April 7, 2022

Florida and Disney

“Gov. Ron DeSantis has signaled support for stripping Disney of its 55-year-old special status that allows it to operate as an independent government around its Orlando-area theme park. It’s the latest fallout in the feud between DeSantis and Disney over a measure that bans schools from teaching young children about sexual orientation or gender identity…

“The Walt Disney Company wrote in a statement that its ‘goal’ was to get the law repealed or defeated in the courts. DeSantis previously said Disney ‘crossed the line’ with that statement. [Last] Thursday, DeSantis went further, suggesting Disney’s ‘special privileges’ could be lifted.” CBS Miami

Here’s our previous coverage of the Florida education bill. The Flip Side

See past issues

The left criticizes DeSantis, arguing that the government should not punish private firms for dissenting views.

“Even if you think DeSantis’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill is wonderful and Disney’s legal status is awful, the governor’s thuggish linkage of the two ought to terrify you. DeSantis is trying to establish an understanding that major corporations can expect favorable treatment from the government as long as they play along with the ruling party’s political agenda. They are allowed — nay, encouraged — to get involved in politics on the condition that they take the correct position. But should they take the wrong position, they will find themselves under legal scrutiny

“This is the method Donald Trump used to intimidate firms with employees who gave him a hard time. Amazon lost a lucrative Pentagon contract in retribution for Jeff Bezos’s ownership of the Washington Post, and Trump attempted to block a merger by CNN’s parent company to finish the network. This is also a method that Trump’s favorite dictators — like Viktor Orbán and Vladimir Putin — use to control the political debate in their countries.”

Jonathan Chait, New York Magazine

“What constitutes ‘classroom instruction’ [in the bill] is unclear, but many fear it could include any mention of gay or transgender people, including students’ families… To justify the law, the right has taken to accusing anyone who opposes it of wanting to expose young kids to explicit material in order to prime them for abuse. On Twitter, DeSantis’s press secretary wrote, ‘If you’re against the Anti-Grooming Bill, you are probably a groomer or at least you don’t denounce the grooming of 4-8 year old children.’…

“This is, of course, not the first time that gay and gender-nonconforming people have been framed as a moral threat to children. In 1977, Anita Bryant, a former beauty queen and spokeswoman for the Florida Citrus Commission, started the anti-gay Save Our Children campaign. ‘Homosexuals cannot reproduce, so they must recruit,’ she said. ‘And to freshen their ranks, they must recruit the youth of America.’ In recent years, the Republican Party has largely eschewed such language, appearing to make their peace with the presence of gays, lesbians and transgender people in public life. Now such rhetoric is back.”

Michelle Goldberg, New York Times

The Disney company has never been a bastion of tolerance and acceptance, especially when it comes to LGBTQ issues. LGBTQ historians have long pointed to stereotypically effeminate villains such as Scar from The Lion King and Captain Hook from Peter Pan as examples of negative queer-coding, while Disneyland itself only abolished a rule banning same-sex dancing in its parks following a four-year extended court battle in 1984…

“Though some of its television programming, such as Disney Channel’s The Owl House, has been lauded for its portrayal of queer characters, that has not yet extended to its mainstream film releases. Indeed, it was only after the uproar over the Don’t Say Gay bill that a previously-cut same-sex kiss in the upcoming release Lightyear was put back into the film.”

EJ Dickson, Rolling Stone

The right criticizes Disney, arguing that it is prioritizing activists over customers.

The right criticizes Disney, arguing that it is prioritizing activists over customers.

All this in response to a bill whose text is popular among American parents. For all its virtue-signaling, no one at Disney has mustered a coherent explanation of what exactly is so ‘harmful’ and ‘immoral’ about the bill, nor what is so essential about introducing children under the age of eight to controversial sexual topics. The best they’ve managed is to contend that the bill ‘erases’ gender-nonconforming children, a ludicrous assertion palatable only to those already onboard the radical gender-ideology bandwagon…

“It’s safe to say that virtually no one in America wants their young children watching sexualized movies, let alone ones that introduce their children to controversial topics such as gender identity, same-sex relationships, and queerness…

“Disney, in other words, is running up against the fact — yes, the fact — that people who think Florida is ‘erasing trans lives’ are a powerful, loud, infinitesimal group of Americans — and Disney exists to please everyone, not to cater to minuscule cliques… Disney’s foray into progressivism conflicts with the company’s profit motive in a way we haven’t yet seen.”

Alexandra DeSanctis, National Review

“For decades, the social Left has made inroads by arguing that they simply want to be left alone. The Right, by contrast, has argued that the Left's agenda is far broader, that the Left demands cultural celebration of its sexual mores and that it will stop at nothing to remake society in order to achieve its narcissistic goals. Disney's latest foray into the culture wars proves that the Right was correct, that the Left's stated agenda was a lie…

“And other corporations are following Disney's lead, pushing wild Left advocacy instead of catering to the broadest possible market. For too long, Americans have planted their heads firmly in the sand, hoping that the forces of the free market would militate against the cultural hijacking of corporate institutions. Instead, corporations built by entrepreneurs have been hijacked by woke employees and a feckless managerial class. The blowback will be real, and it should be real. And if that means parents swearing off Mickey Mouse, increasingly they will.”

Ben Shapiro, Creators

Regarding the grooming debate, “‘Groomer’ has become the fashionable charge to level against anyone who opposes Florida’s parental-rights bill. It’s counterproductive… the accusation is wrong because it isn’t really true. Most opponents of the bill, I’m sure, aren’t ‘grooming’ kids for sexual acts. They simply don’t believe that parents should have a say in their kids’ education. They want to normalize half-baked identitarianism and gender ideology against the will of parents. That’s bad enough…

“Every poll quoting the bill verbatim, or even framing it a halfway-honest way, finds overwhelming bipartisan support. ‘Groomer’ is a distraction that allows progressives to stop defending the idea that kindergartners should be taught that there are 72 genders, and instead, make it about how Republicans think every teacher is a would-be pedophile.”

David Harsanyi, National Review

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