Saturday, May 27th, 2017

An open letter in response Glenn Cummings’ statement regarding Larry Lockman

Posted on February 13, 2017 in Perspectives
By USM Free Press

President Cummings,

With respect sir, I pose a question: when does providing a platform for free speech undermine other fundamental freedoms?

Free speech is a constitutionally protected right. This means that controversial, racist/sexist/homophobic, or otherwise discriminatory viewpoints are allowed to be expressed without fear of legal reprisal in the public sphere unless they reach the level of illegal hate speech. However, this does not mean that organizations, even public organizations such as a state university, have an obligation to provide a broader platform and audience to these movements and individuals. If a student organization would like to facilitate a meeting or address from Mr. Lockman in a constitutionally protected public space or a private forum, they are well within in their rights to do so. But free speech protections do not mean that an individual is allowed to speak under the banner of a public university regardless of their views.

To allow and facilitate the invitation of such views is not a nonpolitical acceptance of diverse views or a noble endorsement of fundamental freedoms, but is rather an inherently political act, whether those involved accept this reality or not. The justifying logic behind such a political act is to abdicate responsibility and deny the character of the act as political. The consequence of this abdication is to allow a person who has threatened some of the most marginalized in our community to continue to advance his agenda through a legitimized public platform. In this current atmosphere where these same marginalized groups face real physical, psychological, and political dangers to their safety, it is concerning that an institution of higher learning would amplify the opinions of Mr. Lockman.

I am proud to be a life-long Maine resident who supports all of our state institutions. I support the mission of the UMaine system.

Please don’t continue to perpetuate the shame that many Maine residents have felt over the last six years by providing a platform for this type of inflammatory rhetoric.

I urge the university to do everything in its power to disallow this event by Mr. Lockman.

Sincerely,

Asa Heath, a concerned student.