Of (pea!)nuts, nipples, and freedom: Imposing individual needs on the community

September 6, 2007 | 152 comments
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Kage (err, KAGE) over at Tales posted recently about nut-free schools. She strongly supports the idea, given the possibility of an allergic reaction in vulnerable kids. Commenters have been even more adamant, writing “I cannot justify giving my kids what they want at the cost of possibly killing one of their classmates,” “I wouldn’t know how to react if there were actually parents out there that cared more about my child’s life than their child having to go without peanut butter,” and “a peanut butter sandwich will never be worth more than a child’s life.” The reaction at Tales has been overwhelmingly in favor of nutfreedom.

Of course, nut-free schools aren’t without costs. As Tracy M notes in a comment at Tales, this means that other parents have to spend extra time, effort, and money. No more quick and cheap PBJs for the kiddoes — it’s prepackaged goldfish in manufacturer-sealed bags now, adding cost to everyone’s family. The benefit of these choices is that nut-allergic children are able to attend school without fear of exposure to allergens that could potentially kill them.

Essentially, members of the community are being asked to constrain part of their individual freedom, in order to accommodate the needs of certain vulnerable community members.

There seems to be a sense, at Tales, that this kind of sacrifice is proper and appropriate, and indeed that making any other choice — wishing not to sacrifice one’s own choices — would be extremely selfish and inappropriate.

A similar discussion plays out in the bloggernacle at regular intervals, with a different ending. A number of blog threads (many of them at FMH) focus on questions of (almost always female) modesty and body exposure, in contexts such as whether women should be able to nurse in church.

Some commenters or other interlocutors (such as ward members of posters or commenters) make an argument (often ham-handedly) along these lines: Women nursing in church might expose part of their breasts to other church members. This could be detrimental to those church members, especially to some groups like young men. Therefore, women should not be allowed to nurse in church.

This argument has, to put it mildly, not been well received by bloggernacle regulars. The counter-arguments are many: This rule would put a huge, unfair burden on women. This reasoning demeans both men and women. It objectifies women. Taken to its logical extreme, this reasoning supports blame-the-victim responses to sexual assault. Really, men just need to learn to control their thoughts better.

I’m sympathetic to many of these responses. I’ve criticized the anti-nursing argument myself; others, such as most of the commenters and bloggers at FMH, have been even more hostile to this kind of argument.

And yet — isn’t the anti-nursing argument, at its core, just another version of the anti-nut argument? Again, members of the community are being asked to constrain part of their individual freedom, in order to accommodate the needs of certain vulnerable community members.

Yet this time, instead of such sacrifice being seen as noble and proper, the demand for individual sacrifice is viewed as oppressive, and those who suggest it are subject to severe criticism. How dare they suggest imposing such limits on individual autonomy?

What are we to make of this difference?

Can we consistently say that nut-free schools are good (i.e., that individuals should be forced to sacrifice a measure of their autonomy in order to protect vulnerable children against nuts) but that no-nursing-in-church rules are bad (that individuals should not be forced to sacrifice a measure of their autonomy in order to protect vulnerable deacons against cleavage)?

If so, where do we draw our line? (Is it the fact that no-nursing rules feed in to existing gender power structures, for instance, in a way that no-peanut rules don’t?)

How do we decide what are reasonable (or unreasonable) impositions on individuals for the sake of protecting other vulnerable community members?

152 Responses to Of (pea!)nuts, nipples, and freedom: Imposing individual needs on the community

  1. Adam Greenwood on September 6, 2007 at 3:34 pm

    Excellent question, Kaimi W.

  2. Sarah on September 6, 2007 at 3:41 pm

    In general I think it’s more unreasonable to ask other people to change for me, than to change for them. Therefore, I would not send peanut butter with my child to school if someone had a peanut allergy, I would keep my peanut-sensitive child at home, I would not nurse my child in public, but I would under no circumstances try to get other people to stop nursing theirs. You might call me a doormat, but I get into far fewer arguments online this way. ^_^

    FWIW, I really would homeschool a peanut-sensitive child, and I’d go out of my way to not nurse in public. But I’d homeschool any child, and quite frankly, the idea that people are looking at me freaks me out badly enough that no nursing-exposure complaints would ever be necessary.

    Also, I’m not sure it’s realistic to try and ban either peanuts or bare chests from the world one inhabits, but given that one thing is a life-threatening allergic reaction and the other is a “oh, crud, I’m thinking about sex again” reaction, I’m not sure they’re really comparable.

  3. Steve Evans on September 6, 2007 at 3:49 pm

    “isn’t the anti-nursing argument, at its core, just another version of the anti-nut argument?”

    No. People don’t have severe and possibly fatal allergic reactions to exposed breasts. You’re right to point out that both situations have majority/minority aspects at play, but they are fundamentally quite different.

  4. Kaimi Wenger on September 6, 2007 at 3:55 pm

    Sure, Steve. In one instance there’s confirmable physical harm, and in the other, there’s not.

    But if one accepts the theological claims of Mormonism — that souls exist, that eternal progression exists — you’re looking at potentially similar negative effects, aren’t you? Someone might lose their life to a peanut. But they might lose their _soul_ over an exposed breast.

    Of course, probably not everyone will lose their soul over Sister Johnson’s boob flash. But what about the peanut-vulnerable kids, so to speak — the 1% who might?

  5. Ben Huff on September 6, 2007 at 3:55 pm

    Okay, Steve, but people don’t have reactions to the mere sight of (tree or pea-)nuts, either. Nut free schools? May as well just ban nuts from the entire country. Whereas most of us would be much healthier, and die later, if we ate more nuts.

  6. Susan M on September 6, 2007 at 4:04 pm

    I don’t think you understand how severe nut allergies can be, Ben. And every exposure to them can make it worse.

    I think it’s smart just to not feed kids nuts at all, period.

  7. Starfoxy on September 6, 2007 at 4:12 pm

    I think that nursing mothers are more comparable to the nut allergic children than the nut free school, and am rather suprised that you would put it the other way around. Nut-free is not the default state for the vast majority of public spaces just as public nursing is not the default state in public spaces. Children allergic to nuts and mothers who wish to nurse can either sequester themselves away from public spaces for their own safety and comfort or they can venture into public spaces and ‘inconvenience’ everyone else. The public-at-large can either create safe spaces for nut allergic children and nursing mothers as an act of service/sacrifice or they can ignore the problem and go about their lives as usual.

  8. Steve Evans on September 6, 2007 at 4:12 pm

    Kaimi, completely ridiculous. Mormonism makes no such claims in relations to breasts. The comparison is farcical.

    Ben, Susan is right — it’s clear you don’t understand the problems of nut allergies and kids.

  9. Kathryn Lynard Soper on September 6, 2007 at 4:16 pm

    A death due to peanut exposure is a one-strike-and-you’re-out occasion, and something that the victim cannot control (meaning, once the exposure happens, the victim can’t control the outcome).

    A “death” due to seeing a baby be breastfed is, to me, a ludicrious notion. But for the sake of argument, let me point out that this death will only become such if the victim chooses sexual sin as a consequence of his (or her, I suppose) arousal. Arousal in itself is not a sin. Should we stop serving cupcakes at ward dinners because someone might eat one, realize that it’s delicious, and gorge themselves to death on Ho Hos?

    And, I might add, anyone so vulnerable to sexual sin that their eternal salvation is in jeapordy if they see a breastfeeding woman might as well lock themselves away for good, because they won’t be able to go to a grocery store or watch a television show without seeing something that’s–well, titillating. If you want to talk about the community’s responsibility to protect vulnerable young men from sexual temptation, then for heaven’s sake, let’s talk about fashion trends, not public breastfeeding.

    Also, the price to be paid by the community varies greatly here. If I can’t send my kids to school with a Snickers bar, fine. If I have to hide in a poop-smelling bathroom just to feed my yowling kid, that’s a much bigger sacrifice.

  10. Cletus on September 6, 2007 at 4:24 pm

    Steve Evans wrote: “No. People don’t have severe and possibly fatal allergic reactions to exposed breasts.”

    Ah, but Steve, how can we make such a blanket assertion? Doesn’t it depend on whose breasts we’re talking about?

  11. Steve Evans on September 6, 2007 at 4:26 pm

    Good luck, T&S, with this silly thread. I officially abandon you all to the chupacabra.

  12. Ben H on September 6, 2007 at 4:26 pm

    Well, one of my best friends will start to sniffle, eyes turn red, etc., if someone breathes on him after eating peanut butter. For several years I watched my ice cream scooping habits even when he wasn’t around, because he might later eat from that carton, and considered his allergy in restaurant choices. We teased him about marrying a woman who loves nuts . . . He’s not a child, but I think y’all are being a bit hasty.

    Sure, kids are likely to be exposed to more than a view of nuts at school, especially if they are young. But your dismissals are cheap. Let’s see more analysis like Kathryn’s–actually showing the particular limits of Kaimi’s analogy, eh?

    Steve, the chance of losing one’s soul over one view of a breast is surely much less than 1%, but we are not talking about one view. Breast-feeding goes on all the time, and shapes habits of thought. I am pretty friendly to public breast-feeding, but it is silly to dismiss the downside.

  13. Kathryn Lynard Soper on September 6, 2007 at 4:40 pm

    a view of nuts at school?

    Let’s hope not.

  14. mmiles on September 6, 2007 at 4:55 pm

    I was once in a ward where a child had prader-willi syndrome. The mother therefore demanded that none of the kids in primary get any kind of snack–including the nursery. How do things like this play into the equation?

  15. Ardis Parshall on September 6, 2007 at 4:57 pm

    As happens so often around here, things go to the extreme mighty fast. There’s a severe difference in the harm that can be caused (to some) by a brief exposure to something, but the real question in the two examples is identical: Do you accommodate the comfort of others? Do you demand others accommodate your own comfort?

    If it’s more than comfort — if it’s your child’s very life at stake — you’d be a fool to trust survival to whether or not Kindergarten Kate’s ditzy mother remembered the rules 100% of the time. If the world is simply too dangerous for your darling, keep him in your protective arms until he is old enough to fend for himself. (I know how much at odds that puts me with Kage’s Krew, but you can’t — you simply can’t — reasonably demand that the rest of the world carry what is YOUR burden.)

    Very few people I know of even care about the mere fact of breastfeeding in public anymore. The real argument seems to have shifted to whether or not the mother should exercise a modicum of modesty and use a visual shield of some kind. I don’t know many non-nursing mothers who object to breastfeeding in public under those conditions, but from visiting FMH I sure know a lot of mothers who loudly proclaim their right to go topless anywhere and everywhere.

    But then I like peanuts, and I don’t like other women’s breasts.

  16. Frank McIntyre on September 6, 2007 at 5:07 pm

    Kaimi,

    This is a clever post. Obviously the two are comparable, though not identical.

  17. J. Edgar on September 6, 2007 at 5:12 pm

    Hey, I know…let’s ban all forms of alcohol! People will be forced to close bars and restaurants that serve alcohol and then everyone won’t be a victim to demon rum, evil beer, and that horrible wine. Yeah, that’s it….what? Oh yeah, we already tried that….it didn’t work?? And UTAH cast the deciding vote that repealed that amendment! …Nevermind….

  18. Ray on September 6, 2007 at 5:14 pm

    Compromise and modesty are rarely bad things, at least when eternal salvation is not at stake and extremes are not taken as the easiest way out. My wife is as modest as it gets, and she breastfed all six of our kids in public – by using a covering blanket and being careful. It’s not hard at all. OTOH, she nursed at church in the mother’s lounge – specifically because she had no idea how the older sisters might react and she didn’t want to do anything to distract from their experience at church. Reasonable, compassionate, easy – if one’s attitude right in the first place.

    My second son has Type 1 diabetes. To ask everyone else to refrain from sugar would be ludicrous. Part of his growth is learning how to watch out for and protect himself while allowing others to live their own lives according to the dictates of their own consciences.

  19. mfranti on September 6, 2007 at 5:16 pm

    “you’d be a fool to trust survival to whether or not Kindergarten Kate’s ditzy mother remembered the rules 100% of the time. If the world is simply too dangerous for your darling, keep him in your protective arms until he is old enough to fend for himself.”

    Thanks Ardis,

    I was having trouble saying that without sounding like a wench. You did it nicely.

  20. Jacob J on September 6, 2007 at 5:19 pm

    If women want to breastfeed in public, that is fine with me so long as they don’t mind if I end up staring at their bare breast when I am caught by surprise at what I didn’t expect to see. I can’t help it, that’s what I do when I see things I am not expecting, especially things I like to see. (If you flash a Salvador Dali from under your shirt, that will also catch me by surprise and I am likely to stare since I am a Dali fan).

    Likewise, if people bring nuts to school, I don’t mind so long as they don’t care if I come share some of their nuts. After all, I love peanuts. Frankly, I wish more people would loudly exercise their right to go topless anywhere and everywhere, and I wish someone would bring me some peanuts because I am hungry.

  21. queuno on September 6, 2007 at 5:36 pm

    If the world is simply too dangerous for your darling, keep him in your protective arms until he is old enough to fend for himself. (I know how much at odds that puts me with Kage’s Krew, but you can’t — you simply can’t — reasonably demand that the rest of the world carry what is YOUR burden.)

    My second son has Type 1 diabetes. To ask everyone else to refrain from sugar would be ludicrous. Part of his growth is learning how to watch out for and protect himself while allowing others to live their own lives according to the dictates of their own consciences.

    Alas, but there are many, many parents who do insist that the world accomodate their specific disability. I know a few of them personally. And of course, it’s the fault of the school/teacher/principal/other parents. I’m sympathetic … but to a point. If there is one child in a school with a peanut allergy, do the other 1000 have to restrict themselves from eating? Or does the one child perhaps have to eat with a few of his friends (who don’t like PB&J) in the principal’s office? It’s a hard debate, and there is definitely a degree of relative cost.

  22. C Jones on September 6, 2007 at 5:56 pm

    *Anything* one does in church that detracts from someone else’s experience is in poor taste. The breastfeeding angle is a red herring. At our last stake conference, the family in from of me gave each other back and neck rubs and whispered to each other through the entire meeting. The mother, who was seated on a metal right in front of me took her shoes off and danced to all the hymns. Then, she hung her beautiful long blond hair over the back of the chair and scratched her head and then shook her hair over my lap. Needless to say, I didn’t hear a word of the meeting.
    I’m sure they were all lovely people, but once in a while I really do need to hear the talks and feel the spirit in church.

  23. TStevens on September 6, 2007 at 6:12 pm

    The thought of a nut free table or area is nice, but that doesn’t always solve the problem. The amount of protein needed to cause an allergic reaction with peanuts is miniscule. Someone who touched the PBJ sandwich then touches the allergic child 2 hours later, it could still cause a fatal reaction. Say they thoroughly washed their hands, and that is a big assumption, but they do not brush their teeth following the meal. Chew on pencil and then touch pencil, and so on and so forth. I won’t waste everyone’s time by repeating all I have said on the other blog, just that nut allergies typically are very severe. That said, allergies are individual, and any given person’s tolerance level and reaction do and can vary. With basically every food source being allergenic to someone, it is just about impossible to draw a line. What should a parent do is up to them and their personal tolerance level for risk.

  24. z on September 6, 2007 at 6:16 pm

    I think it’s different because of the medical claims in favor of breastfeeding’s health benefits, which are strong. Eating peanuts just isn’t as important. Also, the breastfeeding is a more sensitive issue because of the church’s constant veneration of motherhood, and social pressure to be a mother over and over again. If motherhood is so great, you’d think people could put up with a boob or two in support of mothers’ efforts, instead of making it unnecessarily difficult for years and years of a woman’s life. The church is putting women in a difficult position with these two conflicting pressures. Peanuts raise no such issues.

  25. Andrew A on September 6, 2007 at 6:24 pm

    Confucius say: “It is better to put on slippers than to try to carpet the world.”

  26. Cletus on September 6, 2007 at 6:27 pm

    C. Jones wrote: “At our last stake conference, the family in from of me gave each other back and neck rubs and whispered to each other through the entire meeting.”

    T&S, can we pllleeeeaaassssseeee have a future thread on the touching, scratching, and grooming habits of the North American Mormon during Church meetings? Now THAT would be a fun thread!

  27. wondering on September 6, 2007 at 6:27 pm

    Comparing the danger of peanuts to the danger of a nursing breast is nonsense. A nursing breast is not inherently damaging to anyone. Young men in Africa, South and Central America seem to do just fine when their mothers, aunts and neighbors appropriately care for their children. What is toxic is American culture and the sexualization of the breast.
    A peanut allergy, on the other hand, can be lethal regardless of where in the world it is consumed. It is an inherent, physical problem.

  28. Ardis Parshall on September 6, 2007 at 6:29 pm

    z, I simply don’t see what is so unnecessarily difficult about throwing a lightweight scarf over your shoulder so that you can nurse without exposing yourself, as so many of the militant breastfeeders insist is their right, anyone else’s concerns be damned. The “honoring motherhood” argument is a non-starter — we don’t impose any of the other biological processes associated with motherhood on people who don’t care to share their beauty. Somehow womb linings are shed, conception occurs, and children born out of public view.

    And peanuts DO raise significant issues among parents who are trying to feed their children nutritious meals on a budget — the food bank is always begging for peanut butter above all.

    But again, the merits of either illustrative example are not the real issue. Accommodating each other’s needs is a more important principle than either of the concrete examples. Where do we draw the line between bearing one another’s burdens and making unreasonable demands for accommodation?

  29. z on September 6, 2007 at 6:32 pm

    Wait, Ardis, is this about breastfeeding, period? Or is this about breastfeeding without a scarf? The post, and my comment, was about breastfeeding _at all_, so your remarks are inapposite. Also, breastfeeding is different from the other activities you mention because it needs to be done several times a day for years of women’s lives. Having to breastfeed in private is more burdensome than having to do those other things in private.

    But really, why can’t people just change their opinions of breasts? Do Mormons have no control of their thoughts? I think the other reason it makes people uncomfortable is that it reminds them of how burdensome motherhood actually is.

  30. Ardis Parshall on September 6, 2007 at 6:35 pm

    wondering, I assure you that I have no sexual response whatsoever to seeing a mother’s bare breast. I do, however, object most strongly to the careless exposure of private body parts to public view in church, at the movies, in restaurants, and many other places (family gatherings, Relief Society enrichment meetings, not quite so much). It isn’t a matter of sexualization. It’s a matter of courtesy and privacy and modesty and propriety, principles that are important and worth preserving, but which seem to be forgotten by those who elevate their private convenience above the social contract.

  31. Mark B. on September 6, 2007 at 6:37 pm

    What should my opinon of breasts be? The same as my opinion of a cow’s udder? You may as well stretch forth your puny arm and turn back the Missouri in its course.

    And why should I change my opinion. I think it’s a perfectly healthy opinion, thank you.

  32. Ben H on September 6, 2007 at 6:38 pm

    So, if kids eat peanuts before going to school, and don’t brush their teeth or wash their hands before going, same problem? The nut free zone bit just seems like a losing battle, if you’re going beyond a table or a room. I’m back to thinking we may as well just outlaw peanuts entirely.

  33. z on September 6, 2007 at 6:40 pm

    I think that just begs the question of what constitutes courtesy and privacy and modesty and propriety, and what the content of the social contract is. In our culture, the sexualization of women’s bodies contributes to our ideas about what those words mean. E.g., if something has been sexualized, it can no longer be modest. Is not breastfeeding in public really part of the social contract, and should it be? These are questions we need to answer in a principled way, considering the burdens and benefits imposed on various groups. So if you’re going to call it incourteous, unprivate, immodest, and a violation of the social contract, I’m eager to hear your argument. Do tell, what’s so inherently bad about it? If it’s just a received cultural taboo, we should question it.

    If young men can’t handle it, I despair for their souls when they encounter the non-Mormon world. The answer is to give them better coping skills, not to place additional burdens on nursing mothers.

  34. Mark B. on September 6, 2007 at 6:41 pm

    Back to peanuts: what’s the risk? Is it that some allergic kid will trade sandwiches with the PBJ kid and eat it and die. Or is it that a little peanut butter from the PBJ kid will stick to something and the allergic kid will touch that spot, get the peanut butter into his mouth and die. Or is someone suggesting that the aroma of the peanut butter will cause the allergic reaction. And why didn’t all those folks die when I was a kid and everybody ate PBJ (or peanut butter and honey, which seems to be a western or maybe even Utah treat)?

  35. Ardis Parshall on September 6, 2007 at 6:45 pm

    By the way, although my opinions on public breastfeeding are as strong as my opinions on most other things, I wouldn’t be repeatedly stating them like this, but for one reason. The subject comes up regularly on Mormon blogs, and just as regularly anybody who hesitatingly and politely suggests that maybe, just maybe, please, perhaps mothers could, you know, make the tiniest effort to be considerate of the feelings of others, is shouted down by shrill and stridant voices and treated with absolute contempt. As long as the subject has been brought up on T&S, I want to be sure that we don’t drown out those voices here.

    Mothers are great, breastfeeding has health benefits,mother’s lounges are too often stinky, hot, and unusable. Women’s bare breasts are as out of place in Sacrament meeting as men’s bare chests would be. No amount of honoring motherhood changes that.

  36. wondering on September 6, 2007 at 6:47 pm

    I am not sure I would categorize breast feeding a hungry baby as “careless exposure of private body parts.” When I have visited with friends in Africa they are very concerned with propriety, courtesy and manners. It simply does not occur to them that taking care of their children in this way is offensive.
    This issue has been discussed repeatedly and I am sure most people will not be changing their opinion. I just wanted to point out that comparing a physical reaction to a cultural reaction is not valid. There is simply no justification to ask women to stop nursing their babies in public (if that is where they happen to be when their babies need to be nourished) because children with peanuts allergies want to be protected.

  37. z on September 6, 2007 at 6:47 pm

    Again, Ardis, you’re just making assertions without arguments. If bare chests are inappropriate, why can’t an exception be made for breastfeeding? If you’re going to point to traditional morality, I would say that that morality is inherited from a deeply sexist society (ie America in previous decades) and needs to be reexamined in light of our principles.

  38. Ardis Parshall on September 6, 2007 at 6:48 pm

    z, I’ve gone as far in personal engagement as I intend to with a pseudonymous commenter. People are of course welcome to post comments anonymously. However, if you want the courtesy of a serious discussion with me, you’ll have to identify yourself and stand by your words, the same as I do.

  39. dangermom on September 6, 2007 at 6:49 pm

    About peanuts in schools: while I am somewhat sympathetic to the claim that peanut-allergic kids should just stay home (my own kid is, and is homeschooled, though not primarily because of her allergies), last time I checked all children have a right to attend public schools. And I do think that the school and community have some responsibility to try to make schools safe for allergic children. Not everyone is able to homeschool, after all. We tend to assume that only upper-middle class white kids with SAHMs have severe allergies, but in fact poor immigrant children do too.

    Young children aren’t really quite responsible enough to be able to handle their allergies entirely on their own. It’s asking a lot of a 6-yo child to have her check every package and refuse all food-sharing (though in fact that’s exactly what I do ask of my child)–there are bound to be some slips. An environment in which adults have already acted to screen out allergens is going to be safer when those slips occur–when the child is tempted by her friend’s candy and forgets the rules, for example. And then there is the fact that the other kids (heck, most adults IME) aren’t going to understand how serious the allergy is until they see it; a boy I know told his mom about how every day, his classmate tries to shove his PB&J into the allergic kid’s face. He thinks it’s funny, but he has no clue about what the results would be.

    So no, I don’t really think it’s the same as breast-feeding in public. A glimpse of a mother’s breast may be upsetting to some, but it’s not a porn addiction. There are a lot of steps between the one and the soul-killing other. However, I personally always covered up in public, since I don’t really feel like showing the world my stuff.

  40. z on September 6, 2007 at 6:49 pm

    Sorry, I’ve been stalked and harassed too many times to put my real name on the internet. I hope nobody stalks or harasses you. If you can think of an argument, I’m eager to hear it. Have a great day.

  41. Ardis Parshall on September 6, 2007 at 6:53 pm

    I was stalked by the best, z, for eight years, with no help from the police, the phone company, the postal inspector, my family, or my (and his) bishop. It’s one of the reasons why I don’t hide anymore. Have a nice day yourself.

  42. dangermom on September 6, 2007 at 6:54 pm

    Mark B, levels of reaction vary. Some kids will indeed react to the smell of peanut butter (which is, after all, airborne particles of the stuff). It is possible to get a smear of PB on your hand, transfer it to your friend’s hand, and then when he rubs his eye…whammo. And so on. It depends on the child’s tolerance level.

    Personally, if my daughter were in public school, my own preference would be for a nut-free table or classroom (depending on the place) and adults who made sure that every child washed his hands well after meals. That seems doable to me. And having worked in a public school, IMO most kids could use a little more hand-washing.

  43. hpm on September 6, 2007 at 6:56 pm

    I have an almost ten year-old son who is allergic to peanuts. Not to the particles in the air, thank heavens, but the ingestion of the smallest amount of peanut will swell his mouth and cause him to salivate and make it hard for him to breathe. (We got to know the E.R. well when he was younger.) Please don’t knock the peanut people. I can sympathize with those who are annoyed by what they perceive as the “everyone coddle my child” mentality of these parents–I was like that myself ten years ago–but none of us, parents or children, chose to turn peanut butter into a loaded gun. If you haven’t seen a particular child’s reaction up close, it’s probably an act of faith (grumbling, perhaps) to believe that you are averting tragedy while packing a deli sandwich in your unaffected child’s lunch. On behalf of everyone who has made dietary or environmental accommodations for nut-allergic children–mine or anyone else’s, in schools or Primary–I express sincere thanks.

    I’ve seen firsthand the damage to my son’s body from eating poorly-labeled candy, but I haven’t yet seen the danger he will face when he catches a glimpse of Sister Whoever’s breastfeeding. I don’t automatically discount that danger; this vulnerability is on its way soon. In two or three years I might write a post sincerely thanking the Relief Society women for all the discreet lactation being practiced in my ward’s dreary, windowless mother’s room and away from my pubescent son. (It’s possible.) But as an allergy parent, I don’t understand how the urgency of constraining the community in the direction of blankets over breasts even compares to the urgency of limiting peanut exposure. Lapses in the former case can be addressed, with more or less success, as a function of the inadvertent viewer’s will; exposure to allergens can quickly shut down the body, and with it the chance to further exercise that will in earthly life. If you could fend off an anaphylactic reaction by mental hymn singing a la BKP, then maybe the comparison would make more sense. (I wish to God it were that easy…) Many thanks to those who label the ingredients of the cookies they bring to ward parties and those who teach my son about personal purity (including that mental hymn singing) in church lessons; he’ll need both protections for the rest of his life.

  44. RoAnn on September 6, 2007 at 6:59 pm

    IMO, it is unrealistic to ban peanuts, a nutritious food that the vast majority of people can safely eat. A wise parent of a child allergic to peanuts (or anything else) makes sure they have an Epi-pen handy in case normal precautions fail to prevent exposure to the allergen.

    Maybe there is a problem with American culture and breast-feeding, but isn\’t it also unrealistic to think that culture will change much at this point?

    As a mother who was active in church and community affairs, and yet managed to happily breast fed six children privately or modestly, I\’m with Ardis Parshall in thinking that \”It’s a matter of courtesy and privacy and modesty and propriety, principles that are important and worth preserving, but which seem to be forgotten by those who elevate their private convenience above the social contract.\”

  45. z on September 6, 2007 at 7:04 pm

    But RoAnn, is it really part of the social contract? Should it be? We don’t have to accept these ideas uncritically– we choose anew to maintain or reject inherited cultural ideas. Do you have actual reasons for your opinion?

    American culture has changed many times, and continues to do so. In light of all the changes that have taken place in the past few decades, why would one think breastfeeding attitudes are carved in stone?

  46. Sarah on September 6, 2007 at 7:07 pm

    When it comes to “rights” — children with special needs have (at least, in the school districts I’ve lived in) the right to accommodations of all kinds. Maybe that’s a special reading tutor for an hour a week, maybe that’s a district-paid assistant to watch out for them 24/7, maybe that’s a smaller classroom with only 5 or 6 students. Peanut allergic kids and their families have a big wide spectrum of options between homeschooling and making an entire school “peanut free” — private tutors, a separate classroom, etc. Expecting 200-800 (or more) children and their families to make a permanent change to their eating habits is on the very extreme end of that spectrum, and wouldn’t be the option I’d fight for as the parent of an allergic child.

  47. z on September 6, 2007 at 7:08 pm

    To get back to the topic of the post, I think the core difference is the conflicting pressure– to be a nursing mother for many years, but to hide away when breastfeeding. There’s no similar conflicting pressure to eat peanuts but only in private. And nobody needs to eat peanuts several times a day for years on end. There could be indirect economic pressure to eat peanuts, but I think the same could be said about breastfeeding because of the cost of formula. So that’s the difference: breastfeeding attitudes create conflicting cultural and religious pressures and that’s objectionable in a way the peanut issue isn’t.

  48. TStevens on September 6, 2007 at 7:12 pm

    Ben – I think we agree. Trying to protect everyone in every situation is impossible.
    Mark B. It is not require to ingest the protein through the mouth, skin contact will suffice.

    Some rough numbers. Overall population with a Food Allergen is around 4-5percent. Adults are 2-3% and children are 5-7%. Children can sometimes outgrow their food allergies, but typically not peanuts. The most common food allergens for North American adults are Peanuts, Tree Nuts, Crustacean/Shellfish, and Fish. Of the average 1000 ER visits for food allergy reactions 90percent of the fatal reactions are due to peanuts and tree nuts. There is no universal cure (or preventative steps) for food allergens; avoidance is the key.

    Anything containing a protein can and is allergic to someone somewhere. That encompasses just about every food item you can think of. Allergic reactions can vary from innocuous to fatal (anaphylatic shock) and they have no consistency between reactions (just because your reaction has always been mild does not mean it will be next time).

    As a parent you have to assess the risk and determine how much you are willing to live with. As always your individual situation with food allergies may vary; and hope for the best but plan for the worst.

  49. RoAnn on September 6, 2007 at 7:15 pm

    z (#45) I guess my main reason is that since American culture seems to be sexualizing the breast more and more as time goes by, better to err on the side of modesty in public.

    I lived many years in various Latin American countries, and am well aware that there is a difference in the attitude in other places.

    I agree that we don’t have to accept all perceived “social contract” ideas uncritically. But I think that as long as those ideas are not contrary to LDS beliefs, I will try to observe them to avoid unnecessarily offending those around me. Thus, I didn’t drink coffee, tea or alcohol just to fit in with the social customs of any culture I lived in, but I did breastfeed discreetly.

  50. z on September 6, 2007 at 7:25 pm

    Those are good reasons, RoAnn, and thanks for the response. However, I think there are good reasons to try to resist and change people’s perception of a social contract that prohibits public breastfeeding. If young Mormon men are going to be successful in a world full of public breastfeeding, they need to develop the ability to withstand it. Sheltering them from the terrifying spectre of public breastfeeding doesn’t really do them a service in the long run. And covering up only further sexualizes the breast, by acceding to the idea that it is in fact inappropriately sexual. It’s an idea that should be resisted, and noncompliance is an essential part of resistance.

  51. Kaimi Wenger on September 6, 2007 at 8:31 pm

    Thanks for comments, everyone. This has been a good discussion so far, I think. I apologize that I’m going to have to be quick. I’m teaching tomorrow, and have to stop blogging and start class prep eventually (grin).

    I appreciate different perspectives so far. We’ve seen a lot of people with very different opinions, express those views articulately.

    A few very quick responses:

    Ardis writes,

    “anybody who hesitatingly and politely suggests that maybe, just maybe, please, perhaps mothers could, you know, make the tiniest effort to be considerate of the feelings of others, is shouted down by shrill and stridant voices and treated with absolute contempt”

    I’ve seen that happen, yes.

    On the other hand, I’ve had the impression that some of the venting is due to women feeling like they were themselves treated by contempt by ward members and such.

    So, there’s the possibility of hurt feelings on either side of the divide. I really do hope that we can discuss the issue without flaring up of anger or hurt on either side.

    I think both sides are understandable.

    I do think it’s possible to believe that women should be more discreet in nursing, without being an oppressive sexist pig. It’s also possible to do that _while_ being a pig, and people who have experience with the latter may be likely to view _any_ suggestion as invasive.

    I also think it’s possible to suggest that our cultural norms about women’s breasts are antiquated and create their own problems, and that breast exposure should be less of a big deal, without being a hedonist libertine or reflexive anti-authority rebel. But it’s also possible to make that argument _while_ being a hedonist libertine or rebel.

    I think that both Z and Ardis have done a good job of articulating the better part of both positions, without falling into the worst excesses on either side, and I’m happy to see that discussion.

    “you’d be a fool to trust survival to whether or not Kindergarten Kate’s ditzy mother remembered the rules 100% of the time. If the world is simply too dangerous for your darling, keep him in your protective arms until he is old enough to fend for himself.”

    As Melanie notes, that’s a great way to phrase it. Ultimately, we can’t protect all children all the time from all dangers. The question becomes, what is a reasonable amount of protection? But clearly, perfect safety is never going to be an option.

    Let’s see, what else?

    I agree with Z on the point that sheltering from a breast may just create later problems. A while ago, this point was discussed at Segullah, and one commenter told a horror story about how a sister missionary showed too much cleavage to an elder in the MTC, and he needed counseling after.

    I wrote then in a comment,

    “It’s an awfully good thing that Elder Fragile-and-Immature got flashed at the MTC, where there were apparently plenty of good people around to talk him down from the ledge. Hopefully, this experience gave him a little bit of perspective and a thicker skin, such that he didn’t have a complete meltdown in the mission field when perhaps a woman in a tank top opened the door during tracting.”

    I do think that many of the problems men have with exposure to women’s skin are self-created or self-reinforced, caused by messages in our society that are often harmful. We’re not generally born with ideas of the erotic, we have them socialized into us. And defending some people from the erotic can serve to simply reinforce those messages. Society’s rules are often just plain _wrong_. Fifty years back, it was a rule of polite society not to marry a person of another race. I don’t think we have to adopt wholesale societal attitudes about propriety.

    On the other hand, we _do_ live in the real world. There are a lot of problems caused by socialization, and pointing that the artificial source of the social rules doesn’t make the potential hurt any less real. Race is an artificial construct, for instance, created and maintained by society. That doesn’t make the harms of racism any less real.

    If we think that current social constructions of gender are inappropriate, it may be good to fight those — but how to do so, without causing harm to people around us? It’s not always an easy balance.

  52. Kaimi Wenger on September 6, 2007 at 8:36 pm

    Mmiles writes,

    “the mother therefore demanded that none of the kids in primary get any kind of snack–including the nursery. How do things like this play into the equation?”

    The answer is cannibalism. The kids _are_ the snack.

    Problem solved.

  53. tracy m on September 6, 2007 at 9:23 pm

    Yikes! I was just griping about not being able to buy the ginormous Cosco vat of goldfish– I wouldn’t put a kids’ life in jeopardy over my convenience and laziness. Just for the record, you know.

  54. claire on September 6, 2007 at 9:38 pm

    z, you are my pseudonymous hero!

    Ardis, I’m sorry to see you on the ‘don’t see what is so unnecessarily difficult about throwing a lightweight scarf over your shoulder’ side of this argument. Frankly, you don’t see what’s wrong with it because you haven’t nursed any kids. Many (and I’d bet MOST) infants who have any control over their arms will simply not tolerate it.

    So, unless we mandate weaning at under three months, or that mothers use a blanket EVERY SINGLE TIME they nurse so their baby gets the idea that the blanket is part of eating, it’s just not a feasible solution.

    Frankly, most women find it much more discreet to nurse w/o the blanket. If you pull up a regular fitting shirt from the bottom, the baby covers up pretty much everything. Nothing screams “BREASTS BEING USED UNDER HERE” like a blanket on your shoulder.

    Now, to throw a little fuel o the fire of the original post, how about vaccinations? A classic case of putting ourselves/our kids at risk for ‘the greater good.’

  55. Jim on September 6, 2007 at 9:46 pm

    At the core, the difference is that the physical death of a child is something that is instantly visible and tends to elicit shock and horror–regardless of the child’s role in his or her own demise. Whereas the gradual spiritual death of a deacon is something that a) is easy to miss/ignore, and b) is something that many church members just don’t care about anyways or are willing to dismiss as sheerly the result of the deacon’s own sexual perversion.

  56. Aluwid on September 6, 2007 at 9:47 pm

    Tracy M, do you speed or talk on the cellphone while driving, thus potentially putting kids lives in danger for your own convenience? Because I sure do. But the good news is that I don’t speed, talk on the cellphone, and eat peanut butter sandwiches all at the same time.

    (If my wife reads this post then I was just kidding, I never go above the speed limit and of course I always pull off to the side of the road before using my cellphone. Besides, I don’t even like peanut butter sandwiches).

  57. Kevin Barney on September 6, 2007 at 10:29 pm

    Where are all of these wards where women are flaunting their breasts? I’ve seen literally dozens of Mormon women breastfeed at church, and without exception they have all been appropriately discreet. (For the record, I love breasts, and if LDS women want to flaunt them, it’s fine with me. I’ve just never seen it happen.)

    I was sad when airlines stopped serving peanuts on flights for similar reasons, as I love nuts and pretzels just aren’t the same.

  58. Lupita on September 6, 2007 at 10:45 pm

    I’m married to an allergist so I finally get to pretend like I have some kind of authority (I also stay at Holiday Inn Expresses whenever I can which should count for something, no?). We’ve discussed this before, the whole creating peanut-free zones. The problem is, it is totally impossible. You are, as Ardis (you were stalked??? for years???? Ack!!) so eloquently stated, putting your child’s life in the hands of the same people who forget to send their children with lunch money and get into shoving matches at Little League games. It is a farce that gives parents a false sense of security. I would never send a child with a severe allergy anywhere without an epipen, and instructions to anyone who comes in contact with my child how to use an epipen. I would become the most dreaded trick or treat house where everyone knew that, in lieu of a toothbrush or change for UNICEF, all they’d get is a crummy epipen. I have too little faith in my fellow citizens that any public domain can be truly peanut-free.

    As for breastfeeding in church, I have been blissfully unaware that this has been a source of serious contention. I can’t see how a request to be discreet about it is offensive. Can anyone explain this? I mean, hey, if I should be offended about this then I want to be. I don’t feel offended that I wear a swimsuit with a top while my husband doesn’t. I don’t mind covering up. I still get stared at, while nursing with a blanket covering three quarters of my body. I tell myself it’s because they are just jealous of my fabulous post-partum physique. Whether the female breast is over-sexualized or not seems beside the point. On the other hand, protecting all these leches-in-training (such a sad, cynical view) from an occasional flash of skin as infant disengages and mother quickly tucks in shirt, would also give a false sense of security to those who think that all menfolk would therefore be safe from lascivious thoughts. Most males are exposed (ha) to much more than that on the average walk down any work or school corridor, major city street, or even trip to the mall.

  59. Sue on September 6, 2007 at 10:51 pm

    My kid’s right to eat a peanut butter sandwhich at school vs. a potentially dead kid.

    I guess I don’t see how this is a gray area. If your kid is that addicted to peanut butter that it causes a serious hardship to give him turkey, then you probably have some other nutritional issues going on anyway.

    Forget responsibility – what about common decency? “Sorry, I know your kid might keel over and die if he breathes in peanut particles, but it’s really inconvenient for me to have to wrap stuff and vary his menu a little, so – die already.”

    Geez louise.

  60. z on September 6, 2007 at 10:54 pm

    I think a more fruitful discussion would be what changes should be made so that the sight of a nursing mom no longer poses the threat of spiritual death. Surely the church can find a way to support the folks in question without imposing unnecessary and politically problematic burdens on nursing mothers. Because covering up doesn’t really solve the problem– the non-Mormon world is chock-full-o’-breasts, so people will just have to learn to deal. Or live in the seclusion they would impose on nursing mothers. Or put a scarf over their own heads.

    Really, seriously, are Mormons so fragile that nursing moms=spiritual death, even in isolated cases? I think the real cause is internal, and the breast only a proxy.

  61. Lupita on September 6, 2007 at 11:10 pm

    In case it hasn’t already been mentioned, it’s not just about the peanuts/peanut butter. For an eye-opening experience, check the packages of most of your processed pantry items. Many contain warnings that they are potentially cross-contaminated with processed nuts. It goes beyond merely avoiding peanut butter.

  62. Ray on September 6, 2007 at 11:10 pm

    #29 – I usually read all comments before adding my own. This time I did not, so I apologize if this has been said.

    z, I hate to say it this bluntly but the following has never crossed my mind – and I have never heard it said or implied by anyone I have ever known – and I think it is one of the most (insert favorite adjective) things I have ever heard:

    “I think the other reason it makes people uncomfortable is that it reminds them of how burdensome motherhood actually is.”

    HUH?!

  63. z on September 6, 2007 at 11:21 pm

    It was just a casual observation, Ray. I think people tend to feel warm and fuzzy about motherhood in the abstract, and pay lip service to the burdens without thinking about them realistically. But when one is confronted in person with things like cracked and bleeding nipples, or the necessity of spending huge quantities of time hooked up to a child, at the expense of other activities, and perhaps at the cost of one’s physical presence in church, it becomes more difficult to gloss over the fact that motherhood can be difficult, burdensome, physically painful and permanently damaging, costly, socially isolating, etc.. Maybe you don’t agree, but that’s the way it seems to me.

  64. z on September 6, 2007 at 11:21 pm

    It was just a casual observation, Ray. I think people tend to feel warm and fuzzy about motherhood in the abstract, and pay lip service to the burdens without thinking about them realistically. But when one is confronted in person with things like cracked and bleeding nipples, or the necessity of spending huge quantities of time hooked up to a child, at the expense of other activities, and perhaps at the cost of one’s physical presence in church, it becomes more difficult to gloss over the fact that motherhood can be difficult, burdensome, physically painful and permanently damaging, costly, socially isolating, etc.. Maybe you don’t agree, but that’s the way it seems to me.

  65. m&m on September 6, 2007 at 11:27 pm

    Ardis, I’m sorry to see you on the ‘don’t see what is so unnecessarily difficult about throwing a lightweight scarf over your shoulder’ side of this argument. Frankly, you don’t see what’s wrong with it because you haven’t nursed any kids.

    Hm. That sounded fairly condescending to me, nevermind the fact that your assumption seems to imply that those who have nursed wouldn’t be on that ‘side’ of the argument. For the record, I nursed all three of my kids. I loved nursing. Loved it. I think breastfeeding is awesome. And yet I am firmly in the ‘what is so unnecessarily difficult about throwing a lightweight scarf over your shoulder’ camp. Even in Relief Society.

    And to the thread itself, I think the question posed (other specific examples could be inserted, such as never wearing perfume or scented deodorant or lotions to protect those who have serious allergies) is a really interesting one. And I still don’t know what to think about it all, especially because I have one of those children for whom peanut butter is one of the few things she will eat.

    I do think that one easy solution is to stop having treats at school. I really get tired of all the junk my kids get, and would be fine if that was all eliminated.

  66. queuno on September 6, 2007 at 11:29 pm

    My kid’s right to eat a peanut butter sandwhich at school vs. a potentially dead kid.

    I guess I don’t see how this is a gray area. If your kid is that addicted to peanut butter that it causes a serious hardship to give him turkey, then you probably have some other nutritional issues going on anyway.

    Forget responsibility – what about common decency? “Sorry, I know your kid might keel over and die if he breathes in peanut particles, but it’s really inconvenient for me to have to wrap stuff and vary his menu a little, so – die already.”

    Of course, the kid with the allergy doesn’t have to mix with the peanut-eaters.

    Seriously, are we going to start banning EVERYTHING that might cause a problem? Say your kid has a weight problem. Must I stop sending my kid pudding in his lunch because it will drive his cravings over the edge? Maybe your kid is a kleptomaniac. Maybe my kid shouldn’t take a nice pen to school.

    I’m sensitive to the idea that in a classroom with a diabetic kid, I shouldn’t send cupcakes for my daughter’s birthday — or else send an alternative for the kid — but you can’t shut down an entire school for one child.

    If the solution is that we have to accommodate everyone in public schools, then maybe the solution is to change our laws and stop accommodating everyone in public schools.

    As I pointed out earlier – it becomes a question of numbers. If there are 50 kids peanut-allergic kids in a school of 300, it becomes a different question than if there is 1 in 1000.

    I, think, just on principle, I’m sending a snickers with my kid tomorrow.

  67. Sue on September 6, 2007 at 11:40 pm

    “Seriously, are we going to start banning EVERYTHING that might cause a problem? Say your kid has a weight problem. Must I stop sending my kid pudding in his lunch because it will drive his cravings over the edge? Maybe your kid is a kleptomaniac. Maybe my kid shouldn’t take a nice pen to school.”

    Neither of those result in a dead kid.

    “I think, just on principle, I’m sending a snickers with my kid tomorrow.”

    I’m pretty sure you’re kidding. If not, that’s reprehensible.

    My gosh, what happened to compassion? The thing is, she is trying to give him a normal life, but be as safe about it as possible. Since it’s not something that will create any kind of real problem for anyone else, since it isn’t an UNREASONABLE request and it isn’t any kind of hardship, why is it such a big freaking deal? This attitude of “I shouldn’t have to be inconvenienced so your kid can live. Lock him in a closet, that works better for me.” Jesus would be so proud.

  68. Ray on September 6, 2007 at 11:40 pm

    z, sorry both of my comments are directed toward you, but you are the most vocal missionary for converting all of us perverts who disagree with you.

    I wrote that first sentence intentionally and carefully in order to illustrate a basic point. These discussions get emotional and polarizing very quickly, and it doesn’t help at all when someone repeatedly makes the EXACT same argument about 15 times in one thread. (I know, because I did it once on another blog and the result was interesting, to say the least.) My first sentence summarizes the message I got from your comments – that if I disagree with you – in any way, no matter how small – and oppose uncovered breastfeeding in sacrament meeting (not public, in general, but sacrament meeting) then I am a sexually repressive, immature, pervert.

    For the record: 1) I have no problem whatsoever with societies that allow and encourage such open breastfeeding. 2) I do not see breastfeeding as a sexual action. 3) A breast immediately after and during breastfeeding is not a favorite sight for me. 4) I don’t think exposure to breastfeeding, in and of itself, is going to contribute to someone’s slide to damnation. 5) I believe our society would be MUCH better off if we could get over our obsession with breasts. 6) Women’s breasts are sexual. Without being graphic, my wife believes that every bit as much as I do.

    The kicker? 5) I agree with about 80-90% of the words you have written, but you have alienated me to such an extent that I see you as on the other side of this issue. As someone who agrees with you completely about what the ideal is and “should” be when it comes to breastfeeding in public, I ask only that you quit insulting everyone who doesn’t see everything the way you do, moderate your tone and try to engage in constructive discussion about the 10-20% where we disagree. I’d love to be on your side on this one, but I’m not.

  69. Ray on September 6, 2007 at 11:47 pm

    BTW, z, it would behoove you to be open in a discussion like this that when you are throwing around comments about how Mormons should get over their prudishness about issues like this it is coming from someone who is not Mormon. It doesn’t change what you are saying, but it would help clarify the whole discussion of breastfeeding in sacrament meeting.

  70. Vada on September 7, 2007 at 12:12 am

    “Since it’s not something that will create any kind of real problem for anyone else, since it isn’t an UNREASONABLE request and it isn’t any kind of hardship, why is it such a big freaking deal?”

    Sue, just because something doesn’t create a problem for you, doesn’t mean the same is necessarily true of everyone else. My son is on the autistic spectrum, and he eats pb&j for lunch every day. He’s a very picky eater, and routine is huge for him. If I couldn’t give him pb&j for lunch, he likely wouldn’t eat anything. Even if I could get him to eat something else, it probably wouldn’t be as healthy, and certainly not as balanced (pb is about the only protein he’ll eat). I would, in fact, conform to a nut-free classroom or lunch table (though probably I would just not have him ever sit at said lunch table), but don’t tell me it’s not any kind of problem, and not a big deal. For us, conforming to this rule would be a big deal.

  71. Sue on September 7, 2007 at 12:24 am

    I still don’t buy it. Generally, not eating PB&J for lunch is just not a big deal. Of course there will be a few people for who it is a minor inconvenience, or maybe even a MAJOR inconvenience. But even if it IS a major inconvenience, because you absolutely must feed your kid peanut butter every single day, it still doesn’t balance with a potentially DEAD kid.

    What makes your kid’s comfort more important than another kid’s life?

  72. Ray on September 7, 2007 at 12:26 am

    Everyone else, I apologize up front for my next comment, but I feel it is important that it be out in the open in a discussion like this. I have never done this, and it took me a half hour to decide to do it, so, fwiw:

    z, if you are the same z who has commented on other blogs under that name, it also would clarify the point you are making if others realized that you believe any woman who does not work for pay outside the home is contributing directly to the oppression of women – and that women can never trust their husbands if they are financially dependent on them – and that women should never marry men who can make more money than they can in the workplace, again because they cannot trust a man who makes more than they do – etc. Those beliefs say a ton about your argument about breastfeeding, since they show how you disapprove of more than just covering a nursing breast in public. In your pantheon of perspectives, covering a nursing breast in sacrament meeting proves a woman is accepting of an inferior status and contributing to the degradation of women globally. Throwing off that blanket is a symbol of throwing off the oppression of the men who oppress them on much deeper levels. You told my well-educated, brilliant, deeply sensitive and spiritual wife exactly that on another blog – that she was blindly and ignorantly contributing to the global oppression of women and that there was no way she could be sure of my love – even after nearly 30 wonderful years and six children. It would help if everyone knew what your ultimate agenda entails when you rail against those who support a sensitive approach to breastfeeding in sacrament meeting.

  73. z on September 7, 2007 at 12:35 am

    I’m so sorry to have inadvertently offended you, Ray.

    In my view, when read carefully, my comments are not exactly the same, but rather are responsive to the comments of others. They are attempts to clarify and restate points for the sake of an argument, but they’re not intentionally identical.

    Nowhere did I imply that all people who oppose uncovered breastfeeding are perverts or do so for sexual reasons. Rather, I was attempting to refute a commonly-offered argument against uncovered breastfeeding, which is that some people (not necessarily the person making the argument) find it sexually arousing or are sexually uncomfortable. I haven’t called anyone a pervert, nor suggested that anyone who disagrees with me is by definition immature (see, e.g., #50). I have only suggested that breasts are overly sexualized in our culture, and that some people may need and should be given more support in learning to control their thoughts. Those ideas are not controversial or insulting to anyone, in my assessment, so I don’t think your reading of my comments is fair.

    Although we’ve never met, I am confident that you are not a pervert, nor immature nor sexually repressed. I’m glad we have so many points of agreement.

  74. claire on September 7, 2007 at 12:45 am

    Ray, you must be pretty worried that z is doing a good job of arguing her point to throw all that out there!

    I’m feeling feisty tonight, so let me just add that yes, M&M (65), I knew EXACTLY what you would write in response to my comment (54). I wonder sometimes, how can you continue to so tirelessly promote and defend the status quo in all you do and say? Do you have that much invested in it?

  75. z on September 7, 2007 at 12:48 am

    Sorry Ray, but I’m going to sleep– I hope you can calm down enough to sleep too. For the record, #72 mischaracterizes my views, but I think it would be a threadjack to discuss it further, except to express the view that breastfeeding is different from peanuts because it implicates important social and political issues relating to religion, sexuality and control of the female body, and peanuts do not. It’s an utterly mainstream feminist view, and maybe someday we’ll chat about it in a more appropriate thread. Goodnight.

  76. Vada on September 7, 2007 at 12:57 am

    Sue, I thought I was quite clear that I would conform to nut-free zones in order to protect other people’s children. I just objected to you saying that it was no big deal, because for us it would be a huge deal. While I am willing to sacrifice in order to protect other children, it bothers me to have what would be, for us, a huge sacrifice dismissed out of hand.

  77. Ray on September 7, 2007 at 1:09 am

    z – I am as calm as calm can be. Seriously. It took me over a half hour to type what I did specifically because I was very careful to do it slowly and make sure I worded it as concisely as possible. “For the record,” #72 was as close to a word-for-word recitation of what you said elsewhere as it is possible to get without taking the trouble of cutting and pasting. I know, because I went back to make sure I was not mis-representing what you had said. I could have done so, but I didn’t want to post a 6-page comment. Seriously.

    claire – I’m not worried at all. I just believe in full disclosure when it bears directly on the topic at hand.

    all – I also am done with this. I do not like this type of back-and-forth in a forum like this, which is why it took me so long to post #72, so I will not be contributing further on this specific aspect of the post.

  78. dangermom on September 7, 2007 at 1:15 am

    #58: ” We’ve discussed this before, the whole creating peanut-free zones. The problem is, it is totally impossible. You are, as Ardis (you were stalked??? for years???? Ack!!) so eloquently stated, putting your child’s life in the hands of the same people who forget to send their children with lunch money and get into shoving matches at Little League games. It is a farce that gives parents a false sense of security. I would never send a child with a severe allergy anywhere without an epipen, and instructions to anyone who comes in contact with my child how to use an epipen.”

    I guess I don’t see how the two approaches are incompatible. *Of course* trying to create a completely nut-free zone is impossible, and every allergic child should have an EpiPen with him at all times, and an adult should know how to use it. At the same time, trying to cut down the number of PB&Js and Reese’s cups in the immediate vicinity–so that the EpiPen won’t be necessary so often–doesn’t seem to me to be a bad idea. An EpiPen won’t fix the fact that an allergen has been ingested, a trip to the ER is necessary, and the body’s reaction has likely been heightened–and the kid who brought the sandwich will feel terrible. All an EpiPen does is to (hopefully) keep the kid alive until he can get treatment.

    I seriously doubt that any parent of an allergic child would actually feel secure with the kid at a nut-free school. A bit less fearful, maybe, grateful to those who are helping out, yes–secure, no. For myself, I mostly feel secure when she’s asleep! ;)

  79. mmiles on September 7, 2007 at 1:28 am

    Getting back to Kaimi’s original question(s):
    “How do we decide what are reasonable (or unreasonable) impositions on individuals for the sake of protecting other vulnerable community members?”

    I think in a democracy, in large part you have to go by numbers.

    As a previous post pointed out, if 50 of the kids had a peanut problem, it is much more justified to ban peanuts than if one child does. (Practically speaking, it is impossible to make sure there is no peanut flour, etc and ban then from school. It really should be up to the parents how much risk they want to take.)
    Sue- some people can’t afford turkey. PB is the only good source of protein they can afford.

    As far as breastfeeding, again it’s numbers. The problem here is you are forcing half the population, not including infants, to cover up to accomodate a cultural construct. (I know not literally 1/2 breastfeed–but in theory it’s an intrusion into the lives of 1/2 the population who potentially could)
    I have 4 children and I breastfed 3 and am breastfeeding number 4. I don’t breastfeed in sacrament meeting, and when I do breastfeed in public, I am always discreet. That is my way of accomodating those around me whom I know will feel uncomfortable. I really don’t want to distract anyone, although I do not think it is my personal responisbility to make sure they listen to the meetings. And, quite honestly, I don’t want them to think I am wierd–a sad commentary on both our society and my own weakness. However I strongly feel women should not be asked to use a blanket either. It is simply unreasonable. I am entirely skeptical of mothers who claim to have breastfed children always under a blanket at 10 months of age and not had the blanket torn off. This would be unlike_any_ baby I have ever seen! The reality is people don’t want women breastfeeding under a blanket in sacrament meeting either. It too makes them uncomfortable, just_knowing_ there is an exposed breast under there.

    I really wish the people so concerned that they_might_ see the breast of a nursing mother would make such a noise in the checkout lines of supermarkets where breasts on the cover of Cosmopolitan and Glamour are a given. Afterall, you wouldn’t want to get distracted from paying for your groceries!

  80. Sue on September 7, 2007 at 1:36 am

    Vada, my point is that no matter the inconvenience, it still doesn’t compare to a dead child. And since that is the consequence we are talking about, I DO dismiss the inconvenience as inconsequential. It just can’t compare.

    Miles – come on. Don’t be so literal. I’m sure there is SOMETHING else kids can eat. Is that all your kids eat, ever? Turkey is 59 cents for a pack that lasts five days.

    I guess you have a point about the numbers. I mean, if it’s just ONE dead kid at the school, then, you know – totally not worth it. But if we’re talking five or six dead kids, well, then it starts to make sense to try to help out by banning peanuts. But two or three – eh.

  81. mmiles on September 7, 2007 at 1:48 am

    Sue–my kids don’t eat a lot of PB at school, but some do. I am convinced that yes 59 cents would be too much for some of the people where I live, but maybe they get free lunch?

    Sue, of course one dead child is too many. The thing is, you really can’t make a school completely peanut free. Seriously, it is next to impossible. Peanuts and there derivatives are in so many products. I have no problem with a peanut free zone (table and area). That is a happy medium. Really–this was an issue in my son’s kindergarten class last year. For the holidays parents had to make the cookies for class parties (sugar cookies included) because peanut flour is in the bakery ones. I had no problem with this ( I usually make them anyhow). That is a reasonable accomodation. To expect to entire school to be absolutely peanut free is ridiculous. So if some child unknowingly brings something and little Jo dies it’s the kids fault?

  82. mmiles on September 7, 2007 at 1:58 am

    Where do you live that it is only 59 cents?

  83. Kaimi Wenger on September 7, 2007 at 1:58 am

    Sue,

    The numbers really do matter, though, don’t they?

    If only one child has a particular problem — which is threatening to that child, and not easy for others to comply with — at some point, doesn’t it become better to take that child out of the public environment rather than force the environment to conform to that child’s particular needs?

    What if my child has a physical reaction to loud noise — say, any loud yelling will cause him to go into a seizure. Should I demand that the entire school be made into a yell-free zone so that he can wander around and go to recess like other kids? Or should I just homeschool, or ask that he be put in some kind of pull-out program or special needs program?

  84. Sue on September 7, 2007 at 1:59 am

    No. But if you as a parent purposefully decide to send your kid to school with peanuts when you KNOW it could kill a child, then yes, definitely. It IS your fault.

    “To expect the entire school to be absolutely peanut free is ridiculous.”

    Why? Of course there will be accidents and dangers. But isn’t it worth it to TRY? To say, you know what? Little Jacob here could die if he gets near peanuts and doesn’t get his Epipen in time. So we’re going to try our best to keep peanuts away from him as best we can.

    If you think it would be worth it to try for 20 kids, why isn’t it worth it to try for 1 kid? I don’t get it. The whole threshold of how many kids have to be in danger in order to make it worth your while to be inconvenienced – that’s what I don’t get. We’re not talking about dressing your kid in a space suit every day, we’re talking about freaking peanuts.

  85. Sue on September 7, 2007 at 2:05 am

    I don’t think that’s a valid comparison. And to pretend that not using peanut butter is such a huge deal to 90% of the parents out there – come on. There are a number of schools that actually DO have peanut bans and somehow – LIFE STILL GOES ON! Really! It does!

    I guess we should just make them keep all the special ed kids home too, eh? After all, why should we accommodate their needs? There are only a couple of them. Autistic children are an inconvenience, keep them home. ESL kids are an inconvenience to the teacher, let’s throw them out too.

    I could keep repeating myself, but I think I’ll go to sleep instead.

    Hopefully your child will never need special accommodations. If he does, I hope that people will be a little more compassionate than a lot of the commenters here seem to be. “Throw him in the dungeon! We demand our right to peanut butter! Viva la Jiffy!:

  86. dangermom on September 7, 2007 at 2:06 am

    I’m wondering what those parents do when they can’t afford the turkey but have peanut allergies anyway.

  87. Sue on September 7, 2007 at 2:06 am

    And for the sarcasm impaired, because I’m sure there will be a comment about it – NO, I don’t think autistic children, children with special needs, or non-English speaking children should be kept out of public school.

  88. m&m on September 7, 2007 at 2:10 am

    claire,
    I actually wasn’t going to say anything until your insensitive comment to Ardis. (I’m still stunned that a woman as passionate about women’s issues as you are would make a comment like that to another woman. Really.) It seems to me that if you knew I would respond in the way I did, I suspect you also knew that that what you said to Ardis was a cheap shot.

    So, in this case, I was more invested in defending Ardis than the status quo…not that she needs it, but still…. I’m actually fairly tired of the breastfeeding discussions. Like I said, I wasn’t planning on commenting on that topic at all.

    But I still do think the original topic itself is interesting, although it’d probably be more productive discussion if people wouldn’t polarize it all so much and get caught up in these particular two specific examples. IMO. (Ah, like Kaimi’s 83 that I just saw after refreshing.) There has to be a line somewhere with these kinds of issues, and I think it’s a worthwhile issue to discuss. We live in a society where individual needs and “rights” can sometimes seem to control a lot, and at some point, it can border on ridiculous. The challenge is finding where that fine line is.

    I’m remembering going to the temple with our ward, and sitting by a woman who has the kinds of allergies I mentioned in my other comment. I had used the restroom and put on lotion, and sat down by her. I realized what I had done and went and washed my hands again for her (although the soap probably was an issue, too). But could we expect all of the temple patrons to be perfume (even in lotions, deodorant, etc.) free?

    This woman can’t usually come to church because of her allergies, even with the perfume-free room (uncarpeted, reserved). Can we put a level of control on the whole ward and change the way the carpets, bathrooms, etc. are cleaned (and the soap that is used regularly at the sinks, etc.) so that she can come? There are levels of control that we really can’t keep up, and we would find, I imagine that at some points, needs of individuals would conflict. For example, if a child truly will only eat PB as a source of protein (which isn’t impossible to imagine), and that child has blood sugar problems that require protein at every meal, then who wins, the allergic child or the sugar-problems child? Who should be expected to homeschool? What cause do we advocate when causes collide?

  89. Sue on September 7, 2007 at 2:11 am

    I would think DEATH would be a good barometer for where the line should be. But that’s just me.

  90. Kaimi Wenger on September 7, 2007 at 2:19 am

    Cut it out, Sue. This is uncalled for.

    There _are_ costs involved, for everyone, in making a decision. Recognizing that doesn’t mean that anyone here wants to kill kids.

    Reasonable accomodation is fine. There are legitimate disagreements about what kind of accomodation is reasonable, and when it crosses the line to unreasonable.

    And FYI, I do have children with special needs. And I’m sure I’m not the only one here who does. Please stop speculating about the status of other commenters’ kids.

  91. Ray on September 7, 2007 at 2:22 am

    Sue, m&m took the time to post a very thoughtful comment and asked a legitimate question about the original post’s main point. Short and dismissive sarcasm isn’t constructive. Let me restate m&m’s question:

    What if 1 child has a condition and 3 other children have a competing condition – where both conditions could be life-threatening and would be very difficult to control? How should that situation be handled? At some point, when apples are compared to apples, does it come down to numbers – or should the parents of all four children, in the name of fairness and equality, be asked to make alternate educational arrangements? Should the school be required to provide two separate rooms and two separate teachers for just these 4 students in order to provide a public education? Is an education that is individual and achieved in isolation truly public?

  92. mmiles on September 7, 2007 at 2:28 am

    Sue– I think m&m was referring to a diabetic child, where PB is often used as a protein source, which is required in meals. It is a life/death situation for the diabetic child.
    You are really passionate about this, do you have a child with a PB allergy?
    As for disabled children (and adults), the law requires reasonable accomodation, especially in education. The key word is “reasonable”.
    It is unreasonable to expect that someone will not unwittingly bring peanut laden products around the child at school. Even if the school is delcared peanut free, not every label will be read, that is reality. It is actually in the child’s best interest to not leave it up to the rest of the school children, their parents, and the administrators to protect their child to such an extreme. It would actually make more sense for the child to wear a respirator to school.

  93. Sue on September 7, 2007 at 2:28 am

    O.K., I’ll stop. I’m just incredulous. I honestly cannot believe that someone would think the potential inconvenience of keeping peanuts out of school would be worth the possible cost. And I think you can dress that up in any type of language about reasonable accommodations you want – that’s what it boils down to. I think it’s too easy to justify all kinds of things when you make them theoretical and based on cost/benefit approaches. In this case, the cost is possible death. I think that is worth a large amount of inconvenience.

    And I do think it’s problematic to start saying that we should only consider the needs of the majority in a public school setting. Because we do provide accommodations for lots of different children with lots of different needs.

  94. Sue on September 7, 2007 at 2:35 am

    Ray – my comment was not meant sarcastically really, I am just – as I said before – incredulous. My whole point is that we are talking about death. That isn’t an insult to M&M. That’s the consequence we are talking about. Potential death. And that does make it different from all of M&Ms examples.

    I’ll let someone else respond from here on out. I’m obviously too emotionally invested in this conversation. My neighbor’s son died of an allergic reaction. The total detachment from the consequence we are talking about is just – too much to take.

  95. Ray on September 7, 2007 at 2:43 am

    Sue, nobody is saying what you are implying we are saying. At least two of us have children whose conditions make it necessary for the schools to make accommodations. All we are saying is that there *are* legitimate questions that need to be asked, *especially* when there are competing accommodations that would need to be made.

    These are *not* theoretical issues for some of us. I am a teacher and am actively involved in my school district fighting to preserve the rights of non-traditional students. These are issues with which we have struggled personally – issues that need to be addressed in education. All we are asking is that you take our struggles seriously and engage in a real discussion of the lines that constantly need to be defined in that setting.

    In practical terms, for example, am I justified in demanding that my child receive a public education regardless of the cost to the school district to provide that for him – knowing that every dollar that is spent for my child’s education is a dollar that is taken away from the education that everyone else’s children receive? That is a real and practical concern. It is a concern in my daughter’s kindergarten class this year. It is real.

  96. Norbert on September 7, 2007 at 2:49 am

    ‘The thing is, you really can’t make a school completely peanut free.’

    I’ve worked at three schools which were peanut free. It’s not that big of a deal.

  97. Ray on September 7, 2007 at 2:49 am

    Also, we live in an incredibly litigious society. If a child has such an extreme allergic condition that total sterilization is the only guarantee of safety, and if a school tries to provide that environment, and if that student dies as a result of the school’s inability to do so, can the school be held liable for that death? I know that sounds callous, but it is another *real* concern in this scenario. Over the years, I have seen instances where a school tried to accommodate a unique condition and then ended up paying dearly for that effort when a parent blamed them for their failure to do so at an ideal level.

    What we’re asking is where the proper line should be drawn. If there is such a strong likelihood of death due to an extreme allergic condition, should that child be in a public school in the first place? Those are legitimate questions.

  98. Chino Blanco on September 7, 2007 at 2:56 am

    I drive my kids to school and buy them store-bought toys.

  99. Aluwid on September 7, 2007 at 5:24 am

    Sometimes good intentions have bad results, I’m curious if we’ll learn that this is the case for “Nut-Free” Schools. For example assume that a child has a potentially fatal allergy to peanuts. His mother home-schools him to prevent any potential exposure. Then they move and she learns that the new elementary school is a “Nut-Free” school so she decides it’s safe to send him. The thing is, she is depending on hundreds of *kids* to properly obey the rules in order to ensure her son’s safety. The way some people are describing this, if one of the kids ate Peanut Butter Captain Crunch in the morning before coming to school then that could cause problems for her kid. Is the illusion of safety going to create more fatalities because mothers are sending kids to school that really should be kept at home?

    And this really is a question about numbers, for those that are big on “Nut-Free” schools and argue that inconveniencing hundreds of families for the good of one kid is appropriate, how would you handle those that are allergic to light?
    http://www.britishnews.co.uk/lifeandlovearchive/lightallergy.htm

    Should recess be banned, or only allowed indoors? No more field trips? Should school be held entirely at night? After all we’re only talking about inconvenience for the rest of the kid’s families, and it puts this one kids life at risk!

    Or should the responsibility lie with the family that has the extra unusual needs?

  100. Peter LLC on September 7, 2007 at 6:45 am

    Mostly I justed wanted to post comment #100, but I also want to second Br. Barney in #57.

  101. Naismith on September 7, 2007 at 7:27 am

    “As for breastfeeding in church, I have been blissfully unaware that this has been a source of serious contention. I can’t see how a request to be discreet about it is offensive. Can anyone explain this?….I don’t mind covering up. I still get stared at, while nursing with a blanket covering three quarters of my body. ”

    To me, it’s offensive because it is saying that the rights of the public are more important than the right of the child to be breastfed.

    I think breastfeeding is the optimal infant nutrition, that should not be denied if at all possible, and certainly not to cater to the whims of Other People, who have no real investment in my child.

    Yes, I always tried to be discreet when I nursed. I made my own nursing clothes, with pleats in the front which hid strategically placed slits, so that I didn’t even have to tuck in. For four of my children, it was fine.

    But one of my children had a poor sucking reflex. I nursed her for a year, and she never really got the hang of it. It was a huge relief to wean her on her first birthday. I always had to focus and always use two hands to keep things positioned. I couldn’t nurse her under a blanket unless I pulled the blanket over my head so I could see what was going on.

    And since my husband was on the stand or off with the stake, I didn’t feel good about leaving the other children to go off to the mother’s room.

    So I’m one of those “offensive” mothers who put my child’s health above the risk of flashing a deacon. That baby is also now three inches taller than I am.

    I started breastfeeding in 1974, when there was no research about the superiority of breastmilk, and nursing moms were very rare and looked down upon. I can’t even believe that this conversation is even taking place in 2007. It should be obvious and accepted that the needs of babies are a higher priority.

  102. Ardis Parshall on September 7, 2007 at 7:44 am

    Ah, Naismith, NOBODY has suggested that babies shouldn’t be breastfed! Nobody has suggested that mothers should not go to church, or that babies should go hungry, or any of the other ugly things partisans in this debate *hear* that nobody actually *said*. For that matter, nobody has suggested that peanut-allergic children be forcefed peanut butter, or that it’s no big deal if a peanut-allergic child dies at school. Those are all extremist charges thrown into the pot to obscure the only real point at debate: at what point do the needs/wants/conveniences of the one outweigh the needs/wants/conveniences of the many?

    Please don’t even suggest that because I believe nursing mothers should be discreet and modest in public that I am advocating infant starvation or malnutrition!

  103. Adam Greenwood on September 7, 2007 at 9:11 am

    I would think DEATH would be a good barometer for where the line should be. But that’s just me.

    I admire the fact that you don’t drive.

  104. Naismith on September 7, 2007 at 9:21 am

    “Please don’t even suggest that because I believe nursing mothers should be discreet and modest in public that I am advocating infant starvation or malnutrition!”

    But your point of view makes the assumption that it is entirely possible for mothers to be discreet and modest while breastfeeding. My experience is that your assumption is not always accurate. It simply isn’t always possible to be discreet and modest when nursing in public. (I couldn’t, not with my fourth child, and I had 3+ years of experience–pity the mom who has a child like that as a firstborn.)

    So if you CAN’T be discreet and modest in public, then what is a mother to do? Do we give up and feed formula, or continue nursing and risk the ire of others?

    For a mom with a baby like my fourth, the insistence that she nurse “discreetly” comes across as, “Let them eat cake!”

  105. Bobi on September 7, 2007 at 9:30 am

    As the parent of two children severely allergic to peanuts, I would welcome a nut-free school. However, I would not be blinded to the fact that there would be occasions when children would bring in snacks and lunches with peanut products. What it would do for me and my children is make it a \”little\” safer environment. In a lunchroom with 100\’s of children, chances of an allergic reaction would be minimal if there was one pb&j sandwich vs. 200. Or, If I knew that the lunchroom itself did not have any peanut products. I don\’t think it is an unreasonable request to try to minimize the risk. I also don\’t think the requests should be based on the # of allergic children, although I have witnessed that to be the case.

    It\’s a tough call to ask other people to make accomodations for my children, but I am also the person responsible to keep them safe. As it is, I have never asked a school or teacher to go without peanuts for my children. Instead, I make sure that all adults who will be in contact with my children know how to use an epipen and are aware of the potential dangers. My 12 year-old carries her own epipen and takes her own lunch and snacks with her. On the other hand, my 4 year-old has to rely on the adults around him to keep him safe. If the school was atleast trying to be nut-free, we wouldn\’t have to worry as much about substitute teachers and outside food.

    fwiw: As far as breastfeeding, I don\’t think you can compare asking people to cover up vs. not bring pb to school. One could result in death. I breastfed all five of my children and I never did it in sacrament meeting, I also never excused myself to the \”stinky\” mothers room. I pumped and always had a bottle of breastmilk with me. That was my personal preference and I think each woman has to choose what works best for her.

  106. Aluwid on September 7, 2007 at 9:40 am

    Naismith, are you saying there are no alternatives? Or no easy alternatives? My wife would breastfeed in the car before they got a designated mother’s room setup at church. If additional kids are present, and the husband is absent or occupied, then you could always ask another ward member to watch them for a few minutes.

    I don’t know that I personally care one way or the other, I’d prefer that women cover themselves while breastfeeding in public, but I figure it’s a gray area so I’ll just avoid looking at them. Still it seems to me that there is almost always an alternative, it’s just a question of whether one wants to go through the hassle or would prefer to make others uncomfortable instead.

  107. Adam Greenwood on September 7, 2007 at 9:43 am

    For the record, my wife always covers our children when they nurse (or, at church, goes to the mothers’ room) and its never been a problem. I don’t believe that the problems with covering up when nursing are practical ones. I also don’t believe that the straight line connection between a deacon seeing a flash of breast and spiraling off into perversion or whatever is the main reason for respecting the standard modesty lines that are drawn by our culture, though I don’t think its impossible to happen, either.

    We feed our children peanuts and peanut butter and have no intention of avoiding those products at school to prevent hypothetical problems. If we learn of an actual child at the school who has severe peanut allergies we’d stop, but otherwise we’d just carry on. Credible numbers about the number of people with peanut allergies, the likelihood that someone not diagnosed with a severe allergy will suffer death on exposure to peanuts, and the likelihood that being in the same cafeteria as someone eating peanut butter will count as exposure to peanuts, could change our minds.

    In a complex, populated society like ours, many things we do will have the effect of slightly increasing the chance that someone will die, and changes to that society will have unpredictable effects. Its possible, for instance, that a law banning peanuts in schools would disrupt the economy of peanut-growing regions, leading to suicides, the greater likelihood of fatal disease or accident that happens to depressed people, and decreased funding for local hospitals in those areas, leading to yet more deaths. Its impossible to even guess without a lot more data.

    On the other hand, the net effect of our free-wheeling, prosperous society has been to decrease mortality of all kinds and to increase lifespans, health, and physical well-being.

  108. TMD on September 7, 2007 at 9:53 am

    I’m just curious–where did this peanut allergy come from? I’ve only heard of it being an issue over the past ten years. Did all of the kids just die mysteriously before?

    And I have to wonder, is the emergence of this allergy the product of over-santized environments produced by hyper-sensitive parents?

  109. TStevens on September 7, 2007 at 9:55 am

    As long as there are peanuts in the world you will never truly (i.e. without a tremendous amount of inconvenience and money) have a nut free anything. The amount of nut protein it takes to set of an allergic reaction in the average nut allergic person is miniscule. If you are relying on others to provide the protective barrier for your child, it will never happen.
    If I had an allergic child I would spend my time educating them and anyone who interacts with them on a regular basis on how to read labels, what to do in case of a reaction, and how to use an epipen. I would also make sure that everywhere my child would be had a few epipens on hand. Most severe reactions sort of roll in waves (I am being simplistic). In fact a lot of fatal reactions can happen because people mistake the epipen as a temporary cure, where it is really just delaying the reaction long enough to get you to the ER.
    It is nice that schools and others make the effort to help protect your child, and it makes your battle slightly easier, but it will never be enough. As a parent you must work out the risks and decide what you are willing to live with. As a parent of a non-allergic child, you must also work out the risk and decide what you are willing to live with. Right or wrong, I would have to think there is going to be some guilt to work through if you are even remotely and indirectly involved with the possible death of another child.
    As for breastfeeding, I have been around a lot of nursing mothers and no matter how I have tried, I have never been able to see anything. Kaimi’s question is a good one though. I would have to know what the incidence of spiritual death among people who see an exposed nipple of a nursing mother one time. I cannot imagine it is significant, but that is just a guess. For food allergies there is about 7 million people in the US, with an average of 1000 ER visits for food induced anaphylactic shock per year (typically the severest reaction). Of those who died (unfortunately I do not have that number on hand) 90% was due to nuts. Even if we say it was all of them (900), that is over 300 million people. It is a very small number. That said, this is a very emotional issue on both sides and a pure mathematical analysis probably doesn’t add much (pun intended).

  110. Ardis Parshall on September 7, 2007 at 10:09 am

    But your point of view makes the assumption that it is entirely possible for mothers to be discreet and modest while breastfeeding.

    Yup. You’ve pretty much got my poiint of view right. Or at least that it is entirely possible for mothers to TRY to be discreet and modest while breastfeeding IN PUBLIC. No reasonable person minds the occasional unavoidable lapse any more than a reasonable person is upset when a skirt is accidently blown by the wind to immodest heights.

    The sneering and outraged tones employed by those who insist they have the right to do whatever they jolly well please, however and whenever they jolly well please, any disapproval by the majority be damned, is far more objectionable than any accidental exposure. It’s the insistence that women shouldn’t — must not — even try to be discreet, even care about the opinions of others, that is so distasteful. The exposure of Janet Jackson’s breast wasn’t what angered so many people — it was that she decided, on her own, that she had a right to flout public standards for her own convenience, that was so wrong.

    It’s the same old problem of one person deciding she’s so special, such the exception to the rule, that she can do whatever she wants regardless of what others want, and demand to be *applauded* for it, that bugs me the most. That, and the feminist feeding frenzy that takes place on blogs — exactly as happened here last night — when anybody dares to say “cover up — I’m not edified by your exhibitionism during Sacrament meeting.”

  111. Mike on September 7, 2007 at 10:12 am

    Nut-free school??

    At first glance I thought this was about the intellectual nuts infesting our public schools pretending to be teachers trying to make good little socialists out of our children.

    But alas, I was mistaken. I always seem to have trouble with the literal versus the metaphorical meaning of discussions.

  112. BBELL on September 7, 2007 at 10:15 am

    How is this for a perspective…..

    1. My dad is deathly allergic to peanuts. I grew up with this situation
    2. My mom breastfed in front of us all the time growing up
    3. My wife has breastfed 4 kids. Breastfeeding is awesome. Its best for the kids. Its cheaper then formula. Breastfeeding is more PC then not breastfeeding.

    Now that my authority is established :) here comes my comment.

    1. I am going to continue to send my kids to school with PB sandwiches. PB played a large nutrition role on my mission in Africa. Poor kids were commonly fed a large piece of bread just slathered with PB for breakfast as part of public programs. I have slathered more PB on bread in these programs as part of service projects then anyone can imagine. The joy on a poor hungry kids face when presented for the first time with a PB slathered piece of homemade bread is a sight to behold. I believe that PB is saving lives literally in Africa based on Exp.

    2. On our next kid my wife will breastfeed discreetly. I am with Kevin B. There is way way more smoke then fire on the breastfeeding issue in bloggernaccle. I have never seen a fight over breastfeeding in a ward because I have never seen a woman flashing her breasts. Any guy YM or whomever that accidentally sees a breast and needs friggin counseling has got far more serious problems then just that accidental flashing. The flip side I think is also true. There are breastfeeding fanatics out there as well. They have issues as well.

    3. I am with Ray. (like almost always) I am of the view that Z is a man hating troll.

  113. Naismith on September 7, 2007 at 10:46 am

    “For the record, my wife always covers our children when they nurse (or, at church, goes to the mothers’ room) and its never been a problem. I don’t believe that the problems with covering up when nursing are practical ones.”

    So I guess I was just a dud nurser, a failure as a breastfeeder, if I couldn’t live up to your wife’s high standards.

    No wait a minute, I did fine for the first three. It was only the fourth one that posed “practical problems.” Maybe all your wife’s babies were like my first three; lucky her.

    If folks are curious, this was the issue: since the baby had a poor suck and I couldn’t feel her nursing, I had to hold her in one arm, and position my breast with the other hand, and pretty much keep that second hand in place the entire time she was nursing, and/or visually checking to make sure she was latched on. Of course I used pleated nursing clothes, and of course there was a blanket around the baby protecting her as much as possible so that one would have to be looking down at us to see anything. But I’m sure that a person sitting in front of us who turned around could see stuff. And I couldn’t pull a blanket over my shoulder because I didn’t have a third hand to keep it in place, as well as I needed to see her nursing.

  114. Mark B. on September 7, 2007 at 10:49 am

    Where are all the wannabe corporate lawyers when you need them.

    Re: #60: If breasts are proxies, they’ve got my vote.

  115. Peter LLC on September 7, 2007 at 11:09 am

    Southwest joins the ranks of the (modest) fashion police:
    http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/us/2007/09/07/costello.mini.skirt.cnn

  116. dangermom on September 7, 2007 at 11:12 am

    TMD 108: That’s a long discussion on its own. Yes, there have always been allergies, but for various reasons the issue is more visible today. Problems with the immune system seem to have risen generally, not just allergies, but not as much as you might think; it’s just better diagnosed and more talked about. Kids died in the 50’s too.

    The fact that we all live in a cleaner society *may* have something to do with a rise in allergies–not that I spent my child’s infancy swabbing her with anti-bacterial wipes, but that things like hookworm aren’t very common any more and we mostly don’t share our pantries with rats. It’s also commonly a genetic thing, and the chemicals we’ve poured into the environment with little idea of the consequences may have something to do with it.

    Please do not assume that allergies are a direct result of a hyper-clean paranoid parent; it’s not true. People like to think that because it means that they are Good Parents, and allergies don’t happen to Good Parents, only Bad Parents who try to raise their kids in bubbles. It gives them the illusion of safety and control, and it lets them blame mothers, which is after all a national sport. We used to blame autism on mothers too.

    The bottom line is that we don’t really understand why allergies happen very well, and it seems to vary between children.

  117. Vada on September 7, 2007 at 11:26 am

    I think both of Kaimi’s examples, and many others should be held to the same standard:

    Go about your life in as normal a way as possible, and try to be conscientious of those around you. Then, if you learn of someone around you with a specific problem, be more conscientious and respectful of their specific needs, even if it is more inconvenient for you.

    Using the pb example: I will continue to feed my kids peanut butter, but I will try to keep them from smearing it over everything, especially when we’re in public places. If I learn that one of their friends or classmates has a peanut allergy, I will stop feeding them peanut butter any time they are around that friend, and make sure they wash their hands and faces before seeing that person.

    Using the breastfeeding example: I will continue to breastfeed where ever it is most convenient for me, though I will try to be discreet and not flash those around me. If someone specifically tells me that they have a problem (i.e. another woman in the ward tells me that her son is fighting a porn addiction, and seeing a breast, especially at church, where he feels safe, would be really hard for him) I will try to make accommodations, and not breastfeed around that person, even if it more inconvenient for me.

    I don’t think any of us should or need to change because the people around us could potentially have a problem with what we do. There is potential for problems in everything (for example, there are people with life-threatening allergies to almost every single food). However, if we know there are specific people around us with specific problems, we should try to accommodate them to the best of our abilities. It is the Christ-like thing to do.

  118. Carrie Lundell on September 7, 2007 at 11:43 am

    Kaimi,

    Not everyone over at Tales thinks that going NUT FREE at schools is a sacrifice everyone should make. I think there were quite a few comments where people discussed the range of what this could mean, and there obviously has to be a line somewhere when it comes to being “sensitive” to people with extreme allergies. Our world is full of deadly risks, there is no way to shield every child from all of them.

    As for breastfeeding, I also believe there is a line somewhere between flashing your exposed breast to a large group of people for a long period of time and covering up with five blankets in a cloistered mother’s room.

  119. Mike on September 7, 2007 at 11:51 am

    I initially wasn’t going to post this since it does not represent my own view but that of a friend. However, it does illustrate how much of this discussion about modesty and breast feeding is emotional, individual and culturally based.

    We have some friends, a good Mormon family. The father is from California and played football for BYU many years ago where they met and married. The mother is a convert from Sweden, knock-out gorgeous and very active in the church. She has served as Relief Society President and Primary President and such. She is very orthodox on most topics. But sometimes she has a few crazy ideas. They have 6 kids including a 13 year old son and a 11 year old daughter and the rest are younger.

    So we are over there for dinner and the topic of immodesty of the Young Women at MIA comes up. Short skirts and such. I was suprized at the response of this good sister from Sweden. She said that if her daughters ever got in trouble with YW leaders for wearing immodest clothing she knew how to remedy the problem. She would strip down buck naked and run around like that for about 3 weeks. Carpool the kids to early morning seminary in the minivan like that, go to the grocery store, walk into Sacrament meeting, fix dinner every night, have scripture study and family home evening, do some visiting teaching. That would take care of the problem for sure, she assured us.

    I allow for a great deal of hyperbole in her response. But her threat made before her young daughter who will soon be a very attractive teenager does reflect her completely different mindset.

  120. CS Eric on September 7, 2007 at 12:24 pm

    Sometimes people develop allergies for no known reason. Other than occasional bouts of hayfever, I was allergy free until about six years ago. I went to the doctor with flu-like symptoms, and was prescribed ibupfofen. I had never had problems with it before, but this time as soon as I took it I started to break out in hives and it felt like my skin was on fire. Sure enough, now I am allergic to ibuprofen. My wife isn’t so we still have some around the house, If I am careless, I head to the ER. A few months later, I ate some brownies with walnuts in them that somebody had brought to work. I had the same reaction as to the ibuprofen, but my throat started to close up, too. I wasn’t keen on walnuts before, but now I avoid them because I know what happens to me if I eat them.

    I occasionally experience a physical reaction when I see a female breast, but I don’t think it is because of an allergy.

  121. Adam Greenwood on September 7, 2007 at 12:46 pm

    Vada’s approach is excellent. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that people will be a lot more comfortable advertising a peanut allergy than a p*rn problem.

    Get your licks in quick (or even thoughtful, substantive comments). We’ll be closing the thread shortly.

  122. claire on September 7, 2007 at 1:35 pm

    Have to get my ‘lick’ in then… the thing that set me off last night (as a feminist and some would say ‘lactivist,’ but otherwise overly modest person) is when people say they can’t understand why women don’t ‘cover up,’ and then refuse to hear the perfectly reasonable explanations of why (some) women don’t.

    I nurse at church (even while conducting RS- m&m, try not to be too shocked!), and while I make very little effort to conceal the fact I’m nursing, I make a concerted effort to ensure my breasts aren’t ‘showing’. I do this because I don’t see the point of coming to church or going anywhere with a baby if I have to cloister myself when she wants to eat, and because I think it helps other people (especially youth) see they shouldn’t have to feel that way about themselves or future wives either. Or that breasts are purely sexual. Now if someone PREFERS to be cloistered, more power to them. A nursing baby can be a great way to get out of a lot of things :-)

    I’m sure I’m just as blind to other’s explanations in other situations, but this is clearly a hot button for me.

  123. Jim on September 7, 2007 at 2:29 pm

    @60:

    I agree–we SHOULD be trying to think of ways to help people overcome their hang-ups about feminine anatomy, and nursing mothers shouldn’t be forced to go to great inconvenience to avoid giving offense.

    BUT:

    if you accept the preposition that there are always going to be people who can’t overcome homosexual tendencies in this life, then it would seem to logically follow that there will also always be people who won’t be able to overcome sexual attraction to a nursing woman (or a host of other sexual inclinations ranging from the mildly kinky to the criminally outrageous). Those people deserve something marginally more compassionate than a cold admonition to “deal with it”.

    I have difficulty avoiding the conclusion that a woman who can reasonably take steps to nurse modestly, but refuses to do so solely as a point of feminist pride, either a) genuinely has no idea of the kind of struggles faced by some of her brethren, or b) just doesn’t care.

  124. Naismith on September 7, 2007 at 2:45 pm

    “Naismith, are you saying there are no alternatives? Or no easy alternatives? My wife would breastfeed in the car before they got a designated mother’s room setup at church.”

    I didn’t have a car to go to. But more importantly, I don’t think I should have to be sent away in order to nurse my baby. In most cases (and Vada mentioned an exception in #117), the baby’s right to be nursed and a mother’s right to be nurtured by the gospel trumps other folks right to a breastfree sacrament meeting.

    “I don’t know that I personally care one way or the other, I’d prefer that women cover themselves while breastfeeding in public, but I figure it’s a gray area so I’ll just avoid looking at them.”

    That’s really all I ask. With four out of my five children, I could nurse very discreetly. If I hadn’t been blessed to have a child with a poor sucking reflex, I would probably be like m&m, wondering what the big deal is. But now I understand that it isn’t always possible to nurse discreetly.

    “Still it seems to me that there is almost always an alternative, it’s just a question of whether one wants to go through the hassle or would prefer to make others uncomfortable instead.”

    Okay, this I can’t agree with. When Blacks first got the priesthood, many members were uncomfortable with the idea of Black youth blessing and passing the sacrament. Should they have given up the exercise of their priesthood? There are older members who aren’t comfortable with a female gospel doctrine teacher, and would prefer a man. Should I stop teaching for their comfort? Many mature RS sisters wouldn’t be comfortable having an RS president in her 20s, so should we not consider younger sisters for that calling?

    As Vada noted in #117, if someone had specifically asked me not to breastfeed for an extraordinary reason, I would of course be accomodating.

    But a healthy adult should not be uncomfortable around a breastfeeding mom. It is *their* problem if they are uncomfortable (just as folks were uncomfortable with Black deacons) and they need to just get over it.

  125. m&m on September 7, 2007 at 2:59 pm

    Naismith,
    FWIW, I can understand situations like yours, really. You did your best, and that is all anyone can expect.

    But I do think you are not understanding the flip side of the issue. I think compassion and understanding should go both ways.

  126. Matt W. on September 7, 2007 at 3:08 pm

    Um, you just buy one of the apron thingies, my wife feeds the baby everywhere, just under the apron thingy. Problem solved. If you can’t afford one, Steve Evans will buy it for you.

  127. Naismith on September 7, 2007 at 3:44 pm

    “But I do think you are not understanding the flip side of the issue. I think compassion and understanding should go both ways.”

    Explain the “flip side” to me, then.

    I *can* understand very rare, unusual situations like described in #117. If anyone came to me with that problem, I would make efforts to accomodate them.

    I don’t understand the problem for most healthy members of the church. Can you please explain it? How is this different from Black deacons passing the sacrament?

  128. mmiles on September 7, 2007 at 3:52 pm

    it is obvious that people are unaware that some babies will never, ever nurse under a blanket or “apron thingy”. At risk of being flamed, I think that anyone who thinks otherwise did not breastfeed for more than a few months.
    M&M, et al. — I’m not sure what you mean by compassion in #125. Please note I do myself make reasonable acccomodations for those who are uncomfortable with breastfeeding. At the same time, being uncomfortable with breastfeeding is a social construct that is immoral. Many people are very uncomfortable with the sight of disabled and/or deformed individuals, yet I am sure we can all agree that it would be wrong to hide them so that people would be spared their discomfort. However this is exactly what happened 50 years ago. Disabled people were instituionalized in large part to spare the rest of society uncomfortable feelings. It is only because of strong activism against the barriers of an immoral construct that anything ever changed. Thank heavens for lactivism and feminism that fight against such breastfeeding barriers.

  129. Starfoxy on September 7, 2007 at 3:56 pm

    Or at least that it is entirely possible for mothers to TRY to be discreet and modest while breastfeeding IN PUBLIC.

    This is perfectly reasonable. I think it is also reasonable to ask that others shouldn’t assume that if they didn’t see the effort then it didn’t happen.

  130. Matt W. on September 7, 2007 at 4:10 pm

    mmiles, my wife is starting the 5th month under the apron. I’ll keep you posted.

  131. mmiles on September 7, 2007 at 4:10 pm

    Few, if any, on this thread are demanding the right to rip of their shirts in public. Why are people demanding blankets? As Claire pointed out, breastfeeding without a blanket can be just as modest and more discreet.

  132. Kaimi Wenger on September 7, 2007 at 4:22 pm

    A number of commenters have pointed out that babies’ behavior varies. As a result, “I was able to do it under a blanket, why can’t you?” isn’t a particularly convincing argument.

    My second son is quite claustrophobic. This showed early. From the age of four months on, any blanket we tried to place over him while nursing would be forcefully tossed aside, with much noise and yelling.

    Of course, this had the effect, when attempted, of only drawing _more_ attention to the fact that he was nursing; and a yelling and squirming baby tends to expose _more_ breast than a quietly nursing baby.

    All of which underscores the fact that for some mothers and babies, the blanket strategy just doesn’t work.

  133. Matt W. on September 7, 2007 at 4:34 pm

    the apron is not a blanket. I’ll try to find a website, but it is just this cloth apron thing which is dark on one side, so no one can see you, but is light on the other side, so the baby can see through it, so it’s not as claustrophobic. It is really nice, and it’s light weight, so it isn’t as annoying to baby that way either. Does anyone else know what I’m talking about? I’ll try and find a website.

  134. m&m on September 7, 2007 at 5:12 pm

    Naismith and others,
    My point is this. I agree that people ought not to tsk tsk at the concept of a woman breastfeeding. I really do.

    But I have been places where a woman isn’t discreet, and the attitude has clearly been, “This doesn’t bother me, so oh well” and I’ve seen that it has made some people in the room uncomfortable. It’s something that makes me uncomfortable because it doesn’t seem like much to ask for a woman to be discreet, or even to consider that someone might be uncomfortable and therefore make some simple accommodations. I’m not demanding a heavy blanket over a squirming child, but I am sorry — I did nurse my children, one of them for 18 months+ ( a squirmy child at that) and I never felt the need to breastfeed in public. It didn’t bother me to go into another room for a few minutes. It’s only a big deal to go in another room for those who make it a big deal. This isn’t a moral absolute kind of thing in my mind, and “deal with it” isn’t in my mind a very compassionate point of view, even if it would be better if everyone were comfy with breastfeeding. But truth is, everyone’s not, and a woman being ‘in your face’ about breastfeeding to make a point won’t help make that better, imo. I don’t like breastfeeding used as a tool for making a statement about someone’s weaknesses, and deciding for everyone in the room how they ‘should’ feel. Truth be told, everyone’s in different places (and has different opinions) and a woman who is breastfeeding is in a sort of power position, and she ought to not assume that she’s in the right even if she has the right to breastfeed. There is more to life than just our rights. To consider someone else’s feelings, even if they are misguided, is not always a bad thing.

  135. mmiles on September 7, 2007 at 5:21 pm

    m&m,
    Why are the feelings of the person not breastfeeding paramount?
    What if someone has an older child and there isn’t another place for them to go? Why can’t the person not breastfeeding find another place to go? Is it because there are usually more non-breastfeeders than breastfeeders? In which case, we are back to numbers. If there are 5 breastfeeding mothers in a room and 4 uncomfortable people, does this change the scenario? Which group should sacrifice to accomodate the other group?

  136. jjohnsen on September 7, 2007 at 5:24 pm

    I don’t think anyone is proclaiming their right to go topless to breastfeed as someone (Ardis maybe) has said. Babies that are breastfeeding act differently as they eat. We’ve had two, one of them would remain still, sometimes sleeping, as she breastfed. Her brother would dance a jig while he was eating, and covering everything up all the time was close to impossible.

    As a man, I hate, hate, hate the breastfeeding “controversy”. I think the reason it annoys me so much, is the people who say women need to wear an apron that covers their body seem to think men and boys in the church have absolutely zero choice in the matter. As if we cannot control our thoughts, or even where we look. Is anyone really worried that a deacon will glimpse the side of a breast and run home to masturbate himself into the Telestial kingdom? If the woman in front of us feeds her child should my wife start checking our computer for porn, because a mammary catalyst will have set me off into satan’s pornographic grasp?

    Thankfully just like I am able to use a bathroom instead of urinating on the carpet, I also have the ability to practice self-control in other areas of my life.

  137. James on September 7, 2007 at 5:29 pm

    I can’t comment on the breastfeeding issue because it was never an issue for me personally. I will comment on the allergies issue. While we all have a moral and legal duty to protect our children from harm as much as we can, should that extend to disrupting the rest of society to accommodate us? I am going to be very coldly analytical here, please forgive me if this bothers you. Public schools have limited resources. Funds spent to sanitize schools and remove allergens from the dining areas takes funding away from instruction. Whose rights are paramount here, the 3 or 4 students per hundred with food allergies, or the 96 to 97 students who could benefit from improved teacher training and instructional materials? Practicality suggests that improving the education of the many has a greater long-term benefit for society than making environmental accommodations for the few. Some will say. “but children will die!” This is an inescapable consequence of being born. While as parents we should of course do all that we can to keep our children safe, however we should not assume the right to tell the rest of the world what to eat and how to live. We may need to segregate those children, like my child with a walnut allergy, until they have internalized the dos and don’ts of survival.

  138. Naismith on September 7, 2007 at 5:29 pm

    “But I have been places where a woman isn’t discreet, and the attitude has clearly been, “This doesn’t bother me, so oh well” ”

    Yeah, I’ve been places like that, too. When we lived in South America and in Texas, that’s how those darn Hispanics acted. Like breasts were made for breastfeeding and it shouldn’t be a big deal. The nerve! Clearly they need to learn our (inherently better, of course) USAmerican way of treating breasts as sex objects. [sarcasm off]

    “I never felt the need to breastfeed in public…”

    That’s wonderful for you. And I don’t think anyone is saying that you SHOULD breastfeed in public.

    ” It’s only a big deal to go in another room for those who make it a big deal.”

    As a convert, I would have never been able to sit through a sacrament meeting talk or sunday school lesson for the first 8 years or so in the church if I hadn’t breastfed. But that’s not supposed to be a “big deal”? It was bad enough that I didn’t make it back to the temple during that time. I really did want to have some idea of the gospel truth that I was supposed to be living and sustaining and defending.

    So are we to assume that when President Hinckley said that converts should be nurtured by the good word of God, he really meant “unless they are breastfeeding”? I don’t think so.

    “I don’t like breastfeeding used as a tool for making a statement about someone’s weaknesses…”

    Neither do I. Breastfeeding is simply the optimal way to feed an infant. Nothing is more important than that priority. End of story.

  139. m&m on September 7, 2007 at 5:44 pm

    Why are the feelings of the person not breastfeeding paramount?
    What if someone has an older child and there isn’t another place for them to go?

    This is why I say compassion goes both ways. I think Naismith’s example of needing to feed her child and stay with her other children is a possible example of such a situation where compassion is warranted the other way (but where someone who is uncomfortable could not likely leave).

    Naismith, you seem to be painting me as an unreasonable person. I’m not talking about Hispanics. I served a mission in So. America, so I understand that cultures differ. I’m talking about my own circle, in my own experience.

    Nothing is more important than that priority.
    Of course you are entitled to your point of view. I think that sometimes other things and other people could be considered, too, without too much grief. Of course, like I said, I understand there are situations where my view would take a back seat. A convert needing spiritual feeding while her child needs to be nursed might be an example. I’m not an absolutist on this. I just like to consider ‘both sides.’ But I do understand what you are saying and why you feel the way you do.

  140. Ray on September 7, 2007 at 5:58 pm

    A personal example that illustrates my take on sensitivity to cultural norms:

    I was raised in rural farm country. Words that are highly offensive to some people no matter the context or usage are words I grew up hearing all the time. (It took my father years to call it “manure” – and it caused my mother great embarrassment and consternation until he did. It wasn’t conscious; it simply was habitual.) My parents also taught me that I should think about what I wanted to say and use whatever words best fit the meaning I wanted to convey – that it is perfectly appropriate to use “swear words” if they aren’t used as expletives, but rather in their proper context and dictionary meaning.

    Due to my upbringing, I have no problem whatsoever using words in context that others find offensive just because of the way that society has turned them into prohibited words. When I am with others who feel the same way, I fall back on that upbringing; when I am in Church or any other situation where I am associating with people whose sensibilities are different than mine, I try to understand and respect that difference and subvert my natural speech to the level of least offense. If the topic comes up and someone is interested in why I am so comfortable saying words they wouldn’t dream of using, I try to explain my perspective. If they don’t express interest or can’t accept it, I back off and acquiesce to the communal standard – as long as I feel my eternal salvation will not be influenced by the compromise. It’s just the courteous way to act, IMO.

    Thus far in my life, I have found relatively few practical issues where I truly have had to dig in my heels, raise my fists and aggressively fight to reject such communal standards. If I have to abase myself slightly in order to maintain peace and understanding and unity, so be it.

  141. Ray on September 7, 2007 at 6:08 pm

    I should add that I believe firmly that there are exceptions to every rule, and that Naismith’s case is a perfect example of such an exception. (I also have never said that women should not breastfeed in sacrament meeting – only that they should not do so without covering or shielding in some way *in our current culture*.)

  142. nonuts on September 7, 2007 at 7:40 pm

    Wow, peanut allergic kids watch out with the majority of you guys. And my goodness, I don\’t think the wife of an allergist has any meaning at all. So you ban peanuts from school and you provide a safer environment for some students what is so wrong with that? Students have a right to an education, not the right to eat peanut products at school. There are other substitues for peanut butter such as soy nut butter or sun nut butter, have you tried them? Hostess products, fruits, vegetables, most potato chips, raisins, brownie mix, cake mix, ice cream and so on DO NOT contain nuts. Shouldn\’t you be more concerned about grades and behavior than the inconvenience of not eating peanuts?

  143. Laura W on September 7, 2007 at 9:12 pm

    As someone with a severe food allergy (shellfish), I am very sympathetic to the people who need special accomodations made for severe allergies.

    However, one of the problems with “nut-free schools” and the like is that it gives special accomodations to people with one specific problem, but marginalizes other, equally serious, problems. I’ve worked at a nut-free summer camp where they served shellfish on special occasions. When I pointed out that I was as allergic to shellfish (rapid anaphalaxis) as some people are to peanuts, I was told to just go fix myself a plate from the fridge and take it back to my cabin.

    It’s not hard to see how people question having to change to protect one child, when others are left unprotected. But it’s unreasonable to anticipate every problem, so where to draw the line?? Personally, I think it should involve give and take from all parties. Perhaps there is an allergy-sensitve/medically-supportive school in the district that kids where allergies and other medical problems could be addressed without requiring whole zip-codes to eliminate certain food products. The families with allergic children sacrifice going to their neighborhood school, and the general public sacrifices some education funds to provide a safe environment for children with severe allergies.

  144. Belle on September 7, 2007 at 10:11 pm

    I don’t breastfeed in sacrament meeting (of course I’m the ONLY breastfeeding mother in my ward right now so I enjoy the whole mothers room to myself with a cushy chair no other children to bother me and I can avoid any hypocrits that seem to be DRIPPING throughout all of the mormon church) good friggin grief so women breastfeed in public SO WHAT this really is a GET OVER IT moment. I mean what would Jesus do? Do we need to go back to primary. If any man/boy/women/girl has dirty thoughts because a woman breastfeeds in public that is THEIR sin not that of the breastfeeding mother. ya’all (anti-breastfeeding in public peoples) sound like Ted Bundy blaming his murderous tendencies on the existence of porn (it’s societies fault) excuse. BTY I couldn’t cover my baby up with an apron, blanket, towel, or bucket as he begins to sweat PROFUSLY everytime I tried. To all those brave ladies breast feeding in sacrament meeting or anywhere else…you go girls!
    BTY my kids love cream cheese and jelly sandwhiches (flavored cream cheese is the best) just an idea to help wean society off of PB until everyone has a milk allergy too.

  145. Tatiana on September 8, 2007 at 12:13 am

    I want to add to the very fine discussion so far that if some women had not acted in a way that shocked the standards of the time and place, for instance by wearing skirts that showed their ankles or blouses that showed their elbows, then we’d all be in burkhas. I think the way standards change is that first a few people are willing to shock others, and then more and more join then, and finally it’s no longer shocking, it’s totally mainstream and everyone forgets there was ever another standard.

    As for the peanut allergy, of course I would do everything in my power to accommodate.

  146. Tatiana on September 8, 2007 at 1:10 am

    “Women were forced to wear the burqa in public, because, according to a Taliban spokesman, “the face of a woman is a source of corruption” for men not related to them.”

    Does this sort of sound la lot like “the nipple of a breastfeeding woman is a source of corruption for deacons” to you as it does to me?

  147. James on September 8, 2007 at 1:15 am

    re: 144 – nonuts “Students have a right to an education,”

    Actually, they don’t. There is no right to education in the U.S. or state constitutions. The argument that there is a right to education is negated by the fact that public schools can expel a child and bar them from school facilities. Parents on the other hand have a legal obligation to place their children in an educational setting until they are 16 or 18 depending on the state. They also have an oft repeated divine command to teach their children.

  148. Chino Blanco on September 8, 2007 at 2:29 am

    My own sense is that there might very well be something actually quite morally edifying in the act of reminding deacons, teachers, priests, heck, the entire male portion of our population, of the fleshy portal through which they arrived and the fatty gland by which they were sustained at their most vulnerable. I wonder if pornography and prudery are not both motivated by the same male urge … an urge to escape/deny/forget our original vulnerability, either by mocking/commodifying on the one hand or hiding from view on the other, but in either case, always mitigating the otherwise awful/awesome reality of our arrival and survival, which have only ever been by way of a woman’s body.

    Courbet’s 1866 painting L’Origine du Monde is a work I intend to share with my children. I’d like to share it with you, too. The link is tasteful, once you’ve clicked, there will be further user interaction required, and the choice will be yours to view Courbet’s depiction of our shared and singular origin.

  149. Bobi on September 8, 2007 at 8:50 am

    re #137

    I don’t think any school has had to spend extra education funds to sanitize and remove allergens from their lunchrooms specifically for peanut allergic children. I’m pretty sure they wipe down the tables everyday for everyone. If the school had a no-nuts policy there wouldn’t be any nuts to have to clean up after.

    As far as your comment “but children die! This is an inescapable consequence of being born.” My daughters 6th grade social studies teacher seemed to have the same opinion, he would eat peanut m&m’s standing over her desk and then breathe in her face. Why not help them along?

    It would not cost the education system any extra funds to try to accomodate food allergic children. A simple note in the school newsletter requesting (not demanding) children not bring peanut pruducts to school would make it a little safer. Those parents who are concerned about others would be accomodating and those parents who absolutely refuse to “be told what to do” can still send in a pb&j everyday.

  150. Jim Cobabe on September 8, 2007 at 1:37 pm

    Well, I wander through this corner of the “civilized” world after spending months in the wilderness, and what do I find? Strangely uncivilized rhetoric.

    To be honest, I enjoy both peanuts and women’s breasts, and would be slightly inconvenienced to give up my nominal and traditional consumption of either one for the sake of some trivial need. On the other hand, if it threatens human life in some way, I could be persuaded.

    I’m thinking further that to presume to create a general rule or public policy about either question seems impractical. There would seem to be more utility in considering each case on individual merits.

    That’s my personal take.

    “Man is the only animal that blushes — or needs to.” (Mark Twain)

  151. cchrissyy on September 8, 2007 at 2:30 pm

    146) students with disabilities are protected by federal law (IDEA) that they do have a right to a “free and appropriate public education”. so yeah, at least the special needs students DO have a right to an education under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

  152. Kaimi Wenger on September 8, 2007 at 4:23 pm

    Thanks for your comments, everyone. We’ve seen a lot of interesting back and forth about the question of accommodating others’ needs. I don’t know that we’ve arrived at any final answers.

    In the mean time, I’m going to shut comments here for a bit, to focus on the related question of who bears the burdens of accommodation.