MATTHEWS: Ron DeSantis is winning in war of words with Disney over Florida parental rights law

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a news conference, Feb. 1, 2022, in Miami. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

For some reason, Democrats and the media thought it would be a good idea to try and dunk on Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis over the state’s new parental rights law, which DeSantis signed last week, which critics have wrongly dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” law.

As per how it normally goes when DeSantis and/or his state is under attack, DeSantis is responding accordingly by turning the tables on his critics, pointing out the most “controversial” aspects shouldn’t be considered controversial at all.

He’s also putting them in the uncomfortable position of having to explain why they’re against common-sense measures that were designed to protect young children from being exposed to age-inappropriate lesson plans on sexual matters.

It all started in late February when DeSantis started getting peppered with questions from the press — a de facto arm of the Democratic party whenever it comes to social issues — after the Parental Rights in Education bill passed the GOP-controlled House of Representatives and moved to the Senate for consideration.

Every time a reporter would ask him about it, they’d use Democratic talking points. The questions went along the lines of “Gov. DeSantis, what do you think of the bill critics call the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill?”

DeSantis would push back by asking the reporter to tell them where in the bill it read “don’t say gay.” They could never answer — because it wasn’t in there, and the flummoxed reporters inevitably would defer back to the bill’s critics.

The governor was, of course, correct. Nowhere in the bill did it say you couldn’t say “gay” in a public school classroom. Here’s what it actually mandated:

“Classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards”

It also enshrined parental rights when it comes to discussions of such sensitive subjects with children.

Because the “woke” left loves to trot out economic blackmail on Republican legislators whenever they introduce bills they don’t like ― which we saw here in North Carolina during the “HB2 bathroom bill” drama back in 2016 ― Disney was pressured to get involved, and they started issuing statements against the bill and talking about how they wanted to meet with DeSantis to see if they could get him to get legislators to either tone it down or pull it.

DeSantis didn’t budge, and nor did the bill’s other defenders. In response to Disney’s criticisms as well as their pledge to provide funding and other resources to radical leftist groups who want to get the law overturned via lawsuit, DeSantis pointed out that Disney had benefited a great deal over the years from being a family-friendly place for parents to take their kids.

Because of that reputation, he pointed out they are going to have a hard time explaining to parents who have enjoyed vacationing at Disney parks with their kids over the years why they’re opposed to a law that protects kids and expands parental rights in public schools.

The same will be true for any other business that has publicly announced its opposition to the law. They, too, will have to explain to customers and clients who specifically ask why they object to a law that doesn’t say what critics say it does.

So far, DeSantis is winning the war of words over the law. Polling shows that people who have read the actual text of it support it. That includes even 52% of the state’s Democrats, according to a recent poll from a Democrat polling firm.

This is what standing firm looks like, and Republican lawmakers in other states need to take notice and learn.

Media analyst Stacey Matthews has also written under the pseudonym Sister Toldjah and is a regular contributor to RedState and Legal Insurrection.