Dr. Ben Carson, the Republican Party’s favorite brain surgeon-turned-conservative flamethrower, appeared on MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell Reports on Friday to do damage control after his hate-filled rhetoric equating same-sex marriage to pedophilia and bestiality swept across the internet earlier this week.
He fell short of issuing an apology for his remarks, which were made on Tuesday during an interview on Fox News. “I think in terms of what was said on Sean Hannity’s show, that was taken completely out of context and completely misunderstood in terms of what I was trying to say,” he explained.
But Carson’s attempt to clarify his remarks did nothing to untangle his own convoluted logic. Quite the opposite, in fact:
CARSON: As a Christian, I have a duty to love all people — and that includes people who have other sexual orientations — and I certainly do, and never had any intention of offending anyone. What I was basically saying — and if anyone was offended I apologize to you — but what I was basically saying is there is no group…I wasn’t equating those things, I don’t think they are equal. If you asked me for an apple and I gave you an orange, you would say ‘well that’s not an orange.’ And then I’d say well there’s a banana…’that’s not an apple either.’ And there’s a peach…’that’s not an apple either.’ But it doesn’t mean that I’m equating the banana and the orange and the peach. In the same way, I’m not equating those things.
It’s unclear if Carson’s fruit analogy will do anything to beat back the growing criticism he is facing from his colleagues at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Medicine. A group of medical students from the graduating class of 2013 began circulating a petition urging the university to withdraw its invitation from Carson, who is scheduled to deliver the keynote address during the ceremony this spring. Mitchell addressed the petition during her interview, asking Carson if he was prepared to step down from the honorary role. “Absolutely,” he said. I would say that this is their day, and the last thing I would want to do is rain on their parade.”
“I don’t think most people at Hopkins think what he says on this subject matter,” Professor Todd Shepard, co-director of the university’s Program for the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality, said in a statement to Media Matters. “They make him look nasty, petty, and ill-informed. It doesn’t tell us anything about his amazing abilities as a surgeon. It does remind us, however, that those abilities do not mean we should listen to what he says in any other domain.”
Leaders from the school’s Gertrude Stein Society — a coalition of students, faculty, staff and alumni who advance LGBT issues within the medical schools of JHU — also took an opportunity to forcefully denounce Carson’s rhetoric as “hurtful” and “extremely discouraging.”