So, this is reposted from Vermont Vigilance — a new blogging endeavor [full announcement t/k].
An article from the New York Post describing an incident where a Belgian couple were kicked out of the Metropolis Country Club in White Plains, New York after Roseline Remans began to breastfeed her infant son. In an all-too-common twist these days, their ejection was accompanied by charges of “terrorism”.
Here’s the story. Remans and her husband, Belgian diplomat Tom Neijens (First Secretary of the Belgium Mission to the UN) went to the Metropolis Country Club and asked if they could eat lunch there. They were told yes, they were welcome to eat on the terrace. When Remans started to breastfeed her daughter, a manager came over and told her that she was disturbing the other people at the club, and that she would have to finish in the restroom.
Now, first of all, for the country club to make this request was against New York state law. Section 79-e reads:
Right to breast feed. Notwithstanding any other provision of
law, a mother may breast feed her baby in any location, public or
private, where the mother is otherwise authorized to be, irrespective of
whether or not the nipple of the mother's breast is covered during or
incidental to the breast feeding.
In other words, even if you are a private club, once you tell someone that they can eat lunch in your restaurant, you can not then ban them from breastfeeding there. The NYCLU states:
IN PUBLIC YOU HAVE THE RIGHT:
- To breastfeed your baby in any public or private place where you have a right to be.
- This includes stores, day care centers, doctors’ offices, restaurants, parks, movie theaters and many other places.
- No one can tell you to leave any of these places because you are breastfeeding, and no one can tell you to breastfeed in a bathroom, a basement or a private room.
Whether or not Neijens and Remans knew about the law I don’t know, but they argued that they should be able so stay. So, the club called the police, which led to this response, per the Post:
Detective Scott Harding allegedly yelled, “Close the doors!” and two other diners were told to leave the terrace.
“He was walking as if he was acting in a Western movie,” Neijens said. “He had one hand on his gun, one hand on his Taser.”
Neijens said the officer warned the couple they were trespassing and said some people at the club thought they were terrorists because of their black backpack.
When Remans, on the verge of tears, questioned why terrorists would breast-feed at a ritzy club, the cop allegedly replied, “In Sri Lanka, babies are used by terrorists.”
It is not obvious who played the terrorist card here, but there are two main possibilities:
- The club told the police that they had possible terrorists on their terrace — an effective way to punish people for not doing what you tell them to do, even if your instructions are illegal.
- The police responded to a request to remove some breastfeeding hippies from a swanky club. When they figured out that these were not run-of-the-mill hippies whom they could push around in the interest of catering to the elite, they tried to cover their tracks with, “Um, because, um, terrorism.”
In any event, it seems clear that someone used a disingenuous claim of concerns about terrorism to enforce certain norms of behavior, in violation of the law.