Santa Barbara Threatens Waiters With 6 Months in Jail, $1,000 Fine For Giving Out Straws

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Santa Barbara just enacted the most restrictive ban in the country on terrifying, deadly…plastic straws.

According to this, the California city just passed a law that threatens restaurant workers with up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine for handing out straws to their customers – including plastic or compostable ones. Servers are also banned from handing out plastic silverware, drink stirrers and even plastic toothpicks unless a customer asks for the item specifically. (So if you happen to forget to request a spoon for your cup of Wendy’s chili, have fun chugging it straight from the cup.)

Unfortunately, Santa Barbara is far from the only progressive locale that’s enacted a ban on plastic drinking apparatuses – though theirs does appear to be the worst of them. For instance, Seattle passed its own ban on plastic straws earlier this month, while the entire state of California is reportedly considering its own statewide ban (because their semi-ban on plastic bags wasn’t irritating enough).

In fact, San Francisco -- still neck-deep in human waste and dirty needles, by the way -- enacted its own straw ban just Tuesday night.

“This is about changing people’s behavior,” admitted the city's Board Supervisor Ahsha Safaì, who co-sponsored the ordinance. “Do you really need to offer a straw with a glass of water?”

But Santa Barbara appears to be going for the gold in the Stupid Olympics, imposing much harsher penalties than Seattle for daring to hand a customer a plastic butter knife without first being asked. And they’ve also added compostable plastic straws to their list of no-no items, just for funsies.

What’s more, each straw, stirrer or spork counts as its own separate offense, meaning that repeat violations could end up scoring a single waiter years in jail and thousands in fines.

Reason adds that unlike other localities with at least a few brain cells floating around their liberal echo chambers of a skull, Santa Barbara didn’t even bother to make an exception for disabled persons who often can’t drink liquid without a straw.

“Restaurant owners can request an exemption based on medical necessity, but granting one is at the city's discretion,” Reason explains.

But while the most ardent of tree-huggers may claim that such a measure helps spare the environment from toxic human existence, Christian Britschgi for Reason notes that plastic straws only make up about .02 percent of all plastic waste each year – and most of it’s not even from us.

“The pollution problem posed by straws looks even smaller when considering that the United States is responsible for about one percent of plastic waste entering the oceans, with straws being a smaller percentage still,” Britschgi adds.

But don’t worry – Santa Barbara officials have noted they’ll only pursue the maximum criminal penalty for handing out plastic straws if there are “repeat violations” and “aggravating circumstances.”

How benevolent our dictators are.

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