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Disney floats like butterfly, declines to sting like bee

May 21, 2007 |  7:11 pm

So our editorial way back when urging the Walt Disney Co. to sic its lawyers on Hamas for infringing Mickey Mouse's copyright was mostly in the way of a wouldn't-it-be-nice proposal. But apparently it was less outlandish than it may have seemed. As we noted at the time, the company is "understandably reluctant to give extra attention to a news-of-the-weird story," and Disney is under no obligation to start suing terrorist organizations to prove a point about how things are supposed to work in a lawful society. But apparently the company did give some discussion to the idea of taking action against Hamas TV's "Farfur," a knockoff of Disney's trademark mouse (though confusingly, farfur means "butterfly" in Arabic). And the idea received enough attention that Disney has finally addressed it.

Disney CEO Robert Iger is now speaking out about the company's decision to ignore Farfur's blatant mouse-baiting. "We were appalled by the use of our character to disseminate that kind of message," Iger tells AP. "I think anytime any group seeks to exploit children in that manner, it's despicable... I just didn't think it would have any effect... I think it should have been obvious how the company felt about the subject."

Well, yes, that much is obvious: I think all Americans would already agree that Disney is not a Hamas supporter (well maybe not all). But the interesting possibility in this wasn't about American public opinion but about the teachable moment for the Levant: i.e., a chance to stick a pin in the idea that you can pick and choose what you want from modern society and popular culture, without assuming any responsibility. If the author of Air Pirates Funnies is liable for infringing Mickey Mouse, why isn't Hamas? It would have been nice to see the standard applied to one and all.

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