Monday, May 22nd, 2017

Controversial conservative speaker to visit Portland campus

Posted on February 06, 2017 in News
By USM Free Press

Iris SanGiovanni

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.