Florida Disney Feud Explainer

A new billboard welcoming visitors to Florida. is displayed April 21 in Orlando, Fla. The Florida Legislature has passed a bill to dissolve a private government controlled by Disney that provides municipal-like services for its 27,000 acres in the Sunshine State. The proposal has been pushed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, and is largely viewed as retribution for Disney’s criticism of a new state law that bars instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade.

Typically when Disney is in the news cycle, I don’t find myself sympathetic toward The Mouse.

Let’s be honest. Disney is the kind of bloated mega-corporation with dystopian levels of autonomy that sends my progressive heart into a frothing rage.

And let’s not even talk about how long it took me to get “Let It Go” out of my head.

But when its opponent is Ron DeSantis, well call me a Mouseketeer.

Disney’s belated denouncement of Florida’s recent attack on LGBTQ rights — a law critics have dubbed “Don’t Say Gay” — certainly stirred the ire of the state’s governor and his fellow GOP lawmakers in The Sunshine State’s Republican-controlled congress. DeSantis has dubbed Disney’s criticism of the newly signed law “indoctrination” from a “woke corporation” to “groom” children at any early age — winning him nomination for winner of the 2022 Fox News Buzzword Bingo Championship.

And while the move to eliminate the Reedy Creek Improvement District – Disney’s personal government, and yes, you read that correctly – might seem like the kind of anti-capitalist sentiment progressives should favor, the impetus behind the decision and the execution of the proposal aren’t going to be receiving any praise from the political left.

DeSantis’ push to bully Disney into silence is both a petty act of political theater and also horrendously short-sighted. CNBC has already reported the potential for a $1 billion tax burden on Floridians in Orange and Osceola counties should The Mouse lose the keys to his Magic Kingdom.

And really, that should come as a surprise to exactly zero people. When a state loses the favor of its number one industry, historically, it’s left with nothing but rust, a fact Pennsylvanians have learned through lived experience.

That’s before we even discuss the flying elephant in the room: The absolutely immoral notion that the correct way for the government to deal with dissenting opinions is to silence them – ‘Cancel Culture,’ as right-wing pundits like to call it, and a bludgeoning stick folks like Ron DeSantis hypocritically love to brandish when anyone dares to talk about things that make them uncomfortable, like two men holding hands in a movie theater or teachers telling children that profiting off of slavery was actually pretty racist.

The First Amendment should protect LGBTQ children, their families and the teachers who support them from the boldface hatred of the “Don’t Say Gay” law. and thanks to the Republican-lauded Citizens United victory, Disney as a corporation gets to enjoy that same protection from government interference with its right to express whatever political ideologies it decides to champion.

As the internet would say, well, well, well, GOP, if it isn’t the consequences of your own actions.

Though, the courts have yet to decide the constitutionality of either of Florida’s new laws. Only time will tell which way the scales of justice will lean. But if I’ve learned anything about the corporation behind the Happiest Place on Earth, I think it would be a safe bet to put your money on Disney’s steamboat.

If not, Florida’s economy – and DeSantis’ re-election prospects – might need a lot more than magic.

NICOLE DUNKEL is a is a copy editor/page designer for The Herald. She can be reached by email at ndunkel@sharonherald.com or on Twitter @HeraldDunkel.

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