Glenn Cummings issued a clarification which is currently posted on the USM student paper online. Here it is:
Dear Free Press,
Thank you for your May 1 story that included my reflections at Student Government on USM’s experience this year attempting to balance issues of freedom of speech, allowing controversial speakers on to our campus, and addressing student concerns about their safety.
I would like to clarify one statement in your story. I do not mean in any way to equate Larry Lockman’s extreme comments on some issues in the past with the traditional conservative perspective or viewpoint. What I had hoped to convey is that, going forward, we will be more thoughtful in how we accommodate speakers on either end of the political spectrum. All non-violent views - conservative, liberal, independent (and others) - are welcome here.
Dr. Glenn Cummings
President, University of Southern Maine
96 Falmouth Street
Portland, ME 04103
You decide for yourself if this says anything different than the original quote...
A terrible phenomenon is happening in our country right now, we see it in California and now we are starting to see it closer to home. This phenomenon is censorship by the left, not just censorship, but a forceful suppression of our First Amendment Right to free speech.
Through violent riots, disruptions at public events and threats of violence, extreme liberals are attempting to censor Republicans across the country.
I sometimes wonder how nice it must be to be so naive that you feel justified calling someone who votes for constitutional freedom a Nazi when you yourself identify as a Democratic Socialist. Did you skip school every day of the semester they taught about the National Socialist German Workers' Party? Or about Stalin? Mussolini? Venezuela?
The bottom line is that one of the basic tenets of what keeps our country great is that we have a right to free speech. We can espouse our beliefs free from persecution. Does this mean we have to like what everyone says? NO! We can vehemently oppose it, and even better, we can tell the world that we vehemently oppose it!
I think I speak for the majority of America when I say that it is massively disappointing to see places of higher education being reduced to miniature versions of the Ministry of Truth, only allowing ministry approved information to pass through.
Until now we have been fortunate in that our Maine Universities have respected students’ First Amendment Rights and have allowed what liberals deem to be “controversial” speakers hold events on campus. Just recently, there were threats to shut down a speaking event on the University of Southern Maine’s campus when it was announced that a school group was bringing Representative Larry Lockman to talk about immigration. Maine GOP reached out to USM’s President, Glenn Cummings and was reassured that the event would go on and that he would encourage peaceful protest, not violent obstruction.
Sadly, it would seem that the extreme liberal agenda is finally starting to get to President Cummings.
In a recent interview with The Free Press he said, “I’m not sure I protected the people I was meant to protect. Larry Lockman was given a microphone to spread hate speech against people I’m paid to, and want to, protect. If we have another conservative speaker at USM, we won’t have them up there alone- spewing their hate. We’ll have [them] debating the dean of the law school. There are ways to limit their microphones.” The article continues to say that President Cummings proposed that the Senate work with him to create policy that would determine “who can and cannot come to speak.”
Ladies and Gentlemen, this is your tax dollars at work.
We cannot allow for Maine’s public universities to be controlled and students' rights eroded by the violent and extreme liberal agenda! We must allow students, all students, the opportunity to hear from speakers from all political perspectives, without “limiting” their microphones.
Censorship is a slippery slope President Cummings. Today you may be limiting microphones, but tomorrow you may find yourself in a new position: as Minister of Truth.
Call President Cummings and ask him to retract his comments to the Free Press and tell him to stand strong against pressure from the extreme left.