Endpoint: Soft toilet paper may result in soft protesters

Paper chase

05 October 2009 00:00  [Source: ICB]

Is the incredible softness of America's toilet paper the reason our protestors are so lame?

ALTHOUGH IT only accounts for 5% of the US forest-product industry, environmentalists have been raising a stink about the US toilet paper industry for quite a while.


 Rex Features/Chris Eyles

According to an article in a recent edition of The Washington Post, environmental groups have been, for several years, protesting the cutting and grinding of sometimes centuries-old trees for something they consider frivolous at best.

"They want Americans, like Europeans, to wipe with tissue made from recycled paper goods," writes article author David Fahrenthold.

Generally, however, toilet paper for the "away from home," or "no-choice" market, like in restaurants, offices and schools, use about 75% recycled fiber. Softer, "plusher" brands must be made from virgin wood.

But on the whole, consumers won't budge. And I, for one, can't blame them. You can have my plush toilet paper when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers!

It was the typical polyglot gaggle of anarcho-whateverists parading through the US city of Pittsburgh during the latest G20 Summit in late September that brought toilet paper to mind.

While I have always enjoyed unguided mobs wrecking a place as a televised spectator sport, it has also bugged me how protests in the US seemed so unfocused.

A gazillion agendas, a lot of noise, but for what? A lot of overtime for the police, and a bigger heap of bad press for whatever the initial cause had been.

Whatever your cause, how is it helped by a man wearing a rainbow Afro wig holding up a "John 3:16" sign? Not that that sentiment isn't appreciated, though.

It was the early 1980s, and in response to a then-recent Central Park protest for some now-forgotten cause, my junior year of high school English teacher told our class how to have an effective protest: Get everyone attending to dress neatly all in black, like they were at a funeral; have a few signs and a banner so people know why you're there; and then stand outside the dean's office or wherever in stone silence.

If a notorious busybody and nanny-state proponent like New York's hypocritical mayor, Mike Bloomberg decided that it would be in everyone's best interests to ban "too soft" toilet paper, it would get a protest like that, I'm sure.

Read and comment on the Endpoint blog

By: Ivan Lerner
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