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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Enough with the Lactose Tolerance Jokes, He Sobbed

It all started with a flight attendant being offended by the back of a baby's head.

You'll remember the story from October, in which poor Emily Gillette was kicked off a Freedom Airlines plane for offending a flight attendant by breast-feeding her baby.

As Newsweek wrote:

her troubles began when she and her husband and their almost 2-year-old daughter River were traveling from Vermont to New York. Their flight was delayed three hours and anyone who has ever traveled with small children can guess what kind of condition little River was in when the family finally boarded their Freedom Airlines flight (booked through Delta Air Lines) at 10 p.m., well past the toddler’s normal bedtime. The family headed to their seats at the back of the little plane. Mother and daughter took the window seat in the second to last row; River’s dad took the aisle seat. As the plane was getting ready to move, Gillette tucked in next to the window and began to discreetly nurse River.

That’s when Gillette noticed the lone flight attendant holding out a blanket, telling Gillette that she needed to cover up. “I was holding my shirt closed with one hand. There was literally not a bit of my breast exposed,” she says. “I was being as discreet as possible.” When Gillette refused, Gillette says the flight attendant responded; “You are offending me. You need to cover up.” Gillette refused again. Gillette says the flight attendant huffed off, and returned with a ticket agent, who told the family that they were being thrown off the plane. The stunned Gillettes gathered their things and started moving toward the door. “Gillette started quietly crying,” says Elizabeth Beopple, Gillette’s Vermont-based lawyer. “She was so humiliated. As they left the plane, the fight attendant was standing there, and Gillette said in tears, ‘Why are you doing this?’ ” According to the Gillettes, the flight attendant pointed to the door and said, “Get off the plane.”


Who thinks this way? Nobody else, fortunately. If you've never seen an airplane backpedaling, the spectacle of Freedom and parent Delta suddenly proclaiming women's rights one tiny grudging step at a time had been eminently satisfying. The flight attendant has been disciplined (how? by being strapped down while strippers take turns lapdancing?) and the incident may sink Delta in its battle to combat USAirways hostile takeover bid.

Well, bad cess on the muthering spalpeens, as S. J. Perelman was wont to say. You get what you deserve. In addition to the worldwide bad press, "lactivists" protested at some 30 airports, carrying signs like "Best in-flight meal ever" and "Got Breast Milk?" T-shirts.


(AP Photo/Toby Talbot)


It's all good. Except for me.

One of the other signs carried read "Don't be lactose intolerant." Articles have appeared with headlines like "Time is now for lactose tolerance."

You're driving me crazy! I search for this stuff. Getting a good hit on a story for this blog makes my day. Do you know what it feels like to see all those articles appear and have none of them be useful?

Stop it! I'm not the bad guy here. Delta is the big blue meanie. I'm on your side. Breastfeeding is a good thing. It should be done anywhere necessary. You don't even need to be discreet. It's natural, wholesome, and beneficial.

I am lactose intolerant. Just not that way. Let me go back to my tiny field of expertise and I promise to leave your breasts alone.

That didn't come out right, did it?

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