Man Physically Assaults Restaurant Worker Over a Plastic Straw

CC BY-SA 2.0. Retinafunk

The woman had to forcefully defend herself after a patron lashed out.

The term "straw wars" gets bandied about in somewhat ironic fashion here on TreeHugger. However, there's nothing funny about the physical assault that took place at a McDonalds in St. Petersburg, Florida, after a patron asked for a plastic straw.

According to a witness who spoke to BuzzFeed news, the man—later identified as Daniel Taylor—started yelling at employees over a lack of plastic straws, only to be told that it was a change that had been made for legal reasons. You see, St. Petersburg now has an ordinance stating that plastic straws must now be served only on request—rather than being left out for customers to help themselves.

Taylor then disputed the existence of such a law and lashed out at an employee, Yasmine James, grabbing her shirt and trying to yank her across the counter. James (who apparently learned to box in her youth) then forcefully defended herself, and the man was reportedly escorted from the premises and later arrested for assault. (There is video of this incident available elsewhere on the internet. I'm not sure it needs to be posted here for readers to understand the seriousness of what occurred.)

The story itself went somewhat viral, and has garnered important attention and discussion around topics such as racism (the assailant was white, the victim was Black), and how fast food workers are treated in our society. But what's been somewhat less discussed is the fact that all this started over a very simple, sensible piece of legislation that seeks to minimize the amount of plastic trash that ends up in our oceans and jeopardizes both the natural world and humanity's own well-being.

From dudes in trucks blockading Tesla superchargers to jerks vandalizing scooters and truck owners 'rolling coal', there seems to be a certain type of human that not only objects to the slightest infraction on their "right" to pollute, but may even get irrationally violent in their defense of it.

As we continue the push to reduce single use plastics or rein in car culture, let's spare a thought—and maybe some actual resources and means to recourse—for the folks who are likely to find themselves on the front lines of these fights. Sometimes the term "war" isn't as metaphorical as we would like it to be...