A bipartisan group of lawmakers tore into Target for its latest woke controversy, namely its attempt to sell certain LGBTQ-focused products to children. That group of senators, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, and Joe Manchin, had harsh words for Target in statements to Fox News Digital.
For his part, Senator Rubio insisted on the libertarian view that companies have free speech rights and should be able to say what they want. In his words: “I think to some extent companies have the freedom to say whatever they want.”
In his statement to Fox News Digital, he added that consumers will certainly have strong reactions to being bombarded with certain messages, particularly if families are being bombarded with sexualized messages for children, as he characterized it. Speaking on that, he said, “obviously consumers are going to react. I think in the Target one, which is different from the Bud Light one, the Target one has to do with families that are going into stores and being bombarded, not just with Pride month stuff, but with products specifically designed for children.”
He then echoed the oft-heard libertarian claim that adults can do what they want but shouldn’t be trying to push it on children, telling Fox News Digital, “I think that most Americans would say, look, adults can do whatever they want in the privacy of their own lives at home. But when you take the power of corporations and ram it down people’s throats aimed at children, you’re going to have a very visceral reaction.” He added, “I think people draw the line there.”
Adding to that, he spoke out against the merchandise Target was selling that he and others found particularly offensive, saying, “And so you’re having them marketing T-shirts and even bathing suits to encourage and celebrate in children, transgenderism and things of that nature, you’re going to get a very strong reaction, especially in parts of the country where people feel very strongly about it.”
Not done yet, he then said that Target’s attempts to blame “threats” on its decision to back off the merchandise was what he found the most offensive, telling Fox News Digital, “So the most offensive thing to me was Target arguing that they’re stepping back from it because of threats to their safety. Consumers are just not shopping there, they’re upset about it. You understand why. Again most people don’t care what adults want to do, but do not ram it down kids’ throats and don’t target children.”
Concluding, Rubio skewered Target for its “obsession with focusing on children,” arguing that people would be rightly horrified if a heterosexual pride month were used to sexualize children and so people should be offended at what’s currently happening. In his words: “I don’t understand this obsession with focusing on children, marketing products to children, entertainment to children, messaging to children. Using schools to target children. I think that’s where parents are drawing the line. And by the way, if they were having heterosexual Pride month, where they were advocating sexualizing children from a heterosexual standpoint, I’d be equally offended at that notion. I think kids need to be left alone and allowed to be kids and grow up healthy and determine their own course in life. To use corporate power in marketing to target children, you’re going to get a very visceral reaction the way schools have.”
Senator Rand Paul, in his statement to Fox News Digital, put things a good bit more plainly. He said that he is against the sexualization of children and that he thinks that is what corporations are currently up to, saying, “I think corporations should stay out of trying to sexualize our youth with all kinds of bizarre notions. I’m not a big fan of what Target’s doing, and you won’t see me in Target anytime soon.”
Sen. Manchin, a Democrat, expressed horror at the division tearing America apart, saying, “The bottom line is, everything that seems to be done in this country now is politics trying to divide. It’s not the country that’s divided, it’s basically the Congress here’s divided and making you pick a side — which side are you on? There’s only one side. The American side. So if you’re going to be on a side, pick the American side.”
Left out by all of them but equally obvious is that Target could have avoided everything, from its stock market plummet to being viewed by suburban moms as pro-Satanist, by just not trying to push woke, sexualized apparel on kids. But, for whatever reason, it did so. And now it is reaping what it sowed.
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