The 'Straw Man' ArgumentOpinion
OPINION — Mike Rowe is one of my favorite humans these days. People often write letters to Mike, complaining about something he’s done or said. I love it when that happens, because Mike will sometimes write back, and with a friendly, logical, laid back attitude, rip them to shreds. But he does it in such a nice way that it’s hard for them to get mad at him, and if they do get mad they realize it’s futile to complain further.
So when I got an email the other day, from a fellow named Larry Blasdell, of Ruidoso, New Mexico, I thought about how to respond, and Mike Rowe came to mind. Larry’s letter to me is similar to some of the letters Mike gets from readers – Larry isn’t happy with me because of a recent column I wrote about the plastic straw catastrophe. So I thought I’d take a stab at answering Larry the way Mike would. Larry writes:
“Usually I read your articles in the Mason County News and just shake my head. But the recent article on plastic straws was the worst yet. You took up half a page over plastic straws? Do you not understand that there are paper straws now available to replace the plastic straws without the impact to the environment? We are a republic, with state’s rights, so if the majority of a state or city agree that they want to ban plastic bags or plastic straws, it is their right to do so.
I am not an environmentalist but respect the people who are trying to protect us from all the garbage that will not break down for millions of years. Attached is an article about how the industry is working on plastics that do break down. This article will give you some knowledge that appears to be lacking.
Oh and by the way, if you want to find communists, don’t look in the states who want to replace plastic straws with paper straws, look in Trump’s inner circle.— Larry Blasdell, Ruidoso, NM”
Hi, Larry. Thanks for writing, and for sending the article, although I have no intention of reading it. Not that I’m not glad about plastics that break down, because I am. It’s just that that doesn’t have anything to do with my column about the cities and states banning plastic straws. Not even remotely.
But let’s start at the beginning, just for grins. You say my article on plastic straws was the worst yet. I disagree. I think I’ve written some real bowsers, for sure, but I kind of liked the one about the straws. And I’ve received some compliments on it, from people whose opinions I respect, so I’m thinking it was nowhere near my ‘worst yet.’ But we’re all entitled to our own opinion.
You also said you usually read my column and just shake your head. I’m wondering why you read it at all, if you don’t like it. It seems a little masochistic to do that. Maybe you should read things you enjoy, instead of my column. But that’s really none of my business. You do what you want.
You also seemed to take umbrage that I ‘took up half a page over plastic straws.’ Yes, sir, I did. But you have to admit that the cities that have gone to the trouble to ban plastic straws have taken up far more than half a page. They’ve each dedicated several pages to their attempts to ban the straws. So why is my half a page worse than their multiple pages, and laws, and fines? Your outrage seems misplaced. But maybe that’s just me.
You also asked if I’m aware there are paper straws. Yes, sir, I am. I’m also aware that there’s absolutely no way to stab a paper straw into a juice box, or a Capri Sun bag. And I doubt a paper straw would work very well on a can of WD-40, but I admit I haven’t tried. Nor will I.
That’s about where you lost me, Larry. You said, “We are a republic, with state’s rights, so if the majority of a state or city agree that they want to ban plastic bags or plastic straws, it is their right to do so.”
Now, you are correct, Larry, that the U.S. was founded as a republic, but a republic is defined as a government under rule of law. Then you went on to describe a democracy, a government in which the majority rules. Can’t have it both ways, Larry. You’re gonna have to pick one or the other.
You say you aren’t an environmentalist, Larry, and I wonder why not? I am. I hunt, I support conservation, and I care very much about the world. And now, because of your letter, I have dedicated yet another half a page to improving that world, while you’ve been sitting there doing nothing but reading drivel in the paper.
Have a great day, Larry. And please, avoid straws at all costs . . .