Tragically, today’s Walt Disney company is no longer friendly to conservative family values. Caving to pressure from its progressive employees, Disney came out against a new Florida law protecting public school children in kindergarten through third grade from curriculum indoctrinating them on the latest gender ideology.
Apparently, Florida’s new law clashes with Disney's progressive agenda, as discussed in a leaked company call about casting half of their characters to represent a racial or sexual minority.
Disney’s criticism of the new law led Gov. Ron DeSantis,R-Fla., to call for a special legislative session to amend state laws that are favorable to Disney.
One quickly drafted bill would strip Disney of its near-total control of zoning and regulation in special districts around its theme parks.
Another bill would remove a carve-out that Gov. DeSantis gave to Disney in his 2021 law requiring social media websites to carry political content that violates their community guidelines.
DeSantis designed that law to punish Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube for excluding Donald Trump following the U.S. Capitol riots.
But since Disney allows user comments on its blogs, it would also be covered by the law and would have to host user content that is completely inappropriate for family audiences.
Since Disney was at that time in favor with the governor, DeSantis added an exclusion for social media sites run by companies who operated theme parks in Florida.
These actions are an astounding reversal of fortunes for Disney, in a state where the company employs 80,000 and attracts millions of tourists.
And I can’t help but smile at the idea of applying pressure on a company that is committed to doing real damage to our children by advancing its woke agenda on America.
But as much as I want to applaud the sentiment behind these bills, I can’t support the principle of using government power to coerce or punish businesses for their ideology.
Conservatives have always believed in limited government, where private businesses and organizations are free to develop and advance their own political views no matter how offensive.
Conservatives are the first to cry "foul" when Biden operatives pressure social media to restrict conservative speech complaining about election fraud or COVID policies, not to mention to stand firm against new regulatory powers that can be used to punish businesses who fail to toe the progressive line on climate change and social justice.
Conservatives should not abandon our limited government principles just to punish a company whose politics we abhor. That’s the point of having lasting principles, instead of chasing whatever policies are popular at the time.
What should we conservatives do to express our disagreement with Disney?
First, let’s vote with our wallets, by canceling our Disney+ streaming subscription, avoid spending our vacation dollars at Disney resorts and Disney merchandise.
Let’s also hold their feet to the fire on social media and public protests.
That should get the attention of Disney executives and shareholders.
I know some will argue that these measures simply remove special privileges that Disney already had, as opposed to singling Disney out for punishment.
But it is using the power of the government to retaliate against a disfavored ideology of a private business.
Part of me relishes the satisfaction of beating the left at its own game, but their game is all about empowering government.
For as much as I like and respect the governor and legislature of Florida, I think using government power to punish disfavored businesses is a dangerous and slippery slope, and it is not who we are.
After all, does anyone think that this example won’t be used as justification the next time progressives try to put the hammer down on one of us?
Rick Santorum is a Newsmax contributor, and a former United States senator from Pennsylvania.
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