The Carson Paradox
What you may ask is the Carson Paradox? Simply put, it is the hostility by which some African-Americans treat the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgendered community even though much of said community is Black. It is how we view the issue of marriage equality; the inconsistency of our stance on equal rights as made manifest by the recent comments of Dr. Ben Carson, African-American author, neurosurgeon and potential GOP Presidential candidate.
During an interview with CNN on March 3, 2015, Dr. Carson offered his opinion on homosexuality and the issue of same-sex marriage. According to Dr. Carson, “homosexuality is a choice because a lot of people go in to prison straight but come out gay.”
He further stated that “the issue of allowing or restricting same-sex marriage should be decided on the state level” even as the Supreme is prepared to rule on the issue, it is possible to grant the legal rights that accompany marriage to same-sex couples … without applying the word “marriage” to the relationships and that granting same-sex couple legal rights does not require changing the definition of marriage.” http://www.cnn.com/2015/03/04/politics/ben-carson-prisons-gay-choice/.
Dr. Carson is certainly entitled to his opinions and our penal system says much about contemporary American society, e.g., the moral bankruptcy of the criminal justice system, the barbarity of prison, the practice of institutional racism and man’s inhumanity to man. But prisons do not support the Carson theory.
Sex in prison is often coerced and sexual assault is neither a question of sex nor choice. Prison sex is instead a matter of control, a demonstration of power. If anything, prison sex is evidence of the Stockholm Syndrome, a psychological survival strategy and psychosis that develops where men and women who are placed in a situation where they no longer have any control over their fate, feel intense fear of physical harm and believing all control is in the hands of their tormentor, tend to identify with and support/obey their oppressor. See http://crime.about.com/od/victims/a/stockholmsyn.htm.
Thus, those who either submit to or are the unwilling victims of prison sex are not choosing to be gay. They are instead merely trying to survive.
More importantly, marriage has never been limited to the union of one man and one woman, the Carson thesis notwithstanding. Rather, the institution has consistently changed and evolved.
Originally only white males and females could marry. African and Native Americans were prohibited from doing so. Nor was the institution confined to a single white adult man and a single white adult woman. At various times in our nation’s history men married multiple women, men openly and notoriously took child brides and men wedded multiple female minors. And until the 1967, Supreme Court decision in Loving vs. Virginia, the definition of marriage excluded white and Black couples. See https://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/388/1.
Each of these fundamental changes accrued to the benefit of society. Same-sex marriage may well do the same .
Shortly after making his comments, Dr Carson issued an apology. But immediately thereafter he played the victim, complaining that “CNN pre-recorded a 25 minute interview and … all they are playing is that one tidbit about gay rights.” Thus, he decided not to talk about ‘gay rights’ anymore, noting that every time he has momentum, the liberal press wants to talk about it. He concluded by stating that he is just not going to fall for that again. http://crooksandliars.com/2015/03/ben-carson-blames-cnn-making-him-look-bad.
However, Dr. Carson’s excuse falls short. “During that sequence of the CNN interview, there were clearly no jump-cuts and no edits — just a straight back-and-forth about whether homosexuality is a choice. Playing this off with a “gotcha media vs. poor ol’ Ben Carson” spin isn’t exactly going to cut it. Sometimes your words are just your words. Id.
The truth of the matter is that despite his apology, Dr. Carson firmly believes what he said about homosexuality, just as he believes his previous statements conflating being gay with bestiality and necrophilia, liberals and government health care with the Nazi’s and totalitarianism, that white liberals are racist and that the Affordable Care Act is the worst thing that has happened since slavery.
And while slightly off topic, it is patently absurd to say that the expansion of health care to millions of America, including millions of African-Americans, no matter how flawed the attempt is worse than the assignation of four Presidents, the Dust Bowl and Great Depression, the attack on Pearl Harbor, two world wars, 9/11, and the lynching of almost 4,000 thousand Black men, women and children. See for example Lynching in America, Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror or visit the website www.withoutsanctuary.com.
Even more chilling is the fact that Dr. Carson is not alone. There are in fact many African-Americans who agree with his position. This is the Carson Paradox.
The positions Dr. Carson takes as to gays and lesbians are the same ones that have historically been employed to deny constitutional rights to African-Americans. Allowing states to decide which rights will be afforded to which people is nothing more than “states’ rights” and “state nullification”. While suggesting that gays can have legal unions but not marriage is the same separate but equal doctrine that was declared unconstitutional in Brown vs. the Board of Education. And it is well settled that constitutional rights are not subject to and cannot be negated by popular vote.
Even if sexual orientation is a choice, so what? Sitting at a particular lunch counter is a choice as is drinking from a public water fountain. And our sexual choices no more forfeits our fundamental rights than Dr. Carson’s political, religious or professional choices forfeit his.
To embrace the Carson position is to say that Republicans cannot freely associate with others because of their political choices, conservative Christians lose their 1st Amendment right to freedom of speech because they choose to practice Christianity or Tea Party members may not vote because of what they choose to call themselves. Ironically, Dr. Carson would not be a famous neurosurgeon today if what he now applies to the LGBT community had prevailed against him and other African-Americans.
In conclusion, we understand the religious beliefs of those who oppose homosexuality and same-sex marriage. It is important to note however, that not so very long ago the same religious objections were was used to sanction all manner of racial discrimination against Blacks, including slavery, ethnic terrorism and interestingly enough marriage inequality. And today a different religion is being used to justify bombings, decapitations and other forms of international terrorism.
The Civil Rights movement modeled the way for the full and equal inclusion of all people into the family of man. On this, the 50th anniversary of the March on Selma, we should therefore insist that others receive the same equal treatment that was afforded to us.
Leo Barron Hicks, Founder and CEO
Blackacre Policy Forum