Let’s start with what we know. What exactly happened?
From Source 1
a. Florida legislature passed HB 1557, “Parental Rights in Education” which DeSantis signed March 28, 2022
b. The “Parental Rights in Education” law states “Classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.
c. On the day the law was enacted, Disney issued a statement, saying: “Our goal as a company is for this law to be repealed by the legislature or struck down in the courts, and we remain committed to supporting national and state organizations working to achieve that.
d. A few weeks later, on April 22, DeSantis signed another bill introduced by Republicans, SB 4-C, terminating independent special districts that were enacted in Florida prior to 1968. That includes the Reedy Creek Improvement District, which effectively allows Walt Disney World to govern itself. Before he made the bill law, DeSantis said of Disney: “You’re a corporation based in Burbank, California, and you’re going to marshal your economic might to attack the parents of my state? We view that as a provocation, and we’re going to fight back against that.”
e. On the day the law was enacted, Disney issued a statement, saying: “Our goal as a company is for this law to be repealed by the legislature or struck down in the courts, and we remain committed to supporting national and state organizations working to achieve that.
f. DeSantis said the Legislature will draft additional legislation clarifying unresolved issues related to dissolving the special districts. The next regular legislative session is not scheduled to begin until March 2023, but DeSantis or the Legislature could convene another special session before then.
From Source 2
a. Disney did not reply to questions asking what happened during the exchange with DeSantis. In early March, Disney CEO Bob Chapek told shareholders that he called DeSantis expressing "disappointment and concern" over the legislation.
b. The schools law goes into effect on July 1 and doesn't contain the word "gay." The governor's office has pointed out that it bans teachings on sexual orientation and gender identity specifically in kindergarten through third grade. But other language in the bill is more vague, banning such instruction "in a manner that is not age appropriate or developmentally appropriate." Critics say it could marginalize LGBTQ+ students, teachers, or children of families from same-sex households, including if teachers happen to be casually discussing spousal or dating relationships while in the classroom.
c. DeSantis said during the Rubin interview that Disney was free to take a position on the bill but "they are not free to force all of us to subsidize their activism, and that's what they were doing."
From Source 3
a. It looks like the Parental Rights bill passed the state house 69-47 and senate 22-17. These are the elected representatives for the state of FL and truly represent the people of Fl on this issue. That is fairly strong support.
From Source 4
a. The total verbiage of the bill is in this source. It is a lot. It is only one paragraph that caused the “uproar.”
From Source 5
a. “Parents’ rights have been increasingly under assault around the nation, but in Florida we stand up for the rights of parents and the fundamental role they play in the education of their children,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “Parents have every right to be informed about services offered to their child at school, and should be protected from schools using classroom instruction to sexualize their kids as young as 5 years old.”
b. “Parents have a fundamental right to make decisions regarding the upbringing of their children, and schools should not be keeping important information from parents. Children belong to families, not the state,” said Senate President Wilton Simpson. “Parents are not the enemy, they are a child’s first and best advocate. This legislation strengthens the Parents’ Bill of Rights Act, safeguarding the rights and responsibilities of parents to decide how best to raise their children.”
From Source 6
a. While the Left and their media allies have attempted to smear HB 1557 and mischaracterize its intent, our survey shows that Floridians do not agree. They are united in opposition to sexual education and gender identity curriculum being taught to young children in public schools or appearing in children’s TV programming. And there is bipartisan support for making sure corporations follow the same tax rules as everyone else.
b. 61% say that sexual education topics should either not be taught in schools at all, or that they should wait until students are at least 12 years of age.
c. 61% of likely voters say they support Governor DeSantis’s move to require that all corporations be subject to the same taxes across the state. This includes most Republicans and Independents.
From Source 7
a. April 22 (Reuters) - Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on Friday signed a bill that strips Walt Disney Co (DIS.N) of self-governing authority at its Orlando-area parks in retaliation for its opposition to a new law that limits the teaching of LGBTQ issues in schools.
b. The Republican-controlled legislature on Thursday approved the bill, which will eliminate the special governing jurisdiction that allows the company to operate Walt Disney World Resort as its own city. Within the 25,000-acre tract, it operates four theme parks, two water parks and 175 miles of roadway.
c. Disney's special status "was really an aberration," DeSantis said at a news conference where he signed the bill into law. "No individual or no company in Florida is treated this way."
d. While the financial impact on the company and the state is uncertain, the change could alter how Disney operates its sprawling Central Florida empire and sour the close relationship it has enjoyed with the state for more than 50 years.
My Positions and Why
A. While corporations have the right to say and do many things politically, if they want to, I personally do not like to see this. A corporation is there, primarily, to make money for its shareholders. Why is there a need to get entangled in a very controversial topic like this? It is different if there is an issue that has a direct impact on their industry. Yes, then you lobby to have your voice heard. But that is when it is a policy that directly impacts the business itself. This issue does not fall into that bucket (you would have to really stretch to say it does, and if you do that, then it would be easy to do that for ANY topic).
B. It is hard to see why a corp would turn into a political activist, since there are usually going to be multiple sides to that, and you risk alienating some significant portion of your employees and your customers, which is exactly what happened in this case. Many hot-button topics like this have almost equal supporters on each side. So a company jumping out and taking a position on something like this is not going to make half the employees happy. And will also alienate half the potential customers of your business, in this case a family-oriented theme park.
C. In my view, the issue of how FL schools will be run, and what the curriculum will be, and what is an age-appropriate time to discuss LGBT issues, is an issue to be discussed and decided by the citizens and school-related agencies in FL. And the laws are passed by the duly elected representatives in the FL house and senate (who represent the people). And polling suggests the people support the bill. Why does Disney need to jump in, as a corporation, and try to tell FL what to do? Yes, they have employees there, but many (half?) of them support the new law. That puts these employees in a difficult position where they know their employer is fighting against their interests, but it makes it appear that “all of Disney” is fighting against the bill. Why does Disney need to meddle in FL business? I know they have a business there, but that doesn’t morally give them the right to try to bully the state of FL to do what it wants. Legally, yes, they can say whatever. But that doesn’t mean that other entities won’t push back. This includes the citizens of FL and their elected representatives (including the governor), who represent the people of FL, not the corporation of Disney. In fact, isn’t it more the left who accuses the right of “being in bed with corporations?” If DeSantis bends to Disney demands then he is being influenced by a corporation is he not?
D. I don’t like governments wielding abusive power against individuals. We have seen too much of this in the past, at both the state and federal levels. And we should be careful how we regulate and interact with businesses too. Of course we do regulate them all the time. In this case though, it is a very specific corporation that is getting the wrath, which is even worse. However, Disney initiated the fight, one that was not necessary, and attempted to usurp the power from the elected reps by pressuring the governor, which is morally suspect as well. Disney is a “big boy,” and if they are going to come out throwing punches at another big boy (DeSantis), you can bet he will fight back. Just like Disney has the legal right to say what it wants, and use its money to lobby for what it wants, DeSantis has rights too. Yes, he has to stay legal. Removing a “privilege” from Disney is not illegal. In fact, you could ask legitimate questions as to why they have that special deal in the first place. However, this discussion is not about that. But I will admit that it does look like retaliation for Disney meddling in FL affairs. It is unfortunate, but not unexpected. There is a culture war going on, and every state is fighting that war in its own way. And really, these wars, and where things end up, should play out in the state legislatures. I don’t think we want to see corporations picking sides and jumping in with their money and influence. Disney should butt-out and worry about its sagging stock price (down 37% in 6 months).
E. The bill itself, to me, is a no-brainer. Parents should indeed have some rights as it pertains to how their child is educated and what materials are used and at what age. But this discussion is not centered on that. The only thread is just that DeSantis feels the bill is worth fighting for, because of its importance, and therefore is grabbing at things he can do to ward off the power of Disney to keep it from derailing something good for the people of his state. Does that mean that the end justifies the means? Well, he cannot do anything illegal to Disney. And policies should be applied evenly across business in the same industry. Taking their ”special” status away does not violate either of those things. From DeSantis’s view, he might ask “how do you expect me to fight back?” “What can I do against a giant company like Disney?” “How can I push back against them trying to impose their will on my state?” And while he may not have wanted to punch back like that, maybe he felt in was the only thing he had. Afterall, we are in a Culture WAR, and there will likely be distasteful things that must be done to avoid losing. You don’t want to lose all your integrity in the war, but if the other side doesn’t care about integrity and you do, you may find yourself losing all the battles. Sometimes you do what needs to be done. I bet the Ukrainians would have a thing or two to say about that.
F. Hypocrisy/consistency check: Would I feel the same way if the sides were reversed? A Dem Gov retaliating against a right-leaning company? Yes, I would. Thanks for asking! I am a big believer in state’s rights, and a believer that the state legislature should arbitrate the state’s issues. I am a fan of corporations too. I just don’t believe they need to meddle in state politics unless it is something directing impacting the business itself.
A. I recognize that there are legitimate, sincere, understandable opposing viewpoints to mine. But I do not believe these invalidate my personal position in any way. Reasonable people can disagree on this topic and I am happy with hearing those viewpoints.
B. I feel fairly solid in my position but am open to other thoughts and ideas that could either make me feel stronger about my position, cause me to rethink how strongly I feel about my position, or even push me to a more neutral stance on this. And I am open to even change my position given enough evidence and persuasive arguments to the contrary. Of course that is what being an intellectual is all about. But don’t mistake that to mean I have not thought hard about it (as evidenced by everything I have written).
C. It is okay to agree to disagree on this. Two intelligent people, with different world views, may certainly come to different conclusions on this topic. I am completely okay with that. Hopefully we can at least agree on the facts. And then hopefully we can try to understand the different interpretations of the issue that each person may have. And then try to understand how each person’s world view plays into their position on this topic. And finally, it is always great to find common ground – if possible (not mandatory but nice). And of course, being respectful of other people’s opinions is key. You don’t have to agree, but there is no need to attack someone for their beliefs, just as you would not want to be attacked for your beliefs. To think you already know everything is the antithesis of being an intellectual. Similarly, if you can’t imagine why anybody thinks differently than you, then you also have very little creative space in your brain. So be an intellectual, and be imaginative!