in a rather unprecedented move, the Republican attorneys general of seven states, Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Missouri, have sent a letter to the chairman and CEO of the Target Corporation, Brian C. Cornell. In the letter dated 5 July, the highest law enforcement officers of their respective states raise concern about the retail chain’s pride month promotions.
Beginning in mid-May, Target started to push LGBTQ-themed promotional products, some of them aimed towards children. The most notorious was the so-called ‘tuck-friendly’ girls bathing suit, which was designed specifically for biologically male minors who identify as girls to hide their male genitalia.
The Republican attorneys general started their letter by writing:
‘As Attorneys General committed to enforcing our States’ child-protection and parental-rights laws and our States’ economic interests as Target shareholders, we are concerned by recent events involving the company’s “Pride” campaign.
Our concerns entail the company’s promotion and sale of potentially harmful products to minors, related potential interference with parental authority in matters of sex and gender identity,
and possible violation of fiduciary duties by the company’s directors and officers.’
The worry over the Minneapolis-based corporation Target going against its own shareholders’ interest is very well founded. Following the backlash over Target’s LGBT kids product, spearheaded by conservative influencers such as Ben Shapiro, the publicly traded company stock took a dive. While on 17 May, it was traded at $160.96 per share on the New York Stock Exchange, by 12 June, it hit a low point at $126.48, which translates to an over $10 billion loss in market capitalisation.
Mainstream liberal media and some public figures such as controversial California Governor Gavin Newsome lashed out at Target over the corporation’s (wise) decision to pull some of the provocative Pride Month items. According to Newsome, Target sold the LGBTQ+ community out to ‘extremists.’ Ben Shapiro was quick to respond on Twitter:
The fact of the matter is that CEOs of publicly traded companies have a legal duty to act in their shareholders’ interest under American law, so scrutiny from prosecutors is not far-fetched after a fiasco like this. Especially given the fact that only a month prior, another major American brand, the Bud Light beer, had to endure a similar scandal.
On 1 April of all days, transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney posted a video on Instagram, showing off the custom-made Bud Light beer cans the company had sent her with her face painted on them. This ended up angering the largely conservative customer base of the brand, resulting in the parent company Anheuser-Busch seeing a 15 per cent drop in sales revenue by early June. Later that month, Bud Light was dethroned as the top selling beer brand in the US, a position it had held since 2001.
All this proves that the conservative consumer base in the United States does have considerable power to counteract the mainstream push of LGBTQ activism,
even if the current administration is against them in that fight, unlike in Hungary.
In the aforementioned letter by state attorneys general, Target is also chastised for selling ‘anti-Christian’ merchandise and ‘other Satanic products’. They specifically mention one design, with ‘the phrase “Satan Respects Pronouns” with a horned ram representing Baphomet—a half-human, half-animal, hermaphrodite worshiped by the occult’.
Although, as noted above, Target pulled some of their controversial items back in May, it has not publicly responded to the letter to date.