DeSantis and Disney

Photo by Rick Han on

The Florida governor is riding high.
‘So there’s a new Sheriff in town and that’s the way it’s going to be,’ he said the other day.
He’s taken on Disney and their ‘Reedy Creek Improvement District’, a legal authority granted to the entertainment company in the 1960s so they could set up a futuristic city in the Orlando area - Epcot - which never materialized and the project became instead another theme park.
Disney World packs a lot of punch and the special district status may grant financial advantages that lessen competition.
On those grounds alone those privileges could be challenged, but DeSantis’ tiff with the organization is about hitting back because Disney came out against a Florida law passed in March 2022, the ‘Parental Rights in Education Act’, which barred ‘classroom instruction … on sexual orientation or gender identity’ from kindergarten through the 3rd grade, while prohibiting also such instruction at any grade level if done ‘in a manner that is not age or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.’
The LGBTQ+ community, which is fighting against prejudice and for societal inclusion nationwide, justifiably saw it as a violation of free speech and have been critical of the law.
They are right.
Sexual orientation is largely established before we start primary school. Discussion of the differences others show allows for the development of tolerance and respect and so prevents prejudice with all its lasting damage.
The strong pushing for the passing of the law tells me such parents are not trusting themselves or their children.
But this is a pyrrhic victory for DeSantis. It exposes his own prejudices and it will carry through into the presidential race. We’ll see more as the campaign unfolds.
Disney was right in opposing passage of the law. They had to answer to their workers who have a broader perspective than the Florida governor and made their case clear.
Meanwhile, Disney will have to contend with their restricted governing powers. The district they had controlled will now be renamed ‘The Central Florida Tourism Oversight District’ which will be subject to more state control and its board members will be appointed by DeSantis instead of the company.
Perhaps there will be more competition, but judging by Disney’s success, whoever has been part of that enterprise was doing a good job.
There are still options for Disney. If profoundly dissatisfied, they can pull out and move to an adjoining state where they could get a better deal. I’m sure it’s crossed the minds of their executives.
I don’t see Florida as the showcase state it is being made out to be.
Their demographics are skewed by an excess of retirees. Like Texas, it doesn’t have state taxes. But are those signs of being an outstanding state? No.
And regarding Covid: the battle against the virus was won by scientists, not by politicians.
So ride on, Sheriff DeSantis. You might be looking at a long stay in that saddle. Which will give you time to gallop on down to Mar-A-Lago and discuss with Trump all that could have been if either of you had been more inclusive as leaders.