been offended by his comments he apologized to them but claimed that he had been misunderstood.
‘I wasn’t equating those things, I don’t think they’re equal,’ Carson said of same-sex marriage, pedophilia and bestiality.
‘If you ask me for an apple and I give you an orange you would say, that’s not an orange. And I say, that’s a banana. And that’s not an apple either. Or a peach, that’s not an apple, either. It doesn’t mean that I’m equating the banana and the orange and the peach. In the same way I’m not equating those things.’
On Tuesday Carson had told Fox News’ Sean Hannity, ‘My thoughts are that marriage is between a man and a woman.’
‘It’s a well-established fundamental pillar of society. And no group, be they gays, be they NAMBLA, be they people who believe in bestiality — it doesn’t matter what they are. They don’t get to change the definition.’
Carson denied his view was the result of an anti-gay bias.
‘It’s not something that’s against gays,’ Carson told Hannity, ‘It’s against anybody who wants to come along and change the fundamental definitions of pillars of society. It has significant ramifications.’