Two very different ways of making one’s opinion heard – the old-school method of posting a yard sign and the technology-driven habit of posting on Facebook – collided head-on this week right in front of Linc Sample’s Boothbay Harbor home.

On Sunday, rock musician Amanda Palmer posted a picture on her Facebook page of a 6-foot-wide wooden sign on Sample’s property on Route 27. Painted letters read, “Just because you are offended does not mean you’re right!” On top of the sign were two small Confederate flags.

Palmer wrote in the post that two days earlier, Sample’s sign had read, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun” – a comment she said made her “sick to my stomach.”

Within two days, Palmer’s post had 10,000 “likes” and more than 900 comments. The reactions amounted to a string of strong opinions of all sorts about gun control, Confederate flags and the general divisiveness in American society. One commenter told Palmer that not all Mainers are “crazy gun nuts/right wingers/racists.” One woman said she and her husband would like a gun for protection, but are not “crazy fanatics.”

The online uproar surprised Sample, 55, a building contractor and former Boothbay Harbor selectman who began posting messages on his wooden sign in 2006, hand-painting each one with stencils. His first message was “Happy Birthday America.”

It never occurred to Sample that so many people, 10,000 from across the world, would see one of his signs. And the uproar made him do something he’s never done before: take down a sign before he wanted to.

“I share the property here with other family members, and I didn’t want somebody knocking on the door calling someone a racist,” Sample said.

Palmer, who was vacationing in Maine when she saw Sample’s sign, did not return messages left for her by email and social media Tuesday. While she was in Maine, Palmer also blogged about being hospitalized and diagnosed with Lyme disease.

Sample is well-known around town for his conservative views, and his signs. He figures about “half the people in town really don’t like my signs and don’t like me because of them.”


At times the signs have quoted historical figures and past presidents. Sample once quoted actor and National Rifle Association President Charlton Heston’s famous anti-gun-control speech that includes the phrase “from my cold, dead hands.”

“Everybody knows him, and his signs have irritated a lot of people over the years,” said Tom Woodin, Boothbay Harbor’s town manager.

Sample’s brother, Maine humorist Tim Sample, is a polar opposite, politically. But the two share an appreciation of free speech. Tim Sample once was cited by police for defiling the American flag, after he painted his car to look like a flag in 1969.

“I really respect Linc because he’s got his perspective and he puts it out there. That’s what America’s all about,” said Tim Sample. “But we don’t talk politics.”

Linc Sample will not be cited by police for his sign because he has a permit for it, Woodin said. At some point, when people began complaining about his pro-gun rights and other political messages, Sample said he was forced to apply for a permit.

The sign that Palmer photographed was Sample’s response to the national backlash against the Confederate flags after nine African-Americans were shot and killed in June by 21-year-old Dylann Roof in Charleston, South Carolina. After the massacre, photos quickly surfaced of Roof holding the Confederate battle flag.

Sample said it was “ridiculous” that people were calling for banning the flags in whatever form, including on reruns of the TV show “The Dukes of Hazzard.”


But Sample says the flag issue is not one he feels that strongly about. The constitutional right to bear arms is more important to him and a topic he paints about often on his sign.

“Whenever there is a tragedy like (the Charleston shooting) the things they recommend include banning guns,” Sample said. “I just think it’s more of a societal problem than a gun problem. I don’t thinking infringing on the right to bear arms is ever going to make us safer.”

Sample took down the sign with the Confederate flags after it had been up less than a day, and after it appeared on Facebook. He replaced it with one that has the Greek phrase “Molon Labe.” Sample says he got the phrase from the movie “300,” and that its meaning in the film is “come and take our weapons.”

Although he took down one sign, Sample said he won’t stop painting new signs whenever a thought or message occurs to him.

He would have stopped painting the signs a long time ago, he said, if people hadn’t complained so much about them.

“If you tell me I can’t do something, I’m gonna keep on doing it,” he said.


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