Wednesday, April 19, 2017

A year later, a hate group leader attempts to whip up irrational fears

Tim Wildmon
Hate Group Leader Tim Wildmon
American Family Association
By all accounts, American Family Association's boycott of Target Stores (NYSE: TGT) has been a dismal failure. Target stands by its policy regarding gender identity. As an article in the Wall Street Journal points out, Target's fourth-quarter miss was due, in part, to Southern stores in need of physical improvements with a Wal-Mart in close proximity. Rather than AFA, Target is getting squeezed by Amazon and other on-line retailers. Indeed its own on-line division showed considerable improvement, just not enough to offset performance in the stores. Target states that the boycott has had no material effect on sales or earnings. There is a substantial potential liability if that statement is untrue. “Safe harbor” protections would not apply.

Today's email from the anti-LGBT hate group suggests otherwise: “It's official: Over 1.5 million families are boycotting Target.” Of course that is misleading. The Wall Street Journal identified people who signed the pledge but still shop at Target. Furthermore, it is likely that only a small percentage of people who signed AFA's pledge have ever shopped at Target. If one claims that they will not shop at a store that they do not shop at anyway, is that really a boycott?
On April 19, 2016 Target announced that it would be allowing men access to women’s restrooms and changing areas. The very next day, the American Family Association launched its boycott, and within a week we had garnered over 1 million signatures. Target's decision is unacceptable for families, and their dangerous and misguided policy continues to put women and children in harm's way.
Target has had the policy in place for years and it is not allowing “men access to women's restrooms.” Target allows transgender women to use gender consistent restrooms as it has done for many years.

Target is headquartered in Minneapolis. Minnesota has had transgender nondiscrimination laws in place since 1993. Minneapolis' ordinance goes back to 1975.
Over more than 40 years there has been no increase in bathroom-related violence. No one has ever been sexually assaulted or harassed in a bathroom by someone who is transgender. There are no recorded incidents of anyone pretending to be transgender in order to attack another person in a bathroom.
In other words, AFA is doing what hate groups do. They are inciting irrational fears when their real agenda is found in the ignorant conservative Christian belief that there are no transgender people.

The email goes on to state:
Since the boycott started, Target's stock has lost 35% of its value, and the company shuttered plans for major expansion projects. Together we are making an unprecedented financial impact on a corporation whose policy is to allow men to use women's restrooms and dressing rooms.
That is simply an outright lie. There is no evidence that AFA's boycott has had any material effect on sales or earnings. It is also a lie to claim that men are using women's facilities. The term that hate group leader, Tim Wildmon, is unwilling to use — the factually correct language — is “transgender women.” Whatever happened to that “bearing false witness” thing?
A recent Wall Street Journal article clearly shows that Target CEO Brian Cornell regrets his company's policy announcement welcoming men to use women's restrooms and dressing rooms.
Again, the policy has been in place for many years. It is worth noting that Mr. Cornell was not interviewed by the Wall Street Journal.
According to the article, Mr. Cornell expressed frustration about how the bathroom policy was publicized without his permission or knowledge, and told colleagues he wouldn't have approved the decision to flaunt it with a public statement that is still on Target's website today.
Again, that is not first-hand knowledge (and I spoke with the reporter). Moreover, the decision to publicize the policy was approved by senior executives and did not require Cornell's consent.
As promised, I will personally hand deliver these additional 500,000 signatures to Target headquarters in the near future. I will then discuss how Target can invite 1.5 million AFA supporters back to their stores by having a common sense bathroom and dressing room policy that links use of these rooms to a person's biological sex.

In the meantime, AFA's boycott of Target remains.
I think that we all know where those signatures are going to end up. Wildmon is giving the impression that he is going to have a discussion with senior-level people at Target which will probably amount to the security guard. Target is not going to reverse a policy that has been in place for decades and, as Wildmon notes, the policy remains on Target's website.

Target executives know that they will attract shoppers with merchandise and pricing. They also know that they have to promote their on-line business. Target remains immensely profitable. Just not as profitable as they expected. Target is a $70 Billion company with annual earnings of $3 billion. Their policies are not going to be dictated by some moronic rube in Tupelo Mississippi.

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