Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Breastfeeding Brouhaha

Sunday morning in the mountains, pretty much like any other, first church and then a stop at a local eatery for a family brunch. You are enjoying your stack of pancakes when you notice a rather buxom young lady and her son walk in and take a seat near you. Nothing so unusual about that, there are lots of single moms and their children wandering around.

What happens next is where things get a bit unusual. The young man leaves his seat and climbs in his mother's lap. He then paws at her neckline until he exposes her breast and begins nursing. Before we go any further, let me categorically state that there is no refuting the benefits of breast feeding and that I certainly have no qualms about that at all.

What makes this a bit beyond ordinary breast feeding is the age of the child...we aren't talking about an infant here, nor even a toddler...we are talking a child that appears to be 4-5 years old. Several patrons that witnessed the event asked to speak to a manager and simply asked if the lady and child could be a bit more discrete. When a request from the management was met with scorn and a scream about rights and freedom...the local police department was called for a clarification.

There is no law or statute that prohibits breast feeding anywhere in the State of North Carolina. That part of the story is good...certainly it should not be left to the state to determine who, when or where should breast feeding be allowed. The police agency confirmed that point and stated that no crime had been committed under state law. However, they also confirmed that the restaurant was private property and as such, they were free to determine what is or isn't appropriate behavior in that establishment.

Had everyone remained rational and respectful of others around them, things probably never would have gotten to the point of having to address what is or isn't the law. Had the woman simply opted to be a bit more discrete, the issue would have been a non-issue and everyone would have been happy. Instead, she chose to make a scene and claim she was standing up for her rights. Customer after customer in the surrounding seats began departing the restaurant, tired of the shenanigans of this woman and her "baby". Eventually, management of the restaurant explained to the woman that she could either cover up or she could leave. After a heated exchange, she left the premises and immediately went screaming to any and every media outlet she could find.

The local ABC affiliate jumped on the bandwagon and went so far as to show this large child nursing during the interview. This set off yet another firestorm of controversy...was it really necessary to show this display on the evening news just to make a point? Once again, extremism rears its ugly head. At what point does breast feeding cease being a normal and natural act and transition to something that is just weird? Since when does the tail wag the dog? What ever happened to majority rule? What ever happened to common sense? What ever happened to common courtesy, respect and an understanding of the rights and feelings of others?

To hear the extremist crowd rant, you would think that they feel it would be perfectly fine if the woman's husband decided he wanted a little snack as well and that it would be within their rights to do so in the middle of a crowded restaurant. I think that might be a bit too far...what do you think?


  1. Well, it seems to me that that woman had a perfect right to breastfeed her kid, just as those other folks had a perfect right to be offended, and the owner of the establishment had a perfect right to throw her out.

    The problem with extremists, no matter their political stripe, is that what they define as defending their rights pays no mind to the rights of anyone else. I would define that attitude as "selfishness", myself...

  2. The kid was only 1, not 4 or 5 :) It's not that weird :)