Micromanaging Prole Life Is Hard

 

I was reading a twitter thread last night started by a film critic whose work I admire and enjoy. Occasionally he gets political. This time he really booted the hornet’s nest, asserting that “paper straws are fine, Unless you gnaw on them or manhandle them, they last a long time. Plastic or metal straws *should always be available upon request, no questions asked.* But paper should be the default.”

This is a moderate liberal position, no? To save the earth, which is choking to imminent death on plastic, we should move to paper straws, but permit the use of plastic with no opprobrium attached to the moral stragglers or those who require a stiffer means of conveying liquids to one’s mouth.

He quickly added that he knew this tweet would be “moral quicksand,” and added that “it should be illegal to deny somebody plastic or metal straws on request, or even ask them why they want it.”

I don’t know if I could sum up the dying personality of old-style liberalism any better. Here is a good thing we must hasten into being: the replacement of a paradigm on behalf of a moral cause, with a carve-out for individuals who do not subscribe to the cause, plus the fabrication of a brand new crime: it shall be illegal to deny anyone a plastic straw, or inquire why they want it. 

In other words: a new law on the books, never enforced, never brought to court, but a law nonetheless proscribing behavior that was previously not subject to the gaze of the State. This is the sensible liberal position.

There was indeed pushback, and he clarified he is indeed anti-plastic, and advised that we call plastic straws “Single Use Plastic Straws,” to underscore that “the plastic industry trained us to be OK with that.” As if the plastic bendable straw had no particular distinctive virtues, and we all shifted our behavior like Pavlov’s dogs.

He anticipated additional criticism coming from the left by noting that his family had already shifted to metal straws. The first reply to his thread noted that paper straws were bad at penetrating plastic lids, whereupon he noted that “if the opening in the lid is circular instead of an X shape, there is no problem. This is a design compatibility issue not a paper straw issue.”

At this point I’m thinking we need Federal guidelines for plastic-lid penetration apertures, with a compliance division empowered with levying the appropriate penalties, right? 

The thread promptly descended into an argument about disabled people not getting their requests for a plastic straw fulfilled, and how disabled people are “so upset that abled people are unrelentingly pushing this,” which caused the OP to fume that he was tired of abled people using disabled people as rhetorical human shields to hold on to their plastic straws. Bitter clingers, I guess.

A new player entered the thread, and talked about reusing plastic straws, cleaning them with hot water. The OP said he would be “OK with restaurants using thicker plastic or rubber straws and treating them as utensils that are washed and used again.”

At this point you dearly hope someone enters the convo and questions the carbon impact of using hot water to clean the straws, but no. The OP notes that any place that sells milkshakes should have metal straws available, and again – what’s the carbon impact involved in mining, refining, and cleaning those metal tubes? 

For some people, you suspect, it is very very important to patronize a cafe that has a sign by the register that says they do not use plastic straws but will provide one on request, because that is the moral thing to do but also the compassionate thing to do, and if there is a LAW backing it up, all the better: LAWS are Fair and Just, and the fact that it’s all a meaningless trivial matter is irrelevant, and they never believe that this template can be applied to everything in their lives. 

It’s particularly rich coming from a film critic. Do we really need big rooms heated with fossil films to see movies, when there’s streaming? Do we really need movies at all? Do you know how much energy the generators needed for a nighttime shoot require? If it’s so dire that we have to rethink straws NOW, why are we okay with people driving cars to theaters?

Yes, yes, that’s silly. Reductio ad absurdum. But criminal penalties for inquiring about why one wants the desired type of drinking straw, that’s totally sane. 

Published in Environment
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There are 24 comments.

  1. Songwriter Member

    What was once satire the Left normalizes. How does a quick-witted op-ed columnist even keep up when yesterday’s satire is today’s straight news?

    • #1
    • September 6, 2019, at 10:25 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  2. tigerlily Member

    Yeah.

     

    • #2
    • September 6, 2019, at 10:28 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  3. DrewInWisconsin, Thought Leader Member

    For some people, you suspect, it is very very important to patronize a cafe that has a sign by the register that says they do not use plastic straws but will provide one on request . . .

    Perhaps the café owner could put a sign in his window that says “I am obedient and therefore I have the right to be left in peace.”

    because that is the moral thing to do but also the compassionate thing to do, and if there is a LAW backing it up, all the better: LAWS are Fair and Just, and the fact that it’s all a meaningless trivial matter is irrelevant, and they never believe that this template can be applied to everything in their lives.

    We really do need to start banning things or creating legal restrictions on things that leftists like and approve of.

    • #3
    • September 6, 2019, at 10:43 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  4. Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr. Coolidge

    It’s fascinating because you can see how everything, for them, proceeds from one basic, unquestioned premise: everything is a matter for the government. No matter what the problem is, the solution is either to ban something, require something, or impose regulations and taxes to manipulate people’s behavior. It never occurs to these people that there are lots of ways to solve problems without getting the government involved, and — with very few exceptions — all of those other ways are better.

    • #4
    • September 6, 2019, at 10:45 AM PDT
    • 13 likes
  5. John H. Member

    The locution “to be OK with” has become sinister, to my ears anyway.

    • #5
    • September 6, 2019, at 10:48 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  6. Jon1979 Lincoln

    These are the same people, of course, who a quarter-century ago mandated the adoption of single-use plastic bags in grocery stores to replace paper bags, in order to save the Amazon rain forest, or something like that. Some silly progressive idea goes viral and anyone who wants to maintain their credentials as someone who cares must then virtue signal in favor of that idea, no matter how many potential unintended consequences others point out.

    • #6
    • September 6, 2019, at 10:57 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  7. Vance Richards Member

    James Lileks:

    At this point you dearly hope someone enters the convo and questions the carbon impact of using hot water to clean the straws, but no. The OP notes that any place that sells milkshakes should have metal straws available, and again – what’s the carbon impact involved in mining, refining, and cleaning those metal tubes? 

     

    We went from paper to plastic because, “Save the Tress!” Now we are going from plastic to paper and metal because . . . who really knows why. We are dealing with feelings, not actual environmental impact. Much like the guy who charges his car with electricity generated from a coal burning plant and then says his car is “zero emissions.” Technically, yes but . . .

    That they call out milkshakes is important. On a normal daily basis I never use a straw of any kind, but there really isn’t any other way drink a milkshake (and if someone trips with a metal straw in their mouth, that could be deadly, no?)

    • #7
    • September 6, 2019, at 11:02 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  8. DrewInWisconsin, Thought Leader Member

    Vance Richards (View Comment):
    (and if someone trips with a metal straw in their mouth, that could be deadly, no?)

    Well, we need to decrease the surplus population.

    • #8
    • September 6, 2019, at 11:11 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  9. Stad Thatcher

    Jon1979 (View Comment):
    in order to save the Amazon rain forest

    Which I believe is still burning away. Perhaps we should ban fire . . .

    • #9
    • September 6, 2019, at 12:11 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  10. DrewInWisconsin, Thought Leader Member

    Stad (View Comment):

    Jon1979 (View Comment):
    in order to save the Amazon rain forest

    Which I believe is still burning away.

    And yet, in spite of all the histrionics, is burning less this year’s fire season than it has in previous years. But because the President of Brazil is now on the right, it’s something to beat him over the head with, whereas in previous years, when it burned more, the press didn’t give a rodent’s hindquarters.

    What changed?

     

    • #10
    • September 6, 2019, at 12:21 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  11. Gossamer Cat Coolidge

    Jon1979 (View Comment):

    These are the same people, of course, who a quarter-century ago mandated the adoption of single-use plastic bags in grocery stores to replace paper bags, in order to save the Amazon rain forest, or something like that. Some silly progressive idea goes viral and anyone who wants to maintain their credentials as someone who cares must then virtue signal in favor of that idea, no matter how many potential unintended consequences others point out.

    But of course they have forgotten that they were the ones who asked for them in the first place, now that they have banned them in California. I’m waiting for the ban on reusable bags to be replaced by…

    • #11
    • September 6, 2019, at 12:30 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  12. Jon1979 Lincoln

    Gossamer Cat (View Comment):

    Jon1979 (View Comment):

    These are the same people, of course, who a quarter-century ago mandated the adoption of single-use plastic bags in grocery stores to replace paper bags, in order to save the Amazon rain forest, or something like that. Some silly progressive idea goes viral and anyone who wants to maintain their credentials as someone who cares must then virtue signal in favor of that idea, no matter how many potential unintended consequences others point out.

    But of course they have forgotten that they were the ones who asked for them in the first place, now that they have banned them in California. I’m waiting for the ban on reusable bags to be replaced by…

    It’s similar in vein to the people who were prattling on from the late 1970s to the middle of the last decade against nucelar power, saying we could replace it with clean-burning natural gas … until fracking made enough natural gas available to start replacing them and/or coal-fired plants. The natural gas was as bad as coal or nuclear.

    They’re never happy with the status quo if things are going well, and demand changes, even if what they demand today is 180 degrees opposite of what they were demanding 25 years ago (and of course, they never admit things like progressives being responsible for all the paper bags going away and being replaced by plastic ones in the first place, just as the global warming fanatics like to forget some of them are old enough to have been global cooling fanatics in the 1970s).

    • #12
    • September 6, 2019, at 1:33 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  13. TBA Coolidge
    TBA

    John H. (View Comment):

    The locution “to be OK with” has become sinister, to my ears anyway.

    Particularly as a retort, “I guess you’re ok with [objectionable thing that their extremist solution might or might not fix].” 

    • #13
    • September 6, 2019, at 9:46 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  14. SParker Member

    Straw law is a red herring. Straws of any composition encourage the imbibing of carbonated beverages. Escape of CO2 from the beverage surface or through belching endangers posterity. It follows that the only acceptable answer is gin in a dirty glass. Take that long dead members of the WCTU!

     

    • #14
    • September 6, 2019, at 10:52 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  15. Doug Watt Member

    Unfortunately there are people whose lives are so empty that the only pleasure they have left is interfering in the lives of others.

    These are the people who Will Rogers never met.

    • #15
    • September 7, 2019, at 6:17 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  16. Stad Thatcher

    SParker (View Comment):

    Straw law is a red herring. Straws of any composition encourage the imbibing of carbonated beverages. Escape of CO2 from the beverage surface or through belching endangers posterity. It follows that the only acceptable answer is gin in a dirty glass. Take that long dead members of the WCTU!

     

    • #16
    • September 7, 2019, at 6:40 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
  17. TBA Coolidge
    TBA

    AFAIK the total number of sea turtles who experienced death-by-drinking-straw is still zero.

    Also, as I watched that video I had a hard time recognizing that object as any drinking straw I have ever seen. It looked more like a thin fiberglass tube.

    Added: I realize that a common drinking straw could suffer a literal sea change, but it still seemed too off. Did anyone keep a souvenir that could be checked?

    • #17
    • September 7, 2019, at 10:09 AM PDT
    • Like
  18. DrewInWisconsin, Thought Leader Member

    It’s worth pointing out yet again that all the crap about drinking straws in the oceans is based on a school report by a nine-year-old that had no basis in reality. Yet it’s being used as the basis for banning straws across the country.

    • #18
    • September 7, 2019, at 10:13 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  19. Fake John/Jane Galt Thatcher

    DrewInWisconsin, Thought Leader (View Comment):

    It’s worth pointing out yet again that all the crap about drinking straws in the oceans is based on a school report by a nine-year-old that had no basis in reality. Yet it’s being used as the basis for banning straws across the country.

    Used as the basis for banning straws by the “party of science” no less.

    • #19
    • September 7, 2019, at 10:26 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
  20. Stad Thatcher

    DrewInWisconsin, Thought Leader (View Comment):

    It’s worth pointing out yet again that all the crap about drinking straws in the oceans is based on a school report by a nine-year-old that had no basis in reality. Yet it’s being used as the basis for banning straws across the country.

    And the kid himself (now grown up) admitted it was not realistic.

    • #20
    • September 7, 2019, at 11:01 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  21. Gossamer Cat Coolidge

    Stad (View Comment):

    DrewInWisconsin, Thought Leader (View Comment):

    It’s worth pointing out yet again that all the crap about drinking straws in the oceans is based on a school report by a nine-year-old that had no basis in reality. Yet it’s being used as the basis for banning straws across the country.

    And the kid himself (now grown up) admitted it was not realistic.

    God help us all

    • #21
    • September 7, 2019, at 12:29 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  22. 9thDistrictNeighbor Member

    DrewInWisconsin, Thought Leader (View Comment):
    We really do need to start banning things or creating legal restrictions on things that leftists like and approve of.

    DrewInWisconsin, Thought Leader (View Comment):
    Well, we need to decrease the surplus population.

    Asked and answered.

    • #22
    • September 8, 2019, at 3:51 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  23. Arahant Member

    DrewInWisconsin, Thought Leader (View Comment):
    We really do need to start banning things or creating legal restrictions on things that leftists like and approve of.

    Unenforceable laws, for instance?

    • #23
    • September 9, 2019, at 8:15 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  24. Arahant Member

    Gossamer Cat (View Comment):

    Jon1979 (View Comment):

    These are the same people, of course, who a quarter-century ago mandated the adoption of single-use plastic bags in grocery stores to replace paper bags, in order to save the Amazon rain forest, or something like that. Some silly progressive idea goes viral and anyone who wants to maintain their credentials as someone who cares must then virtue signal in favor of that idea, no matter how many potential unintended consequences others point out.

    But of course they have forgotten that they were the ones who asked for them in the first place, now that they have banned them in California. I’m waiting for the ban on reusable bags to be replaced by…

    Hey, remember when HMOs were the bugaboo of the Left? How did those get started? Oh, yeah, Teddy Kennedy. It’s always last campaign’s victory is next campaign’s bugbear.

    • #24
    • September 9, 2019, at 8:20 AM PDT
    • 2 likes