Scary Stuff: Watch Bigots Scream About Bathroom Policy In "Target Rebuke" Videos
“I’m by myself. Let’s go.” The woman, wearing pink lipstick and sunglasses in her hair, speaks softly, but then starts in on a hoarse yell, punctuating each syllable with a slight drawl: “ATTEN-TION… TAR-GET… SHOP-PERS… GOD… IS ANG-RY… WITH… THIS STORE.” And so begins what has come to be known as a “Target Rebuke.” They’re modeled as sermons but sound a lot like hate, and are the latest in the reaction against Target’s recently amended bathroom policy, which allows for customers to use the bathroom “that corresponds with their gender identity”. Search YouTube, and they’re easy to find, often posted by channels with names like “OperationReapSouls,” and “Hell shaking Street Preachers.”
All this comes in the wake of North Carolina’s passing the highly controversial House Bill 2, which restricts bathroom use based on biological sex (i.e. the one you were assigned at birth, and the one with which you may no longer identify). With proponents of the bill arguing that the issue is one of security and privacy, Target’s progressive stance against discrimination prompted a boycott (with 900,000 signatures on the petition), and reactionary protests. The chain, however, says that the actions have had “no measurable impact.”
Other than, that is, bringing to the fore America’s worst bigots, homophobes, and loonies. It’s easy to laugh at the sheer craziness of the “rebukes” – their ignorance and incoherence – but they exist at their core only as testament to an extensive, persevering hatred. They come with their own vocabulary: transgendered people are “perverts,” and “rebukes” are baptisms by fire.
“3 Target Stores 3 Rebukes 1 Assault 1 Tranny 1 Lying Manager In 90 Minutes,” (thankfully condensed by its merciful creator to a 10 minute video) begins in the first person, as the camera enters Target and lumbers toward the bathroom. Soon the visage of a man appears in the mirror, camera strapped to his chest (one commenter points out: “Guy protesting against ‘perverts’ in bathrooms takes a live video cam into a public bathroom”). He begins speaking to the camera with what sounds like an advertisement, saying, “get to a local Target near you,” but continues: “and warn them that their policy is straight from the pit of hell.” His arms are crossed earnestly behind his back, and he wears a jacket emblazoned with words like “REPENT.” Soon he is screaming at a security guard, having read his nametag: “GOD KNOWS YOUR INTERNET HISTORY, RYAN.”
Target rebukes, if anything, are at least greatly quotable. In another video by the woman with pink lipstick (she seems quite dedicated), she discusses the possibility of stopping by a next-door Planet Fitness, which apparently boasts a similar bathroom policy: “a combo rebuke, door-to-door.” These are hit-and-run affairs, cooked up like a Big Mac combo meal: would you like fries and a Coke with that? The desire is not to affect change (however negative), but just have their voice heard. Sometimes the Targets are nearly empty – echo chambers.
There seems, however, a similar desire to “rebuke” every target: each video specifies the location, as if there exists somewhere a master list. “Get off your couch,” urges one rebuker. What these so-called “preachers” need to understand, however, is that just by spewing hatred in a store and leaving, they are not somehow “purifying” the store. What do they accomplish by screaming in Target, of all places? The answer: nothing good.
Image by Kathryn Chadason
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