Disney and the Texas School Board

July 23, 1998
Last week the Texas State Board of Education voted 8 to 4 to divest $44 million worth of Disney stock from the state's $17 billion public education fund. To listen to the criticism and media reaction you would think the State Board voted to remove the alphabet from the public schools. Obviously the move was controversial, but let's try to get some perspective here.

First, the State Board didn't just arbitrarily take this action. It had just cause. The Disney company has been producing, through its various subsidiaries, books, movies, and videos with questionable content. Groups ranging from the American Family Association to Concerned Women for America to Focus on the Family to the Southern Baptist Convention have called attention to the problem and called for a boycott of Disney.

Second, the State Board didn't do anything that hasn't been done before in divesting itself of certain stock holdings. Go back just a few years and recall the many debates in Austin (as well as in the Dallas City Council) about whether government agencies should divest stock in companies with holdings in South Africa. When apartheid reigned in South Africa, these agencies choose to remove stock that might economically benefit South Africa's government.

Critics may say that human rights abuses in South Africa are a different moral issue than objectional moral content from Disney. But is it? If a Disney production ever promoted racism or racial stereotypes, I wouldn't be surprised if the critics of the School Board changed their rhetoric and called for the boycott of Disney.

The point is this: the School Board didn't do anything that hasn't been done before by other governmental agencies. When they voted to divest themselves of Disney stock, they took a moral stand and made a moral statement. Frankly I think the criticism of their action is a little Goofy.

I'm Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and that's my opinion.

© 1998 Probe Ministries International