Florida Newspaper Turns Against DeSantis Over Anti-Disney Stance

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The Miami Herald tore into Florida Republican Governor and potential eventual presidential contender Ron DeSantis this week for his belligerent affronts against Disney following the company’s expression of opposition to his “Don’t Say Gay” bill. That bill, as its name suggests, sharply restricts in-school discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity, two fundamental facets of the complex human experience that — obviously! — don’t necessarily incorporate sex education. What about children with non-heterosexual parents? Now, Republicans in positions of state-level power in Florida are running with the idea of eliminating the special legal provisions that allow Disney to sort of govern itself in the Central Florida area, as the set-up’s been described.

As the Herald put it, discussing DeSantis’s push for legislators to move forward with the anti-Disney effort during a special legislative session that he convened:

‘It’s clear that the governor has been nursing a towering grudge against Disney ever since the company had the nerve to listen to its employees and — belatedly, but rightly — speak out against the “Don’t say gay” bill, withholding political campaign contributions in Florida… [There] are ways to handle changing [Disney’s governance], such as proposing legislation during the regular session — which happened in 2019, though the measure died — and allowing the issue to be fully aired and a logical conclusion reached. That would be thoughtful. That would be normal. This? This is the stuff of Richard Nixon and his enemies list… DeSantis is using the levers of government to crush his enemy.’

And it’s not just any enemy, to use the right-wing frame of reference that focuses on economic concerns. Disney has tens of thousands of employees in the state of Florida, and altering the set-up that previously allowed the company to avoid various regulations and taxes could have a substantial impact on its business model. Weren’t Republicans supposedly the pro-business ones? DeSantis has relentlessly promoted his ostensibly pro-business stance throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, which he’s often refused to take particularly seriously. The arrangement that Florida Republicans are targeting has been around since the 1960s and is believed to save Disney tens of millions of dollars a year, according to potentially somewhat dated numbers cited by The Wall Street Journal this week. The Florida state Senate has already approved legislation to eliminate the Disney self-governance set-up, and the state House there was set to approve the move on Thursday, although effects wouldn’t be immediate.

“In the war between Disney and DeSantis, this isn’t a grenade, it’s a precision missile strike, and it’s aimed right at Central Florida,” as the Herald laid it out. “Back in 1971, Nixon’s list had 20 names on it. Over the next few years, it grew to 576 names. We all know how that ended. Now we have DeSantis’ frightening misuse of power. It must stop here, and that starts with lawmakers stiffening their backbones. Today, it’s Disney. Tomorrow, who knows?”