Douglasville resident Dawn Holland stopped at our Covington Applebee's last week with her son to grab a bite to eat.
While there, her 20-month-old son apparently became hungry and Holland chose to breast-feed him.
As she began, according to Holland, the restaurant's manager told her to either stop or breast-feed her child in the bathroom. According to the manager's take, Holland was also given the option of covering her child while he fed.
After she refused the manager's request, Holland was told to leave the restaurant and local Covington police were called to the scene.
There is no question that Holland had a right to feed her child. The American Academy of Pediatrics, and several other health groups, say that breast-feeding provides numerous benefits to children's immune systems and overall health, and is healthy for the mother and more cost effective. Some studies even show a correlation between breast-feeding and a higher IQ.
The academy recommends breast-feeding a child exclusively for six months and then combining breastfeeding and other foods for another six months or more. The World Health Organization gives the same general advice, but says breastfeeding can be continued for up to 2 years of age or more in combination with other foods.
We believe many American have a stigma against breast-feeding children older than a year, which is probably unwarranted. However, while breast-feeding in public is sometimes necessary, we believe it is the responsibility of the mother to do so appropriately.
The local Applebee's manager may have overreacted in dealing with Holland, depending on whose version you believe; however, the manager also had the right to ask Holland to be more discreet in nursing her child.
In the days following the disagreement, the Atlanta TV stations were called and, as is usual with an incident that strikes a social nerve, jumped on the story and blasted it out across the airwaves. Once again, Covington was placed in the national spotlight in an unfavorable light over a largely non-story.
Having taken on a life of its own, the story was also reported by our news staff.
For the most part, the comments on our Facebook page defended Holland's right to breast-feed her child in a public place, though some pointed out she could have covered her child - a seemingly reasonable compromise, which Holland said she didn't support.
Nonetheless, Applebee's publicly apologized for the incident and made it clear they support nursing mothers' right to breast-feed in public.
You would think the incident would then be resolved, right?
Not so fast. Holland has since secured a lawyer, started a Facebook page to help keep the incident in the public eye and made plans to hold a "nurse-in" at Applebee's.
There was a time when a simple and sincere apology coupled with making amends through a free meal or item was satisfactory and allowed life to get back to normal.
Now, given our social media-focused culture, people are more than glad to grab their 15 minutes of fame and hang on for dear life. Unfortunately for them, that fame is nearly always fleeting.
We really miss the good old days sometimes.