“Curmie” Comment Of The Day Double-Header #2: “DeSantis Strikes Back: Ethics Dunce Disney Gets The Legal And Ethical Consequences It Deserved”

No “echo chamber” we, so it is appropriate to include as a Comment of the Day Curmie’s vigorous dissent on the current conflict between Disney and Florida, particularly its ambition conservative governor Ron De Santis.

So here it is…in response to the post, DeSantis Strikes Back: Ethics Dunce Disney Gets The Legal And Ethical Consequences It Deserved…

***

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.

11 thoughts on ““Curmie” Comment Of The Day Double-Header #2: “DeSantis Strikes Back: Ethics Dunce Disney Gets The Legal And Ethical Consequences It Deserved”

  1. I think you are right about the motive behind “punishing” Disney. If Disney supported DeSantis, then al would be well.

    I do disagree with you on a few points.

    First, Disney is not “supporting the status quo.” The status quo is not to teach young kindergartners sex ed, and public schools have decided that they now want to do that, which is a change from the past. Disney came out in full force on that point. The bill is a reaction to that change in policy.

    Second, “Disney taking a stand for its own people” is a misleading way to state the point. There are people who work for Disney who don’t agree with the bill. There are people who wok for Disney who do agree with the bill. Who gets to decide who “the people” of a corporation are when it comes to “standing up” for them? It would make more sense to just say that corporate has a first amendment right to speak out how they see fit, but we shouldn’t pretend like Disney is representing all employees because they clearly are not.

    Third, is it really good policy for a corporate to wade into political cultural wars anyway? I think businesses should stay as neutral as possible when it comes to the cultural stuff. Our society is already down the road to politicizing everything, and corporations jumping into cultural stuff is just going to accelerate that trend.

  2. With respect, I think that Curmie makes a similar mistake to Anthony Fauci as to what the role of certain professions are at setting public policy.

    “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.”

    None of the positions mentioned are policy makers. They’re either cogs in the wheel or advisory positions. They advise, and the government takes their input under advisement and crafts policy, usually incorporating a lot of the information they received from their experts. Frankly, governments tend to, with some glaring caveats, self-regulate. But that’s not a suicide pact: If the people Curmie deems “appropriate” go too far outside the Overton window of what the regulators, legislators, or voter base deem “appropriate” then on some kind of timeframe there is going to be a correction.

    That’s a feature. Not a bug.

    I also think that Curmie is straw-manning the argument. Maybe that’s not the right term, but it’s related. Straw manning is when you make an argument that no one is making, and react to it as if it’s a prevailing narrative. This is related but different, instead of an argument that no one is making, he’s picking up on a really fringe argument that isn’t particularly popular, and ignoring the better argument. Is there a fallacy name for that?

    See… I don’t think that it’s the prevailing argument from Republicans that they don’t try to indoctrinate kids. I also don’t think that Republicans indoctrinate the same way, either as a matter of scale or scope, but Curmie was in education, and his mileage may vary. I think the narrative was that educators and administrators had gone too far, and that something needed to be done. That argument, the one I see actually being made, doesn’t require Republican purity on the issue. The question isn’t “have Republicans done worse?” it’s “is this objectionable or not?”.

      • Who on earth wants sex education of any kind in K through 3? Personally, I wouldn’t want anyone in public education teaching anything about sex K through 12. That’s what parents are for. And obviously, these far-left radicals who have hi-jacked the educational industrial complex want to pre-empt parental involvement in sex education to generate more gay and transgendered kids. Look at BLM’s charter. They are all militant lesbians who want to destroy the nuclear family. These are not “live and let live” people.

        • Exactly. It’s very strange that people would care so much about pushing sex ed on little children. All of it looks very icky.

          There is a way to view it without the ick factor. You could argue some people just have very weird views of sex and think that teaching kids really early will help them have a healthier perspective. That’s the most benign way to look at this, but I’m not convinced it’s the sole motivation for a lot of these “educators” who are pushing the hardest for this.

    • GAH. I really need to proofread more.

      Regardless, to expand. This conversation is similar in many ways to the bias-in-media conversation.

      Indoctrination isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I’m pretty sure that we all fervently hope that our Doctors are properly indoctrinated in medicine. Bias isn’t necessarily a bad thing, the entire jury-decision process requires that at the end of the trial, in order to convict, the jurors must have a negative bias towards the defendant… We just don’t talk about these things in those terms.

      What’s different is that with media bias, as an example we aspire to an unbiased media because it’s their job to report on activities, not to be the activity, we don’t aspire to not indoctrinate kids because the EXPLICIT goal of education IS indoctrination: You are teaching the doctrines of basic math, of language comprehension, and of whatever else the curriculums say. There have been discussions about what those curriculums should say for as long as curriculums have existed, and there is no right answer. Sure, sometimes we’ve had to deal with absurdities like creationism in science curriculums, but on a long enough scale, I like to think we’ve done better than not.

      Frankly, elementary school teachers are somehow managing to fail at indoctrinating an age appropriate reading level (for which, funnily enough, there is absolutely a definition), and instead of addressing that, the focus seems to be on DIE material. The idea that they should be given more control over the direction of their curriculums is absurd.

    • I think “strawman” is fine in this (and other such) case (s). IMO, people get needlessly concerned as to whether the absolute rules of formal logic must be met to apply the general principle to events in the less than perfect real world, where statistics and/or observed reality can reasonably allow for it’s use.
      Alternately, some (usually on the left?) tend to do things like squeal “slippery slope fallacy” as defense against suggestions that their ill-conceived A could likely lead to C.

  3. Democrats militating for a really, really large corporation (currently no. 50 on the Fortune 500) to be able to maintain its sweetheart deal with various governments strikes me as pretty darned amusing. Are you leading the charge on this, Bernie? Liz?

  4. I do believe Disney was responsible for misrepresenting this law. The four sentences in question seemed to be very open for interpretation. I doubt many would have any problems with simply saying there were different kinds of families. But the deeper you’ll get into sex education and gender identification at that young age I would sincerely question the intent.

  5. Often we hear from politicians the cry “it’s for the children” when they seek to spend money to perpetuate the failing education system. Now the same cry is issued by the left to support the absurbity of their agenda. I say leave the children out and argue from objective reality and apply the KISS principle. Teach the fundamentals that would provide the opportunity for success. Do not teach what has little impact on providing that opportunity.

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