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Paul Rolly: Logan principal faces the ire of breast-feeding moms

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Paul Rolly

By PAUL ROLLY

The Salt Lake Tribune

First published Jul 17 2014 09:57PM
Updated Jul 29, 2014 03:43PM

There was the Ordain Women march against female exclusion from the LDS Church’s all-male priesthood that led to the excommunication of the group’s leader, Kate Kelly.

There were the numerous protests, mostly by women, over the Supreme Court decision that said Hobby Lobby could deny insurance coverage for certain types of contraception.

But the most concentrated expression of female outrage this summer was the ire descending this week on Mount Logan Middle School by breast-feeding mothers.

The Cache County school became the focus of national outrage when Principal Mike Monson wrote a letter to a mother attending the federal free summer-lunch program who breast-fed her baby without covering up.

Monson had heard complaints from some parents attending the school’s lunches, which have drawn about 650 people a day. They said they were uncomfortable with the woman baring her breast and feeding her baby without covering up.

He didn’t know the woman, so he wrote a letter "To Whom It May Concern" and gave it to the cafeteria manager, who handed it to her Wednesday.

The fury followed.

The woman posted the letter on Paa.La, a pro-breast-feeding Facebook page, which attracted thousands of hits.

Monson said he woke up Thursday to more than 40 emails from around the country — and they weren’t friendly.

"I didn’t mean to offend anyone," he said. "I just asked her to use some discretion." In the letter, he asked the mother to bring something to cover up and offered to have the staff let her use a private room for the feeding.

Nearly a dozen women showed up at the school during the free lunch Thursday, all openly breast-feeding their babies.

Monson said he knows Utah law allows women to breast-feed in public and was not implying the mother had done anything wrong. He just hoped she would be sensitive to the feelings of those who might feel uncomfortable.

But those posting on Facebook said they were the ones offended. "Why are some Americans so obsessed with breasts?" asked one poster. "It’s a body part! Why is it OK on a billboard but not when it’s serving its purpose to nourish a baby?"

Another quipped: "Oh, the irony of dissing a mom providing her baby a free meal at a free meal event."

Who’s embarrassing whom? I wrote in Wednesday’s column about the irony of former Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff’s booking into the Salt Lake County Jail on 10 felony charges at the same time his 2000 Democratic rival, Reed Richards, was being installed as a member of the Ogden LDS Temple presidency.

I pointed out the tendency of Utahns, particularly Mormons, to vote in knee-jerk fashion for Republicans under the assumption that the GOP aligns more closely to LDS values.

Here’s an addendum to that column:

When Richards ran against Shurtleff, he was the chief deputy to then-Attorney General Jan Graham, a Democrat. Before that, he had been the Weber County attorney, where he was a highly respected prosecutor.

Many county attorneys endorsed him, including longtime Davis County Attorney Mel Wilson. Because the two were prosecutors in neighboring counties, they had collaborated on many cases. Wilson endorsed Richards because of his colleague’s abilities. But Wilson was a Republican, and Richards was a Democrat.

That, in some Utah circles, is a mortal sin. Two years after Shurtleff defeated Richards, Wilson was running for re-election, and the GOP intended to punish him. He barely survived the 2002 Republican county convention, securing 42 percent of the delegate vote, just 2 percent above the threshold to stave off elimination.

He won the primary and general elections, but the county party passed a resolution condemning his Richards endorsement and calling Wilson an embarrassment to the GOP.

So who’s an embarrassment to the party now?

By George • When John Swallow was running for Congress against Jim Matheson in 2002, he distributed a campaign flier that pictured himself smiling with then-President George W. Bush.

Bush’s quote: "John Swallow is someone I need in Washington."

prolly@sltrib.com

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