The Chinese have an odd expression that holds you must kill the chicken to teach the monkey a lesson. Quizzical though this may seem to you and me, it makes crystal clear sense to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis who, this past week, unsheathed his mighty powers to make an example of Mickey Mouse.

For those who were blissfully ignorant of this tempest in the Magic Kingdom, here’s what happened. Earlier this year, DeSantis unveiled his “Anti-Grooming,” or “Don’t Say Gay” draft law in Florida. The bill would allow parents to sue primary schools that bring up gender identity in the classroom.

Like many in Florida and around the country, the Disney corporation has publicly opposed the bill. That’s because, DeSantis maintains, they are sellouts to the “woke” agenda. In retaliation, DeSantis has introduced an additional bill to strip the development entity Disney controls in Florida of its self-governing status.

Imagine for instance that our own governor, Janet Mills, took issue with L.L. Bean’s public advocacy for re-authorizing the Land for Maine’s Future program and decided to punish the iconic outfitter there in Freeport with a slew of new regulations and taxes. If this hypothetical situation were real, anyone paying attention would think the Blaine House were targeting a business that exercised its First Amendment rights for retribution.

It would be weird … really weird.

Seemingly immune to ordinary definitions of what is weird, Florida does have a reputation for going the extra yard. But that’s not what’s happening here. Instead, DeSantis, whose sites are set on the White House, is making a bold play to be seen as America’s ultimate culture warrior.

There are two radically different ways of viewing the Disney spat.

The critical take doesn’t require much imagination: Government bullying business is bad and a politician attacking a company famous for its cartoons is absurd, even more so than former Vice President Dan Quayle jousting with TV character Murphy Brown in the late 1980s (he and George H.W. Bush went on to lose reelection).

Less understood by the mainstream media, though, is how angry many American parents are with schools today. Two years of intermittent COVID-19 shutdowns have aggravated this, but underlying it all more deeply is a concern many hold that using the state’s role in education to advance a transformation of society is an abuse of government power screaming for correction.

The fact that the very idea of DeSantis’ bill outlawing discussion of gender matters at the primary level brought Biden spox Jen Psaki to tears makes it even more popular to some (spoiler alert: Psaki attended Greenwich Country Day school outside New York City, so her knowledge of what actually goes on in public schools may be quite limited).

Florida’s governor knows very well how his Virginia counterpart Glen Youngkin overcame the odds and won last year because the Loudoun County School Board’s “parents be damned” posture offended enough voters there. He is counting on the fact that not just Floridians, but Americans more broadly will see in his latest move a new Theodore Roosevelt, pushing back against the corporations this time for the family’s rights over those of the state.

Of course the Left sees bigotry where the Right sees defense of the family, making this just another example of cultural warfare in America today. It is a double-edged sword, and Republicans who wield it need to be careful of the very thing they say they’re defending against: overreach.

As the home to Florida Man, alligators, meth-heads and former President Donald Trump, DeSantis’ state is no stranger to hyperbole. What we’re all about to learn, however, is whether anything can truly be gained by a grown man beating up a cartoon mouse. Stay tuned.

Sam Patten is a recovering political consultant who was raised in Knox County and worked for Maine’s last three Republican senators.