The political career of Twitter troll and bigot Scott Weinberg ended as abruptly as it began this week, as he announced the end of his candidacy for the Kyrene School District governing board.
You may remember Scott from a post I wrote in January about a contentious board meeting in the Chandler Unified School District where Weinberg and his Purple For Parents compatriots squared off against advocates for equity and LGBTQ+ inclusion. Scott was apparently no fan of that post, as he posted a long thread “fact-checking” my post. Unfortunately, that thread, along with the rest of Scott’s Twitter, is no longer available, for reasons we will get into. But all you really need to know is it began by “fact-checking” my title, “Standing Up for Democracy at the School Board,” by arguing that, well actually, the United States is NOT a democracy, parroting a favorite nonsensical comment section retort pushed by right-wing faux education institutions like Prager U.
Weinberg is a clown and a troll, one of the many lifelong dorks who have weirdly taken inspiration from a president who displays all of the dumbest traits of toxic masculinity of their middle school bullies and tries to slavishly imitate him. And his campaign predictably blew up at the Trumpian nexus where stupidity meets dangerous hate speech, and the Kyrene district is better off for him being gone. But that’s not the end of the story. Weinberg was only one of the loudest and dumbest of the Purple For Parents hate group that is trying to infest school boards and the rest of local and state government. Behind their clownishness is a dangerous agenda attacking our most vulnerable students and they must be called out and stopped.
From Troll to Candidate (And Back Again)
Weinberg made a name for himself by showing up at school board meetings in his own district, Kyrene (which encompasses the Phoenix neighborhood of Ahwatukee and parts of Tempe and Chandler) and the neighboring Chandler Unified School District, as well as being a troll on Twitter. He made racist, misogynistic, and homophobic comments, attacked the school districts for being inclusive of LGBTQ+ students and for employing a teacher training program on equity, and constantly harassed CUSD board member Lindsay Love, an outspoken advocate of equity training and inclusive sex education and, not coincidentally, a Black woman.
In doing this, Weinberg aligned himself with the group known as Purple For Parents. Ostensibly, Purple For Parents began in 2018 as a backlash to the Red For Ed teachers movement, a supposedly grassroots coalition of parents frustrated with those lazy, Communist teachers for walking out of their classrooms and demanding a living wage.
In reality, Purple For Parents was just a spinoff and rebranding of notorious hate group Patriot Movement Arizona, and the two groups shared many key members. Like PMAZ, P4P is a group of bigoted trolls who stand for nothing beyond causing chaos and silencing the voices of those different from them.
After months of P4P hijacking board meetings in Kyrene and Chandler, an organized response of pro-equity community members showed up at the meeting I wrote about in January. Shortly after that, Weinberg announced his candidacy and ramped up the Twitter trolling. However, he finally crossed a line last week, when he misidentified a man who tried to shoot up the Westgate shopping complex in Glendale as an LGBTQ+ activist and ASU student. Weinberg and his hate group cronies apparently found the information for a student with the same name as the shooter on a local LGBTQ+ group’s website and giddily passed along the story, criticizing the “fake news” media for not reporting it. (I’m not going to give the name, both of out of respect for the young man Weinberg slandered and because I don’t believe in giving mass shooters publicity, but suffice to say, it was a fairly common name and Weinberg should not have been surprised more than one person in the Phoenix metro area had it.)
After this incident made local and even international news, Weinberg dropped out of the race this week and deleted his Twitter account, though of course still managed to be a huge, whiny baby about it. (Though his Twitter is gone, you can still see some of his greatest hits on the “Scott Weinberg for Kyrene” Facebook page community members started to document his hate speech.)
Purple For Parents Continues
But unfortunately, Weinberg’s implosion does not mean the end of Purple For Parents and their hateful ideology. Many candidates associated with the group are running for office this year.
Most prominently, Forest Moriarty, a P4P co-founder who dresses like what a five-year-old thinks a cowboy looks like, is running for the state House of Representatives. He’s running alongside incumbent and vocal P4P supporter Kelly Townsend. Yep, that Kelly Townsend.
In LD18, where both Weinberg and I live, Republican State Senate candidate Suzanne Sharer is a P4P fellow traveler whose Twitter feed is full of stories of Planned Parenthood selling baby parts. She has received the public support of Catherine Barrett, a political gadfly who has been pushing a “Classroom Code of Ethics” that would stifle teachers’ free speech rights and ability to organize. Barrett’s Code of Ethics is similar to the one that right-wing legislator Mark Finchem of LD11 tried to have enshrined in law last year and which he in turn plagiarized from the website of an anti-Islamic hate group. Finchem is also running for reelection.
Then there are House Speaker Rusty Bowers and Senate Education Committee chair Sylvia Allen, both running for reelection, who both spoke at an event last year that was taped and posted by PMAZ. The event featured a presentation on a favorite theme of the P4P crowd, a lurid conspiracy theory that has Planned Parenthood teaching graphic sex education to elementary school students in order to cause more unplanned pregnancies and thus a greater need for abortions. The presentation was presented by Family Watch International, a viciously anti-LGBTQ+ propaganda outfit based in Gilbert which shares with PMAZ a designation as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
And so on. The overarching mission of these groups and politicians is to make our schools as inhospitable as possible to students of color, LGBTQ+ students, and anyone else they don’t like. As we go into the primary election in August and the general election in November, pay attention to your candidates up and down the ballot, educate your neighbors and community, and root out this evil at the source.