Editorial: Disney firing Gina Carano was never a free speech issue

It was about this time last year when I got a call informing me that (redacted) could no longer use me as an independent…

By: Trent Reinsmith | 3 years ago
Editorial: Disney firing Gina Carano was never a free speech issue
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It was about this time last year when I got a call informing me that (redacted) could no longer use me as an independent contractor. I had worked for the person breaking this news to me for years and while he acknowledged I did good work and that he had asked to keep me on; the decision was made above him. It seems some things I had written did not sit well with the person controlling the purse strings. With that I was out of a job that I enjoyed and no longer working for someone I admired and working with people I was always happy to spend time with. I didn’t like the decision, but I wasn’t surprised.

You see, when I voiced my opinion more openly about the business side of mixed martial arts, I knew my words could have repercussions. I knew who signed the checks and I knew that eventually my opinions were going to get me in trouble. When I was let go, I said nothing because I understood that my firing — for a lack of a better term — was almost inevitable. I also knew the end of my run as an independent contractor with this organization had zero to do with free speech and more to do with speech having repercussions.

So what does my tale have to do with anything? Well, what happened to me is also what happened to Gina Carano. And like my example, Disney firing Carano has zero to do with free speech and everything to do with a company reaching a point where it decided it could no longer have a working relationship with someone.

On Thursday, Disney cut ties with Carano, who had played Cara Dune in the Star Wars spinoff “The Mandalorian.” The last straw it seems, was over a since deleted post where she compared the actions of Nazis to the political differences in America today.

Several other posts from Carano gained attention in recent months. She had previously made fun of mask mandates, spread misinformation about voter fraud, “joked” about pronoun usage and encouraged businesses and churches to open during the pandemic. In short, this week’s post was not Carano’s first incident of putting Disney in the spotlight with her opinions.

If you’ve been paying even cursory attention to the fallout of Carano’s firing, you have seen people saying that her free speech is being stifled. That’s not true, as Lucas Middlebrook explained yesterday on Twitter.

So, why was Carano let go? From what I see, Disney simply reached a point where it could no longer work with her. Her comments reflected on the company and “The Mandalorian” brand and the organization — a publicly traded company — decided that it was best for the bottom line to cut ties with her.

From where I stand, it was that simple.

Now, I should say that I 100 percent will defend Carano’s right to say whatever she wants. I believe people can express whatever ideas they wish, no matter how repugnant or offensive I find them. However, I also believe those ideas can — and often will — have repercussions. Just like my words got me fired because someone didn’t like them, so things went for Carano. If you think about it with some remove, it’s not that hard to understand. Yet people are up in arms because a capitalist company attempted to distance itself from controversy and keep its brand as clean as possible, even if that brand has a lot of baggage from the past.

There are also cries of “hypocrisy” with Disney acting on Carano and not doing anything when other actors have offered their opinions, and well, welcome to capitalism. I know we all would like to believe the world is fair, but it isn’t. A company like Disney is always thinking of cost/benefit. With other actors who have said dumb things, Disney must have figured the cost of keeping those individuals around was less than the expense of dumping them. In Carano’s case, Thursday’s post represented the tipping point. Is that fair? No, but fair and equitable is rarely mentioned in the “How to run a business under capitalism” handbook.

Carano’s free speech wasn’t violated. She is not being cancelled. She is not a victim of snowflakes and “woke” culture. She is not a free speech martyr. Carano made a dumb comparison and she paid the price. Disney held Carano accountable for her words and actions, that’s all.

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About the author
Trent Reinsmith
Trent Reinsmith

Trent Reinsmith is a freelance writer based out of Baltimore, MD. He has been covering sports for more than 15 years, with a focus on MMA for most of that time. Trent focuses on the day-to-day business of MMA — both inside and outside the cage — for Bloody Elbow.

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