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A protest in paperback



Two years into their boycott, the Southern Baptists -- still mad -- trace Disney's decline to a whopper of a fish story

A new book offers theme-park enthusiasts a wild ride into the minds of those who insist "Splash" is a subversive film and claim that the "homosexual agenda" includes "abolishing the age of consent for children."

Send a Message to Mickey: The ABC's of Making Your Voice Heard at Disney, which recently appeared at local Christian bookstores, is a step-by-step, how-to manual on boycotting the Walt Disney Co. The 83-page manifesto is the first to put into writing the unsettling depths of paranoia behind the two-year-old boycott approved by the Southern Baptist Convention.

Officials at Disney declined to comment about the book or the boycott for this article, but they have said in the past that their operation has felt no substantial impact from the decree to avoid all things Disney.

The book includes a chapter filled with sample protest letters, useful addresses, and lists of companies, movies and products to avoid. More important, Send a Message explores why a boycott is necessary in the first place.

"Disney has turned to the dark side," the book states. "They will continue down this sinister path until they realize responsible parents will not support such a transformation from the unquestioned symbol of family fun to the purveyor of entertainment that is offensive to millions."

The book highlights "the difference between the image we have seen from Disney and the reality of their practices in recent years," says Steve Bond, managing editor of Broadman & Holman, the book's publisher and a subsidiary of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Equal parts how-to and moral support for the masses, the book, Bond says, is an effort to counteract the powerful pull of Disney's public-relations machine. Even some of the faithful, he notes, need to be convinced of Disney's sinister side.

The company's foes will, after all, be in it for the long haul. According to the authors, other similar boycotts have needed 10 to 15 years before reaping substantial results. And, the book adds, some things may never change: "With Disney's commitment to the gay agenda apparently firmly in place, it may be unrealistic to expect Michael Eisner to jettison production of pro-homosexual and pornographic movies."

The identity of those "pornographic" movies may surprise a few people. The Christians have a problem with everything from "The English Patient" (for promoting adultery and euthanasia) to "Pocahontas" (for misrepresenting the Indian maiden's Christian conversion). The authors claim the nudity in the mermaid-meets-man movie "Splash" was the "turning point" for Uncle Walt's version of family entertainment.

Of course, the Pink Mafia is firmly behind the company's decline. The book's claims about the existence and scope of the "homosexual agenda" are particularly unsettling. In spite of calls for love and tolerance, the message is that the "typical homosexual" is disease-ridden and suicidal, with a life expectancy 25 to 35 years shorter than the rest of the population. Somehow, the thinking goes, homosexuals who have infiltrated Disney are using the power of the Mouse to infect society in myriad ways. For example, the book directly and indirectly connects the "homosexual agenda" to the disintegration of the American family and the outbreak of school shootings.

The authors urge people to do their own secret peeking into the lives of homosexuals by reading newspapers and magazines aimed at gays and lesbians. "There is a natural and wholesome reluctance on the part of decent people to explore the details of deviant behavior," but "society needs to know which kind of behavior it is being asked to accept as socially legitimate."

The same "need to know" advice could be taken by those who oppose the ideas in this book: reading Send a Message to Mickey provides a glimpse into the "deviant behavior" of the religious right. Plus, there are all those handy numbers and addresses that could be used to offer support to Disney.

The co-authors of the book are Richard D. Land, president and CEO of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, and Frank D. York, a Christian writer. Send a Message to Mickey sells for about $6.

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