Is DeSantis Fighting a Battle With Disney He's Already Won?

(Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel via AP, File)

The right is cheering Florida Governor Ron DeSantis for really trying to stick it to Disney for their anti-family advocacy for teaching little kids about the “wonders” of gay sex and transgenderism.


The parents should have the final say in how old their children should be when they learn about this adult stuff, and for LGBTWXYZ advocates to make that determination is ludicrous.

So DeSantis wants Disney to take one in the gonads by losing a lucrative tax setup that makes the company a virtually independent country.

This “country” is located on some of the most valuable real estate in Christendom. But leaving that aside, what exactly is DeSantis fighting?

He’s already won. Disney and its LGBTQXYZ employees can bitch and moan from now until the next Pride Day and it won’t change the law. Florida teachers will not be able to instruct children ages 4-9 about the joy of sex.

But now DeSantis is actually entering territory that he might not want to tread. Changing Disney’s status will place an unnecessary tax burden on neighboring counties and is an unnecessary exercise of state government authority.


Presented with this objection, advocates of further retribution tend to switch gears and contend that Walt Disney World is not “entitled” to the setup it enjoys in Florida, that no law is guaranteed to “last forever,” and that Disney’s special status, granted before 1968, was probably due for “reconsideration” anyway. In a vacuum, these arguments are all defensible, but in context, they represent an extreme form of gaslighting. Until about a month ago, Walt Disney World’s legal status was not even a blip on the GOP’s radar. No Republicans were calling for it to be revisited, nor did they have any reason to. Yes, Disney isn’t “entitled” to its arrangement. But Disney wasn’t “entitled” to it in 2012, 2002, 1992, 1982, or 1972, either, and yet, amazingly enough, the legislature showed zero interest in rescinding it when given the opportunity on those occasions. That it’s doing so now is ugly. That it’s pretending that it’s doing so out of a concern for “good government” is grotesque.


But where the hell is Disney going to go? They’ve invested a couple of billion dollars in this property and they just can’t pick up and leave.

A good question to ask in politics is, “And then what?” And so it is here. I have no doubt that, if they really want to, Governor DeSantis and the Republican majorities in the state legislature can revoke Walt Disney World’s special status, and I have no doubt that, in the short term, they might profit politically from doing so. But then what? Does the curriculum bill become even more the law? Of course not. In all likelihood, all that happens is Florida’s zoning policy gets a little worse, the legislature elects to tie itself up for years in extremely complex and costly litigation meant to untangle the state from Disney, and other large businesses note for the record that Florida’s heretofore-admirable commitment to solving big and complicated problems should henceforth be regarded with an asterisk.

That’s not “fighting.” It’s a tantrum.

And then there’s the ethical problem as Allahpundit points out.

Likewise, if a governor conditioned welfare payments on the recipient signing a statement pledging that he won’t criticize the governor’s climate-change agenda, that would be — or should be — a problem. He’d be abusing state power by dangling a privilege to coerce silence by a potential critic. Isn’t DeSantis doing the same thing here with Disney by taking its privilege away? Bear in mind that, per Cooke, while the terms of Disney’s deal with the state of Florida are unusually generous, there are more than a thousand other special tax districts in the state that are technically “independent,” including Orlando International Airport. Only Disney’s district requires immediate action by the Florida legislature, though, because only Disney is exercising its First Amendment rights in a way that’s annoyed the governor.


It’s called “viewpoint discrimination” and it’s patently unfair and perhaps even unconstitutional.

Let Disney’s customers punish them by refusing to patronize their theme park. There are plenty of other interesting, fun places in Florida — Universal Studios, Sea World, and Busch Gardens just to name a few. There’s no sense in handing over your money to people who mock your values.


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