Ben Carson: I’ll withdraw as Johns Hopkins speaker if students don’t want me

Benjamin S. Carson, Sr., M.D., a pediatric neurosurgeon, poses for a portrait at Johns Hopkins Hospital on January 24, 2012 in Baltimore, Md. (Photo by Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post) Ben Carson at Johns Hopkins Hospital  (Photo by Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post)

Famed neurosurgeon Ben Carson is scheduled to make the commencement speech at Johns Hopkins Medical School in May but he suggested on Friday that he would withdraw if students don’t want him to because of recent remarks he made slamming same-sex marriage.

Medical students at the school have been circulating a letter seeking names to support an effort to  have Carson replaced as speaker because of his gay marriage comments as well as his rejection of evolution. You can read the letter here.

The letter was referred to by CNN journalist Wolf Blitzer on Friday during an interview with Carson. The surgeon said:

If the students want me to give it I will give it and if they don’t want me to, if it is going to cause problems for them, I will be happy to withdraw.

 

On Fox News on March 26, Carson said:

Marriage is between a man and a woman. 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 is a world renowned neurosurgeon. In 1987 he became the first surgeon to successfully separate twins conjoined at the back of the head. In 2000, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States. He is also known for his own life story — he was raised by a single mother in Detroit and struggled for a time in school but wound up at Yale University — and for his philanthropy: The Carson Scholars Fund recognizes exceptional young people.

Carson said recently that he plans to retire from medicine. He has worked at Johns Hopkins University, where he is director of the Division of Pediatric Neurosurgery, co-director of the Craniofacial Center and a professor of neurosurgery, oncology, plastic surgery and pediatrics.

Last year there was a controversy at Emory University when Carson was chosen to be the commencement speaker because of remarks he made saying he does not believe in evolution. Carson, as a Seventh Day Adventist, believes in creationist theory that holds that all life on Earth was created by God about 6,000 years ago. It rejects Darwin’s theory of evolution, which is the central principle that animates modern biology, uniting all biological fields under one theoretical tent, and which virtually all modern scientists agree is true.

Hundreds of people at Emory signed a letter calling attention to his anti-evolution views, not to get him disinvited.

Carson told Blitzer that he had no intention of offending anyone. “Anybody who knows me knows the last thing I would do is say something that would hurt someone.”

 

 

Valerie Strauss covers education and runs The Answer Sheet blog.
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