After experiencing firsthand the effects of cancel culture when his children were expelled after he spoke out against age-inappropriate material being taught at the school, a parent has started an organization to protect others from the “progressive mob.”
“I was reading about other people who were losing their jobs and being savagely attacked for their beliefs, and it inspired me to start the Coalition for Liberty because I saw that there was one common thread in these stories: these people were sitting ducks being picked off one by one and no one was being held accountable," he told The Epoch Times.
Among those changes was the incorporation of highly sexualized reading material and progressive political content, with one teacher telling Mr. Turpin's son that all Republicans were white supremacists.
Retaliation From SchoolIn a videoconference with the faculty and staff, the headmaster of the school threatened the parent group by telling the faculty that anyone asking questions about the school's direction should be brought to him.
"Immediately after this, my son began to be harassed by a teacher who would not let him drink water or go to the bathroom," Mr. Turpin said.
The school responded to Mr. Turpin's request for a meeting by expelling his two children "to intimidate all other parents into accepting the radical changes that were being rolled out, despite a promise of no retaliation from the school," he said.
For Mr. Turpin, it was a wake-up call to what was taking place on a national landscape.
“One of the central missions of the Coalition of Liberty is to make sure that people have somebody who will go on offense to hold accusers accountable if they knowingly lied about people to try to defame or destroy them in order to silence opposition to their views,” Mr. Turpin said.
Those who are canceling others through various means are doing so because they couldn’t win in a civil debate of ideas, Mr. Turpin said.
“Instead, they set out to destroy their opponent emotionally, financially, and mentally,” he said. “So, the central theme of the Coalition is to protect people and deter cancel culture by bringing accountability and consequences in the court of law.”
Cancel culture has had a chilling effect on speech, he said, and the coalition seeks to reverse this.
'An Organized Mob'Among those whom the coalition has helped is Nicole Prussman, chapter chair of Moms for Liberty in Monroe County, Pennsylvania.
According to the Coalition, an anti-Moms for Liberty Organization called Stop Moms for Liberty (SMFL) conspired to bring harassment charges against Ms. Prussman with the help of local law enforcement and politicians.
"They presented screen captures of out-of-context conversations pieced together, some apparently from a fake Facebook account that was not Nicole's," the coalition said in a press release. "They did not bother to hide their intent, posting this plan on their social media feeds explaining exactly how they intended to accuse Nicole (and others) of harassment and to intimidate them into silence."
The charge, which Ms. Prussman said she didn’t receive until a month later, was filed on March 16 by Alexandra Allison, whom the coalition believes to be a member of SMFL.
She alleged that Ms. Prussman had been sending her threatening messages on Facebook. However, a later forensic examination of her computer found that the messages didn't come from her computer.
“In Pennsylvania, harassment is considered a very low-level charge and is handled like a traffic ticket in magistrate court,” Mr. Turpin said.
Inaccurate News CoverageDespite the delay in receiving her charges, a local media outlet picked up the story the next day, claiming that she had been arrested, which wasn't true, Mr. Turpin said.
"It's suspicious that they knew about this almost a month before she even received the charges in the mail," Mr. Turpin said.
By then, those affiliated with SMFL were planning on Facebook to appear at her court appearance wearing anti-Moms for Liberty shirts made by an SMFL member.
"Based on the court records of discovery from Ms. Prussman's October trial, she was not charged with molestation," Mr. Turpin said. "Additionally, metadata research that Ms. Prussman's attorney had performed on her account by a tech showed no evidence of communication with Ms. Allison."
Ms. Prussman was ultimately cleared of the harassment charge at the trial in October.
"In the trial, the evidence presented consisted of printed screenshots of alleged messages that Stop Moms for Liberty member Alexandra Allison accused Ms. Prussman of sending her," Mr. Turpin said. "After making the charges for harassment, Ms. Allison deleted all of her messages on the Stop Moms for Liberty site and either deleted or changed her account profile, which Ms. Prussman's attorney said was done so that it would not be easy to see the truth of her charges. The court ruled that there was no evidence of any harassing messages based on what was submitted from the manual printouts of these alleged messages that could be shown to have come from Ms. Prussman and dismissed the case."
Ms. Prussman was attacked "by an organized mob," he said.
“She not only got hammered on social media, but people used bots to fill up her online calendar for months so that she could not schedule clients," he said. "She was flooded with content to shut down her emails, her communications, her business, and her reputation. Then these people went online and not only bragged about it but made it clear that this was their way of attacking Moms for Liberty.”
'We Don't Ban Literature'It wasn’t until Ms. Prussman connected with the coalition that she found a way out, she said.
“It was overwhelming,” she told The Epoch Times. “My family could have just walked away with our tail between our legs, paid the fine, and closed the chapter. There’s no way we could have fought the legal side of it.”
From a social front, she said she’s still facing an onslaught of attacks on her, her husband, and her family.
“Instead of dealing with the outcome of our youth, I’m fighting what’s been coming at me this year, and that’s not right,” she said.
Moms for Liberty is described in a majority of mainstream media publications as an organization that seeks to ban books; however, no organization leaders have expressed this intent.
“The great thing about the United States is we don’t ban literature,” she said. “You are free to write and share your thoughts and knowledge, which is a vital part of our society. What Moms for Liberty is demanding is developmental and academic standards based on grade and ability.”
Literature introduced into a classroom must be evaluated based on where the child is developmentally, said Ms. Prussman, who is also an English teacher.
“Do they have the life experience, the vocabulary knowledge, and the mental ability to handle the content?” she asked. “If I want a child to learn how to read in a better rhythm, I pick a simpler book with less important context so we can work on the words. When you start bringing these developmentally inappropriate texts into the classroom, you risk causing damage to students and creating trauma.”
What triggered Ms. Prussman’s conflict with SMFL was a book called “Speak.”
The novel, which was assigned to an eighth grade classroom to be read aloud, graphically details a young woman’s rape.
“A mother reached out to me after her son was having emotional and sexual confusion in the classroom,” she said. “These are developing males, and they were reading very explicit material and not something that should be read in public, especially at that age.”
After Ms. Prussman began advocating for the student, he faced repercussions, such as being isolated in the hallway.
“The school basically did anything they could to make removing him from the text as embarrassing and uncomfortable as possible,” she said.
'A Culture of Fear'All literature like “Speak” serves a purpose in making a connection with someone in the community, Ms. Prussman said.
“What we at Moms for Liberty are saying is that it doesn’t hold the space in an eighth-grade classroom,” she said. “We already rate everything like movies and TV shows. There are websites that tell parents what’s in TV shows so they can decide if their kids can watch them. But when we send our kids to public schools, there’s nothing that sets a standard or guideline for parents to know what and how their children are learning. That’s baffling to me as an educator given the technology we have. There should be no unknowns.”
Rating movies “R” or “X” isn’t considered censorship, Mr. Turpin said.
“Frankly, I think talking about sexual assault graphically, being described in a book that a child is forced to be read aloud at this young age, against the wishes of the parent, is child abuse,” Mr. Turpin said.
And it’s not just about whether a book has sexual content, Ms. Prussman added.
"'To Kill a Mockingbird’ and ‘Fahrenheit 451’ are higher level academic texts,” she said. “When you start pulling these higher-level texts down to lower grades because the content is exciting, you cause the same issues with learning. How do you deal with a complex text like ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ in an eighth grade classroom? They don’t even have the history knowledge yet to process the intense topics found in the literature.”
Ms. Prussman’s cancellation is representative of a larger problem taking place throughout the country, Mr. Turpin said.
“Stop Moms for Liberty know their position is wildly unpopular and considered outrageous by most people if they were to be heard in an actual debate,” Mr. Turpin said. “They want a culture of fear in which they can impose their vision, and that’s what’s been happening across America from the corporate level down. People are afraid to speak up.”
The mission of the coalition, he said, is to help restore the country as a place where people like Ms. Prussman can say what they think without fear of being demonized or attacked with libel and slander.
“What it’s taken to clear my name and defend me is absurd, especially when you think about the fact that this all started because I stood up to challenge a book at a school board meeting,” she said.