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A bad day for Mickey Mouse

In his 1948 novel titled “Nineteen Eight-Four” (often published as 1984), George Orwell envisioned a dystopian society, marked by constant government surveillance and manipulation of public opinion. A tyrannical Ministry of Truth (“Big Brother”) maintained power through propaganda, and the elimination of dissent. The most unnerving of their methods of oppression was the group known as the Thought Police.

Now, over 70 years after Orwell envisioned the Thought Police, they have returned. Unlike Orwell’s vision of the Ministry of Truth, the Thought Police of present day are not government agents. Rather, they hide in the shadows of the internet and social media. Just like Orwell’s Inner Party, our present day Thought Police are bent on domination by disseminating their propaganda, and by eliminating any competing point of view.

Actress Gina Carano, who portrayed Cara Dune on the Disney+ series “The Mandalorian,” recently suggested, in a social media post, that hating someone based solely upon their political views is no better than the mindless persecution of Jews in Nazi Germany.

The Thought Police were not amused. Within hours, the producers of the Mandalorian announced that Carano was fired, and that she would not return. In other words, the management behind Disney+ is intolerant of an actress who dared to speak out, in favor of tolerance.

In my view, comparing any group to the Third Reich is a mistake. Although hatred based upon race, religion, gender, age, sexual preference, or point of view is always despicable, the horror of the Holocaust is in a class by itself. While her words may have been poorly chosen, Carano’s message was that intolerance is wrong. For expressing that point of view, she was deported from the “Magic Kingdom.”

Five years ago, Kirsten Powers wrote a very courageous book entitled “The Silencing: How the Left is Killing Free Speech.” A dedicated liberal, Powers urged her liberal colleagues to champion free expression and to “own” the First Amendment, in the way that conservatives “own” the Second. Unfortunately, her argument has fallen on deaf ears.

Now that the Walt Disney Company is on record as opposing free expression, I wonder what its founder would think. Walter Elisa Disney was born in Chicago in 1901. In his early 20s, he moved to California and started Disney Brothers Studio with this brother Roy. A few years later, he developed an animated character, named Mickey Mouse. The rest is history. Over his life, Disney received 59 Academy Award nominations and won 22 times. Along with his staff, Disney received more than 950 honors and citations, from all around the world. Despite his success, Disney was privately a shy and insecure man. He did not have a college education or family wealth. What he had was the unique ability to imagine a better world, and to bring people together. I suspect that, somewhere in heaven, Walter Elisa Disney and Mickey Mouse are both having a very bad day.

William P. Carlucci is a local attorney and past president of the Pennsylvania Bar Association.

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