Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Walker keeping abreast of the latest scams in "human rights"

It says on Walker's blog that he's only 16.

Makes you wonder what they put in the milk in the Cowichan if he grasps what all kinds of supposedly educated and mature Canadians don't:
You see, a complaint has recently been filed with the British Columbia Human Rights Commission because staff at a Vancouver H&M asked a woman called Manuela Valle to be more discreet while she was breastfeeding her child. That's right, you read that last sentence correctly. As Valle was waiting for her husband, who was trying on clothes, she started to breastfeed her two-month old daughter in the store. A clerk came by and asked her to move to a change-room to breastfeed, so as not to offend the other customers, and Valle was hustled off. Valle stated later that she was made to feel like a shoplifter. Of course, the most reasonable response was the one which Valle gave, which was to state, "I am being arrested for breastfeeding my baby," while being moved to a change room to do so (she actually said that).

This is not the first such complaint to be filed recently in Canada. There's been another one filed in Toronto, via a woman named Allison Loblaw. She complained to the Ontario Human Rights Commission, claiming that a female clerk rather rudely and quite embarrassingly told her to use a change room to breastfeed.

Now, while I can understand that embarrassment and a certain amount of anger, I cannot help but feel that such human rights complaints are actually opposed to rights and freedom. Let me explain.

I am a libertarian, or at the very least, an individualist. I believe in the ideal of a free society: maximum personal freedoms, and no government interference in our interactions, unless absolutely necessary because of violence or other outright criminal behavior. From this viewpoint, I uphold a woman's right to breastfeed, as I would uphold all other personal freedoms -- so long as it is understood that one person's freedoms do not trump any other person's.

However, from this viewpoint, I also support a "free response," which means that while I support a woman's right to breastfeed, I also support the rights of the people around her to voice their disapproval of such. If a mother can breastfeed in public, so too can people voice discomfort, and ask her to do so elsewhere. Especially considering that breastfeeding is an action conducted by choice, such a balance of freedom in interaction within society seems fair enough to me. Everyone's on the same playing field.

It is therefore hypocrisy, to me, for someone such as Manuela Valle or Allison Loblaw to lobby in favour of their rights to breastfeed in public, while at the same time using a government bureaucracy to, in effect, silence people when they respond to said breastfeeding. If you only support your own freedom, then you don't believe in freedom at all. These women are only interested in their own freedom to act, and to use tax dollars to enforce any such agenda is much less than admirable.

The Manuela Valle incident was the focus of a "nurse-in" protest -- basically like a sit-in -- only with nursing mothers at that H&M store. That's a great response. An interaction between citizens, and a voice for Valle and other breastfeeding advocates which does not involve a government bureaucracy looking over the proceedings. I have no problem with that.

But I do have a problem whenever someone uses a bureaucracy -- like Human Rights Commissions -- for their own ends, or for the ends of whatever cause they believe in. Breastfeeding advocacy, like any other cause, is something to be decided upon by us: the citizens. We're not children. We can't go running to the government whenever something doesn't go our way, or whenever the others don't play nice. To do what Valle and Loblaw are doing is equivalent to not only taking your own toy and going home, but to having your parents come in and take everyone else's toys as well. We can't have everyone on the same level of free citizenry when some people feel it necessary to stack the odds in their favour by going to a higher power.
Rights commissions not the place


Walker across Worlds said...

Thanks! Maybe it's the cannabis?

truepeers said...

You never know, but not my experience.

Walker across Worlds said...

We Islanders tend to have it in the air around here. We probably don't even notice it.

Makes for clarity of vision, but it's horrible for the lungs...