Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Manipulating outrage

I wasn't alone yesterday in interpreting media reports about women breastfeeding while driving as applying to women drivers, such was the implied sense of outrage. Look at the NZ Herald coverage. They have a photo with a caption, Breastfeeding behind the wheel has not impressed the police. But the content of the report says nothing of the sort.

The three mothers observed were  passengers. OK. Still an element of risk but an entirely different scenario. I can't even be sure I didn't do this myself, in the backseat, with the seatbelt over the baby and myself, when it wasn't possible to just pull over and the baby was getting very distressed.

Of course, if the baby was bottlefed that could be achieved more  safely in transit. But wait, what about the outrage over bottle-fed babies? Don't under-estimate the potential of the current extraordinary pressure to breastfeed resulting in some people thinking they are doing the right thing regardless of circumstance.

Then there is the punishment for this 'reckless' act. A $150 fine. So the mother is going to be $150 poorer. That's $150 less to put food in her children's stomachs. BUT IT WASN'T THE CHILD'S FAULT. Isn't that the argument advanced whenever we hear about children going hungry because their parents have spent their budget on the wrong things? Personally I don't accept this objection because it allows parents to use children as hostages to their own interests.

Nevertheless I increasingly find 1/media hype 2/ police nannies and 3/ inconsistent attitudes very tiresome.


Lucia Maria said...

When I was growing up, Mum sat in the front passenger seat (seat-belted) with the baby on her lap, while the rest of us were in the back, unseatbelted as there were up to 5 of us there and not enough seat belts to go around.

Dad was a very, careful and slow driver, probably because we were not wearing seat belts and he didn't want to fling any one around.

Personally, I think if a woman is going to breastfeed in a car, it's best for the driver to pull over for ten minutes or so than to do it while driving.

Psycho Milt said...

"Nanny State" says your rights as a parent don't extend to deciding whether your kid needs a car seat/seat belt in the car. Well, good - limiting your right to risk other people's lives is one of the state's jobs. I'd rather that these wasters got a $150 fine than hear them sobbing on the news about the terrible tragedy of their baby being flung through the windscreen - it's not a "tragedy," it's criminal negligence.

James said...

Good little goon PM....pat pat.

Hamish said...

This is a far fine, if you drive with any child not having their seatbelt on you could expect the same. The fact they were hungry makes no difference to their safety.