mea culpas

Ben Carson Apologizes to Johns Hopkins Community

Dr. Ben Carson Sr. receives the ROBIE Lifetime Achievement Award
Ben Carson. Photo: STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images

Ben Carson’s apology tour continued this afternoon in an e-mail that was sent, according to its subject line, to “the Hopkins Community“:


Dear Colleagues, Friends and Associates:
As you know, I have been in the national news quite a bit recently and my 36 year association with Johns Hopkins has unfortunately dragged our institution into the spotlight as well. I am sorry for any embarrassment this has caused. But what really saddens me is that my poorly chosen words caused pain for some members of our community and for that I offer a most sincere and heartfelt apology. Hurting others is diametrically opposed to who I am and what I believe. There are many lessons to be learned when venturing into the political world and this is one I will not forget. Although I do believe marriage is between a man and a woman, there are much less offensive ways to make that point. I hope all will look at a lifetime of service over some poorly chosen words.  
 Sincerely yours,
Benjamin S Carson Sr MD

Only a few minutes earlier, Paul Rothman — “the Dean of the Medical Faculty, vice president for medicine of The Johns Hopkins University, and CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine” — had sent out an e-mail of his own admonishing Carson for his “hurtful, offensive” language on gay marriage:

Dear Colleagues,

Controversial social issues are debated in the media on a regular basis, and yet it is rare that leaders of an academic medical center will join that type of public debate. However, we recognize that tension now exists in our community because hurtful, offensive language was used by our colleague, Dr. Ben Carson, when conveying a personal opinion. Dr. Carson’s comments are inconsistent with the culture of our institution.

Johns Hopkins Medicine embraces diversity and believes that the same civil rights should be available to all regardless of race, religion, gender or sexual orientation. For example, the Johns Hopkins University has provided benefits for same-sex domestic partners since 1999 and has long maintained a policy against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. 

Dr. Carson is well known for his accomplishments as a neurosurgeon and for his contributions to the Baltimore community. While his recent comments are inconsistent with our core values, Dr. Carson has the right to participate in public debates and media interviews and express his personal opinions on political, social and religious issues. We strongly value freedom of expression and affirm Dr. Carson’s right, as a private citizen, to state his personal views. 

We have been carefully listening to the varied opinions expressed by members of our community in response to Dr. Carson’s comments. It is clear that the fundamental principle of freedom of expression has been placed in conflict with our core values of diversity, inclusion and respect. We are trying to thoughtfully work through these issues, and as part of that process, we will be meeting with graduating students on Monday.   

Those who work and study here, and the patients we serve, create a rich tapestry of people from all races, religions and backgrounds. Commitment to diversity, inclusion, and freedom of expression is at the heart of our standing as a world leader in medical care, research and education.



Paul B. Rothman, M.D.

Dean of the Medical Faculty

CEO, Johns Hopkins Medicine