ThinkProgress has called the decision by Johns Hopkins University to keep tea party darling Ben Carson as their School of Medicine’s graduation commencement speaker ‘surprising’, but it really is not. At this point, it is hard to understand why anyone is surprised when an institution refuses to change their commencement speaker or policy or whatnot unless it becomes a PR nightmare.
After all, take a look at Rutgers University. It did not matter that the men’s basketball coach was abusive and homophobic, it was not until tape of the man’s abuses went public that the University reacted.
Right now, Dr. Carson is mostly responsible for making comments comparing same-sex marriage to bestiality and pedophilia and then giving a rather fruit-based apology (it took me years to get that joke in “Clue” btw.)
Of course, Carson did say that he would be willing to step down as speaker should he be asked to, and a majority of the students from the 2013 graduating class have asked him to via petition. One source speaking to The Washington Blade said that the university will keep Carson as speaker despite the petition, and that this will be formally announced shortly.
Carson told Andrea Mitchell of MSNBC recently that he would be willing to step down because “I would say that this is their day, and the last thing I would want to do is rain on their parade.”
Odds are that the university’s senior staff do not find what Carson has been saying all that problematic. In fact, they may even approve secretly of what he is saying. The reality is that it is kind of time to stop being surprised by any move that a university or corporation makes. They are not after doing what is right, but rather doing what will make them the most profit, and earn them the most prestige.
So long as Carson is not actively calling for President Barack Obama to be assassinated, or that lesbians and gays be rounded up and thrown into concentration camps, it seems unlikely that the university will care much about his political activities so long as he doesn’t actively hurt their reputation.