Who knew lovable little Mickey Mouse could attract such ire from MAGA Republicans?

Ever since the corporate bosses at Disney chose to voice their objections to Florida’s so-called “don’t say gay” bill, the company has been under attack from culture warriors in the GOP. The legislation championed by Sunshine State Gov. Ron DeSantis prohibits discussions of LGBTQ issues in the lower grades of public schools and inhibits teaching about such topics for older students. Whether one favors or opposes the prohibition, one would think an open debate would not be offensive to either side, but, perhaps, they have a different concept of free speech in Florida.

After Disney dared to weigh in, DeSantis and Republicans in the Florida Legislature took away the special self-governing status through which the Disney World theme park has been allowed to handle for itself all the services normally provided by a municipality. That was a poke in the eye for the Magic Kingdom, but also a hard kick in the pants for taxpayers in the surrounding county who will now pick up the tab for those services.

Florida’s punishment of Disney, though, does not seem to be enough to satisfy the GOP’s Taliban wing. Now, Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley has announced his intention to introduce legislation that would eliminate Disney’s copyright protection for the earliest images of Mickey Mouse back in his “Steamboat Willie” days. Hawley declared in a tweet that there should be “no more handouts for woke corporations.”

Leaving aside the question of whether a copyright is a handout, do Republicans now think that it is OK for governments to penalize citizens of this supposedly free country for saying what they think about a topic of public interest?

Hawley and DeSantis are both Ivy League-educated lawyers, so they should know better. And, of course, they do. But they also both want to be president, and they know it will pay dividends for them in the 2024 Republican primaries if they concoct a culture war with a mouse. 

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