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Observations – Question: Discretion or just poor judgment?

July 9, 2014

in Local

SWO-webBy Pete Daniels
Contributing editor

You read and hear all sorts of strange, even ridiculous, news on an almost daily basis. It’s become part of the norm, but having your hometown in the headlines can still bring you up a bit short. Don’t be surprised if that should happen again.

Although we didn’t see major news coverage locally, there was a story June 12 that made one Kansas City TV station’s news staff think a trip to Sedalia was worth the time and money. From there, the story went to the Internet, of course.

The story involved a young mother who, with her family, went to a local restaurant where she encountered a problem.

Evidently, she decided to breastfeed her six-month-old daughter and earned the attention of the restaurant’s manager. “They told me I either had to cover up or stop,” she told the TV crew. She didn’t have a cover, she said, and was not about to stop feeding her baby. Instead, she, her husband and two-and-a-half-year-old son walked out. “I cried when we got outside. I was embarrassed. I felt like I had been attacked,” the mother said.

For its part, the restaurant noted it had observed “women breastfeeding in our restaurants most every day, including the Sedalia restaurant. Our policy is that we would hope women could be as discreet as possible…”

That seems reasonable enough, but the issue may not die there. The mother, who said, “I wasn’t being indecent. I wasn’t trying to flash anybody…,” later noted that she might return to the restaurant with other mothers in a form of protest. She may, she indicated, “get a bunch of breastfeeding moms together and you go there and your nurse.”

She also said she’s talked to a lawyer and is weighing a variety of options.

Missouri, it seems, has a statute on its books that permits a mother to breastfeed “with as much discretion as possible in any public or private locattion.”

So, when all is said and done, just exactly what do we have here? A violation of some sort? A lapse in judgment? A case of indignant hysteria? All of the above?

A restaurant has the unenviable task of ensuring the safety and comfort of all of its patrons, not just a select few. That’s a given. In this particular instance, the mother said that when the family first entered the restaurant she told the waitress she planned to breastfeed her child. That did not meet with an objection — until the manager appeared.

If that is, indeed, the case, it would come down to one individual’s opinion about a situation. Whether right or wrong, it still comes down to that one person.

To our mind, that doesn’t merit going to the extreme of a protest. Nor, for that matter, does it seem to warrant a court case. There are too many of those as it is.

The best approach might be to have a face-to-face meeting between the mother and manager to resolve what they both evidently view as a problem. They both seem to have done what they thought was right in a particular situation. The mother, after all, was not evicted. The simple expedient of using a napkin to “cover up” could have solved the problem, if there was one, on the spot.

Having the story appear on TV, with live pictures, or on the Internet, seems to be a bit over the top. There are better ways to resolve problems than the Internet or live TV.

On a lighter note, another Internet story said Missouri’s Legislature (perhaps for lack of anything better to do) recently passed a bill that will allow you, in about six months, to buy a single bottle of beer, rather than the customary six-pack.

Gov. Nixon signed the bill that will soon permit retailers, such as grocery and convenience stores, to sell just one bottle of brew. It all starts in January, so, be patient. Aren’t the ways of government wonderful?

Again, if you have an opinion or comment on any of this, contact us at sedaliaobserver@gmail.com, write to us at Sedalia Weekly Observer, 2700 West Broadway, Suite 10, Sedalia, Mo., 65301, including your name, address and telephone number in order for us to verify that you are the sender. Or, you could drop your message off at the office.

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