Breastfeeding and the Milk of Human Cruelty

"Over 700 comments" is all you need to read to understand that breastfeeding in public still retains a whiff of controversy. A story in the St. Paul Pioneer Press about a breastfeeding woman being booted from a Maplewood, Minnesota buffet touched off a firestorm of comments that reflect a) the diversity of opinions about breastfeeding, b) how little of an article is actually read before the typical commenter weighs in with his or her "thoughts" and c) how far the national discourse has sunk, since, say, the relatively enlightened era of two or three years ago.

The story and accompanying comments make for good reading, as they actually deal with a tangle of interesting questions: What is "public" space? What is proper (or improper) in the context of a restaurant? Jut how "offensive" is the female human breast in any context, or in the specific context of breastfeeding? To what extent was the ejection from buffet really about breastfeeding as opposed to a reportedly belligerent fiance? And, finally: What the hell is wrong with people that they can't discuss any of these questions intelligently without dropping instantly to the lowest common denominator?

If you're in any way interested in the current state of racism, classism, or sexism, this is the comment thread for you. A brief roundup of the comment highlights, if you don't have time to get through all 700:

"Breast-Feeding = Apocalypse"

speedy: Just one more sign that the last threads of common sense are ready to snap. OK, the law appears to say you "can", but does that mean you should? Unless a woman has a strong exhibitionist streak what would possess her to desire baring herself on more than one occasion, in public even if it is for the purpose of feeding her baby?

"Old Country Buffet is a Sovereign Nation"

Derek Trout: Don't get me wrong, I'm all for breast feeding children, but the government has to stop taking away rights from businesses and giving them to **** civil service groups. That Old Country Buffet is not owned by the woman, so she should comply with the laws inside of the Old Country Buffet.

"Breasts = Savage"

Bob the Bilderberg: This is the United States of Civilized America, not Uganda.

"Suck It Up, You Breast-Sensitive Ninnies"

We Are All Mammals:
If you can't explain breast feeding to your children you are too dumb to be a parent. If you can't find some other place to stare, you are a creepy Peeping Tom. If you are the type to pick and choose which laws you obey, you are a scofflaw. If you are one of those who pray for the sanctity of life from conception to birth, stand up for the rights of the born to nourishment, for God's sake.

"Watch as I Drag the President Into This"

Government Check: You know who'd agree with Al-Quaeda, Obama! Like people with kids want to sit next to that slob while it whips out a battle scared udder. Your compassion is thin!

And, As an Absurd Palate-Cleanser

Stan: All you can eat..........boobies. Yummy.

Stan, we salute you. In a comment thread overwhelmingly dominated by ignorance and visceral hatred, only you took the time to say something merely immature and irrelevant.

Image source: Flickr member ODHD under Creative Commons