As you may be aware, Rep. Lawrence Lockman of Maine’s 137th District is scheduled to speak at the University of Southern Maine this Thursday, Feb. 16. He plans to share his views on immigration in a talk titled “Alien Invasion.” Lockman has a long history of pejorative speech, making claims that the progressive movement assisted the AIDS epidemic, and has suggested that if a woman has a right to an abortion, a man should be justified in committing rape.

As an elected representative, as a nurse, and as a human being, I find Rep. Lockman’s statements to be repugnant, shameful and completely unacceptable.

I grew up Down East, close to the district that Rep. Lockman represents, and where my father still works as a fisherman. My mother worked at our local YMCA for many years and through that happy institution I was deeply involved in the community from an early age. I am thankful to be able to say with confidence that his views do not represent the caring, hardworking people who I grew up with and know. As a city councilor representing District 3, where USM resides, I can also say those views are not representative of the diverse student population, nor the ideals of the university.

In the words of USM President Cummings, “Suppression of free speech is never the answer.” This truly American sentiment must remain central in our minds as we face the coming years and the changes they will bring.

While Rep. Lockman’s right to free speech must be upheld, we must remember that dissent is an equally important part of the political process, and that to say “I do not agree” is the first step to mutual understanding. I do not agree with Rep. Lockman’s statements on women, homosexuality, HIV, abortion or immigration. I invite you, plead with you, to join me in the dialogue with which we shape our state, and our country.

Brian Batson

City Council District 3

Portland