If Disney executives want a fight, Ron DeSantis is going to give them one.
The headline-generating Florida governor, a boogeyman of liberals when they don’t have Donald Trump to kick around, staked out a new battleground Tuesday when he announced that a special session of the Florida legislature would be taking a close look at the entertainment giant’s special place in the heart of the Sunshine State.
And conservative Americans should be cheering it on.
At a news conference in The Villages, the massive retirement community in central Florida about an hour’s drive north of Disney World, DeSantis made it official that lawmakers gathering to determine new redistricting maps would also reconsider an arrangement that has let Disney function as a de facto city government covering 25,000 acres (almost 40 square miles) in Orange and Osceola counties.
The Reedy Creek Improvement District, created by the Florida legislature in 1967, is a virtual fiefdom the California-based Disney has maintained for more than 55 years in a cooperative relationship with the Florida state government.
But now, thanks to Disney’s modern corporate leadership and its craven caving to militant leftists among its own employees, that relationship has become badly frayed. And DeSantis is making it clear who’s actually in charge.
Florida lawmakers are already in the state capital of Tallahassee to hammer out redistricting that will shape political power in the state for the next decade, but DeSantis just added a new power play. And it’s one Disney isn’t going to like, no matter how it ends.
— Florida’s Voice (@FLVoiceNews) April 19, 2022
“I am announcing today that we are expanding the call of what they are going to be considering this week,” DeSantis said at the news conference.
“So, yes, [the legislature] will be considering the congressional map, but they also will be considering termination of all special districts that were enacted in Florida prior to 1968, and that includes the Reedy Creek Improvement District.”
Considering DeSantis and other lawmakers have been hinting recently that the move was possible, given Disney’s behavior, it shouldn’t come as a complete surprise. But it sets up a fight between giants.
What exactly that will lead to in the long run is impossible to say, but one thing it undoubtedly means right now is that DeSantis, and by extension the Republican-dominated state government, just served notice to Disney that it has had it with the corporate giant’s leftist politics — and its presumption that it’s powerful enough to inflict those politics on Americans.
Disney has gone on the offensive against DeSantis and the state legislature over the passage of the Parents Rights in Education Bill, which forbids classroom instruction about “sexual orientation and gender identity” in kindergarten through third grads and limits sexual education after that to age-appropriate levels.
In a sane America, it’s the kind of law no state should ever have to pass in the first place since teaching other people’s kids about sex when they’re that young is not something normal people even think of.
But in the United States of 2022, where woke ideologies penetrate every level of the education establishment and the mental illness of “gender dysphoria” is being treated like a normal mode of human existence, some things need to be said.
Disney was largely quiet about the bill before it became a matter of national controversy. Then, of course, it came down hard on the side of weirdos who think talking to little kids about sex is the province of public school teachers.
Disney CEO Bob Chapek publicly apologized to his company’s gay and lesbian employees (and the transgender, transexual, questioning, wondering, dabbling, oddly intrigued ones to boot) for not being a better “ally” and fighting against the law, according to Variety.
Then, his company issued a statement announcing its goal is for “this law to be repealed by the legislature or struck down in the courts.”
Well, as it turns out, what might get repealed is Disney’s favored — should we even say privileged? — place in Florida, where it has operated a thriving theme park for more than half a century, acting as its own form of government.
According to the WFSU, lawmakers wasted no time introducing bills to end the Reedy Creek Improvement District. They are HB 3C in the House, sponsored by Rep. Randy Fine, a Brevard County Republican, and the identical SB 4-C in the Senate, sponsored by Sen. Jennifer Bradley, a Clay County Republican.
American liberals, of course, are lining up to support the megalithic corporation that has taken a public stand against parents’ rights to raise their own children. (Some Americans are old enough to remember when liberals used to dislike major corporations, but that was when corporations just made vast amounts of money from the capitalist economy, instead of signaling their leftist virtues while still making vast amounts of money from the capitalist economy.)
But Florida Republicans and conservatives understood the moment.
BREAKING: Disney is a guest in Florida. Today, we remind them. @GovDeSantis just expanded the Special Session so I could file HB3C which eliminates Reedy Creek Improvement District, a 50 yr-old special statute that makes Disney to exempt from laws faced by regular Floridians.
— Rep. Randy Fine (@VoteRandyFine) April 19, 2022
Everything Woke returns to crap. Way to go, @Disney.
— 🇺🇸 JoannieB 🇺🇸🇮🇱 (@JoannieBeeGood) April 19, 2022
When private business starts making uninformed or deliberately untrue statements about public policy then the government needs to evaluate the relationship with that company.
— Mat Beckmann (@mtbeckmann) April 19, 2022
Good luck Disney. Sorry that you will die from Wokeness.
— Pattonator (@Pattonator2) April 19, 2022
At this point, there’s no way to predict where this is going. While it’s almost guaranteed to mean a major court fight, it’s unlikely DeSantis would have even brought the issue into the special session if he didn’t have the votes lined up to pass it — or at least a very good chance that it would pass.
And there is probably not much more he would enjoy than a public signing ceremony — making it clear once and for all, to the modern disgrace of Disney, to other major corporations and to the liberal establishment that the real power in this country rests with the people, who elect their leaders.
They’ve elected a Republican majority in the state legislature since the late-1990s. Florida voters know what they’re looking for, and they have it.
Do you think Florida will end Disney’s special status in the Sunshine State?
They elected DeSantis in Florida, as they’ve elected Republican governors in every election since Jeb Bush took office in 1999. (Regardless of the blood-letting in the 2016 GOP primary, Jeb was a great governor in Florida. Anyone who lived in Florida for his years there knew it.)
Considering how popular the actual provisions of the Parental Rights in Education law are — as opposed to the “Don’t Say Gay” caricature that’s been drawn in the mainstream media — he’s picked solid ground to pick this fight.
Decisions like this — with his national leadership on the COVID-19 pandemic, among others — are the reason DeSantis is a rock star in the Republican Party. And if former President Donald Trump declines a run for the party’s presidential nomination, DeSantis is likely to be a frontrunner for the nomination if he chooses to seek it.
Considering the avalanche of bad PR this fight has started for a company that’s supposed to be an icon of children’s entertainment — like having a high-ranking employee literally brag about inserting “queerness” into the company’s content — Disney has to know it.
In short, Disney has already lost this fight in the public eye, and that’s the only place that really matters.
But beyond Disney, every preening, woke corporate executive is going to be watching how this fight turns out, knowing stockholders are going to be watching, too. Every liberal is going to be damning DeSantis on every platform possible.
And every conservative should be cheering him on.