inent control.)rnBefore fleshing this out and considering its implications,rnconsider my original qnestion: Is it better for evil men to workrnin the private sector or to work for the government? Look at therndeeds of two bad men; Michael Eisner and David Kessler. Eisnerrnworks in the private sector, fie is the head of Disney, a companyrnonce synonymous with family entertainment. The Disneyrnname served as an entertainment imprimatur at a time ofrngreat moral and cultural confusion. Walt Disney’s cartoonrncharacters were funny, his animations brilliant, and his themernparks spectacular experiments in the uses of private property.rnEven at the height of Hollywood’s studio system in thern1930’s, Walt Disney’s independently made movies succeededrnbecause the sovereign consumer prevailed. But fast forward 60rnvears, and we see something radically different. Eisner’s moviesrnhae not-so-secret subtexts that are politically correct at best andrndeeply malevolent at worst. Even more disturbing are thernmovies backed by Disney’s subsidiaries, which include graphicrnsex, attacks on Christianity, and the basest possible celebrationsrnof perversity. It is an appalling transformation.rnBut can we blame the market for this turn of events? Manyrnhave and do, but what it really illustrates is what we have alwaysrnknown: bad people can do bad things and stay within the law.rnThe market, it has been noted many times, is a blank slate onrnwhich the consuming public scribbles its preferences; if peoplernchoose wrongly, it is the agents themselves who are at fault, notrnthe mechanism that allowed them to make choices. W’Tiateverrna bad man wants to sell, he must find willing consumers to buy.rnThe extent of his riches depends directly on the size of the marketrnhe successfully serves as well as his ability to serve that marketrnwithout wasting social resources. These requirementsrnalone make it more difficult for malice to thrive. The market alsornprovides wide opportunities to beat back evil, and builds inrninstitutional restraints that make it impossible for evil to flourishrnin a culture that resists it.rnEisner’s profits can only come about through persuading hisrnaudience to shell out money for his projects. With the Disneyrnname behind him, he enjoyed something close to a captive audiencernfor many years. But after two or three animated moviesrnbegan to turn off audiences, he began to lose their confidence.rnPocahontas was a worse movie from a cultural point of viewrnthan Hercules, yet the latter did much worse at the box office.rnConsumer surveys reported in the New York Times show thatrnconsumers poured in to see Pocahontas based on the belief thatrnit was made in the true Disney tradition, but they were dismayedrnby its overtly pagan theme. The Hunchback of NotrernDame squandered even more moral capital, and consumersrnlost further confidence. Hercules was made to recoup this lossrnand rebuild the company’s reputation, but bv that time Disneyrnwas no longer trusted by much of the viewing audience. Arnmoney-making enterprise was turned into a relative loser, solelyrnbecause the man behind it did not have the best interests ofrnviewing families at heart. Some industry watchers have suggestedrnthat the animated film may hae run its course; in anyrncase, the Eisnerian variety probably has.rnWhat can be done about purveyors of cheap, antireligiousrnfare like The Hunchback of Notre Dame, or Disney’s baser productions?rnWe could reconfigure the law to define more narrowlyrnwhat is allowed to be shown in public. We could restrictrnthe rights of property holders to sponsor a Ga^ Day. We couldrnforbid the use of attractive cartoon characters designed to appealrnto children for destructive purposes (this is what the leftrnproposes do about Joe Camel, for example). Or we could takernthe free market path and say, if you do not like it, you do notrnhave to consume it; you can even boycott it. To many conservatives,rnthis sounds like throwing in the towel in the culture warrnor succumbing to moral nihilism, but the only option to market-rnbased production and distribution is legal restriction.rnThere are good reasons why seeking legal restrictions on thernpublic offering of evil, except at the most local level, is a badrnidea. There is no way to write a law that would ensnare thernmost cunning peddlers of trash. The very enforcement of suchrnlaws introduces its own forms of corruption because it will alwaysrnmean transferring power to government officials. Suchrnlaws can also backfire by creating a forbidden-fruit effect, especiallyrnin times where government is held in such low esteem. Itrnsets a precedent whereby anyone who grabs hold of the reins ofrnpower has his way (if porn on the Internet is ever abolished,rn”hate speech ” and antigovernment literature will be next inrnline, and the entire medium will become as politicized as therntelevision networks). This is because power has no moral purposernof its own; it can be wielded with a range of intentions, fewrnof them, in the long-run, in the “public interest.”rnLet us say we generally leave evil to flounder in the publicrnsquare, allowing consumers to watch the heretical movie Priestrnif they so choose, while taking the risk that misguided consumersrnwill actually pay money to go see a Pocahontas subvertrnthe very basis of Western culture: man’s domination of nature.rnWhat will happen? In reality, this is what happened: an astoundingrnpublic backlash.rnThe Southern Baptists called a boycott of Disney. And despiternthe media’s attempt to portray it as silly and troglodyte, itrnhas had a devastating effect on Disney’s image. Profits dropped,rnvisits to Disney World shrank, sales of toys and figurines fell,rnand the boycott widened to ever more religious groups. The re-rnEighty-Eight at Midnightrnby Timothy MurphyrnA black calf bleatsrnat shriveled teats.rnIncessant heatrnwithers the wheatrnand wilts the silking corn.rnToo few, too laternthe spotty showersrnmock my stunted flowers.rnToo late I shrink from debt.rnLike a spitted calf I turnrnover a bed of coalsrnwhile the pastures burn.rnDECEMBER 1997/21rnrnrn