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American comedian Arj Barker is under fire after he asked a breastfeeding mother to leave his set after her baby became unsettled and was "disrupting" his set. In the middle of his hour long gig in Melbourne, Australia, Barker made the decision to eject Trish Faranda and her 7-month-old baby after they became a "distraction" to the comedian during the show. Some audience members left the show in solidarity with the mother while others reportedly heckled her as she left. The interaction sparked controversy in Australia about the rights of mothers being able to take their babies wherever and an entertainer's right to perform without interruptions from infants.

Barker spoke with a Melbourne radio station, 3AW Monday, where he said "it wasn't easy" to make the decision. “I can understand that it was difficult and embarrassing for her, and I do feel bad about that,” Barker said. He later spoke with Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) saying, “On behalf of the other 700 people there who had paid to see the gig, I politely told her the baby couldn’t stay.” Barker said that at the time, he could not see that the mother was breastfeeding, dismissing the narrative that it had something to do with mothers. “I have nothing against babies – number one, the breastfeeding thing is a non-issue, it should be inadmissible, and I had no idea if she was breastfeeding or not because I was on a lit stage,” he told Nine News. “All I could see was a woman likely holding a baby – the breastfeeding was never part of it. If it were the father, I would have acted the exact same way – it had to do with the baby making noise. It was purely an audio issue, it had nothing to do with her being a mom – I have nothing against moms.”

Faranda has spoke with multiple news outlets about her experience, saying she initially thought it was a joke. She recalled Barker stopping in the middle of his set and said, "Is there a baby here?" He then said, “’I speak fluent baby and it said take me outside,’” said Faranda, adding she had laughed along, not knowing whether he was being serious. She said that her baby "wasn't yelling" and as she started breastfeeding the infant to calm her down, she was already packing up to leave. “I didn’t want to ruin anyone’s night, it was never my intention to go and disrupt people or create a scene,” she told Seven News. ”He was intimidating, and he was standing right in front of me,” she told 3AW. Faranda said that as she left about a dozen other people, all women, except  one "lovely gentleman" walked out with her in solidarity.

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