Banning Plastic Straws: The Strawman of Strawmen

A bingo card titled "Plastic Straw Ableism Bingo", in yellow text on a green field. At the bottom of the page it says myfreebingocards.com Bingo squares have black text on grey field. Text: What about reusable straws? They can use paper straws & compost them. My sister's cousin's friend works with the handicapped... It's ableist to say that DISabled people need straws. They're just as capable as everyone else. We all need to make sacrifices (which is why I chose a campaign that requires absolutely nothing from me). All this negativity. It's a start!  I don’t see any reason why we waste resources on severely retarded people. What about BAMBOO!? What did people use before there were straws? We have to start somewhere.  Why can't you carry a metal straw? Can straws be made out of hemp? Carry reusable straws with you. It’s very simple. Problem solved. Wouldn't it be the responsibility of the "DISabled" person to have one just in case? Should we expect establishments to provide wheelchairs for all the disabled "folx" too? I once heard a blind man say.... Some of my best patients are crippled. I know someone who needs a straw or water bottle to drink and he carries his own. Straws worked fine without being plastic. People will stop using them if you stop selling them and making them. Start making paper ones like the GOOD old days. They can drink from a well, actually.... We need to start somewhere. It's killing the ocean. Everyone needs to make sacrifices.

By Emma Rosenthal for inbedwithfridakahlo.wordpress.com

Rebuttals to each bingo square:

What about reusable straws?
Reusable straws are problematic for many reasons. People with the types of DISabilities that require the use of straws to drink often can’t use reusable straws which need to be cleaned, very carefully. If they are not cleaned, they can harbor diseases which can be especially harmful and dangerous for people with compromised immune systems.

They can use paper straws & compost them.
Not everyone has a compost pile, which requires a lot of work and space to maintain and which may not be something someone with a DISability that requires the use of drinking straws, to be able to do on a regular basis.
Paper straws that are thrown in the trash contribute to landfills which are air tight. Nothing decomposes in a landfill.
Also, paper straws are not as substantial as plastic ones, and often break or fall apart.

My sister’s cousin’s friend works with the handicapped…
This is the DISability version of “some of my best friends”, it is stated in many forms but usually doesn’t involve having actual friends with DISabilities.  (My clients, my child, my dad….), that dismiss the issues of access and accommodation by claiming someone else with a DISability said something different or had different needs.

It’s ableist to say that DISabled people need straws. They’re just as capable as everyone else.
This is a concern troll statement that pretends to care about and advocate for DISfolx by pretending that accommodations aren’t really necessary.

We all need to make sacrifices (which is why I chose a campaign that requires absolutely nothing from me).
The straw issue demands that DISfolx give up drinking while demanding little or no sacrifice by anyone else.

All this negativity. It’s a start!
Calling any demand for access, rights,  human needs negative is a really negative argument that negates the needs and existence of entire groups of people.

I don’t see any reason why we waste resources on severely retarded people.
For many DISfolx, this is the crux of the issue: that our lives have no value, that those who need straws are useless people who don’t deserve to use resources. It’s a #NaziMove that basically uses environmentalism as the basis of eugenics.

What about BAMBOO!?
This is one more superficial call for environmentalism that ignores the social justice issues raised in critiquing the “ban straws” campaign.  Bamboo straws would still need to be cleaned and would also still end up in landfills.

What did people use before there were straws?
Using the past as a model for DISabilty access today is a bad move. People died. DISfolx, died.

We have to start somewhere.
No, we have to have well thought out campaigns that don’t marginalize already marginalized people while demanding little of anyone else and totally ignoring the larger social issues of capitalism, corporate destruction of the environment and the planet. Environmentalism separate from the larger social justice dialogue that ignores human rights and capitalism is not an environmental movement, it’s a feel good without doing anything movement.
Also, this is just a very mean way to derail the issues being raised by DISfolx in this silly campaign that will have little or no impact on the environment.

Why can’t you carry a metal straw?
A metal straw can injure the person using it. Also, metal straws cannot be used with hot liquids.

Can straws be made out of hemp?
Possible. Go and make them, market them and assure that they’re affordable and available. Do that first, then get rid of something lots of people are telling you they need to have for something as basic as drinking.

Concern Troll  (This is the free space card on this bingo card.)
A concern troll is someone who is really against an issue or concern but pretends to be worried or interested in the well being of the people impacted by that issue.

Carry reusable straws with you. It’s very simple. Problem solved.
The campaign is for a full out ban. Carrying straws isn’t the answer.

Wouldn’t it be the responsibility of the “DISabled” person to have one just in case?
Should we expect establishments to provide wheelchairs for all the disabled “folx” too?
This is a misperception that DISfolx use up more resources and demand “special” accommodations than ENabled people. ENabled people are accommodated all the time. Restaurants, movie theaters all provide chairs for ENabled people. Bathrooms are designed for the use of ENabled people. DISability accommodations simply demand that the same accommodations provided to people whose bodies conform to a norm, be provided to everyone else as well.

I once heard a blind man say….
This again is a way to derail any issue by claiming that one person from a group represents the whole group, though in this case, someone who is blind probably doesn’t represent those who need straws to drink.

Some of my best patients are crippled.
This is again another version of the “some of my best friends”, though of course the person doesn’t have DISabled friends.

I know someone who needs a straw or water bottle to drink and he carries his own.
Great! Good for them, and with an all out ban, plus a stigma against using straws, they may not be able to carry them in the future. What else do they need to carry? Why should DISability accommodations be an individual problem and not a collective responsibility? We can’t resolve real environmental issues individually.

Straws worked fine without being plastic.
No they don’t.

People will stop using them if you stop selling them and making them.
Exactly. That’s the problem, DISfolx, even ones who carry their own straws and demand nothing of the world, won’t be able to get straws.

Start making paper ones like the GOOD old days.
Paper straws don’t hold up and fall apart easily. In the GOOD old days, DISfolx were killed, left to die, sent to institutions and hidden from public view. Your eugenics is showing.

They can drink from a well, actually….
Okay, I sparked this with a bit of humor. “Well actually” is the way Ablesplainers (mansplainers, whitesplainers) start a sentence when they want to silence someone from the actual group who is speaking from the authority of their own experience. 

It’s killing the ocean. Everyone needs to make sacrifices.
So then make a sacrifice. Not using drinking straws is a really odd campaign that people are pouring lots of time and attention and resources into, without any real change or impact on real, deep, actual environmental issues. A real change means a total shifting of priorities and that includes recognizing the value of people over profit, over expedience, over industry, over greed. And that means DISabled folx, too.

For more links, memes and videos on the issue of DISfolx and the straw ban:
https://inbedwithfridakahlo.wordpress.com/2018/07/12/the-strawman-of-all-strawmen-links-and-resources/

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2 responses to “Banning Plastic Straws: The Strawman of Strawmen

  1. emmarosenthal

    Working on an update, because these bigots evolve and come up with new and more hideous arguments for why our lives don’t matter while their meaningless gestures do.

    So here are some more derailing comments and microaggressions to incorporate into my update when I get the chance. In the meantime, I leave them here. These are from actual internet flame wars. This is a hill these ENableds will die on.

    “Okay but pollution means we all die sooooooooooooo I would choose to inconvenience the disabled over that”

    ” The straw was only invented in 1888. Pretty sure millions of people drank somehow before then. History is always a wise teacher in these things!”

    “I am happy that there are biodegradable/compostable straws and reusable ones.” (Passive aggressive much?)

    “Why is that a problem for disabled people? They can still have straws, just not those made of plastic. There are eco-friendly and biodegradable materials, isn’t that better for all of us, including disabled people? They live on the same Earth as the rest of us, so it’s also in their best interest to lessen the pollution of that Earth”

    ” I don’t have time to read hundreds of articles, but I’m sure there are also hundreds of articles with better materials than plastics. ”

    (I know absolutely nothing on the topic, I’m not going to do anything to know something about the topic. The lives of DISfolx means nothing to me. I’m so important I couldn’t be bothered with this, so it’s important to me that there are empty gestures like supporting the ban on plastic straws, so I can feel like I’m doing something. Please don’t interrupt my self righteousness with facts especially if I have to do something uncomfortable like read.)

    “The conversation then shifts to what people with disabilities themselves should be doing to solve the problem. ”

    ” I did read one article, and I asked questions, you should answer me personally and not make me read.”

    ” Use paper straws and put them in your compost can. No big deal”

    “I think you need to worry less about plastic vs paper and concentrate on your anger issues. Your a nasty little bitch.”
    ” How about hemp? Hemp Staws, and you could eat them when finished use.”

    ” HOW ABOUT we just use compostable straws? this is not even an issue. just stop using plastic straws…”

  2. Pingback: The Strawman of all Strawmen: Links and Resources on DISability & the Straw Ban | In Bed With Frida Kahlo

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