August 28, 2010
Target of Boycott Rebuffs Shakedown AttemptBy Gary Larson
Swooping in like carrion-sniffing vultures, folks associated with "gay rights" tried but failed to shake down Target Corp., the nation's second largest retailer, amid live threats -- now carried out -- of a nationwide boycott. This is all based on legal political contributions the company gave to a pro-business group in its home state (and mine), Minnesota.
A "human rights group" tried to pressure the company to hand over at least $150,000 for its cardinal sin of giving that amount to a business-favoring group. By any other name, it amounted to a variation of that old protection racket: You pay us, you're home free.
Thanks to Target's resoluteness, the gambit failed. Meanwhile, ultra-liberal billionaire George Soros-backed MoveOn, as Left as it gets, made its move on the 1,700-plus Target stores in 49 states.
Boycott is the name of its tawdry game. To date, the MoveOn effort has failed, even touted by patently false advertising. Same-store Target sales are up. There is simply no stopping the back-to-school shopping crowds. Target earnings, even in an economic slump, continue strong in the latest quarter, with no signs of slowing.
MoveOn's TV spot in support of its boycott brazenly appropriates Target's trademarked red bullseye logo and depicts a stick man loading an American flag, of all things, into a shopping cart. A doomsday voice-over at the end warns, "... Target and other companies are trying to buy elections."
Not true. Not even close. Closer to reality, if that matters to anyone at MoveOn, are efforts of trade and teachers' unions, spending millions upon millions to influence politics, if not to "buy elections." But then, the loonier elements of the Left never did let truth interfere with their attacks. Liberal lies will do, just as any port in a storm.
Foul motives in the TV spot are sniffed out by MSNBC. It bans the ad from its network air. Says MSNBC: "... the ad "does not comply with our advertising policy as it is a direct attack on an individual business." No other network forsakes the ill-premised TV spot using Target's trademarked bullseye.
Ludicrously, and certainly with malice aforethought, MoveOn's squalid campaign erects its own straw man. It sets it ablaze solely because of Target's contribution -- plus local Best Buy's, Polaris Industries' and other Minnesota-based companies' -- to a local pro-business group, Minnesota Forward, which buys airtime for issue-oriented advertising.
It receives $150,000 from Target to support a better Minnesota business climate, job creation, and lower state corporate taxes. The state suffers from a sky-high corporate income tax rate of 9.8 percent at the top, in contrast to a national average of 6.6 percent, according to the Tax Foundation. That makes it the third-highest-rate state in the nation. (Individual Minnesota taxpayers are tagged with the fifth-heaviest per capita tax load in the United States. Like its cold-weather reputation, the state's high tax climate is chilling.)
State Representative Tom Emmer, a pro-life Republican running for governor, is anti-gay marriage. In this he agrees with the president, Barack Obama; the current governor of the state, Tim Pawlenty; and, indeed, with a majority of the public. His campaign receives a boost from Minnesota Forward in the form of issue-oriented TV advertising for a better business climate.
So what's the fuss? Well, for MoveOn and its bullying "gay rights" buddies, Emmer's stance on gay marriage -- one shared by most Americans -- makes him a candidate sprouting a tail and horns. Go figure.
Ludicrously, "gay rights" advocates paint conservative candidate Emmer as a homophobic, cartoon-like character. They fling all sorts of spitballs, inviting accusations of slander and libel, including the term "homophobic," which, like "racist," is being tossed capriciously nowadays by the take-no-prisoners Left. Being a public figure, Emmer has little to no defense against such perverse, ghastly, and dead-wrong personal attacks.
Target officials say they support Emmer's record on economic issues and that he appears to be the strongest pro-business candidate in the governor's race. His social agenda, if it be that, is not a factor. Minnesota Forward chief spokesman Brian McClung says his group supports candidates from either side of the aisle, or independents, based on their positions on state business issues.
Target did not knuckle under to the bold attempt to extract money from its corporate coffers under threat of a nationwide boycott. In another context, what "gay rights" activists did in Minnesota would be, yes, criminal and mobster-like. Also counterproductive for them.
"Protection rackets" might fall under the public radar screens, and certainly those of liberal see-no-evil news media. But that does not make the demands to muzzle a company, or extract money from it, any less repugnant morally, if not legally.
Now faced with a boycott not taking root -- fizzling, in fact -- the ethical Minnesota-based retailer has endured a shot across its bow designed, likely, to silence other corporations' giving to pro-business candidates of any stripe. In this, MoveOn might be successful. (Will Walmart be their next object of hate? Or Sears?)
Conduct that stirs the gender pot shamelessly, recklessly, could be self-destructive to the "gay rights" crowd once the public -- or news media, unlikely as that is -- catches on to MoveOn's mean, nasty little schemes. Do such insatiable, intolerant mud-flingers who seek to silence others have no shame, none at all? Free speech for them, but for no one else? Hey! What kind of tyranny is that?
Larson is a retired newspaper and business magazine editor residing in Minnesota. He is not the cartoonist of the same name.