April 5th, 2013
05:37 PM ET
10 years ago

Johns Hopkins reacts to Carson's homosexuality comments

(CNN) - The dean overseeing Johns Hopkins University Medical School said Friday that controversial comments made by faculty member Ben Carson, a neurosurgeon and outspoken conservative, went against the "core values" of the school.

This follows remarks last week by Carson which some saw as equating homosexuality with criminal acts of pedophilia and bestiality. He would later say he apologized "if he offended anyone." The Johns Hopkins Dean said a Monday meeting with students would be held regarding whether to keep Carson as this year's commencement speaker.

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Dr. Paul Rothman defended Carson's right to make the comments, which were made in a recent television appearance and not associated with his responsibilities at the school, but said "we recognize that tension now exists in our community because hurtful, offensive language was used."

"Dr. Carson is well known for his accomplishments as a neurosurgeon and for his contributions to the Baltimore community," Rothman wrote. "While his recent comments are inconsistent with our core values, Dr. Carson has the right to participate in public debates and media interviews and express his personal opinions on political, social and religious issues. We strongly value freedom of expression and affirm Dr. Carson's right, as a private citizen, to state his personal views."

In an appearance last week on Fox News, Carson was asked about the recent Supreme Court oral arguments over same-sex marriage and said, "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 [pedophilia], be they people who believe in bestiality. It doesn't matter what they are. They don't get to change the definition," he said.

Carson attempted to clean up the controversy he sparked in an appearance on CNN's "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer."

"I love gay people. I love straight people. So this was really, I think, on my behalf, somewhat insensitive and I certainly apologize if I offended anyone, because I was not in any way comparing gays with people who engage in bestiality or sexual child abuse," he said.

Carson followed Rothman's email with an apology to the school community.

"I am sorry for any embarrassment this has caused," he said. "But what really saddens me is that my poorly chosen words caused pain for some members of our community and for that I offer a most sincere and heartfelt apology.

"Hurting others is diametrically opposed to who I am and what I believe. There are many lessons to be learned when venturing into the political world and this is one I will not forget," he said. "Although I do believe marriage is between a man and a woman, there are much less offensive ways to make that point. I hope all will look at a lifetime of service over some poorly chosen words."

New York Magazine first reported Carson's email.

Some students at the school have called for him to be removed as their commencement speaker because of the remarks, and Carson said on CNN "If they don't want me to, if it's going to cause problems for them, I will be happy to withdraw."

Carson rocketed into the political spotlight this year after criticizing Democratic positions at the National Prayer Breakfast in President Barack Obama's presence.

- CNN's Steve Brusk contributed to this report

Filed under: Ben Carson
soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. Ed1


    If you would have been a Democrat nobody would have said one thing but since your not let the trashing begin.

    You can't apologize either your a Republican and you don't count.

    You run for President and you will get my vote a person with common sense couldn't get any better than that.

    Never mind the people getting Federal money (49% and counting) will not vote for you they don't want their money to go away.

    April 5, 2013 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  2. wade

    Ed1, despite your belief in Mitt Romney's comments which he himself took back as inaccurate, it is true that 47% of Americans participate in Governemt programs, but of that 47% only 11% are welfare recipients, the other 36% are made up of disabled veterans, elderly folks on Medicare and Medicaid, and people on food stamps.

    April 5, 2013 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  3. GI Joe

    When a school of high reputation turns on you, it's time for a little introspection, but since he's a republican he'll just blame it on someone else. Kick the bum out.

    April 5, 2013 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  4. apetra

    Democrats will be the death of academic freedom in this country.

    April 5, 2013 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  5. Joyce1

    What a shame that he is getting such bad publicity over this. He apologized. Even Obama puts his foot in his mouth sometimes He has accomplished so much and helped so many children. Could be an excellent role model for all. It irritates me that he has been called a "token" in the Republican party. If a Democrat had accomplished all he has, he would be highly praised (as he should). He is allowed to have a different political view and does not deserve the criticism he has received lately.

    April 5, 2013 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  6. PJ

    "Never mind the people getting Federal money..........................they don't want their money to go away".
    Are you including the $30M unemployment money paid out to millionaires in 2010, or are they more deserving?
    Didn't think so.

    April 5, 2013 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  7. Larry L

    A neurosurgeon needs to stick to medicine. Personally, I would never trust a physician who has such poor control of his brain – especially a neurosurgeon!

    April 5, 2013 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  8. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    Dr. Carson is getting pretty full of himself; will likely implode.

    April 5, 2013 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  9. Patrick in Wisconsin

    Wow, this guy is making Hermann Cain look put together.

    April 5, 2013 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  10. FloridaRes

    Carson's apology is so insincere. He is sorry if someone was offended is a crock! It is what my mother would have called a non-apology. This clearly states what the whole GOP feels and acts upon. Look at the comment by Ed1 about the "49% and counting" who don't count to the GOP, Romney, the TP, etc. Sickening...many of the 49% are indigent Social Security Recipients who voted for the GOP. I used to belong to the GOP and stopped when they starting dictating family values in 1991. Keep going GOP and you will make yourself vanish!

    April 5, 2013 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  11. sonnie3

    The truth seems to hurt a little at times and if the shoe fits, then so be it.

    April 5, 2013 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
  12. freedom

    Dr. Carson is a stellar man and doctor, and this cricicism is all ridiculous. All Obama has ever done is community organize – which he is still doing on a national level – and is very destructive. Dr. Carson's talents and values outshine Obama's in every way.

    April 6, 2013 12:53 am at 12:53 am |
  13. allie

    The comments he made were terribly insensitive and ignorant, however, his apology is one of the most sincere I have heard. He owned up to his poor choice of words. While I do not agree with his position on many things, including gay marriage, I do think he is extrodinarily intelligent and thoughtful... unlike many other Republicans in the public eye. I'd much prefer to listen to his point of view than Ryan or Rubio.

    April 6, 2013 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  14. Jay

    Dr. Carson's skills are needed in the medical profession. It is extremely regrettable that he has decided to step in unfamiliar territory and tarnish is reputation.

    April 6, 2013 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  15. Pander Bear

    Looks like Ben Carson's ride as potential GOP savior didn't last very long. Funny to read all the conservatives i.e. the party of personal responsibility, blame everyone but the person who made the ignorant comments in the first place.

    April 6, 2013 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  16. WiredweirdinSF

    Liberals have got to destroy this man, he is way off their plantation, what with him talking about the failures of Obozo and how they must take personal responsibility for their lives. Liberals cannot abide such talk from a black man and therefore, they will diminish, destroy and demean him in any way they can. Look what the liberal media has done to Sarah Palin, if you want an example of how the liberals and their media stooges work.

    April 6, 2013 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  17. Thomas

    Democrats will be the death of academic freedom in this country.
    Your wrong , it's the GOP and those such as yourself that want to dismantle and downsize education . And the freedom of thought and science .


    Dr. Carson is a stellar man and doctor, and this cricicism is all ridiculous. All Obama has ever done is community organize – which he is still doing on a national level – and is very destructive. Dr. Carson's talents and values outshine Obama's in every way.

    You act like you know Dr. Carson personally . You also said the same about GW , The new issue of Texas Monthly delves into the long neglected story of George W. Bush less than stellar military career in the Texas Air National Guard

    April 6, 2013 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  18. NameFrank Deery

    As a gay, Catholic, Moderate Republican, I
    believe Dr Carson made a good point in asking where this "equal rights" issue will end. He needn't apologize, as we have to draw lines Somewhere, or we will have pedophiles and animal-marriage issues to deal with down the line.

    Roe vs Wade, sadly, was not determined in the court of public opinion, but by a liberal
    Supreme Court-and, 40 plus years later, is
    Still an issue!!!

    Gay marriage is a State issue, like abortion,
    but gays have many civil and legal rights in
    Many States to end their relationships peacefully. I, as a gay man, think that is best, as most major religious communties, including these Hispanic Pentacostal ones, won't adhere to it. So, within a community that is, at best, fickle, best to Not alienate churches or voters, Supreme Court!! Let the
    public decide!!!

    April 6, 2013 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  19. freedom


    His reputation is not tarnished. He has a viewpoint, and has every right to one. Stop with the PC police – enough already! If we use your mentality as a barometer – Obama is tarnished beyond repair – and he doesn't even have a medical degree to respect.

    April 6, 2013 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  20. Neutral Observer

    The thought police are alive and well. Perhaps the heads of the school should bug the restrooms to ruthlessly weed out any thought or utterances that they do not agree with.

    April 6, 2013 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  21. tykl

    Left: tolerance much? He did not equate gays to beastialists – you can make that up in your head all you want. Unless each self-righteous hypocrite on the Left (and that is all of them) has no problem with a man marrying multiple women or vice versa, then they are blatant hypocrites. If they are fine with a man or woman marrying multiple partners, then the Left is a bunch of lazy opportunists because I haven't heard them fighting for the polygamy colonies in Utah.

    April 6, 2013 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  22. jane

    @joyce1: He didn't apologize. He gave out the classic, Republican/Right Wing "if I offended anyone" non-apology. He doesn't give a rat's patoot if he 'offended anyone'; he's just sorry he got caught out being that stupid. Learn the difference.

    April 6, 2013 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  23. Me

    It's HIS opinion....deal with it! Obviously some folks are still opposed to same sex marriage or else it wouldn't be before the Supreme Court!

    April 6, 2013 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  24. ThinkAgain

    @Ed1: "If you would have been a Democrat nobody would have said one thing but since your not let the trashing begin. "

    This has nothing to do with Carson's party affiliation and everything to do with him equating homosexuality with pedophilia and bestiality.

    Which is what he did when he said, "Marriage is between a man and a woman. It is a well-established, fundamental pillar of society. And no group — be they gays, be they NAMBLA, be they people who believe in bestiality — doesn’t matter what they are, they don’t get to change the definition.”

    Only someone who's brain is completely addled from constant Fox-watching isn't able to see Carson's statements for what they are.

    April 6, 2013 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  25. ThinkAgain

    Carson's remarks equating homosexuality with pedophilia and bestiality is right out of the right wing playbook. It reminds me of Lon Mabon, a right wing nutjob in Oregon who put on the 1992 Ballot Measure 9 which stated in part:

    "All governments in Oregon may not use their monies or properties to promote, encourage or facilitate homosexuality, pedophilia, sadism or masochism.

    The good people of Oregon recognized the insanity behind this kind of thinking and defeated it.

    Unfortunately, the kind of ignorance that motivates folks like Carson and Mabon will always exist.

    Which is why Dems, Independents and thinking Republicans need to get out and vote in 2014 to ensure these whackadoodles don't get elected – and the ones that are in office now get sent packing!

    April 6, 2013 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
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