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Ben Carson is an Idiot

March 5, 2015

Benjamin Solomon Carson, Sr., is a retired neurosurgeon of astonishing accomplishment. At just 33 years old, he became the director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital. In 1987, he led a team of surgeons through a 22-hour procedure to separate conjoined twins who had been joined at the back of the head – the first such successful separation.

On his retirement from surgical practice in 2013, Carson raised the possibility of a move to politics, but left the decision “in the hands of God.” And Dr. Carson did take up politics. In 2013, he began writing a weekly column for the Washington Times, and he has made himself a prominent presence on-line, at political events, and on the political talk shows. In 2014, the previously non-partisan Carson joined the Republican party as “a pragmatic measure” in preparation for the 2016 presidential campaign.

For the most part, Carson voices standard-issue Tea Party positions. “Law-abiding citizens,” for example, “should have every right to own all legal weapons.” He favors a flat tax – a fixed percentage of income to be paid by all income-earners – that he likens to a “tithe.” He rejects evolution, he compares liberalism to slavery and totalitarianism – and, of course, the Affordable Care Act is “the worst thing that has happened in this country since slavery.”

Dr. Carson made his assault on Obamacare at a national prayer breakfast in 2013, with President Obama sitting a few feet away. His speech was so political and so hostile to the sitting president that even Fox News contributors found it to be “inappropriate” to the event, and one said that Dr. Carson should apologize to President Obama. Carson’s defense was that “somebody has to be courageous enough to stand up to the bullies” – the President of the United States presumably being the “bully.” Then he said, “What I would like to see more often in this nation is an open and intelligent conversation, not people just casting aspersions at each other.”

Ben Carson is, not at all surprisingly, adamantly against same-sex marriage. As a Christian, he says, he loves all people, including gay people, and he wants gay couples to have all the rights of married couples – except for the marriage part. He was discussing this with Chris Cuomo on CNN yesterday morning. As the interview proceeded, it became apparent that Carson in effect blames gay people for their sexual orientation – prompting Cuomo to ask the obvious question:  do you think that gay people choose to be gay?

Carson’s answer was unhesitating and unequivocal, and he repeated it when Cuomo restated the question: “Absolutely.”

Cuomo next asked Carson why he believed that, and here’s the thing you need to pay attention to. Here is the scientific mind at work, the wunderkind of brain surgery at Johns Hopkins: “many people go into prison straight — and when they come out [sic], they’re gay.”

Wow.

I’ve never been to jail in my life, at least not as a prisoner – a couple of law school classes, a summer job, three terms as a judge, a few visits to see an in-law. I have actually met a couple of gay people who have been to jail, but all of them were gay when they got there. The huge majority of gay people I know have never been to jail, even for law school classes. I myself knew I was gay by the time I was 11 years old, well before prime imprisonment age.

By yesterday afternoon, controversy was a-swirl. Dr. Carson acknowledged that he did not actually know how every single person “came to their sexual orientation,” and he apologized to those he had offended – presumably, those of us who did not choose to become gay while doing time. He went so far as to acknowledge a theory that sexual orientation is genetically determined.

Remembering his base, Dr. Carson concluded by blaming the “liberal media” for the controversy: “every time I’m gaining momentum, the liberal press says, let’s talk about gay rights – and I’m just not going to fall for that anymore.” Still, he insisted, marriage is for one man and one woman: “We have something that’s worked just fine for thousands of years to create a nurturing environment for raising children, and I think that’s where we ought to leave it.”

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