In the latest in a series of controversies swirling around Dr. Ben Carson, the famed Johns Hopkins pediatric neurosurgeon has withdrawn as the speaker at next month’s medical school commencement program.
Carson, known around the world for the unparalleled success he earned in medicine after pulling himself up from poverty, recently drew criticism—AGAIN—after he made comments perceived to be anti-gay on a FOX News program.
Students and faculty at Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins University, feeling that Carson would be inappropriate to address the graduating students because of his divisive comments on gays and previous controversial statements, lobbied the administration to strike Carson from the program.
When the brouhaha continued, Carson sent a letter this week to the dean of the medical school officially stepping down as the speaker, according to news reports. He said he did not want to distract attention from the important event.
The commencement imbroglio is the most recent of several controversies Carson has gotten into by making insensitive or inappropriate comments. On the “The Sean Hannity Show,” he referred to marriage as “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.” The acronym NAMBLA is sometimes used to refer to the North American Man/Boy Love Association.
His statements led to the initiation of a petition drive, where students and faculty members urged the university to remove Carson from the program. According to the petition’s drafters, Carson “expressed values that are incongruous with the values of Johns Hopkins and deeply offensive to a large proportion our student body.”
In an MSNBC interview on March 26, he told news anchor Andrea Mitchell that he would withdraw if asked. “…The last thing I would want to do is rain on their parade," Carson said of the students who will be graduating.
Some political watchers believe Carson is making controversial statements in an effort to gain attention and support for a proposed run for public office as a Republican, though he has been coy in responding to questions about such plans.
Carson drew criticism on Feb.7 when he criticized President Obama’s stands on taxes and health care reform during the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington D.C. Critics of the move accused him of disrespecting the president at an event where speakers typically refrain from making political statements, let alone launching attacks.
Carson was a featured speaker in March at the GOP’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), held at National Harbor in Prince George’s County, Md.