The folks at American Family Association, an anti-LGBT hate group, hold themselves out as Christian moralists. However, when it serves their purposes, particularly in service to the disparagement of LGBT people, AFA personnel will lie through their teeth. I touched on this Tuesday. I received yet another email from AFA and some additional information Wednesday morning.

Wednesday’s email from AFA is titled: One company to boycott this Christmas. It is signed by Hate Group Leader Tim Wildmon. As you might have guessed the company AFA wants people to boycott is Target Corp. AFA has been at this for a few years now and the boycott hasn’t made so much as a dent in Target’s revenues. That is less relevant than the deceit.

Wildmon writes:

On October 16, a mother and her children went to a Target in Woburn, Massachusetts, to do some shopping. While inside the store, a man followed the mother’s 10-year-old daughter into the women’s restroom and offered her candy, commented on her clothing, and reportedly tried to get into the stall that the little girl was using.

The above is a bald-faced lie.

Even were that true, it has absolutely nothing to do with accommodating transgender patrons and staff. Even if the adult were transgender, trans people have been using gender-consistent public bathrooms to pee for decades.

According to an email I received from Woburn, MA Police Chief Ferullo:

Woburn police responded to Target on the report of suspicious activity, an initial investigation was conducted, parties were identified an [sic] follow up interviews were held. There were no arrests and the report will not be released due to nature of the incident.

This morning I also received an email from Boston 25 News. Their Sarah Burgess was a bit more forthcoming than Chief Ferullo:

This story is no longer available on our site. After initially confirming the investigation with police, we followed up and found the police had identified the individual and said the incident appeared to be a misunderstanding.

There is more to the mendacity:

I cannot find this story at any other news outlet (several point back to Boston 25 News).

The story is on AFA’s website dated November 1 without a link to the source. Rather it links to an October 30 article at NewBostonPost, a conservative commentary site.

Matt McDonald, also the site’s editor, writes: What Happened at Woburn Target?Murky Bathroom Encounter Roils Question 3 Campaign. Question 3, you will recall, was a ballot initiative aimed at rolling back the law providing transgender protections in Massachusetts. (Voters overwhelmingly sustained the existing law.) According to Mr. McDonald:

An interaction between a 10-year-old girl and an adult in a bathroom at the Target in Woburn earlier this month has become a point of dispute in the campaign over Question 3, a referendum on a portion of the Massachusetts gender-identity law.

McDonald obtained most of his information from Andrew Beckwith, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute, a local hate group. According to Beckwith, the individual involved was a transgender woman. Beckwith claims to have spoken with the girl’s father which required the father to initiate the contact. That would have probably happened in connection with Question 3.

I have several theories about what actually transpired. None of them include the idea that the adult posed a threat to the child. I do suspect that the parents embellished either with Question 3 in mind or, perhaps, in hopes of a payday from Target’s insurance carrier. Forgive my cynicism; this is a movie I have seen before.

On AFA’s blog, the November 1 story is titled: ‘Terrified’ at Target. Chris Woodward, a propagandist for the hate group writes:

A recent incident at a Target store in Massachusetts is just another reason voters there are being urged to vote next week for repeal of that state’s controversial bathroom and locker room law.

On Tuesday (November 6), voters in The Bay State will decide whether to repeal a 2016 law that allows a person – even a sex offender – to claim any gender, regardless of anatomy, and use the bathroom or locker room facility based on the claimed gender. The ballot question is the third item on the ballot, which asks voters whether they approve of the law.

Woodward is glued to the stupidity of people “claiming” a gender. It represents just one more bit of dishonesty from AFA.

The simplest explanation for the duplicity is that both American Family Association and the NewBostonPost were in favor of repealing the law. They exploited a narrative which seemingly supported their politics. They were indifferent to the truth of the story. AFA, in particular, did not care because it also tied in one of their perceived adversaries, Target Corp.

If I view this in the best possible light for AFA it still might have happened. However Tim Wildmon stated the matter in his email as absolute fact. No hedge at all. Local news realized that it was irresponsible to continue to host the story. AFA was not as conscientious. 

That makes Wildmon a liar. To be fair, Mr. Beckwith is quoted in the AFA piece and he indicates that the police believed that no crime occurred.

Beckwith has his own fantasies:

“First, he’s in there to begin with and who knows what he’s doing,” Beckwith explains. “At a minimum he has terrified this 10-year-old girl – and fortunately she is safe – but now the police can’t really do anything about it. Their hands are tied because of this law [because] it gives him a right to be in there as long as he claims to identify as a woman.”

How can Beckwith assume that the girl was terrified? The (misgendered) trans woman (if that part is true) posed no threat. More importantly, the law has an “improper purpose” clause. If the woman endangered the girl in any way, she could be held accountable. Beckwith is asserting that the woman should have been prosecuted for no reason other than simply being there. I could not make a better argument for not rolling back the law myself.

Furthermore, the law prohibits discrimination in public accommodations. Even if the law were not in place a trans woman would still have every right to use a gender-consistent facility (subject to store policy). No crime would have been committed. “Who knows what he’s doing?” The simplest explanation is that she was peeing. Beckwith presumes that a trans woman is possibly a pervert. Common sense suggests otherwise.

There is plenty of stupidity to go around. AFA is supremely dishonest. Beckwith might just be dense. Who knows what he is doing?

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By David Cary Hart

Retired CEO. Formerly a W.E. Deming-trained quality-management consultant. Now just a cranky Jewish queer. Gay cis. He/Him/His.