In Praise of Straws and Freedom

I plan to increase my giant stash of colorful plastic straws. I want to stock up with a greater variety and quantity than ever before. It’s kind of important here in the heat wave of Dallas; do you know that we once endured 40 consecutive days of temperatures in excess of 100 degrees? We need those plastic straws for our frozen Margaritas, especially if we’re walking the Margarita Mile.

I trust that here in the Great State of Texas there will be an ample supply of plastic straws in every grocery and big-box store. Some residents of the People’s Republic of Austin might be planning anti-straw rallies and will protest outside of their favorite frozen beverage haunts, but most Texans are instead concerned about threats on our shores much more serious than plastic straws—such as the Mexican poachers in the Texas Gulf, and the dangerous illegal immigrant border crossings on the Rio Grande.

But since the trigger du jour is a plastic straw, I have to say that the alternatives badly suck. Paper straws are worthless and taste like gluey pulp; I doubt anyone likes the flavor of paper-mache cherry-limeade. Stainless steel and glass straws are simply ridiculous, (“Hey baby, is that a metal straw in your pocket, or are you happy to see me?”) and can even be dangerous to humans: Your children will be one misdirected slurp away from a broken incisor, or a few chomped shards could result in unplanned tongue and frenulum piercings.

How will California fit all the warnings onto the side of each multi-use straw? “WARNING: Do not use while walking, driving, operating heavy machinery, or while under the influence of alcohol.” “Metal is conductive: Do not use during lightning storms.” “Known to harbor lethal bacteria when not properly cleaned and sterilized.” “Intended for oral use only.” Just think of the little pictogram instructing how safely to place the straw in one’s mouth; and I can only imagine all those warnings with a big red X.

So yeah, just to make a point, I’m going to use plastic straws more than ever—I want all the colors and all the stripes. I want a supply of everything from the fat bendies for shakes to the skinny stirrers for cocktails. This week I plan to buy out the Ikea bulk supply before they stop selling all those gorgeous colorful 100-count packages. And after I’m finished with my single use, I’ll just toss it into the recycle bin like I’ve always done. It’s not that hard folks.

Why don’t lefties worry more about the used hypodermic litter on the sidewalks and beaches and in the oceans? The city of San Francisco alone hands out 4.5 million free hypodermic needles every year, and I guarantee those aren’t properly discarded by the junkies who use them. I guess sea-life is smart enough to know never to swallow a used hypodermic, yet somehow are in danger of injury and death solely from ingesting improperly discarded drinking straws.

Except plastic straws aren’t the problem—idiocy and lazy people are the problem, and leftist legislation normally increases idiocy and laziness. When would-be socialist politicians try to govern our decisions about something as basic as how we drink our beverages, people simply no longer need to worry about personal responsibility because every little decision is already made for them. No doubt in my mind—the Left is everyone’s nightmare Helicopter Parent.

But not for me. Nope. I’m the Cool Mom with the plastic straw supply, and I’ll share them in abundance. As neighborhood children walk home from school I’ll be in my front yard, exposing them to the plastic straw in my glass of lemonade. When my son has his friends over, I’ll indoctrinate them with all kinds of straw activities: they’re not just for slurping, but great for art and science projects, and for classic double-barrel blow-gun battles of shooting spit wads.

I’ll carry a supply of freebies in my purse to hand out to kids who don’t have a Cool Mom. Trick-or-Treat at my house will be an opportunity to corrupt the little goblins by handing out giant Pixie Sticks. I’ll tell other people’s kids that their personal freedoms are being curtailed. It would be easy to lurk around teenagers buying strawless slushies at Sonic, or 7-Eleven Slurpees without its famed spoon straw, and whisper to them that the government is curtailing their pleasure. I’ll tell them it’s their body and nobody should tell them how to get their beverage into it.

When our neighborhood has its block parties for National Night Out, I’ll provide cold drinks with patriotic red, white, and Back-the-Blue straws and the village will ponder how, without plastic straws, a tradition in wholesome American culture has been diluted. Every time I see someone struggle with a shake or a smoothie by tipping and tapping it into their mouth, enduring a freezing zing to sensitive teeth and the embarrassment of a mess on face and front, I’ll ask how they like being physically oppressed by the left.

Remember the New York ban on sodas larger than 16 ounces? No government should legislate and criminalize how we choose to drink our sodas and Margaritas. Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Left tries to ban ice cubes, because, you know, it’s insensitive to enjoy something that triggers terrifying thoughts about how global warming causes glacier melt.

This manic straw ban plan is something so ridiculously narrow-minded, yet it illustrates something much more profound: Government infringement of liberty. And then there’s the irony of a frenzied demand to ban innocuous bits of plastic that might harm the dolphins, while demanding to lift the ban on illegal border crossings, an idea that if implemented actually would increase both drug and human trafficking. These are people who are more horrified and deeply bothered by a photo of a turtle with a straw in its nostril than they are by the graphic photographs of infants being aborted by having saline injected into their tiny brains and their fully formed limbs mutilated and torn off. What is more dangerous to life: plastic straws, or the instruments of abortion? It’s time to decide who has his priorities straight.

We can hold protests, demand more legislation, increase bureaucracy, put warnings on everything, and enforce petty laws all while ignoring those things that are more important—you know, the things for which we actually devised government. Or, we can teach the importance of personal responsibility and its relationship to personal freedom; how liberating!

Photo Credit: iStock/Getty Images

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About Michele Bregande

Michele Bregande has a bachelor's degree in philosophy from the University of Dallas and did graduate studies in art history and museum education at the College of William and Mary. She is a former arts and museum educator and exhibit designer. She is currently a stay-at-home mom, wife, and artist.