President and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and the International Christian relief and evangelism organization Samaritan’s Purse, Franklin Graham has called for Disney Boycott after the cartoon and film producing company included a same-sex kiss in a cartoon and announced the featuring of a gay subplot in its next film, “Beauty and the Beast.”
Through his Facebook page, Graham warned his followers and encouraged them to say no to Disney: “Disney is trying to push the LGBT agenda into the hearts and minds of your children – watch out!.. I hope Christians everywhere will say no to Disney” he said.
Beauty and The Beast director, Bill Condon announced that in fact, there will be a gay subplot. In the movie, character LeFou will be questioning his feelings for his friend Gaston: “LeFou is somebody who on one day wants to be Gaston and on another day wants to kiss Gaston. He is confused about what he wants,” Condon said.
The display of the first gay Disney character has already caused an Alabama drive -in theater to refuse to show “Beauty and the Beast.” The owners of the Henagar Drive-In Theater made their decision public via a Facebook post expressing the following: “when companies continually force their views on us we need to take a stand. We all make choices and I am making mine…If I can’t sit through a movie with God or Jesus sitting by me then we have no business showing it, we will not compromise what the bible teaches.”
Carol Laney, one of the owners of the theater, said that they made the decision to ban the film based on the trailer of the movie and an article mentioning the gay character. They have not seen the movie. Their decision has received positive as well negative feedback. Many people supported the censorship of the film by commenting on her Facebook post, however, a lot of commenters saw this action as an act of homophobia and hypocrisy. Ms. Laney said that for every negative comment, she is getting 20 to 30 positives, but she refuses to change her mind.
As I was writing this post I thought to myself if the banning of this film or any film for that matter would infringe on Americans’ right to freedom of speech and freedom of expression as safeguarded though the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Furthermore, The United States is a party of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and both state that individuals have a right to freedom of expression, which includes “freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds.” The First Amendment promotes transparency and exchange of ideas by allowing discussions on matters of public concern among citizens, regardless of how much the government or other citizens may disagree.
According to this interpretation, Carol Laney would be in fact infringing the freedom of expression of other citizens since she is impeding the right to receive information and ideas. In this case, people who go to this drive-in will not be able to watch the movie, see the gay subplot that Laney thinks in inappropriate, and develop their own ideas and opinions, which they should be able to. Also, for the commenters that criticized the ban and would like to promote the movie by buying a ticket to go watch it, she is limiting their choices.
The release date for Beauty and The Beast is March 17 of this year, so we are yet to see how this story develops until the movie is out in theaters. In the meantime, please leave a comment and express your thoughts and comments on this issue. Thank you!