Almost two full weeks since Tea Party folk hero Dr. Ben Carson appeared on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show to insult the LGBT community by comparing same-sex marriage to bestiality and pedophilia, he announced on Wednesday that he was withdrawing as commencement speaker at Johns Hopkins’ School of Medicine after a majority of the graduating class of 2013 signed a petition asking the administration to un-invite the neurosurgeon.
Carson’s withdrawal from the speaking slot was not entirely unexpected. During an appearance on MSNBC days after his original comments, Carson said that he would “absolutely” honor the request by JHU students to withdraw as speaker, telling host Andrea Mitchell that he didn’t want to “rain on their parade.” In a letter written to the medical school dean, Carson reiterated those sentiments:
“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 Rothman, which the dean shared with the Hopkins community.
Neither Rothman nor Carson was available for comment Wednesday night.
“This was purely Dr. Carson’s decision,” said Hopkins spokeswoman Kim Hoppe in an email, adding that the university did not ask him to give up the speaking engagement.
Even after strong condemnations by several organizations within Johns Hopkins, the JHU administration had stood by its decision to invite Carson to speak, and ignored the request made by an overwhelming majority of the students who are graduating this spring to rethink their invitation.
Carson had already apologized for his comments in a written statement sent to the entire JHU community.