58 thoughts on “About That Target Boycott

  1. Newt says:

    Let’s see: Businesses that court politicians with pro-business outlooks. When did this revelation hit you?

    1. Joe Loveland says:

      Last winter, the U.S. Supreme Court said corporations like Target have the right to play politics. And I have the right to not want my salsa dollar to contribute to their politics.

      They have a choice. I have a choice. Now aint that America.

  2. Mrs. Fay says:

    Joe, I have a great lime salsa recipe for you! Think of how much better spent your salsa dollars will be when you’re making it out of locally grown tomatoes, supporting your family farmer and keeping farmland open!

    1. Joe Loveland says:

      Cool. Do you know how to make glow-in-the-dark skeleton nutcrackers? And do you have locally grown limes in Maine?

      1. Mrs. Fay says:

        Negative on the local limes, but we can only do so much. As far as the glow in the dark skeleton nutcracker, may I suggest as an alternative, a lobster claw covered in phytoplankton?

  3. Dennis Lang says:

    No doubt Loveland has emerged as the front runner for this years’ coveted “Dostoyevsky Award”. A haunting portrait of near delirium and tortured psychology. Nice work… and may God be with you!

    1. PM says:

      (because not that many others are…)

      Seriously, i think Target was stupid. i really do. and i have no problem with people boycotting Target–heck, they deserve it. Keep up the good work!

      I have probably cut back some of my shopping at Target, but then I have never been a big Target shopper–and i do still go there from time to time.

      1. Joe Loveland says:

        The boycott is my personal little quixotic thing. And it’s obviously not nearly as difficult as my melodramatic post makes it sound. Convenient alternatives are everywhere.

        But putting on my PR hat, my professional opinion is that it’s self destructive for any high profile retailer to politicize their brand by entering the political arena, whether or not I like their candidate choices.

        By putting their valuable brand in the middle of society’s most bitterly divisive issues — abortion, religion, gay rights, gun control, corporate welfare, race, immigration — retailers negate the goodwill they purchase with all of their other public relations, community relations, customer relations and philanthropic work.

        I’d say the same thing if Target or Best Buy were supporting Dayton.

  4. Bruce Benidt says:

    Hang in Joe. You’re doing the right thing. Decades ago I started my own boycott of Charmin tissue cuz I felt the ads with Mr. Whipple squeezing the toilet paper were demeaning to the human spirit and to evolution. Charmin hasn’t fallen, but I like to think they’re tottering.

  5. Mike Kennedy says:

    Boycotting is as American as apple pie, hot dogs, baseball and texting.

    I can’t think of anything I can only get at Target, but I like the stores and it’s close by and the donation doesn’t bother me.

    At least you stand up (or drive by) for your convictions.

  6. Minnesotan says:

    Boycotts seems great, but what it the alternative really isn’t any better? Take the case above of Target vs Radio Shack. You shop at Radio Shack instead of Target, thinking you’re making a difference.

    But what if Radio Shack is doing other things you would find abhorrent, it just hasn’t become public yet? Maybe they are making political donations too, or discriminate in their hiring practices, or the majority of their products are full of lead, or they’re cooking their books?

    Corporations aren’t evil, but I think most people would agree you can find flaws in most of them. If that’s the case, all you’re really doing is making yourself feel better – not making the world a better place.

    1. Joe Loveland says:

      True, Minnesotan. I do understand how people can get frustrated and say “it’s too much to think about because no corporations are ever perfect.” But if you do that, then no one is ever held accountable for their behavior. And without any accountability, the behavior will likely get worse. For me, there are some things that I can’t get over.

      1. Minnesotan says:

        I hear you Joe. And I didn’t want to imply it’s too overwhelming to think about. I just meant people might think they are punishing one company, but in reality they might be contributing to something just as objectionable – it just hasn’t come to light.

    2. True – and I don’t have a good answer. All I can say is that I know now about Target, and they’re an important corporate citizen in Minnesota, so I take a stand.

  7. Joe Loveland says:

    Wall Street Journal shamelessly arguing against Minnesota-style disclosure of corporate donations, because, gasp, that might empower consumers opposed to politicized brands to speak out and vote with their feet:

    Target’s donation had to be disclosed under Minnesota’s campaign-finance law, and the company’s experience is especially illuminating because Democrats are touting the law as a model for other states and Congress. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that the Naderite Public Citizen has praised the state for having helped “lead the way” on disclosure.

    Maryland State Senator Jamie Raskin, who is seeking similar legislation for his state, recently gave the game away by declaring that “The public’s right of boycott is the final check against corporate dominance over our politics.” In other words, the point of disclosure is not to inform the voting public. It is to turn corporate donors into political piñatas, embarrass them publicly, hurt their business—and ultimately convince them that the price of donating to non-liberal groups is too high.

    Other companies also gave to MN Forward, but Target seems to have been singled out for its national profile to send other businesses a message. Target declined to answer our queries, though other sources tell us the company has stopped giving to MN Forward since it was mugged by the left. Other companies on the cusp of donating also declined once they saw what happened to Target.

    That’s a shame because it means Democrats and the left are succeeding in their attempt to silence business voices—unless, like Peter Lewis or Goldman Sachs executives, they support Democrats. The next time you hear a Democrat claim to favor “disclosure,” keep in mind that what he really wants is more political Target practice.

    1. That strikes me as a rather silly argument. If a donation of this sort is defensible, it’ll continue. If it isn’t — and if it causes a boycott or takes a boycott to point that out — then maybe it shouldn’t.

      A smarter argument against disclosure would be to compare it to peeling back the curtain of the voting booth. That’d never happen at the polling place, so why does it happen with political donations?

      1. Joe Loveland says:

        Agree that’s a better argument than the WSJ’s argument: “If corporations have to disclose, corporations might be held accountable.”

        I’m a fan of transparency in politics, though, and that necessitates disclosure laws. If I donate more than $100, it’s disclosed. If a politician earn’s outside income, it’s disclosed. That allows voters to see who is influencing their democracy. Does it really make sense to have Joe Baggadonuts’ $100 donation disclosed, but not Target’s $150,000 donation?

      2. PM says:

        I suppose a different argument is that it is illegal to pay people directly to influence their votes. Why should it be legal to pay indirectly (via advertising, etc.) to do the same thing?

      3. PM says:

        Sorry to have avoided your question, Mike: clearly, voting is a different thing than a contribution. Just because the privacy of the one is protected does not imply anything at all about the privacy of the other.

      4. So to which organizations do people like Scoros and organizations like the Unions donote??? They also do not have to disclose where their money go when they donote to special organizations which are exempt from disclosing ie ACORN did not have to disclose which allowed foreign gov’t and citizens to donate and help Obama get elected all legal and no one calling for a boycott or the media getting all upset

      5. PM says:

        Rob: no one here is suggesting that there should be different rules for people who donate to liberals and people who donate to conservatives.

      6. Ellen M says:

        No, no, no. Making donations can be tied to buying votes and buying elections. Voting is a singular act. And this election we really are seeing the fallout from the Supreme Court’s (I shouldn’t even capitalize that) ignorant decision last year. We have little to no idea who is financing these front groups like Americans for Ever (just making that up).

  8. Mike Kennedy says:

    Billy Bob O’Reilly just told millions of people to go buy something from Target tonight.

    “No clear thinking person would support this goofy boycott,” Uncle Bill says, with a yuck from Geraldo.

    That ought to get this thread cooking a little hotter. But it’s too late for me. I bought a dump truck worth of Halloween stuff, including candy, there today. I always over buy on the candy so I can test it and make sure it’s safe and tastes good.

    1. Mike Kennedy says:

      I agree. I’m for total disclosure for anything over $100 by unions, corporations, environmental groups individuals etc. Let’s have complete disclosure.

  9. Why isn’t the Liberals demanding Union Members be told and have a vote for which candidates the Unions spend their money … maybe the Libs should boycott places where Union Members work to force them to do what their members want and not what is best for the Union Bosses…. and by boycotting Target and Best Buy – isn’t that just like boycotting the Union Members who work there – how does that help the workers???

    1. PM says:

      Union members DO elect their officers, who make those decisions about where to spend those dollars.

      But i agree that all should disclose–what is sauce for the goose should be sauce for the gander. frankly, that is, i think, what all are advocating here.

  10. Margaret M. says:

    Hi Joe,
    Happy to find your article…I wasn’t sure if I was suffering in vain. I wasn’t even sure the boycott was still on. I too have not set foot in Target since this began. And if you tell anyone who knows me at all that fact they would keel over. It is really painful for me and I hope it is for Target! My husband on the other hand is thrilled as we are saving some serious money on me not purchasing fog juice for the fog producing machine i bought there two years ago,the boxy tee-shirts I buy for me and the kids for every conceivable holiday and the obligatory Starbucks I drank as I perused my 4th pair of converse. Every time I weaken (kids sobbing and pleading in the backseat of the car)I think of that fabulous video of The Grandma who explained to her grandkids that their Uncle Jake would be affected by the donations Target was making inappropriately. So hang tough we are making a difference aren’t we?

    1. Joe Loveland says:

      Margaret, thanks for stopping by. I feel your (minor) pain. I miss Target, but life isn’t really appreciably harder or less meaningful. Like you, I buy slightly less useless crap, and that’s a good thing.

      Still, I would be pleased if Target and/or Best Buy announced something like:

      “Over the last few weeks, we listened carefully to our customers and community partners, and had a thoughtful internal discussion. We ultimately decided that we will continue to encourage our employees to participate in their democracy as individuals. We’ll continue to speak out about the policies that are most supportive of our business. But out of respect from our customers and community partners of varying political beliefs, we will not make corporate donations to groups advocating for or against any political candidate.”

      I’d be back in a second, with a long list.

      1. Margaret M. says:

        I’d be right behind you at the checkout!!! Why don’t they do what you suggested. The CEO did apologize, why don’t they take it that one important step further? It would make it a Very merry Christmas!!

      2. John says:

        I miss Target, but will not purchase there until there is resolution. My Husband and I got married before that right was taken away by idiot voters in the state of California. Separate but Equal is NOT Equal.

  11. I think most of us moderates and progressives have given up shopping at Target after they decided to use the money we paid them to support extreme right-wing Tea Party candidate Tom Emmer. I guess the only people still shopping at Target are those people who buy gold from Glenn Beck’s advertisers. I’m sure Target will work mightily to get that disclosure law eliminated so they can support extreme right-wingers with corporate money in peace. But at least we know the truth about Target. Target is an extreme right wing company.

    1. Mike Kennedy says:

      I’m going to spend an extra $100 at Target tonight after reading that. And for the record, I’ve never watched Glenn Beck and I certainly wouldn’t buy a shitty investment like gold (unless I were a short term speculator, which I’m not).

      An extreme right wing company? That’s just a statement of a pure, hysterical ideologue.

      Why don’t you look at Target’s overall record on hiring and supporting gays/lesbians etc.

      1. John says:

        Well, I have stopped shopping at Target since this whole thing started. My Husband and I have been loyal Target shoppers for many, many years and they have lost the $200 to $300 a month that we were spending there.

        Their overall record on hiring and supporting gays and lesbians is NEGATIVE after the donation that they made to MN Forward. The hatred of the “Christian” Rock Band calling for “Death to Homosexuals” wipes away ANY good that Target has done in the past.

  12. Bertram’s tastes run more towards Lunds and Home Depot, but he does chuckle at the morons who are so convinced that Target was in any way attemting to dissuade Uncle Jake from “|marrying” his man friend Tyler.

    Tom Emmer, hockey lovin’ father of seven children by one wife, is a pro-business (lower business taxes) candidate.

    He also, like the majority of Minnesotans, and Americans, does not believe that marriage is anything but between a man and a woman.

    These fools, and their self flagellatiive personal boycotts, only prove that liberalism is indeed a “mental disease”.

    Is it November yet?

    1. After George W. Bush destroyed the US economy with his huge tax cuts, only a fool would claim that cutting taxes is pro-business. There seem to be a lot of fools out there though.

  13. Margaret M. says:

    Yes, Bertram Jr., I like so many other “morons” have that “mental disease” of caring about other people. It really is a nuisance.

    1. Dennis Lang says:

      Good one Margaret M.. Bertram Jr. sadly has his head up his bizoiner and predictably is very poorly bonded to the family pet (unlikely with that sentiment that he even has one) but that’s the beauty of blogs and commenting on them. Whatever is written soon evaporates and in the grand scheme who really cares? I’m afraid we’re all just passing time and amusing ourselves along the way. Nonetheless, like you, my emotions have a tendency to elevate when confronted by the Bertam Jr.’s of the world.

  14. Mike Kennedy says:

    I’m going to start a boycott myself:

    No more NPR — the station that supports free speech, unless you disagree with its politics or politically correct speech codes.

    Oh, I forgot. I don’t listen to it anyway. Nevertheless, who is going to join me……..come on. Let’s go……..(I feel like John Belushi in Animal House with everyone just sitting there looking at me).

    http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/39774756

  15. Ellen M says:

    NPR must be doing something right for the American people. I’m pulling figures now from a book called JOURNALISM NEXT by Mark Briggs:
    NPR’s audience grew 95.6% from 1998-2008 (newspapers went down 11.4% and network TV news down 28%). NPR also has 14 million podcast downloads and 8 million website visitors per month. And, of course, NPR offers those “driveway moments” – stories that are so good that even when listeners get to their driveway or job, they can’t turn off the radio until the story ends. Who else gets that?

  16. Mary says:

    it’s just bad business for Target to exercise political influence using voter dollars. I don’t understand why Target would risk it. I feel this way whether they supported a candidate I support or one I do not. My boycott continues until they get back to the business of being a retailer, not political policy buyers.

  17. Joe Loveland says:

    Remember when Target apologized and said it would review its political donations? The Awl recently did some follow-up on that pledge:

    According to documents filed with the FEC in October 2010, Target continued donating to a bevy of anti-gay politicians even after Steinhafel apologized and committed to reforming the review process for future political donations. These donations even included some of the same anti-gay politicians the company had already been criticized for supporting.

    After Steinhafel’s August 5 letter, Target’s Political Action Committee, helmed by the former right hand of Senator Thune, Matt Zabel, recorded $41,200 in federal election activity. Of that total, $31,200 went to anti-gay rights politicians or PACs supporting those candidates.

    Supporters of gay equality did get some money. In September, Target PAC gave $1,000 to Chuck Schumer. It also sent a whole $500 to Keith Ellison, the Minnesota Congressman that anti-gay leader Bradley Dean accuses of supporting LGBT rights as a way to bring Sharia law to America.

    But donations such as $1,000 to Kelly Ayotte (reported on September 22), who resigned her state post in protest of the legalization of gay marriage and same sex adoption, are far more the norm.

    That same day, there is a record of a donation by Target PAC to Spencer Bachus, who voted to ban same-sex adoption. Michigan’s David Camp, who, in addition to supporting a Constitutional Amendment banning same-sex marriage, voted against protecting gays from job discrimination based on sexual orientation, also reported money. Through October, Target PAC thousands of dollars in donations were recorded to Michael Crapo and Dave Reichert, both supporters of anti-gay Constitutional amendments, and Rob Portman, a supporter of banning gays from adopting. Portman’s position on other gay rights won’t surprise. On October 4, a donation was reported: $2,000 to David Dreier, whose position on gay rights is quite a bit of theatre.

    1. Dennis Lang says:

      Damn! I couldn’t tell Steinhafel from a hole in the wall but doesn’t that gross disingenousness just piss you off? I guess basic integrity isn’t taught at Wharton these days. We have to look pretty hard to find much to admire in many of our corporate leaders.

      1. Joe Loveland says:

        I was just starting to rationalize abandoning my goofy little boycott as soon as Christmas was over, under the theory that they had likely learned the lesson about playing politics with customers’ dollars. But alas, no Archer Farms Tequila Lime Thick and Chunky Salsa for me.

  18. Jenn Sco says:

    Found your blog because my fiancee insisted on going to Target to get some stuff tonight, so I was looking for reputable follow-up info on the CEO’s apology/promise post-initial donation. I have been boycotting the store since last year; the article in the Awl just convinced me it is right to continue to do so. The “pain” has long since subsided, so it’s no big deal. How are you doing with your boycott, Joe?

    1. Joe Loveland says:

      I’m still Targetless (aimless?), Jenn. I still haven’t bought a thing from Target, and only one inexpensive thing from Best Buy (long uninteresting story). In the last month, I’ve had a couple of big electronic purchases that I made at a non-Best Buy location. I sure would have liked to have made them down the street, but… Between the two, I’m well into the thousands of dollars of redirected purchases. It’s quixotic, I know. It’s just me casting my vote.

      Melodramatic humor aside, it has not been at all difficult. There are tons of alternatives to Target and Best Buy available. I really would like to go back to Target in particular, but life goes on. It would be so easy for them to fix, but if they are intent on being stubborn, I can be stubborn too.

  19. bertram jr says:

    Can one of you stalwarts of commerce and retributionary thinking define “gay equality” please?

    Thank you.

    1. Festus says:

      ‘group of senior executives “to ensure a variety of perspectives,” ‘

      what could go wrong?

      [Elwood: what kind of music do you have here?
      Bartender: Oh, both kinds – country and western!]

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