What I know, anyway.
I have been somewhat keeping up with the comments on Breda's blog post about the MOC incident at libraries there and here Rules for Open Carry. Some folks think she's acting like an anti-gunner and some folks think that it's idiotic to violate social norms in order to try to violate your cause. Save for a joke that we should stage a topless lesbian open-carrying nurse-in at the library to push as many buttons at once as possible, I have pretty much stayed out of it because I really don't know enough.
I think Breda is correct that being polite is the best thing to be. I don't think I agree that not being polite is necessarily hurting the cause. BobS, who knows one heck of a lot more about the subject than I do, seems to be making just that point, and he does it a lot better than I could hope to. (I am still making my way through the comments there; for some reason Breda has attracted the mouth-breathers & BobS hasn't.)
But it got me to thinking about my own little brand of activism. I've made the comparison before between nursing in public and open carry. I still think it's pretty apt: the general reaction to both things is "Must you do that here?"
I've got a little nursling again, and I've been adding to my list of places I've nursed in public: outside the Build-a-Bear Workshop at North Star Mall (while Erik was inside with the older girls), at Central Market, during CAYA services at St Mark's, on a bench outside Sunset Station, at an East Side cemetery (about 90 minutes into a 3-hour traipse through several of 'em recently)...
I think that breast-feeding needs to be normalized, and I think the proper way to do so is to, well, do it. Wherever you are. I don't think there is any such thing as somewhere it's inappropriate to feed your child, assuming it's somewhere it's appropriate for your child to be to begin with. (No nursing at the Adult Video Megaplexx, in other words.) It is sometimes demanded that we not nurse our child around other children! Because then their mamas might have to explain it to them, and for some reason "That's how babies eat," isn't acceptable. Then there comes the issue of discretion. To be quite honest, though I have never seen the proverbial entire boob popped out (er, unless I was the one doing it) I think that it's up to the nursing mother in question whether she should use a nursing cover, or cover with her shirt, or not cover at all.
There is also activism. That is the woman who is asked to leave and refuses. Sometimes you fall into activism. So the question becomes: What do you do if you are told to cover up or leave? Do you cover up? Do you leave? Do you stand your ground and calmly explain your rights? If you choose the latter route and have the police called on you, what then? (And yes, it's happened.)
See, I support civil disobedience. I support the nurse-in. I support wearing an empty holster to your college campus. I support strapping on your weapon and going somewhere they think you aren't supposed to be. Even, to be quite honest, if it's a socially unacceptable weapon. See, I think that Don't be an asshole. is a great rule. But I also think that it's an error to conflate the issue.
If Shotgun Guy--who was, from what I gather, 18 or 19--walked into the library with his gun over his shoulder and went for the manga shelf (which, in my experience, is pretty much always in the Young Adult section) and picked up a book and took it over to a couch and sat down and read it, then he wasn't being an asshole.
Just as if MikeW. wore his AR-15 to Chuck E. Cheese while he was there with his nephews, it wouldn't be acting like an asshole. (To be blaringly clear here, Mike said he would not do that; I'm just using that scenario 'cause I recalled it while writing this post.) Are there some folks who'd think it was inappropriate? Hells yes, but there are some folks who'd also think it was inappropriate if I nursed my kid there. And I don't think that the people who would be scandalized by him carrying an assault rifle into a pizza parlor would be any less scandalized by him carrying a pistol into the same place, just because I know from experience that nursing your kid under a blanket at a restaurant (which I've actually done a couple of times while wearing a dress) isn't going to stop anyone from being scandalized.
I guess in general, I object to the notion that there are inappropriate places to assert our rights, though of course you need to be polite about doing so. After all, while I'm going to nurse my daughter wherever I happen to be when she gets hungry, I'm not going to preface doing so by whipping my boob out and waving it around while I recite Texas law on the matter to all and sundry.