Controversial conservative speaker to visit Portland campus


By Johnna Ossie, News Editor

Fliers distributed Friday on the Portland campus announced that the USM student group Young Americans for Freedom (YAFF) will be bringing Representative Lawrence Lockman to campus to speak to students.  The flier features a political cartoon about immigration and is titled “Alien Invasion: Fixing the Immigration Crisis.”

At a senate meeting on Friday, Ben Bussiere, head of the USM chapter of YAFF, handed out fliers to the members in attendance. Bussiere was at the meeting in order to have the YAFF group constitution approved, which was passed with a majority by the student senate.

“I’m bringing Representative Larry Lockman to speak about the immigration crisis here in America, and after, he will have a question and answer, so we welcome anyone to come in and ask any question that they want, just be civil,” Bussiere said to the student senators. “Larry Lockman was a representative from Amherst, Maine, he is a conservative activist, he leads the New England Opportunity Project which advocates for principles like free enterprise.”

Lockman represents the 137th District of Maine and has long been a conservative voice in Maine. His organization, the New England Opportunity Project, was fined in October for not disclosing election spending on a flier that alluded ties between Democratic State Representative candidate Jeff McCabe and the Islamic State. The Portland Press Herald wrote in October that the flier targets McCabe for “motioning to table a bill that Lockman had sponsored last spring that would have cut off state funding to communities that prohibit police from asking about a person’s immigration status.”

Lockman has drawn criticism for past comments on abortion, rape, HIV/AIDS and the gay community. In 1990, Lockman was quoted as saying, “If a woman has (the right to abortion), why shouldn’t a man be free to use his superior strength to force himself on a woman? At least the rapist’s pursuit of sexual freedom doesn’t (in most cases) result in anyone’s death.” In another statement, made in 2014, Lockman explained that he had said many things in 1980s and 1990s that he regretted.

Lockman wrote an opinion piece in November for the Portland Press Herald, in which he wrote, “Most of the voters outside Greater Portland, Lewiston and Bangor hold to the primitive notion that marriage means a man and a woman and that nobody should have to pay a fine or go to jail for refusing to bake a cake. They think that confusion about one’s ‘gender identity’ is a symptom of mental illness, not a badge of victim status. And they don’t think it makes any sense to let teenage boys share locker rooms or showers with teenage girls.”

Fourth year political science major Iris SanGiovanni said, “The Chapter for Young Americans and speaker Rep. Larry Lockman R-Amherst should not be allowed at the University of Southern Maine. The rhetoric used incites violence and should not be protected under freedom of speech. This rhetoric denies humanity and safety to every marginalized community and should be marked as hate speech. The fact that university resources have been used to support such violence in xenophobia, Islamophobia, racism, sexism, and sexual violence is horrendous.”

Both Bussiere and Lockman were unable to be reached for comment prior to publication. This topic will be covered as it develops.


  1. Good test of the University’s commitment–or not–to the First Amendment.

    Lockman’s views are indeed repugnant, but the answer is not to suppress them. That would be contrary to the values that universities especially should uphold. The answer is to refute Mr. Lockman with logic and integrity.

    Will the Free Press live up to its name and take a stand in favor of freedom of speech?

  2. I am astounded at the calls for banning both a student group and a speaker from the campus. I am now back at USM as a grad student but during my undergrad I was active in the SGA (Senator and Treasurer), and ran the College Republicans (Chair in 04 and 06). I never faced anyone actively trying to block a speaker. The Chair of the USMCR’s brought a speaker who was not a proponent of gay marriage in 05. I was impressed by the turnout at USM of students of all beliefs and the polite dialogue and discourse that was had. No one tried to get the woman banned or to shut the event down.

    I am very proud of the President for defending the right to free speech. We could all do better at understanding each others value assumptions and know that most people aren’t “hateful” they just believe something very different.

  3. Really great program on Maine Public Radio Saturday on this topic. The program concludes (46:45) with the author of Trust Me I’m Lying describing how provoking controversy is a marketing strategy that worked perfectly for Yiannopoulos. (Also a cool and relevant soccer analogy at 45:00 mins).


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