by Jim Banks
For nearly 70 years, families have traveled to Disney for vacation, not indoctrination.
Sadly, America’s preeminent entertainment company has joined a growing list of corporations bent on pushing woke ideologies.
For decades, Congress has unthinkingly supported these companies. Conservatives need to reassess whether Disney’s bottom line is worth protecting.
The Wokeist Place on Earth
Disney’s position is alarming, given the corporation’s enormous influence over American children and given the actual beliefs of most voters. A large majority of Americans, and even most Florida Democrats, believe that K-3rd graders should not be exposed to discussions about sexual orientation and gender identity. As the father of three young girls, I’m disgusted at the thought of them being indoctrinated to accept the Left’s false teachings about “gender identity.”
Yet, this is exactly the kind of radical ideology Disney openly supports. Recently leaked footage from an internal meeting shows Disney executive producer Latoya Raveneau bragging openly about Disney’s “not-at-all-secret gay agenda.” This entails, in her words, “adding queerness” wherever possible. Disney executives have also scrubbed all sex-based references from their parks. The phrase “Hello, boys and girls!” is now verboten.
Of course, Disney applies its wokeness selectively. Disney has never criticized China’s laws, or even its ongoing genocide, and Disney just expanded its business operations in several countries that punish homosexuality with life imprisonment or death. Disney may be a multinational corporation, but it only interferes in American politics. It’s fair to say that Disney’s only consistent value is anti-Americanism.
What Copyright Laws Really Protect
So, what can Congress do about it?
One of the greatest legal boons to Disney, and other woke corporations, is copyright law. Or, more specifically, the extension of copyright laws.
Congress first extended copyright law in 1976, thanks in part to pressure from Disney.
Again, in the late 1990s, Disney aggressively lobbied Congress to extend copyright protections. At the time, Disney’s major copyrights were set to expire in 2003. Disney spent a fortune then to lobby Washington lawmakers to extend those terms. They succeeded with the passage of the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, also known as the “Mickey Mouse Protection Act.”
Copyright law exists to reward creativity financially. It follows that copyright protections should last for as long as they promote content creation. That’s why the Constitution explicitly directs Congress to secure copyright protections “for limited times.”
Disney clearly hopes to protect its billion-dollar copyrights forever. But Walt Disney, who died in 1966, will not draw better cartoons if his copyrights are extended. Instead, extended copyrights have allowed Disney, which boasts a market capitalization of nearly $250 billion, to sue day-care centers for displaying drawings of Mickey and Minnie Mouse. There are many such, equally absurd examples of Disney abusing its copyright protections over the years.
In 1998, while Congress considered amending copyright law, Disney’s chief lobbyist stated, “Mickey Mouse is not a Republican or a Democrat.” Times have changed. Now, Disney’s position would be more accurately summarized as, “Mickey Mouse is not a he nor a her.”
Disney’s copyright laws are set to expire on January 1, 2024. When Disney lobbyists flood Capitol Hill offices over the next 18 months, I will be eager to hear why they believe conservatives should continue to help protect their bottom line.
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Congressman Jim Banks represents Indiana’s 3rd Congressional District and is the Chairman of the Republican Study Committee.