Now it’s Democrats who—feeling a bit adrift, having lost control of the courts and seemingly unable to pass meaningful federal legislation—take solace in the idea that corporations are people, nothing more than the avatars of their employees and customers. That’s why Disney personnel were outraged when CEO Bob Chapek argued that the company shouldn’t weigh in on Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Bill, which proponents say is necessary to protect children from age-inappropriate sex education and opponents decry as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill that would force teachers back in the closet. In hindsight, Chapek was right that the Mouse House would be used as a cudgel in the culture war to the detriment of both the cause and the corporation. But that didn’t matter to Disney’s rank and file. What mattered was the company taking a stand and doing the right thing.
Meanwhile it’s Republicans—many of whom slammed efforts to silence Chick-fil-A—who were excited to see Florida Governor Ron DeSantis using the levers of government to stifle Disney’s criticism of the legislation. The right wing’s sense of cultural impotence and its frustration with the success of accountability-free “woke capital” to change the country’s cultural direction prompted a reactionary move. The party of “corporations are people” is furious that the people who make up those corporations would push their employer to act in their perceived interests.
The move on the left to embrace the “corporations are people, my friend” ethos isn’t limited to the Disney mess. It’s why the video-game maker Bungie feels the need to weigh in on Roe v. Wade and why a news outlet would call 20 video-game makers asking them to weigh in on Roe v. Wade and why PlayStation’s CEO would get dragged for spending more time talking about his cats than weighing in on Roe’s potential reversal.