By the Free Press Editorial Board – Our Opinion, Editorial
A controversial speaker who is coming to USM, Larry Lockman, has caused some debate around the limits of free speech in the United States. Some wonder if it’s appropriate to allow hate speech in public forums, citing risks to public safety that radical rhetoric could potentially generate. Lockman, a loud-mouth and bigot, has long been spouting anti-LGBTQ comments, defending rapists and refusing to pay taxes. It is difficult to say how such a person holds public office, but his election in 2012 may be attributed to the apparent recent resurgence of fascism in the United States.
Though many people may not want to hear what Lockman has to say, it is still not appropriate to silence him and people like him through means of authority. To do so would undermine the rights that we all enjoy as American citizens. Regardless of a person’s moral standing, views, or associations, it is important to afford all Americans the right to express themselves. If someone has the power to suppress their political opponent and exercises it, then they may find themselves later silenced as their opposition gains ground. If a game is to be fair, the players must not change the rules.
Larry Lockman once said, “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?” To even consider the validity of this question, one must necessarily be an extremist. Under no circumstances is it alright for a man to force himself on a woman. Lockman also said, “Clearly the practice of sodomy is learned behavior, and those addicted to this form of biologically-insane sex are at high risk for all manner of serious medical problems.” Maine, and Portland in particular, prides itself on gender diversity and this sentiment does not ring true to most Mainers.
Those who attend the speech should be prepared to listen to what he has to say. Since he has made these offensive comments, Lockman has expressed regrets. Obviously, as a public official, he can’t express these absurd views openly. Still, they will likely be presented, veiled beneath his rhetoric. Lockman cannot be silenced, in the interest of protecting the American right to free speech. Rather, the best course of action is for attendees to exercise their own freedom of speech. People need to ask questions, respond to Lockman’s views and make themselves heard. This is not only an opportunity for the fascist politician to speak, but also a chance for the people to respond and rebuke.