Disney vs DeSantis: How a Florida governor went to war with Mickey Mouse


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Disney has implemented a “Pride Nite” celebration as the latest push against Florida governor Ron DeSantis’ anti-LGBTQ policies.

Josh Thomas, Copy Editor

With his controversial policies and outlandish statements, Florida governor Ron DeSantis has made quite a long list of enemies, but nobody could have predicted that he would feud with Mickey Mouse himself.

The commotion all started in March 2022, when DeSantis put into practice the notorious “Don’t Say Gay” bill. As large corporations are wont to do, Disney first stayed silent, but the company’s employees forced it into action by staging a series of nationwide walkouts.

Subsequently, Disney CEO Bob Chapek publicly denounced the bill and pledged $5 million to organizations opposing it, Interestingly enough, one such organization, called the Human Rights Campaign, refused to take Disney’s money, claiming Disney had not publicly committed to the cause enough considering its status as one of the world’s most powerful corporations.

Disney has had a tumultuous past with LGBT issues. Not only have they donated almost $200,000 to legislators in support of  the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, they also have a history of shutting down shows that feature LGBT characters. 

Senior Sophia Ramaraju is an avid Disney fan, despite being disappointed in their lackluster level of support for the LGBT community. “Disney cutting funding for LGBT-inclusive shows like the Owl House despite them being successful shows is extremely offputting. They need to do better,” Ramaraju shared.

Outrage generated from concerned fans like Ramaraju was enough for Disney to start worrying about their profit margins, and DeSantis made it very easy for them to respond, calling the company “Woke Disney” and framing the conflict as a war between good and evil. DeSantis has frequently used Disney as a target for his supporters to rally against, even threatening to remove the special tax designation that Disney receives. Fortunately for Disney, this move was blocked by the Florida legislature after the legislators realized that Disney pays for many public services such as firefighters, roads and police forces. Disney’s special tax designation is also the only thing preventing surrounding counties from having to pay its $1 billion in bond debt.

Although DeSantis was unable to dissolve the tax district, he took control of its oversight board by no longer allowing Disney to appoint its members. After the new board members started to renege on previous agreements, Disney elected to sue DeSantis for unfair targeting.

DeSantis’ rash and radical actions are worrying to Florida residents current and prospective alike. Senior Deen Nair was considering the University of Florida for his postsecondary education, but was deterred by DeSantis. “Over the past few months, I’ve visited a lot of different universities trying to find the one that felt the best fit for me. Although the University of Florida was such a nice place, I’m going to try my best to stay as far from DeSantis as possible. It’s just not the environment you’d want to learn in,” Nair shared.

Along with the rest of the Florida government, DeSantis has implemented radical policies ranging from eliminating the use of pronouns in school to ending Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives in colleges. “His intense, cruel new laws banning freedom of identity and collegiate affinity groups made attending school in this college less appealing,” Nair continued.

DeSantis’ style of political leadership has worked for him thus far, but his alienation of one of the most powerful corporations on Earth reveals its flaws. DeSantis’ favor with his voter base relies on him frequently upping the ante, continuing to do more and more outlandish things to fight against “the woke left.” However, this strategy isn’t sustainable. DeSantis is ultimately just another stimulus to the increasingly conservative right wing, and once the novelty is gone, they’ll treat him with as much disdain as they treat their current political enemies with.