Creep of the Week: Ben Carson

By |2015-03-12T09:00:00-04:00March 12th, 2015|Creep of the Week, Opinions|

Years ago, long before her role as Big Boo on “Orange is the New Black,” Lea DeLaria had a bit in her stand-up act that went something like, “Say what you want about prison, but it’s a great place to meet girls.” It was, of course, a joke that is funny because of the completely ridiculous premise that lesbians would see prison not as a punishment but as a 24/7 all-expenses-paid Olivia cruise.
Unfortunately, there are plenty of people who don’t get the joke. I once had a well-educated and fairly liberal straight guy tell me that he thought gay men who got sent to prison had, in a sense, hit the lottery. Because dicks everywhere, I guess. When I asked him if he thought a straight woman thrown into a men’s prison would also be thanking her lucky stars, he didn’t understand the comparison.
Prison is, by its very design, dehumanizing. And so it makes sense that those who seek to dehumanize gays and lesbians would picture prison as their “natural” habitat; a place where homos would feel right at home.
It doesn’t take a neurosurgeon to see why such comments would be offensive.
And yet on March 4, Ben Carson, a retired neurosurgeon and a GOP presidential hopeful, had no problem playing the gay prison card to support his claim that homosexuality is a choice.
“(A) lot of people who go into prison, go into prison straight — and when they come out, they’re gay. So, did something happen while they were in there? Ask yourself that question,” Carson told CNN.
First, there is no evidence of a parade of formerly straight men turned gay streaming out of this nation’s prisons. Second, Carson’s comment reveals such profound ignorance it’s pretty astounding, but let’s play along and ask ourselves, “Did something happen while they were in there?”
Well, yes. A lot happens in prison. Some consensual sex happens in prison, and so does rape. Lots and lots of rape. And, newsflash to Dr. Carson, rape is actually a huge problem in this country, especially in this country’s prisons. Oh, and rape doesn’t make people gay.
But don’t worry! Carson has since apologized. “I do not pretend to know how every individual came to their sexual orientation,” he wrote on Facebook. “I regret that my words to express that concept were hurtful and divisive. For that I apologize unreservedly to all that were offended.”
A couple things: uh, he does so pretend to know how people “choose” to be gay or not. And nowhere in his apology does he acknowledge that what he said was wrong. He’s just sorry if his homo-prison-truth-bomb hurt your gay feelings.
“I am not a politician and I answered a question without really thinking about it thoroughly. No excuses,” he continues.
Hmm, “I am not a politician” sounds a lot like an excuse. And a very strange one, at that. Because last time I checked, politicians are basically famous for saying stupid shit without thinking. It’s part of the Republican Party Platform, actually.
“I deeply regret my statement and I promise you, on this journey, I may err again, but unlike politicians when I make an error I will take full responsibility,” he continues.
An interesting claim considering that Carson told Sean Hannity that talk about gay rights was off the table “because 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.”
Apparently “take full responsibility” means “blame the liberal press for bringing up the topic.”
He concludes the Facebook apology with, “As a human being my obligation is to learn from my mistakes and to treat all people with respect and dignity.”
He’s right, of course. Human beings make mistakes. But Carson’s “prisons are homo factories” comment really makes me wonder if treating “all people with respect and dignity” is something he is actually capable of.

About the Author:

D'Anne Witkowski is a writer living in Michigan with her wife and son. She has been writing about LGBTQ+ politics for nearly two decades. Follow her on Twitter @MamaDWitkowski.