DeSantis Strikes Back: Ethics Dunce Disney Gets The Legal And Ethical Consequences It Deserved

During a special session called for the purpose, Florida’s Senate has passed a bill that would end the special autonomous tax district status granted to Walt Disney World 1967. The bill now goes to Florida’s House, where passage is expected. Gov. DeSantis will, of course, sign the bill into law.

Good.

The mainstream news media and its minions are pushing, hard, the skewed narrative that this is GOP hypocrisy, with a state government using its power to punish a corporation’s free speech. That, however, is not a correct analysis.

What Disney did, when it publicly announced that it would protest and fight to repeal the Parental Rights in Education Law (falsely and dishonestly tagged the “Don’t Say Gay” law by LGTBQ activists, including much of the news media), was to breach the implicit conditions of its 55 year-old deal with the State of Florida, and, in an uncharacteristic blunder, prompt it to do what it had an ethical and legal duty to do anyway.

By 1967, Walt Disney himself had been negotiating a sweetheart deal with Florida since Walt Disney World was just another twinkle in his eye. The planned 40 acre complex was audacious and unprecedented, and audacious because it was unprecedented. Central Florida was an under-utilized swamp, and Disney was promising to turn it into the biggest tourist destination in the U.S. This would mean publicity, tourism ,commerce, hotel construction, jobs, tax revenue and development for Florida, and Disney was a tough negotiator. (Another Disney theme park project planned for Manassas, Virginia was abruptly killed when that state was less than accommodating.) Disney had a well-earned reputation for doing things right, so Florida saw nothing but benefits in allow it nearly complete freedom to build and run the new theme park the way it chose, without meddling from regulators. When Disney wanted to build a building, fill in a lake, or pave a road, it didn’t have to seek permits or approval, allowing the place to operate and start making money for itself and Florida as early as possible.

And it worked. The deal wasn’t even particularly controversial, because in 1967, Disney’s reputation could not have been more positive. Its new technology and attractions had dominated the 1964 New York World’s Fair, highlighting patriotism (The Abe Lincoln audio-animatron gave the Gettysburg Address!), family (The Disney-designed G.E. Carousel of Progress!) and kids (“It’s A Small World,” and its earworm song, debuted there). All those attractions and more were ticketed for Walt Disney World.

Florida trusted Disney, and so did everyone else. One thing Florida trusted Disney not to do was to kick its benefactor in the teeth. Florida had promised to virtually leave Disney alone to make Americans happy, and implicit in that deal was that Disney would leave Florida alone to pursue the interests of its citizens. There was no reason to assume that those objectives would ever be in conflict. Sure, Disney could lobby the State like any other corporation, but the relationship was one of mutually supportive partners, and should have stayed that way.

Then Disney presumed to interfere with Florida educational policy, and in doing so, throw its influence and power behind partisan activists on a matter that does not, or should not, concern Disney at all. That was a material betrayal, a stab in the back. Disney had suffered a protest from employees calling for more LGTBQ activism from the company, but that was the company’s own problem to solve. Virtue-signaling by attacking Florida’s school policies was not a rational nor fair respons. Worse, it breached the implicit understanding behind the 1967 agreement: “We’ll let you run your business your way, and, of course, you’ll let us run the government our way.”

What Disney did when it proclaimed its opposition to the Parental Rights Law was a violation of trust. Not only was there no way Florida could continue to regardDisenyas a partner going forward, it would be irresponsible to do so. If the two parties had a contract, Florida would have been justified to consider that contract breached and void. Instead, they had an agreement that the legislature and government could end by law, and that’s what they are doing.

No weenie he,  DeSantis issued a special proclamation to amend the special session of the Florida legislature to consider “legislation relating to independent special districts” and emphasizing the need to review Disney World’s special status:

WHEREAS, the Florida Constitution of 1885 did not prohibit special laws granting privileges to private corporations; and

WHEREAS, the Florida Constitution was revised by the Florida electorate on November 5, 1968; and 

WHEREAS the Florida Constitution of 1968 generally disfavors special laws as opposed to general laws, but permits the creation of independent special districts that appropriately serve the public interest; and 

WHEREAS, Article III, Section 11(a)(12) of the Florida Constitution of 1968 prohibits special laws granting privileges to private corporations; and

WHEREAS, independent special districts exist that were established prior to November 5, 1968, and that have not been re-established, ratified, or otherwise reconstituted by a special act or general law after November 5, 1968; and

WHEREAS, it is necessary to review such independent special districts to ensure that they are appropriately serving the public interest; and

WHEREAS, it is also necessary to consider whether such independent special districts and should be subject to the special law requirements of the Florida Constitution of 1968; and

WHEREAS, it is further necessary to periodically review exceptions to generally applicable laws that are given to select corporations; …

This points to the other reason to end Disney’s special status: the deal had been made inequitable by subsequent developments. After 1967, many competing theme parks and attractions followed Disney to the Orlando area and Florida, and now compete with Disney without Disney’s special advantages. That is unfair. It is similar to Major League Baseball’s unique immunity from anti-trust laws, which all other pro sports leagues must follow. The original reasons for the disparate treatment are similar as well: Baseball was deemed “more than a business,” and an important cultural resource enriching and strengthening the nation.

So while one could conclude that Florida finally making Disney play by the same rules as its competitors is an example of doing the right thing for the wrong reasons (if one buys the “punishing speech” narrative), it is still the right thing.

Nor can Disney credibly claim—especially after the leaks about its executives seeking to inject LGTBQ propaganda into its attractions and entertainment and its opposition to a law that prevents sexual content being taught to third-graders—that it still stands for wholesome, uncontroversial and non-political family entertainment. Here is an example of what Disney appears to be complicit in…

From the Federalist:

Miller Middle School in San Marcos, Texas is hosting a “Queer Week” where students as young as sixth grade are urged to dress in “pride” colors, wear nametags with preferred names and pronouns, and “protest” LGBT discrimination.

“The goal of the week is to provide a school culture that values diversity, equity and inclusion,” MMS Principal Saumnya Hart told parents in an email forwarded to The Federalist by the school.

According to a “Miller Queer Week” schedule obtained by The Federalist, MMS set aside four school days in April “to provide support for students in the LGTBQIA+ community, their allies, and the greater student and staff body.”

Beginning on Tuesday, April 19, students were encouraged to “share their stories on the wall in the hallway in order to stand against mistreatment.” On Wednesday, students were told to “dress in colors of the rainbow to support the LGTBQ+ community.”

Nametags designated for “pronouns and preferred names” will be supplied for all students on Thursday, according to the “Queer Week” calendar. On Friday, the week is scheduled to close out with a “National Day of Silence” where “LGTBQ+ students and their allies protest the harmful effects of harassment and discrimination of LGTBQ people in schools.”…

San Marcos Consolidated Independent School District Chief of Communications Andrew Fernandez told The Federalist that the school has received complaints from concerned parents but believes the activities are appropriate because they are “not part of the instructional day.”

“We have calls every day about questions or concerns that families may have and we’re handling the situation as we do any other situation,” Fernandez said. “We speak with the parent. Hear their thoughts and concerns and then share the reasoning behind the activities taking place this week.”

Texas officials have made it very clear that school-sanctioned activities dealing with sexuality violate the state’s sex education opt-out requirements for parents…

Florida no longer feels that it is appropriate to be in a partnership with an entity that stated its support for the same indoctrinating school activities and instruction Texas is dealing with. That is the correct conclusion, whatever other motivations may be involved.

I’ll make one final observation to close.

It is astonishing that a company that is usually so savvy would risk jeopardizing its important and profitable arrangement with Florida to get brownie points from activists, when the law in question has no relevance to Disney’s operation or business at all. What’s going on here? Hubris? Arrogance? Reckless virtue-signaling? Whatever the answer is, the ethical value breached is competence.

54 thoughts on “DeSantis Strikes Back: Ethics Dunce Disney Gets The Legal And Ethical Consequences It Deserved

  1. Lots to absorb in this post. Its going to take a while for me to fully understand all of your arguments.

    One Question That I Didn’t Grasp From My First Reading Of The Post: Is the agreement between the State government and Disney in regards to Disney not interfering with the State government more of an in the spirit of the agreement or is it enumerated in the original agreement?

        • I should have said “reciprocal” good faith. The original law was the result of oral negotiation, and unlike a contract, the obligations of only one party were put in writing. The other party’s obligations were a matter of trust and understanding based on representations during talks. Clearly, no?, the deal would not have been made if Disney said, “Great: you leave us alone to do as we please, but we’ll feel free to try to influence public opinion to oppose state policies we don’t like. Deal?”

          • Jack wrote, “the deal would not have been made if Disney said, ‘Great: you leave us alone to do as we please, but we’ll feel free to try to influence public opinion to oppose state policies we don’t like. Deal?’ “

            Here’s where I’m stuck, maybe someone can help.

            On the other hand why would any company agree to something like “You leave us alone to do as we please, and we’ll relinquish our right to free speech.” Doesn’t this become a constitutional issue, as far as I know the Constitution is the law of the land and government cannot create any law or agreement that infringes on those rights?

            • I think the point here, and it is mentioned in Jack’s explication, is this: Disney did not give up its right to free speech, per se. It was more of a matter of Disney not staying in its lane. Of course Disney would continue to have influence on matters within its particular domain, but educational policy is not in their domain.

              If Florida did not react to this, Disney could, in essence, become a general lobbying organization on state policy. In slight contrast, most athletic teams attempt to influence policy in one major way (“Build us a new stadium or we will move”) and several minor ways (parking, street access, certain financial incentives, etc.). All of those are things directly in the interest of the business.

              And, a lot of times, the deal struck with businesses are less advantageous than the type Disney had, but still valuable (TIF-Financing for green space creation and jobs). But, when the business gets into its head that it is too valuable and can start calling all the shots, there is blowback.

              And, what is Disney going to do? Threaten to move to Alabama? They are kind of stuck.

              Make sense?

              -Jut

              • The governor of Colorado made a fake offer yesterday to have Disney World move there. I hate that crap: it’s is pure grandstanding. Disney can’t move, and if it could, it would move there for logistical reasons.

                • Newsome called DeSantis “authoritarian” as well. What a pile of shit. They both wouldn’t hesitate to lean on private companies that they perceived to be getting in the way of their agendas.

                • Jack Marshall wrote, “The governor of Colorado made a fake offer yesterday to have Disney World move there. I hate that crap: it’s is pure grandstanding.”

                  I completely agree.

                  A side point: most people and companies that I’ve heard about that are fleeing states with laws they disagree with are heading towards Texas these days. There’s LOTS of space in Texas, the southern part is warm most of the year, there are lots of beaches and it would also be close enough to attract people from Mexico giving Disney a possible increase in traffic, Colorado is a wonderful place but it certainly can’t say any of that.

            • The key is the obligations of partnership, which clearly was what this was. Of course Disney has the right to bite the hand that feeds it, and that hand’s owner has the resulting right (and the business obligation)to say, “Fine then. Partnership over. We can’t trust you.”

              If I have a partnership with a group of people, and announce that I believe they are all bigots and scum, it is reasonable for them to decide that the partnership is over.

              • Jack Marshall wrote, “The key is the obligations of partnership…”

                I completely agree.

                Jack Marshall wrote in the blog, “implicit in that deal was that Disney would leave Florida alone to pursue the interests of its citizens.”

                I’m not saying that this implication didn’t exist but I haven’t seen anything that directly stated or implied that, at least I haven’t seen it yet.

                For a moment let’s pretend we are in a court of law, in a court of law it’s innocent until proven guilty, and the claim is that there was an implicit partnership deal that Disney basically keeps its mouth shut in regards to state politics or the deal will be rescinded; how would you prove that the implicit partnership deal existed in this way?

                By the way, I’m not trying to be exasperatingly difficult here, I really just don’t understand how this is not pure political retribution from a state government for a constitutionally protected opposing viewpoint. It’s big brother pushing its thumb down hard on a corporation for constitutionally protected free speech. Maybe it’s my ignorance due to a lack of legal training but if it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.

                Because I think like an engineer and have a lack of legal training, I’m completely open to being convinced.

          • By the way, I really don’t give a damn if the Florida wants to resend the agreement they have with Disney that’s between Disney and the State of Florida, my point is that everything about the actions of the State of Florida screams retribution for constitutionally protected free speech which “the State” disagrees with.

            If Disney had publicly ignored the protesters and Mickey had figuratively flip them the bird and Disney had made a statement that they agreed with the law that started all of this, would the State of Florida be doing the exact same thing they’re doing right now? If we’re all honest about this, I think we all know the answer to that question is no.

            • Agreed, but then being supportive of the state’s laws and policies, while not staying in the lane, is also not interfering. Similarly, it would not have been inconsistent with th’76 deal for Florida to come in and say, “Hey, we really like this EPCOT idea, and if there’s any way we can help out, let us know.

              • Jack wrote, “being supportive of the state’s laws and policies, while not staying in the lane, is also not interfering.”

                A corporation voicing constitutionally protected free speech is “interfering”?

                That just sunk in and now I’m really confused. It’s not like Disney paid all its employees to block access to the State house to physically prevent access to vote on the education bill, so how was it actually interfering. Saying it’s “interfering” seems like a slippery slope to me.

                I have to be missing something really important in this and I simply can’t figure out what it is. I’m honestly perplexed.

                • They had a special deal, the State changed its constitution later. Their competition does not have such status, Florida is removing a special status. Is this politically influenced, yes. the company is free to make such statements, but Florida is also free to level the playing field in accordance with the State Constitution. Think of it as religion, Florida had a preference for Disney that they are now removing so arguably they are following the US Constitution.

  2. My compliments to your crack and numerously populated research staff. Great post. Better researched and written than most law review notes.

    A minor quibble from a Floridia-born refugee from Miami who almost went to work in Orlando: The land in Orange County is not particularly swampy. There are countless lakes formed from sinkholes, but I think it’s unfair to call the land Disney acquired “swamp land.” Pine and palmetto scrub would be more accurate. If you want swamp land, you need to head much further south to the Everglades or north to the Okefenokee on both sides of the Florida-Georgia border. The land around Orange County is among the furthest above sea level in the Sunshine State. Heck, the high point in the county is a whopping 245 feet above sea level! For the most part, the Florida peninsula is little more than a really old coral reef.

      • No kidding.

        One early summer I made the mistake of taking a bus from Georgetown (following a visit to my daughter while she was a Hoya) to Chantilly to get to my brother’s house in Herndon. I figured I could walk to his house (and that I could find it. Error!) from the bus stop. I ended up walking around for more than an hour in kind of a re-enactment of the Bataan Death March or a scene from “Bridge Over the River Kwai” or “Cool Hand Luke.” It was BRUTAL! And I grew up in Miami before air conditioning. What is it about Potomac basin Virginia heat that is so incredibly oppressive?

  3. I think it’s the last step in a path that Disney started going down oh, a little less than 30 years ago. When I was a kid in the 1970s, Disney was all about rereleases of classic fairy tales, theme parks, and Sunday night reruns of their various properties on ABC. Occasionally they produced magical (Mary Poppins) or silly (Herbie the Love Bug) live action fare as well. Occasionally they’d come out with something new, like 1982’s forgettable “Black Cauldron” adaptation of the work of PA artist Lloyd Alexander, but, for the most part, Disney was kind of a retro company, standing for family-friendly entertainment and good, solid American values. One might even have called it, dare I say “conservative.” Then came 1989’s revival that started with “The Little Mermaid,” and it seemed like the good old-fashioned fairy tales were back. Except they weren’t. We would get one more traditional fairy tale in Beauty and the Beast, then Disney would start to move into other stories, some of them, well,odd. Somehow most of their properties still seemed to feature that reliable standard, the princess, except now, instead of being this beautiful, kindly figure who was just part of the story and often need to be rescued or protected, now she always had to be a powerful “girls rule” character. Feminism was the doorway in for other associated liberal and later woke values. No one really said much, because Disney always stopped short of getting overtly political, although it did move left under Clinton and Obama. I think the 2020 election, with companies becoming overtly political, and also BLM and the idea that corporations had a duty to put their wealth and power at the disposal of the oppressed and those claiming to aid the oppressed is what put Disney over the top, from being one of the biggest entertainment companies in America to becoming a de facto political NGO.

    It’s one thing for corporations to have whatever policies they want and advertise themselves as welcoming, inclusive, yada yada. It’s one thing for corporations to contribute to their preferred candidates. It’s maybe even one thing for some companies, like Penzey’s Spices, or Expensify, to be overtly political. It’s another for a company that has been granted the powers of a small state, whose bottom line is probably bigger than that of some states, whose influence is everywhere, to not just contribute and have whatever culture its leadership decides on,, but to openly oppose the actiops of the duly elected government as if it were an activist. Maybe it has a lot of the same rights as a person, and can’t be stopped from participation in the political process, however, it is NOT entitled to special privileges to be its own de facto state if it is going to abuse them. The state of Florida extended them those special privileges, and the state of Florida can revoke those privileges.

    This is before we even get into talking about things like fiduciary duty. Disney’s stock has suffered as a result of it, and if this law passes, it’s going to suffer further. What’s Disney going to tell its shareholders when they see their profits shrink? Is the company there to make money for its investors, or for the leadership to grandstand and use as their path to power? I think you know the answer.

    • Oh, I think one or more heads have to roll over this.

      I do think Disney has a problem, and I’m glad I’m not the CEO. In 1967, gays were still a stigmatized group, and mostly closeted. Now they have rights and visibility, and a same sex couple with kids should feel as welcome to the parks and as connected to Disney features as anyone else. But how do you walk that tightrope?

      I’ll try to cover that issue in another post eventually.

      • I think, as is the case at places like the NYT and Washington Post where management no longer has any editorial control, management no longer has control of Disney’s creative direction. I’m guessing the LGBTQ+ community is running the creative departments at Disney. If management does not comply with the demands of their creative departments, some sort of really disruptive event will occur and management anticipates, correctly, such an event would be more detrimental to Disney’s financial health than the current flap at Disney World, which will blow over.

        • OB says:
          “I’m guessing the LGBTQ+ community is running the creative departments at Disney. If management does not comply with the demands of their creative departments, some sort of really disruptive event will occur and management anticipates, correctly, such an event would be *more detrimental* to Disney’s financial health than the current flap at Disney World, which will blow over.” Emphasis mine.

          Not following your logic considering the LGBTQ population in the USA is roughly 7% with half being (merely) bisexual. Why isn’t this issue worthy of being a-hill-to-die on for a company that built its brand on traditional family friendly entertainment?
          Just requires excellent PR and endurance for an issue that I doubt “will blow over” but instead will be like an odoriferous festering wound.

          Then again, perhaps Disney is trying to offset the accumulated guilt over their enormous profits and groveling by way of human rights champeen China.

      • There’s no tightrope to walk. You welcome any well-behaved paying guest, regardless of the make-up of the group of people with them. Welcoming and treating guests well does not require validating their personal choices or beliefs. I expect to be treated fairly and civily by Disney should I ever visit one of its parks. I do not expect the business day to open with prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance, even though I might prefer it be that way. I don’t expect half of their programming to feature evangelical Christians or conservative Republicans.

        The idea that Disney should have to wade into this mess was its own fault because it didn’t have the nerve to tell its employees that their company has no business dictating to the state of Florida or any state what its laws should be.

    • Steve-O-in-NJ
      Speaking of Penzey’s, I find their progressivism and outright hatred of conservatism to be amusing, considering they are heirs of an industry that occasioned colonialism, oppression, and genocide all over the world–all so you can get .7 ounces of (conflict-free) Vietnamese Cinnamon for the low-low-price of $5.49!

      https://www.penzeys.com/online-catalog/vietnamese-cinnamon-ground/c-24/p-955/pd-s

      Sorry for the plug, Jack. You can remove the link if you want (of course)-but it was kind of integral to the tenor of my point.

      -Jut

  4. While removal of Disney’s sacred cow status is long overdue, it grates on me that it is being done in response to this political brouhaha. I dislike it when the liberal side of the aisle tries similar schemes (“We don’t like what your business does, so we’ll bankrupt you with litigation and bureaucratic hurdles”), as they have tried with firearm manufacturers or petrochemical producers.

  5. I wonder what would happen if Cruella DeVille were portrayed as a trans-woman. Wouldn’t a trans character fit with being a pampered and glamorous London heiress and fashion designer? Perhaps the wicked witch/queen that gives Snow White to poisoned apple is actually a lesbian who believes that Snow White’s beauty is a threat to her power to enchant other women? Who knows maybe all of the seven dwarfs are gay given none ever tried to take advantage of Snow White. You would think they would be friends with benefits.

    I doubt seriously that Disney would ever consider portraying any LGBT character as the villain in any story line. But it would not surprise me if Fabulous Freddy the drag queen is awakened by the kiss of his gay prince charming.

  6. Unlike you, Jack, I am neither a lawyer not an ethicist. The closest I’ve ever been to the former was being unofficially “pre-law” for about the first two and a half years of undergrad; the closest I’ve ever been to the latter is that you’ve called me ethical a couple of times. So forgive me if I have trouble discerning the line between that which is legal and that which is ethical.

    Perhaps the terms of the agreement between the state and the corporation are akin to trademark laws: that Florida must aggressively defend its prerogatives or be in danger of losing them. But this doesn’t seem like something any corporate CEO would agree to. And I think we can take as given that Governor DeSantis would not be criticizing any corporation that publicly supported his position because they didn’t stay in their lane, even though the level of interference in public policy would be the same. No, it would be the progressives who’d have their collective skivvies in a twist in that case.

    More to the point, Disney began their dissent, at least, while the bill was still under consideration. They were, in fact, arguing in favor of the status quo—when there was no law—a position that can hardly be regarded as interfering with the state, only with one party’s agenda. That they didn’t suddenly change their position when the bill became law doesn’t seem very problematic.

    Moreover, it strikes me that educational policy is literally everyone’s business. I’m semi-retired now and not currently scheduled to teach at all in the fall, so I have no direct personal interest in what’s being taught in 3rd grade—these will never be my students—but I hope to be around long enough to be affected by their ability to vote or even to run for office… or to become doctors, lawyers, artists, or whatever. Yeah, I care what happens in that 3rd grade classroom.

    And Disney, which has numerous gay and transgender employees (at least two of the former and one of the latter of whom are my former students), some of them no doubt with children, certainly ought to be able to take a stand for its own people.

    Of course, I would argue that the Parental Rights in Education Law has little if anything to do with “pursu[ing] the interests of [Florida’s] citizens.” From what I can tell, the bill not only doesn’t define what specific actions are forbidden (what is expected, for example, if 1st grader with two dads mentions that fact in class?), it carefully refrains from mentioning who determines such things as age appropriateness. I’ve got 20 bucks that says it’s not going to be elementary school teachers, child psychologists, or indeed anyone with “appropriate” (see what I did there?) skills or experience.

    Nope, it’ll be politicians (or their appointees)… only selected ones, of course, those who understand that the mission has little to do with protecting kids and everything to do with inflicting a religio-political norm on a minority… precisely the kind of thought control DeSantis and his ilk accuse the left/teachers/anyone-who-isn’t-a-white-heterosexual-Christian of trying to exercise. Of course, I don’t live in Florida, so my perspective on the politics of the situation borders on the completely irrelevant, and it isn’t much more germane to a comment on your blog.

    Still, I think it’s important to say that what all this means, to me, is that DeSantis’s response is motivated not by ethical concerns but by petulance, and because, legally, he can get away with doing what he just did. But the latter is more than a little problematic as a rationale. I have every legal right to insist that there should be no deviations from my department’s attendance policy, which does not distinguish between excused and unexcused absences. But I’d be an idiot if I insisted that, at the risk of failing the course, a contagious student must come to class, and I’d be an asshole if I forbade a student from attending his mother’s funeral. Just because I could doesn’t mean I should.

    None of this is to suggest that Disney is without fault in all this, but, really, they’ve long since kept their part of the bargain. I’ve been to Orlando twice: once as a kid (my grandfather lived about a half hour away) and once in 2019, for the penultimate pre-COVID professional conference I attended. They weren’t even close to the same place. In that time, the population of Orlando has grown at 10 times the national average, and the reason boils down to a single word: Disney. Surely they’ve surpassed not merely expectations but fondest hopes. That’s the bad news as well as the good news, of course, but there can be no question but that Mickey and the gang have brought a lot of people (both residents and tourists), jobs, and money to the state.

    You say, Jack, that a right action for the wrong reason is still a right action. Perhaps. But if even a right action (assuming this to be one) for the wrong reason is also still the product of a wrong (unethical?) motivation.

    • Now you have me backed up with two Curmie Comments of the Day.

      “You say, Jack, that a right action for the wrong reason is still a right action. Perhaps. But if even a right action (assuming this to be one) for the wrong reason is also still the product of a wrong (unethical?) motivation.”

      This is why the evaluation of conduct can’t be decided by hidden or theoretical motives—they are always mixed. So the conduct is evaluated for its own sake. No question, that deal has served all parties well, but conditions have changed. Similarly, baseball has no business being immune to antitrust law.But baseball has worked very hard not to tick off Congress, even to the extent of expanding the number of teams to assuage the anger of powerful Congressmen when a team has moved. Disney should have realized it was also on such shaky ground.

      And its public opposition certainly caused the state political headaches, whereas Florida has never caused Disney any headaches at all for almost 60 years. As I said, this would constitute a material breach of the treaty for me, no matter what the issue was. It happened to be sex education.

      Someone has yet to explain to me how declaring that sexual orientation (which ultimately translates into sexual methodology) has to ever be mentioned in grade school at all, so the “inflicting a religio-political norm on a minority” argument escapes me. And I believe that “biological” deserves to be in there with the hyphens as well. Civilization does have an interest in repopulating, and parents tend to want grandchildren. How do you feel about the Texas school’s nonsense? I believe parents have a legitimate interests in not having their kids proselytized or propagandized about the the Joys of Gay Sex in secondary school. Not the school’s proper function, and definitely not Disney’s.

      • The Florida law also proscribes teachers from answering the question of why Sally has 2 dads or 2 moms by saying Sally’s parents are immoral and will be burning in hell for their acts. Not engaging in such conversations allow gay parents to make any necessary explanations in accordance with their values just as it gives conservative parents the right to inculcate their children with the explanations they deem appropriate.

        There is little reason to have education personnel involve themselves into gender questioning issues except to relay any information they have to the parents and let them deal with it. Teachers are not licensed to engage in psychological counseling no matter how limited.

        Most teachers have little to no contact with parents so If I were to learn they were engaging or counseling my child who may have gender dysphoria without consulting me first I would be aghast and have the same reaction as finding out a stranger was discussing sexual topics with my 5-8 year old. My responsibility as a parent is to decide what is in the best interest of my child. If the state disagrees they have avenues to dispute that.

        At the ages in question, I don’t believe these kids have any inkling about sex and their own gender.

        We should be reminded that toymakers have been cajoled into avoiding gender stereotypes in toy marketing as feminists have made valid points about stereotyping roles such as Easy Bake ovens targeting girls and Tonka trucks for boys. I don’t see anyone saying girls that play with trucks are suffering gender dysphoria and need puberty blockers. A little boy playing with a doll is not a sign that he thinks he is a girl. Gender dysphoria is not prevalent and the progressive claims that children will die from this legislation makes me question the motive behind their irrational fear of the Parents rights legislation

      • I don’t see how anything has changed, beyond the fact that Disney now disagrees, for quite legitimate reasons as far as I’m concerned, with something the governor (and his party), not the state, wants/wanted to do. I’m sorry, “l’étât, c’est moi” went out with Louis XIV. DeSantis isn’t Florida; he’s a politician.
        I’m certainly not advocating that sexuality per se be discussed with primary school kids, but the law is so (intentionally?) vague that literally any passing reference to the fact that same-sex romantic relationships exist, completely independent of any reference to sex, could be criminalized. I will absolutely guarantee that there are school systems in Florida in which a 2nd grade teacher can refer in passing to her husband, but a similar reference to her wife just became outlawed. Similarly, there are no doubt hundreds if not thousands of primary school kids in Florida who have two moms or two dads. But somewhere, some teacher is going to get into trouble for acknowledging that fact.
        The reason progressives call this the “don’t say ‘gay’” law is that no one really knows what is and what is not covered by the bill’s language… but they do know that the Ron DeSantises of the world are more interested in making a name for themselves than in protecting the innocent (“the innocent” here refers both to schoolchildren and to teachers who have done nothing wrong by any reasonable standard).
        Depending on which statistics we believe, somewhere between 2 and 10% of the population is homosexual, bisexual, or transgendered. That’s a big enough number not to be a complete outlier, but it’s small enough to not constitute a significant enough voting bloc to make politicians face serious challenges to their monomaniacal homophobia.
        The problem is that you seem to be suggesting that sexual identity is a choice, and that cisgendered heterosexuality is “normal,” meaning by extension that anything else is abnormal. I do believe that sexual “preference” might be fluid over time, but that’s different that saying that someone can be taught to be one thing or the other. They might, unfortunately, be taught to engage in sex acts of the “our little secret” variety, but I’d argue that’s a different phenomenon, completely independent of positioning on the continuum from gay to straight.
        I’m pretty certain, too, that the other 90-98% of us can take care of repopulating the species, given the surging population of both the nation and the planet. And it’s not like gay people are going to start having heterosexual sex for the purpose, anyway (although it’s conceivable—pun not intended—that they might in order to “pass” for straight).
        As for what is apparently happening a few hours southwest of me in San Marcos… I probably wouldn’t do it, but I can’t get terribly exercised, provided that participation is voluntary. Gay kids, or kids with gay parents, are outsiders for 95% of the school year. Giving them a little recognition for a few days doesn’t exactly chill me to the bone. What does is the implication—or even outright allegation—that teachers, irrespective of their own identities—are engaged in wholesale grooming of children into homosexuality just for acknowledging that little Johnny’s parents are named Bob and Jim or Sarah and Alice, or that Ms. Smith is in love with Ms. Johnson.

        • I don’t think it’s a choice at all. Never have. But I know from personal experience that many teens especially are confused about the issue, and thus vulnerable to peer pressure and mentors. In the trans realm, not that much is known about how or why people decide they are stuck in the wrong gender, but there is developing evidence that kids are coming to that conclusion in growing numbers.

          I agree that the second part of the bill is dangerously vague, and open to abuse. On the other hand, if a teacher mentions a same sex spouse in passing, and curious students ask for an explanation, the correct answer is “Ask you parents about it.” That was true before the law and is true now. When ethics fails the law steps in.

        • Curmie:
          You made a couple of assertions that I will attempt to address. These are not in the order in which you made them but seems to me to be more appropriate way to address them.

          You said: “The reason progressives call this the “don’t say ‘gay’” law is that no one really knows what is and what is not covered by the bill’s language… but they do know that the Ron DeSantises of the world are more interested in making a name for themselves than in protecting the innocent (“the innocent” here refers both to schoolchildren and to teachers who have done nothing wrong by any reasonable standard).”

          This is a common practice by progressives to bind broader ideas to specifics that would be far too numerable to contemplate. If Billy, a 5-year-old, asks a teacher why Sally has two mommies, and the teacher offers a cursory answer such as well “Billy people are different and when you get older you will see all types of family relationships” that is age-appropriate instruction without getting into the weeds of the various types of sexual orientation. Let us be honest. this is about sexual orientation and not gender identity. Gender identity is a misnomer when bisexuals, gender fluid, and polyamorous orientations are included.

          Your point about progressives know the Ron Desantises of the world are more interested in making a name for themselves than protecting the innocent. That is pure speculation on your part if not outright bigotry by establishing a motive without evidence. That statement is no more reasonable than conservatives stating that such discussions are grooming students. Also, in that paragraph you mentioned “…done nothing wrong by any reasonable standard” but you never offered any standard that you deem reasonable. Black’s provides nearly a dozen different legal definitions involving the word reasonable. The common thread is what prudent people would consider fair or appropriate.

          The question arises is it reasonable or appropriate for a public-school teacher to encourage classroom discussions on human sexuality or other complicated topics with children who have not yet reached the age of reason which is about ten years old. I don’t, but that does not make me a homophobe, transphobe or heterophobe.

          You said: “I will absolutely guarantee that there are school systems in Florida in which a 2nd grade teacher can refer in passing to her husband, but a similar reference to her wife just became outlawed.”

          The bill as I read it does not state that passing references are outlawed. What it says is that the teacher cannot encourage such discussions in a classroom setting. The prudent person would see this as meaning a lesson plan cannot incorporate issues of gender or sexuality to illustrate the idea to be conveyed to children in grades K-3rd. Nor can it mean that a teacher uses a student’s question as an open door to engage in discussions of human sexuality and gender. That effectively promotes neutrality. As I pointed out without a neutral standard a teacher could proselytize on the sin of non-cisgendered relationships. This law works both ways. There is absolutely no evidence that a passing reference will be criminalized. Ironically, the primary argument against this law is that it is a solution for a non-problem. My question is, why is there so much pushback by the LGBTQ+ community when nowhere in the legislation any reference to any particular sexual orientation. The LGBT community infers from the law that is anti LGBT. There is no language in the legislation implying anything regarding a particular orientation. The law could just as easily be anti-hetero. Only the LGBT community rationalizes these laws to be against them, so it is they themselves and their allies who reinforce the sense of marginalization.

          “Disney now disagrees, for quite legitimate reasons as far as I’m concerned, with something the governor (and his party), not the state, wants/wanted to do. I’m sorry, “l’étât, c’est moi” went out with Louis XIV. DeSantis isn’t Florida; he’s a politician.”

          I would like to point out that every governor and their party do things that they want to do. Biden, et al are doing things I and many others don’t agree. Biden isn’t the United States either. Funny thing is that Desantis got his legislature to pass these bills and the Biden administration is doing things unilaterally through various agencies without legislative approvals; so who is playing Louis XIV?

          Disney has every right to disagree with the elected government, and the elected government has the right to repeal laws that it believes are unjust for equally legitimate reasons even if one of those reasons is retaliation for a breaking of what Jack describes as an implied covenant in initial taxing and regulatory schema. You seem to be arguing that Disney should be able to exercise absolute sovereignty over its own interests as well as weigh in on legislation that affects the rest of the population with impunity. Doesn’t the federal government proscribe political activities by educational institutions if they receive federal funding? Yes. What is the difference. Based on the reading of the law requiring the reevaluation of special districts, the legislation does not single out Disney it affects all special districts.

          You stated, “The problem is that you seem to be suggesting that sexual identity is a choice, and that cisgendered heterosexuality is “normal,” meaning by extension that anything else is abnormal.”

          If you read my post the other day, I explicitly stated that calling something the norm was not the same as calling something abnormal. The norm is was is the most common. Average IQ is the norm but being a genius does not make you abnormal nor does being developmentally disabled. A primary school teacher can easily illustrate that we are all different without promoting or denigrating something.

          Additionally, I neither stated nor implied sexual identity is a choice. Given that there is no definitive evidence to suggest that it is a choice or hardwired, I have no opinion. I do know that children want to fit in and will adapt to whatever they are conditioned. If children observe some kids getting special benefits they will adopt some of those behaviors or pretend they have. Remember when teachers put gold stars on your papers. Dewey called it the socialization process. Socialization is a primary element of learning in the primary grades.

          The following statements are not to suggest anything about teachers in general; I was one and so were my parents. Regarding socialization: One of the reasons violent crime in inner cities is so high is because violence is a way of life and money brings respect and prestige. To break the chain of violence you must show that equally rewarding avenues in legitimate activity not only exist for them but the rewards are higher and, most importantly, you must remove them from the socializing forces that disrupt opportunities. We don’t believe Black on Black violence is hardwired so why is it so crazy to believe that some of this gender “fluidity” is fueled by social pressure to conform to the group norm. It stands to reason that if gender fluidity becomes mainstream some will adopt it simply to fit in. Given that ostracizing people is a tactic used extensively by activists and immature children I don’t think it is unreasonable to believe that some of these young people will be swayed by not what makes them feel OK in their skin but what makes the group happy.

          If, on the other hand sexual preference or perversion (child molesters) is hardwired then and no one should attempt to psychologically or chemically manipulate them, yet we try to alter people based on whether we want to accommodate them or protect us from them. The rub here is that we have laws against hardwired perversions against children for the very reason that kids cannot give informed consent. Children in a school room cannot give informed consent on this subject matter nor can parents when the curricula is sequestered from their view. That is what the law seeks to prevent.

          It is one thing to advocate for helping struggling kids wrestle with puberty and gender but quite another to suggest that those who do not subscribe to or even find such orientations an abomination as bad evil people. When you do that you reinforce the fears your adversaries have about you and subsequently drive a wedge between parents and children. That is the biggest fear parents have.

          Objectively, teachers are ill-equipped and not uniformly trained to deal with these issues anyway. They may not be even qualified to teach. Last I checked, only 40% of kids in third grade are reading at grade level. What exactly are the school’s priorities? Don’t say that poor kids lack resources because I will respond with how did Black kids going to a segregated school in the 40’s and 50’s outperform white kids in suburban MD (example: Paul Lawrence Dunbar High in D.C. See Thomas Sowell’s work on Black academics ).

          Progressives worked to eliminate the stigma of teenage pregnancy only to have more of it. Progressives pushed social promotion in grade schools so that the sixteen year old who would have been left back in 5th grade does not feel bad about (its-self). We no longer reward scholastic achievement we celebrate differences providing those differences have activists behind them.

          Before chastising those in favor of the law, consider that many parents have seen the decline in education based on progressive ideas and they simply do not want to be part of these grand experiments any longer. When schools begin to help the insecure, the timid, the homely and fat kids who make up the majority of all school children have a great uplifting experience I may be willing to bat for the darlings of the progressives.

          You may be chilled to the bone about people claiming widespread grooming of children by teachers but I am bothered by the fact I cannot make a statement on these issues without the implication of being a monomaniacal homophobe.

          • Here is what Evanston Illinois preK-3 teachers are using.

            https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/21694116-evanston-prek-3rd?responsive=1&title=1&mc_cid=d38ae03611&mc_eid=1a6b9e1611

            The concepts or behaviors described as objectives such as empathy and caring are just as easily taught without references to gay pride. Further parts of it make no distinction between fraternal love and romantic love. Can a 5 year old boy distinguish between loving his little brother and being gay? I don’t think so. Pay close attention to the vocabulary building. Yes they include colors but also include terms defining human sexual preferences, “non-binary” “Healing” etc. to know what non-binary means you first have to understand the concept of binary.

            The lesson regarding black and brown talks about people of color while white is totally omitted from the lessons on diversity which is laughable when they are unwilling to allow any divergent thinking regarding the teaching of these subjects to children.

            • It seems to me that schools in the 21st century are far more focused on indoctrinating students in “social studies” or “social skills” or “social diversity” or social equity” as opposed to teaching them the three “R’s” and the results when students “graduate” K-12 are self-evident.

  7. Jack said, “When Disney wanted to build a building, fill in a lake, or pave a road, it didn’t have to seek permits or approval…” I’m sure this was worth millions to Disney as they didn’t have to comply with local zoning regulations, construction codes, permitting, inspections, board approvals, etc. etc. But others did which, in effect, was a gift to the Disney Corporation. By opening their big yaps Disney will now reap the consequences.

  8. You can tell that Disney has changed over the years. Walt knew his fairy tales well enough to remember the tale of the golden goose. Apparently Chapek has never heard that one.

    I have to remember that this is not originally Disney’s fault, though. They were keeping back, not saying a thing about something that wasn’t their business, when the vocal malcontents within their company kicked up a fuss about the leadership not taking a stand. At that point, Disney leadership had two opposing groups. On one hand, the loud, social-media connected, employees backed by the rest of the media and the modern left, who have repeatedly shown that they are thrilled at the chance to make life miserable for anyone who doesn’t do what they demand. On the other hand, the government of Florida – long a valued partner, still holding out some sweet special deals (exemption from licensure in Florida is HUGE. The state requires licenses from everyone for everything.) Thankfully, government is slow and dull, the Republicans have no spine, and Disney has gotten away with yanking Uncle Sam’s whiskers more than a few times – as have all the other cool kids like Twitter, Facebook,
    and so many other powerful media companies. What’s one more?

    They just didn’t figure on the political football being a hornets nest, parents being fed up with being told that what it is, it ain’t, and the reality of a popular Republican having the gall and the clout to demand that if Disney didn’t want to play ball, they could play by the same rules as all the other kids. And now they’re REALLY stuck, because apologizing to Florida (might) fix the relationship, and will set the company up to be torn to shreds in the public relations realm. People who see this as Disney being willing to jump in between them and their own children aren’t going to forget the slight any time soon, and apologizing will enrage everyone who cheered. And yet… millions on millions of dollars in cash and man-hours…

    They screwed the pooch, and I hope they are smart enough to learn the lessons which they obviously need to learn.

  9. I wrote above…

    “I have to be missing something really important in this and I simply can’t figure out what it is. I’m honestly perplexed.”

    I found what I was missing and I’m still trying to wrap my head around the whole thing.

    It took me a while to find it but I went back to June 8, 2017 to one of Jacks previous posts Ethics, Motives, Killing With Kindness, “Amadeus” And Related Matters that talked about (my synopsis) the evaluating motives behind the conduct vs evaluating just the conduct itself. This explains what I was missing in Jacks perspective in evaluating this action from the State of Florida.

    In the post Jack wrote…

    “The problem after the fact is that it is impossible to sort out the many, often conflicting human emotions, motives and non-ethical considerations that go into any act. What someone says or writes about their reasons after the conduct is completed is never reliable or complete. For that reason, many ethicists, including me, believe that the conduct must be evaluated without reference to guesses regarding what the “true” motives behind it were. Was the conduct ethical at the time it occurred?”

    I concede that this method of evaluating conduct is preferred.

    Questions
    1. What happens to this method of ethical evaluation when the actual motives behind the conduct are known, very transparent and perceived as unethical, do we ignore them?

    2. Is it possible to unknowingly use this method of evaluating conduct as a (for lack of a better way to describe it) tunnel visioned rationalization that’s similar’ish to 3. Consequentialism, or “It Worked Out for the Best“? I’m not saying that’s what’s happening here I’m asking is it possible.

    Question 1 & 2 explain the perception I have in evaluating this controversary. I think the actual motives behind the conduct are very transparent (pure political retribution from a state government for a constitutionally protected opposing viewpoint) and I perceive those motives to unethical based on my understanding of our Constitution and our long history/culture of our government not persecuting political views and I don’t want to ignore those unethical motives even if I don’t necessarily disagree with the outcome of the conduct.

    There is my perspective in a nutshell and I’m completely open to discussing this further.

    • Excellent points, and even better questions!

      The problem I have with speculation about motives is that it’s always got a sizable element of outside attribution to it. And mind reading. Even if a person has had a stance for years, and comes out and says “I am doing this because…,” there is no guarantee that the stated motives are 100% true and complete. A creative mind will always be able to invent new plausible theories beyond what has been expressly stated. A defensive or outraged mind will be certain to do so.

      Regarding consequentialism, the approach does sometimes require a bit of willful blindness. It may feel similar to the shrugging off of concern involved in number 3, but the biggest distinction I see between the two is this: consequentialism is the rationalization of an unethical behavior as ethical, due to the subsequent results. In this scenario, however, we are trying to decide the ethical choice without consideration of an unethical perceived motive – simply because it is only perceived, and thus likely to be at least incomplete, if not outright wrong. Even when we KNOW it isn’t, it’s still assuming facts not in evidence.

      The biggest question I have is this: is the removal of a privilege which has been abused the same thing as a punishment for abusing said privilege? When I was a teenager, being told I couldn’t use the family car anymore after bringing it back with an empty tank, and full of fast food bags, it absolutely felt like a punishment. My parents likely saw it differently. This could be percieved as a punishment for dissident speech. It can also be seen as enforcement of a boundary which has been violated – if a company starts to think it can force it’s hand ( and Disney actually HAS the power to do so, if they decide to) then the government must act to keep it in its place, or lose the ability to do so.

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