Leslie Gibson, a Republican running unopposed for state legislature in Maine, bashed Parkland activists Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg, then apologized after Twitter rose up against him.
A small-town candidate for the Maine State House launched a Twitter attack against two of the Parkland, Florida students who have become inspirations to many around the nation with their impassioned condemnation of gun violence.
The vitriolic statements, which were apparent attempts to defend gun rights advocates and their powerful lobbying group, brought a flurry of condemnation and forced the Republican into retreat by apologizing and then blocking public viewing of his accounts.
Leslie Gibson, in a Monday Twitter post, called Emma Gonzalez a “skinhead lesbian” and said she does not deserve to be mentioned among the survivors of the Stoneham Douglas High School shooting on Feb. 14 because she “was in a completely different part of the school” while shooter Nikolas Cruz went on a rampage that killed 14 students and three staff members.
“There is nothing about this skinhead lesbian that impresses me and there is nothing that she has to say unless you’re a frothing at the mouth moonbat,” wrote Gibson, who is running unopposed for the Maine House of Representatives District 57 seat.
Gonzalez, 18, wears her hair cut close to her head and identified herself as bisexual in an article she wrote for Harper’s Bazaar magazine. She gained national prominence during a public rally in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in which she seemed to speak on behalf of a generation that has endured the highest number of school shootings in American history. Speaking three days after the murders at her school, the senior rallied the audience against public and Congressional inaction over gun laws with cries of “We call B.S.”
Gibson also attempted to defame David Hogg, another Stoneham Douglas student who has become nationally known for speaking out against gun violence. Hogg appeared on CNN to discuss the lack of implementation of stricter gun laws by the U.S. Congress. He commented that National Rifle Association (NRA) spokesperson Dana Loesch “owns these Congressmen” and added, “She doesn’t care about these children’s lives.”
Again on Twitter, Gibson called Hogg a “baldfaced liar.” He noted the NRA, in which he is reportedly a lifetime member, does not count among the country’s highest 50 spending lobbying organizations. “Hogg doesn’t get a pass when he blatantly lies.”
Condemnation came fast and hard on Twitter, where a #LeslieGibson hashtag took off and quickly filled with harsh comments.
Congratulations on losing your election. My guess is the people of your district have no interest in being represented by a middle-aged man-child whose hobbies include harassing teenage girls. #LeslieGibson #MSDStrong #StudentsDemandAction
— Percival Constantine (@perconstantine) March 13, 2018
Gibson then apologized to Gonzalez on Twitter, offering “to extend my hand in friendship and understanding to you.”
“I would like to extend to you my most sincere apology for how I addressed you,” Gibson wrote. “It was wrong and unacceptable. You are doing work that is important to you.”
The U.S. Navy retiree cited his oath to defend the Constitution as a motivation for his broadside against the anti-gun activists.
“I am very passionate about protecting our constitutional rights from those who seek their elimination,” he said. “It was not appropriate to single out the Parkland students, but I stand firm in my defense of our constitutional rights.”
Gibson also made his personal and campaign accounts private following the backlash, prompting some Twitter users to call him a “coward” and worse, while wondering why the Democratic Party could not find a suitable candidate to oppose him.
Sabattus is a town of fewer than 5,000 residents in Androscoggin County, between the state’s largest city, Portland, and the capital, Augusta, further to the north. Androscoggin also includes Lewiston, one of the state’s most populous cities. A local Democratic Party organizer lamented not being able to find a suitable candidate to run against Gibson.
“I wish I knew someone who could get into this race,” Pat Fogg, from the nearby town of Greene, told the Lewiston Sun Journal. “That sort of stupidity really turns people off.”
The Journal noted that Gibson’s previous social media posts have included Facebook comments defending the NRA, as well as retweeting posts from other Maine accounts that oppose immigrants. He said on Facebook last month that after the shootings at the school attended by Gonzalez and Hogg, there has been “misinformation, and flat out lies” originating from what he called “the liberal media and leftist anti-Second Amendment groups,” according to the Journal.
“The NRA and its members are being blamed for the Florida tragedy,” Gibson wrote. “Such blame is patently misdirected. The blame rests solely with the person who committed these murders.”
Thursday is the deadline for party candidates to submit the requisite paperwork and signatures to the Maine Secretary of State’s Office. Independent candidate filing will remain open until June 1.