While it has become a trend for right-wingers to go into Target and raise a fuss over their Pride merchandise, two employees in one video showed them standing up to a notorious bigot’s harassment when he tried to cause trouble at an Arizona store.
MAGA-chud Ethan Schmidt recently recorded himself walking around a Target, holding a children’s shirt that had “Pride” written on it three times, and asking people if they support this “Satanic Pride propaganda.”
Anti-LGBTQ+ trolls Matt Walsh and Michael Knowles finally said the quiet part loud.
One female employee responds to his question, “Yeah, both.”
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He asks, “You support it?”
“Satan and Pride,” she says while texting on her phone, keeping her voice in a somewhat bored matter-of-fact tone that conveys polite disinterest.
“You support Satan?” Schmidt asks again.
“Mmhmm!” she responds.
He asks, “What’s God going to think of that?”
She quickly responds, “I don’t believe in God.”
As he whispers, “Wow,” she asks, “Did you need help with something?”
He says, “You support the propaganda that’s targeting kids?”
She says, “Uh, there’s nothing targeting kids.”
He then says, “It’s all over TV shows. It’s all over. They’re targeting kids.”
She explains, “Kids can choose to wear whatever they want.”
He then asks, “Do you support the sexualization of kids through Pride propaganda by corporate—?”
Schmidt’s use of the word “propaganda” is telling. It’s the same word that Russia has used in its law that punishes any public or online displays of LGBTQ+ identity.
Interrupting his question, the woman asks again, “Is there something we can help you with?”
He responds, “I’m just asking people questions.” He then turns to a nearby man in a t-shirt and jeans and says, “How about you, sir? Do you support this?”
The man says, “I’m not answering any questions but if you’re here to cause any disturbance in the store…”
Schmidt says again that he’s just asking questions and asks the man if he works at the store. The man explains that he’s not wearing a name tag because he is an undercover loss prevention worker (basically someone who keeps an eye on possible shoplifters).
Schmidt then repeats, “I’m just asking questions. So do you support this Satanic propaganda?”
The man says, “I’m not answering your questions,” and adds, “What you need to do, is you either need to leave the store….”
Schmidt says, “God will judge you guys.”
As the two begin escorting Schmidt towards the entrance, the woman says, “I mean, he can’t, he won’t if I don’t believe in him.”
When Schmidt shows a passing-by woman the shirt he’s carrying and asks if she supports “Pride propaganda,” the loss prevention worker asks Schmidt, “What did I just say?” And the female employee tries to take the shirt from Schmidt, saying, “Please stop.”
Schmidt protests, saying, “Whoa, I’m buying this! I’m going to buy it and burn it.”
“Okay!” the woman says, “That’s your choice. You can totally do that.”
The loss prevention worker then explains, “What I said is you need to leave. You can’t ask anybody any more questions. You can distract any more—”
Schmidt says, “Freedom of speech. Call the police.” He may not be aware that the Constitution’s First Amendment only forbids the government from censoring citizen speech. It does not protect people’s rights to be annoying in private businesses.
The loss worker says, “Do you want me to call the police?”
Schmidt says, “Yeah, call ’em.” The man says okay and Schmidt says, “Trespass me, I don’t care, dude.”
The woman says, “Clearly.”
Schmidt says, “Do you think I care if it’s trespass? I’ve done this a thousand times.” Indeed, last summer Schmidt got kicked out of a PetSmart for saying the rainbow flag “sexualizes kids.”
He continues, “You guys are a Satanic—”
The woman says, “True.”
Schmidt records his own face and says, “Open Satanist, guys, that’s what we’re up against. Open Satanists, like her,” then directing the camera to the woman who just lightly shrugs while continuing to escort him to the exit.
Schmidt’s repeated use of the word “Satanic” doesn’t just echo the beliefs of far-right Christians who think that LGBTQ+ people are literally possessed by demons, it has also been repeated by Fox News, as pointed out by independent journalist Aaron Rupar.
“I’m just anti-anyone whose causing problems,” she adds as Schmidt holds the shirt towards some customers in a check-out lane. He asks, “Excuse me, miss. Do you support Pride?”
The loss prevention officer blocks Schmidt’s camera and says, “No. You can’t disrupt any more guests. You need to leave.”
The female employee says, “Yeah. You need to stop.”
Schmidt tries again, asking a disinterested man, “Sir, do you support this Satanic Pride propaganda?” The man continues walking while looking at his phone, not even acknowledging Schmidt’s presence. Schmidt says, “He doesn’t.”
The woman says, “No, he just don’t care to talk to someone who is so hateful and judgmental.”
Schmidt finally tries one last time, asking an opposite-sex couple in a check-out lane, “Excuse me, do you guys support this? You guys support the propaganda.”
The man in the couple says, “Yeah. Yeah.”
Schmidt says, “It’s Satanic, man.”
The female employee tells the couple, “Please ignore him.” The video ends shortly thereafter.
In a separate video, also recorded at a Target, Schmidt asks two random women if they support the shirt, one explains that she doesn’t want to be recorded and the other threatens to call the cops. He calls them “super triggered liberals” because they’re understandably disturbed by a strange man discussing pedophilia while carrying around children’s clothing.
Schmidt then wanders past the mouthwash, shows a man the shirt and asks, “But isn’t it pedophilia?” The man answers, “I don’t think so.”
Last Summer, Schmidt spent his free time exposing Target’s “Satanic Pride shrines for children” (that is, its Pride displays) and threatening to “hunt” LGBTQ+ people and allies. He has been banned from numerous social media platforms for allegedly spreading false information about the COVID-19 pandemic. In a late 2021 video endorsing Arizona Gov. Kari Lake (R), Schmidt burned a rainbow Pride flag.
In a follow-up video, Schmidt revealed that he had been banned from the local Target for a month. He also pledged to look for “LGBT reprobates” and to “convert LGBT supporters …inside the Target,” warning them about possible mpox transmission in the store’s Pride section. The mpox virus has mostly affected men who have sex with other men.
This week, Target announced that it has moved its Pride displays to the back of some stores in the South and will remove certain items from its Pride collection following complaints and violent confrontations from some customers.
While Target has received blowback from some for “caving” to anti-LGBTQ+ forces, in a Wednesday email to employees, company CEO Brian Cornell wrote, “To our team in Stores: thank you for steadfastly representing our values. No one is better at working through uncomfortable situations in service to an inclusive guest experience.”
“What you’ve seen in recent days went well beyond discomfort, and it has been gut-wrenching to see what you’ve confronted in our aisles,” he added. “To the LGBTQIA+ community, one of the hardest parts in all of this was trying to contemplate how the adjustments we’re making to alleviate these threats to our team’s physical and psychological safety would impact you and your well-being and psychological safety. We stand with you now and will continue to do so — not just during Pride Month, but each and every day.”
LGBTQ Nation reached out to Target for comment.