Since the parents are asking those things and not the kid it still makes no sense to call him a brat. If the kid was going around telling them to be quiet and not to swear, etc. I might have some sympathy but since this is all coming from the parents calling the 18 month old a brat strikes me as a deliberately low blow.
one person called him a brat, in the midst of a FB fight started by the child's mother. the group isn't using it as the toddler's new nickname, and the child isn't on FB. people say things in the heat of the moment. Claire did so. it wasn't at all deliberate.
You don't think Claire's wording was deliberate? Are we giving Mary the same pass? I think Claire knew exactly what she was saying and was going for the most hurtful thing she could say. If she can't control herself in the heat of the moment then she might want to avoid social media because calling toddlers names just seems inexcusable to me.
I don't think either Mary or Claire acquitted herself very well. However, the fact remains that Claire followed the group's ordinary practice in posting the event details on Facebook, and Mary chose to make a completely uncalled-for nasty comment in response. If Claire had chosen to stop with "Yep, I love being irresponsible," Claire wouldn't have done anything wrong.
But I also think that people are overreacting somewhat to the child being referred to as a brat. If his parents are raising him to believe that the world revolves around him - which I think is a not-unreasonable conclusion based on their behavior to the friend group - then "brat" may be a nearly-inevitable result. However, it wasn't said directly to the child or even in the child's presence, so the chances of the child being directly hurt by it are minimal at most. In this case, I think the group's bias is not "anti-child," but "anti-obnoxious parent."
However, I think it's fair to say that the description was aimed at the mother, not the child...and was mostly a return volley with the mother's chosen weapon - that is, the child. Doesn't make it ok, because as I said, I don't think either participant acquitted herself politely...but I also think it's fair to say that this has been simmering for awhile, and that Mary largely brought it on herself.
Yes, Claire was rude in this one specific instance. Mary has been way beyond rude - she has been passive-aggressive, controlling, and judgemental of people who are only continuing behavior in which she herself engaged before her situation changed. So on the rude behavior scale, I'd personally sentence Mary to a much deeper level of EHell than I would Claire. Especially if Claire apologizes for her terminology...but NOT for the sentiment.