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posted February 15, 2005

The Breastfeeding Crisis of 2005
People's idea of the law part II

Emails from people who actually use the park

Cover of 1998 Dufferin Rink staff guide.
Drawing by Jane LowBeer
Emails - Page 3: People's idea of the law part II

Here are emails from people who actually use the park.

For related correspondence see:

For related material see:

The Human Rights Commission? Please! We're talking Dufferin Grove Park here, one of the most forward-thinking communities in Toronto - people come from around the country to see how we do things here. Lighten up please!

"Rights" - to breastfeed, to freedom of speech, to take off your shirt, to state your view, to make a request - are important; but they are not the only thing of importance. In a community with a great deal of diversity [age, ethnicity, etc] we are always teaching each other and learning from one another about our differences. Saying "this is right and that is wrong" closes down the conversation.

I was once asked to leave a gallery at the AGO while doing so, and stubbornly refused to move. I just used a receiving blanket to make the operation more discreet and carried on. I stuck by my right to feed my kid, but tried to understand the context of the situation.

Is this really an issue of one's inalienable right to sit partially naked in a public place? Isn't it a matter of appreciating that sometimes we have to balance the feelings and sensitivities of an entire community? Don't we have to bend a little, to include and honor the feelings of all?

I think of the times the older kids have been asked to censor their speech in consideration of the young children present in the rink house. Should this be made a "freedom of speech" issue? Somewhere in all this is a basic need for common courtesy and respect-we accuse the kids of not having these, but the "breastfeeding rights" response suggests we adults are similarly lacking in these areas-at least when it comes to our personal "blind spots" or acknowledging the entitlement of groups we marginalize.

Erika could have chosen to just ignore Jutta and carry on bfing. That's what I would have done (if I didn't know the person speaking to me). I would have been upset and outraged too, but these things pass. It is really part of life - to learn to deal with comments on parenting styles. I've had it happen many times...

The thing that concerns me most is that THIS IS NOT A HUMAN RIGHTS ISSUE. To even suggest that it is, I believe denigrates the whole concept of human rights which is such a serious issue not just in far flung places around the world, but in Canada today, with locking up people without charge in relation to the war on terror, immigration issues, and on and on. It also gives fuel to the fire of the reactionaries who will point out that this is what the human rights code is about, it's just PC gone mad.

...I would like to know how the City park staff are to balance a woman choosing a degree of undress in a fashion that drives away other rink users, of different ages, cultures, and sensibilities, in a community space? Is this an infraction of the Human Rights Code and the City's Human Rights and Harassment Policy for just the breastfeeding woman? This woman was not being asked to stop breastfeeding but to be considerate of the community around her. Can staff not request that users of a public space be considerate of others?

Jutta had every right to suggest that a woman, while preparing to breastfeed her infant be a little bit more discreet. That some in our community might disagree is fine, but the attempt by this mother and other like minded and overly litigious individuals to impose their will and bully the rest of the community into silence forms no part of any civil society.

As a member of the Dufferin Grove community, a resident of Toronto, and a citizen of Canada, I respectfully request that you, as an employee of the City, justify your accusation that the newsletter article proposes a "contravention of human rights principles" with SPECIFIC and justifiable references to the Human Rights Code. Anything less is a disservice to the very Code you are seeking to uphold.

The real issue is not breastfeeding; everyone who has been to the rinkhouse knows that it is actively encouraged there. The real issue is respect and tolerance for people of other cultures and sensitivities. By giving in to the legalistic threats of Ms. Ross and her ''lactivists" and endorsing her complaint, you have set a disturbing precedent.

i laughed myself out of my chair when i read erika ross' comparison to Rosa Parks. [ed: see globe and mail article] has her church been bombed? does she live i fear of being lynched?

Human Rights Violation? what a joke.

if i were to suggest that jutta mason is an ugly fat slapper and she should be more considerate to others by wearing a paper bag over her head is it a human rights issue? no! that would just be me being a jerkface. think about it.

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