Students at Johns Hopkins University’s medical school are circulating a petition to replace Dr. Benjamin Carson as their commencement speaker after the famed neurosurgeon linked gay marriage to pedophilia and bestiality in an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity.
The petition, which was written by several medical students and reposted by the student-run Health and Human Rights Student Group on their Facebook page, describes Carson as “a world-class neurosurgeon and passionate advocate for education,” but concludes that his “expressed values are incongruous with the values of Johns Hopkins and deeply offensive to a large proportion our student body.”
Carson, who is set to retire this year as the university’s director of pediatric neurosurgery, told Hannity on Tuesday that opposite-sex marriage is “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 became a conservative sensation in recent weeks after decrying President Obama’s agenda in a National Prayer Breakfast speech and delivering another jeremiad against progressivism at CPAC. His recent media campaign has fueled speculation he might run for president in 2016.
This isn’t the first time a graduation address by Carson has caused concern. Last year, about 500 students and faculty at Emory University signed a letter raising concerns about remarks Carson had made attacking the theory of evolution as immoral, although they stopped short of calling on the school to replace him as their commencement speaker.
Here’s the full letter posted on the Health and Human Rights Student Group page:
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.
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.
On March 26, on Sean Hannity’s Fox News program, Dr. Carson compared gay relationships with pedophilia and bestiality: “Well, 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. ”
On February 7, Dr. Carson used the National Prayer Breakfast speech– which, like our commencement ceremony, is an historically nonpartisan event — to deride Obamacare, advocate lower taxes for the wealthy, and suggest that Christianity requires supporting Republican policies.
Dr. Carson has also used his platform as a famous neurosurgeon to promote the rejection of evolution: “Ultimately, if you accept the evolutionary theory,” he said, in a statement that would apply to the majority of students and faculty at Johns Hopkins, “you dismiss ethics, you don’t have to abide by a set of moral codes, you determine your own conscience based on your own desires.” This belief of Dr. Carson’s was unknown to many of us at the time of his nomination.
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.
If you support the selection of another speaker, please sign this petition.