Dr. Ben Carson, a rising star in conservative media, announced today that he would step down as commencement speaker at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. His decision followed a widespread backlash in the media and on campus after he compared the LGBT community to “NAMBLA” and “people who believe in bestiality.”
From the Baltimore Sun:
Neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson stepped down Wednesday as commencement speaker at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine after complaints from students about controversial comments concerning same-sex marriage.
“Given all the national media surrounding my statements as to my belief in traditional marriage, I believe it would be in the best interest of the students for me to voluntarily withdraw as your commencement speaker this year,” he wrote in the letter to [Dean Paul] Rothman, which the dean shared with the Hopkins community.
Media Matters previously documented Ben Carson's promotion by right wing media figures after he trumpeted conservative policy ideas during a speech at the National Prayer Breakfast. Carson was ultimately burned by that media exposure.
The controversial remarks cited by the Baltimore Sun came during Carson's March 26 appearance on Fox News' Hannity. In reference to efforts to overturn bans on same-sex marriage, Carson said, “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.”
Those comments led Johns Hopskins students to launch a petition for his removal as commencement speaker, which petitioners said more than half of the graduating class had signed. Carson was also criticized by colleagues at Johns Hopkins who called his comments “hurtful” and “extremely discouraging.” In a statement to Media Matters, the co-director of Johns Hopkins University's Program for the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality, Professor Todd Shepard, said Carson's statements made him look, “nasty, petty, and ill-informed.” Carson eventually apologized for his comments, before calling his critics “racists,” and then apologizing again.
Carson once wrote that marriage equality could lead to the fall of America like the “fall of the Roman Empire.” As of April 2, Carson was scheduled to give the keynote address at a banquet hosted by the Illinois Family Institute, an anti-gay hate group.
According to the Baltimore Sun, "Carson also stepped down as speaker for the Johns Hopkins University School of Education diploma ceremony. New speakers have not been chosen for either commencement address."