Straw Men

Here’s a blog post that drove me nuts today. This is the text in its entirety, as of this writing:

Call to Action: Lose Your Temple Recommend For Feeding Baby?

By Megan Bishop

A dear friend of mine is being released from her YW calling tomorrow for breastfeeding at church. Furthermore, she has been told that if anyone complains in any other meeting, be that sacrament, Sunday School, or Relief Society, she is to leave the room or cover to nurse from that point on. She was also told that if she does not comply, she is not sustaining her leaders and her recommend could be at risk.

We are collecting letters of support for breastfeeding in church to send to the First Presidency and Scott Trotter, LDS spokesperson. We will send all of the letters we have received on March 29th, 2013. Please email letters to [email protected]
Suggestions for letters include: personal experiences of breastfeeding in church (good or bad), requests for a statement that breastfeeding in church is acceptable in the Church Handbook of Instructions, and why you think it is important for breastfeeding to be accepted in church. Please pass this along to anyone you feel might be interested in writing a letter.

Let me go through the first paragraph to show why I think this is a completely invalid way to try to tackle a serious issue.

A dear friend of mine is being released from her YW calling tomorrow for breastfeeding at church. Furthermore,

Wait, what? Furthermore? You can’t jump to “furthermore” yet! You just said the most outlandish, hard-to-believe thing, with no details whatsoever, and you’re jumping to “furthermore”??

All right, some of you are already saying it’s not hard to believe, that it’s totally like a flawed patriarchal organization to do something like that. Fine, okay, you believe it if you want. Maybe it’s even true! But the author will never get somebody on the fence to consider her side of the story by just throwing out blanket statements like that.

How about this: “A dear friend of mine is being released from her YW calling tomorrow. She believes it is for breastfeeding at church.” Or maybe “She was told by her bishop that it was for breastfeeding at church.

In any case, it contradicts the very next sentence, the one plagued by a premature “furthermore”.

Furthermore, she has been told that if anyone complains in any other meeting, be that sacrament, Sunday School, or Relief Society, she is to leave the room or cover to nurse from that point on.

Wait. So, she’s being released for breastfeeding, then being told if she breastfeeds again, and somebody complains, she needs to leave the room, or else cover herself to nurse– but that doesn’t make sense. If she’s being told to cover, she’s not being told to not breastfeed — she’s being told to cover her breast.

Ohhhhh, I get it. She wasn’t released for breastfeeding, was she? She was released, and doesn’t cover herself when she breastfeeds, and you were afraid to lose support for your argument by mentioning that. You wanted everybody to get up in arms, which is why you didn’t say “Lose Your Temple Recommend for Breastfeeding Your Baby Uncovered” in your title.

Am I right?

I’m not going to get into the argument about nursing uncovered versus nursing with a blanket over wiggly little baby’s hot head. That’s not the topic of discussion here. Here, I’m just saying, if you’re trying to get people to light torches and march on the castle, make sure you explain exactly what the monster is you plan to destroy.