On an airplane, in a movie theater or in a restaurant, the shrill sound of a childish voice raised in distress can resemble nails across a blackboard — especially when it’s not your child. Now one North Carolina eatery has drawn a line in the sand by posting signs prohibiting children’s uproar.
“Screaming Children Will NOT Be Tolerated!” say placards posted at the Olde Salty restaurant in Carolina Beach. N.C. And while the signs may seem to be telling some parents their patronage is unwelcome, restaurant owner Brenda Armes said it’s actually been a business boon.“It has been a good thing for us,” Armes told NBC affiliate WECT. “It has brought in more customers than it has ever kept away.”
Indeed, a first-time diner at the Olde Salty told WECT he embraced the signage. “It’s not very enjoyable when you hear a bunch of kids screaming,” Gary Gibson said. “It’s nice to see a sign like that up.”
But one mom of an autistic child, Kelly Chambliss, thinks the sign is just ugly discrimination:
Armes said she told Chambliss: “Autism is not a word on that sign, ma’am.” And her restaurant doesn’t kick diners with loud children to the curb, she added. Instead, they are asked to take the offending child outside until they pipe down.
Still, Chambliss, who said she believes the sign violates the American with Disabilities Act, contends the restaurant’s owner basically said her autistic child was not welcome there.
“She looked at me and said, ‘I cannot believe you even take him in public. You must be the only one,’ ” Chambliss told WECT.
There are lots of issues at play in the story. Do adults have the right to have peaceful public experiences? Do children belong everywhere? Do parents have an obligation to quiet a screaming toddler or baby, or remove them from a public situation? Should special needs children be given more leeway on these matters?
These are all legitimate questions, but I have a couple of different ones: why on earth does a two-bit greasy spoon with an uninspiring menu and no pretensions to fine dining whatsoever care about the behavior of the occasional toddler toted in by parents desperate enough to select this restaurant in the first place? Why do the various mean spirited barren-on-purpose types show up in droves to leave comments at a review site about how they'd love to go to this place just to avoid the infliction of the sight or sound of other people's filthy progeny, when everybody knows their spiritual home would be a five-star restaurant complete with a condom-studded dessert entree? And why the blazes are the adults the ones whining like children about...well, about the whining of children?
A culture in which the sound of the occasional baby or toddler noise isn't even tolerated at a third-rate seafood diner (note: not a museum, opera house, or first-class restaurant) is a culture on the way to contracepting itself out of existence. At least the Hispanic culture, which is rapidly supplanting the dessicated American culture that shrieks in horror at the thought of children shrieking from boredom, is very friendly to children.