Dr. Benjamin Carson, the famed Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon, apologized Friday for his "choice of words" and use of examples in discussing gay marriage on Fox News earlier in the week.
During Sean Hannity's show on Tuesday, when asked about the matter before the Supreme Court, Carson said, "Marriage is between a man and a woman. 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 comparison of gays to members of the North American Boy/Man Love Association and those who engage in bestiality set off a backlash of criticism in the media, online and on campus. There is now a petition circulating at Johns Hopkins Medical to have Carson removed as commencement speaker in May at the School of Medicine.
"I think people have completely taken the wrong meaning out of what I was saying," the 61-year-old surgeon said in a telephone interview Friday. "First of all, I certainly believe gay people should have all the rights that anybody else has. What I was basically saying is that as far as marriage is concerned that has traditionally been between a man and a woman and nobody should be able to change that."
"Now perhaps the examples were not the best choice of words, and I certainly apologize if I offended anyone," he added. "But the point that I was making was that no group of individuals, whoever they are, whatever their belief systems, gets to change traditional definitions. The reason I believe the way I do, I will readily confess, is because I am a Christian who believes in The Bible."
The Bible, he explained, "...says we have an obligation to love our fellow man as ourselves, and I love everybody the same -- all homosexuals. Everybody who knows me knows I would never say anything to intentionally hurt someone."
Given the "if I offended anyone" tone and language of the apology, it will be interesting to see how it's received. I hope readers will weigh in here.
The Sun has also obtained a copy of the petition aimed at getting Carson, who is on the eve of retirement this spring, removed as a speaker at the School of Medicine graduation ceremonies in May.
"At the time of his nomination, Dr. Carson was known to most of us as a world-class neurosurgeon and passionate advocate for education," the petition says. "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. If you believe he is an inappropriate choice of speaker at a ceremony intended to celebrate the achievements of our class please complete the petition below."
When asked about the petition Friday, Carson told the Sun, "I've caught wind of it and I've sent back a message that this is their graduation, their big day, and if they think me being there is going to be a problem, I am happy to withdraw."
Speaking of his retirement plans, Carson said he has been speaking with several TV outlets about a career in media.
In response to a direct question as to whether he is in discussions with Fox News, where he has been regularly featured since his appearance at the National Prayer Breakfast in February, he said, "I would simply say that there is more than one station that has asked if I would have any interest, and I am in the process of considering these things."
Carson expressed a "hope" that "we can get to a level where we can actually have an intelligent discussion without hysteria" on such issues as gay marriage.
Good luck with that on highly partisan cable TV channels like Fox News and MSNBC.