Conservative Superstar Ben Carson Using Rick Santorum’s Terrible Gay Marriage Analogies Now [Updated]

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Ben Carson.

Earlier this week, conservative cult hero Ben Carson — a Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon who became so beloved on the right for giving a critical speech about President Obama in front of President Obama that he's now mentioned as a presidential candidate — was asked, for the first time since his political career took off, what he thinks about gay marriage. His answer was awful:

"Well, my thoughts are that marriage is between a man and a woman. It's a well-established, fundamental pillar of society and 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. So he, it's not something that is against gays, it's against anybody who wants to come along and change the fundamental definitions of pillars of society. It has significant ramifications."

If the "gay people are like NAMBLA and bestiality enthusiasts" thing sounds familiar, it may be because it closely echoes Rick Santorum's infamous "man on child, man on dog" quote from 2003.

Like Santorum's remarks, Carson's observations did not go over well. So, today, Carson tried to clarify why he compared the desires of consenting gay adults to marry each other to the desire of pedophiles to marry children or humans to marry animals. Carson started off by half-assedly apologizing "if anybody was offended," as if that was in doubt. He went on to explain his opposition to gay marriage with an elaborate fruit analogy:

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"But what I was basically saying is that there is no group. I wasn't equating those things, I don't think they're equal. Just, you know, if you ask me for apple and I give you an orange you would say, well that's not an orange. And then I say, that'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. And in the same way I'm not equating those things.  My point was that once we start changing the definitions, then where do we stop?'

If that analogy sounds familiar, it's because Rick Santorum — again with him! — used to do the same shtick:

Apples are apples. Water is water. Napkins are napkins. And marriage is marriage. You can't just change the definition of something. Once things are defined one way, they must be defined that way forever, which is why it is still illegal to this day for black people and white people to get married. 

Update, 6:13 p.m: On CNN, Carson continued his damage-control efforts, apologizing for being insensitive and admitting that he could be more "artful."