DeSantis’ Attack on Disney is an Attack on Freedom of Expression

In April of 2022, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill revoking The Walt Disney Company’s control over its own self-governed special district within the state, putting an end to the benefits Disney has enjoyed for 55 years.[0] This move was in retaliation for Disney’s criticism of his legislative assault on LGBTQ Floridians, and in an effort to “force Disney to stop ‘trying to inject woke ideology’ on children.”[1] DeSantis’ actions are a clear example of a political leader using the instruments of state power to punish a company for expressing opinions he doesn’t like — and to influence their business decisions.[1]

DeSantis has also proposed a special session of the Legislature to review Walt Disney World’s 50-year-old “independent special district” status in response to Disney’s opposition to his “Parental Rights in Education Bill,” also known as the “Don’t Say, Gay Bill.”[2] This bill would prohibit public school teachers from discussing sex, sexual orientation, or so-called gender identity with prepubescent kids in kindergarten through third grade.

DeSantis claims to be a role model for free speech and expression, however his actions against Disney demonstrate an effort to limit freedom of expression. In the words of one filmmaker, “These bills that DeSantis and others are doing limit our ability to understand who we are, and they are not inclusive — they are exclusive. They are narrowing the focus of what is and isn’t American history. It’s terrifying. It feels like a Soviet system or the way the Nazis would build a Potemkin village.”[3] Race is inextricable from America’s origin story, and DeSantis’ bills are only furthering the exclusion of certain groups from the conversation.

It is clear that DeSantis’ actions are not motivated by a desire to protect freedom of speech and expression, but by a desire to enforce his own narrow views of what is acceptable. We must demand better from our leaders and recognize that freedom of expression is fundamental to our democracy.

0. “DeSantis; A governor flirting with Authoritarianism” Berkeley Beacon, 7 Mar. 2023,

1. “What’s the matter with Ron DeSantis’ Florida?” MSNBC, 8 Mar. 2023,

2. “Democrats Attacking DeSantis Over Disney Should Look at Gavin Newsom” Daily Signal, 10 Mar. 2023,

3. “Ken Burns Says New Florida Education Bill Feels Like ‘Soviet System'” TheWrap, 7 Mar. 2023,

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