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Editorial: Short takes on politically correct Disney and politically incorrect chief executives

Editorial: Short takes on politically correct Disney and politically incorrect chief executives

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Enlightened kingdom

Disney films and amusement park rides have a long history of promoting racism and misogynistic messaging to kids. So the company’s aggressive moves lately to update itself with more tolerance and inclusion are good. Inevitably, the far right is backlashing over it. Let them.

Disneyland in recent years has been purging things like negative depictions of “natives” in its Jungle Cruise ride and the “wench auction” in the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. It’s part of a broader trend at the company that has included changes in the way its princesses are depicted in its films, making them more assertive and diverse.

Is it possible to go overboard? Perhaps. A review in SFGate of the new Snow White’s Enchanted Wish ride, for example, raises a #MeToo objection to the prince kissing Snow White while she’s asleep (and, thus, without her consent). There’s kind of no story without that part.

But what’s more offensive? That criticism, or the conservative backlash to the piece that, as The Washington Post reports, included suggestions of sexual violence against the two female authors.

Just the facts

A Michigan lawmaker with a penchant for spreading false information is sick and tired of being called out by fact checkers. So he has proposed legislation to force them to register with the state and insure themselves with a $1 million fidelity bond or face a $1,000-a-day bond.

“My legislation will put Fact Checkers on notice: don’t be wrong, don’t be sloppy, and you better be right,” Michigan state Rep. Matt Maddock, a Republican, wrote of his legislation, dubbed the Fact Checker Registration Act.

His proposal, of course, would be a blatant violation of the First Amendment. Fact checking is both free speech and a form of journalism, which isn’t a profession that has to register with the state in this country.

Beyond that little constitutional problem, Maddock’s notion of ensuring accuracy from fact checkers is steeped in hypocrisy. Among the false claims he has made that keep getting him dinged by fact checkers is that voter fraud has been widespread in Michigan (Fact check: There’s no evidence of that), and that the coronavirus is less deadly than the common flu (Fact check: It’s far more deadly).

Richer, poorer and all in the family

Millionaire chief executives of more than 100 U.S. companies that pay their employees the lowest median wages found a way last year to reduce their workers’ pay even more. Oh, and they also found ways to boost their own compensation by a median of 29%.

The Institute for Policy Studies used a broad survey of chief executive pay scales listed on the Standard & Poors 500 index to calculate an average of $15.3 million for top executives at the companies that pay the lowest median wage for workers. That median executive compensation scale represents a 29% increase from 2019 levels.

The median worker pay was $28,187 in 2020, which represents a 2% decrease. It could be argued that 2020 wasn’t a representative year, considering the sharp pandemic-induced downturn in consumer activity and layoffs or pay cuts that employers ordered to keep their budgets balanced. But that doesn’t explain such a steep chief executive median salary increase during that same period.

Companies mentioned on the name-and-shame list include Hilton Hotels, Chipotle and Yum Brands (KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell).

Choices, choices

Just in case anyone was worried that America’s use of the death penalty isn’t already barbaric enough, South Carolina legislators are pursuing a measure to add firing squads to the state’s methods of execution. Like many states, South Carolina has seen executions grind to a halt because chemicals for lethal injection have become hard to come by. That’s because drug companies don’t want their products associated with executions, and so they have been restricting sales.

It’s just one indication of the significant turn in public opinion against capital punishment in recent years. Polls show support for executions at the lowest level in half a century, with majorities favoring instead life in prison without possibility of parole for murderers.

Instead of responding to that encouraging trend by shuttering its death chamber, as about half the states have done, South Carolina seeks to join the three states (Mississippi, Oklahoma and Utah) that currently allow death by firing squad. Under the South Carolina bill, inmates who can’t be executed by lethal injection due to drug shortages would be required to choose between being shot or electrocuted.

Nixing NRA’s bogus bankruptcy claim

A federal bankruptcy judge in Dallas recognized the National Rifle Association’s bankruptcy claim for what it was: nonsense. Judge Harlin Hale ruled the case was not filed in good faith — which is a polite way of telling NRA lawyers that they had no business attempting this ploy and wasting the court’s and taxpayers’ time and money.

Hale’s ruling echoed the arguments of the federal government that the NRA, a federally registered nonprofit, was entirely solvent and was simply using this ploy to move its registration out of its home state of New York so it could benefit from the more friendly legal climes of Texas. New York Attorney General Letitia James sued to shut down the NRA in August, accusing chief executive Wayne LaPierre of diverting millions of dollars for personal expenses and engaging in questionable contracting practices. LaPierre says his organization will keep fighting, but one thing he cannot avoid: accountability in New York for luxuriating on donors’ dimes.

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