The Jury Talks Back

11/12/2010

San Francisco considering ban on child circumcision

Filed under: California Politics — aunursa @ 2:59 pm

After it finishes banning Happy Meals, the city of San Francisco will consider the prohibition of circumcision of minors.  A resident is circulating a petition that would make it a “misdemeanor to circumcise, excise, cut or mutilate the … genitals” of a person under age 18.  If the required number of signatures is obtained, the measure would go on the ballot for the next city-wide election.

(Having frequently argued religion and politics — including the Israeli-Palestinian conundrum — on the internet, I have concluded that no subject elicits more zeal and animosity than infant male circumcision.)

73 Comments »

  1. I have a couple problems with this law. (Note: i’m not in favor of infant male circumcision and would never have it done to a child of mine).

    (a) it’s TOTALLY POINTLESS. San Francisco is a tiny county geographically. It is well connected to San Mateo County by road and public transit, and to Alameda County by public transit. Anyone who wants to get their infant male child circumcised will just go down to San Bruno and have it done there.

    (b) if it doesn’t include a religious exemption, I think it violates the free exercise clause, too.

    Comment by aphrael — 11/12/2010 @ 3:09 pm

  2. Also, note, that “city is considering” is a bit imprecise here. What’s being discussed is a citizen-sponsored ballot initiative – a bunch of activists are trying to force a vote. The city council has not endorsed this and it’s not coming from them.

    Comment by aphrael — 11/12/2010 @ 3:10 pm

  3. Good points. Regarding the geographic issue, I expect that proponents would cite San Francisco as a vanguard and claim that passing the ban would encourage other cities and states to enact prohibitions.

    Comment by aunursa — 11/12/2010 @ 3:20 pm

  4. Is there anything San Francisco won’t ban? It’s already gone beyond ridiculous.

    Comment by wherestherum — 11/12/2010 @ 9:30 pm

  5. aphrael:

    There is no issue with not including a religious exemption. Such a law (which will not pass) would protect the individual child. It’s a mistake to believe that a ban would violate the parents’ religious freedom, since one’s religious freedom does not include the right to harm another person. Like his parents, the child has religious rights, as well, including freedom from religion, if he chooses. That right is not the right to practice one’s religion on the body of another.

    Numerous court cases have concluded this, though not yet on this topic. And the existing federal anti-FGM explicitly states that the parents’ religious requests for cutting are irrelevant, even when the mutilation is less severe than male circumcision.

    Comment by Tony — 11/13/2010 @ 5:14 am

  6. This may be more of an issue to gay men, hence the interest in SF.

    Comment by Kevin M — 11/13/2010 @ 9:26 am

  7. Tony: from your site …

    Circumcision is surgery. It removes healthy tissue and nerves. That’s harmful. Every boy suffers some form of harm (e.g. scarring), but some boys suffer far worse.

    I was circumcised as an infant. What harm did I suffer?

    Comment by aunursa — 11/13/2010 @ 10:18 pm

  8. aunursa:

    I’m happy to clarify in whatever way I can, although I’m not sure how that quote isn’t clear. I’m assuming your foreskin was healthy and normal when it was removed, as was mine. The natural adhesion between your foreskin and glans had to be broken to circumcise you. Your foreskin had nerves that were cut and removed. You have some amount of scarring. Your frenulum may have been removed, which is common in non-therapeutic circumcisions. The surgical risk imposed was also harm.

    I don’t want to assume too much, but I suspect you don’t mind those harms. (Please correct me if I’m assuming too much.) Perhaps you value the subjective benefits commonly cited to justify non-therapeutic male child circumcision. If so, that’s not my judgment to make for you.

    For me, I conclude that those subjective benefits are worthless. Add in the objective harm done to me, and it’s a no-brainer. I wouldn’t choose circumcision for myself, if my parents hadn’t made my decision.

    Comment by Tony — 11/14/2010 @ 6:17 am

  9. Tony:

    The natural adhesion between your foreskin and glans had to be broken to circumcise you. Your foreskin had nerves that were cut and removed. You have some amount of scarring.

    I’m sorry, I’m still unclear. How did these actions harm me? How has my life been harmed as a result of having been circumcized as an infant?

    Comment by aunursa — 11/14/2010 @ 7:56 am

  10. If you cut your arm with a knife, have you suffered harm?

    Surgery imposes a certain amount of unavoidable physical harm, whether or not it seeks to remedy medical need. You had normal, healthy genitalia at birth. You were surgically altered without need, which permanently removed your normal, functioning foreskin. That is harm.

    If you conclude that you don’t mind having the permanent physical harm from circumcision, that you either don’t care about it or that you recognize it but value the subjective benefits more, so be it. As I wrote, it’s not my judgment to make for you. I don’t think you should have any specific opinion about your body. However, you draw your conclusion about your circumcision based on your criteria for you. All preferences are subjective and unique to each individual. Those harms exist regardless of how you value them.

    Comment by Tony — 11/14/2010 @ 8:57 am

  11. My arm is required for me to perform many life functions. A cut would cause me harm to the extent that it causes me pain and inhibits my ability to use my arm. If the accident were to cause me to lose my arm or lose all use of my arm, that would seriously impair my ability to perform many essential life functions.

    By contrast, I am unclear how the foreskin performs life functions, or how its removal inhibits my ability to perform life functions. Therefore, alas, I remain unclear how I have suffered harm.

    Comment by aunursa — 11/14/2010 @ 7:41 pm

  12. It’s so fascinating to me that this is even an issue.

    I’m delighted I don’t have any memory of circumcision. It’s made me more hygienic, less prone to disease, and I don’t believe there was a substantial cost. I also appreciate the religious tradition being followed.

    Parents should have a free hand to raise their children and practice their faith. We should only intrude, as a society, on their rights if we have a very good reason. This is not a very good reason to alter an ancient custom with health benefits.

    It does not compare in any way to ‘mutilation’. I appreciate that Tony has provided and alternative view without the ugliness that often comes along, btw.

    Comment by Dustin — 11/15/2010 @ 7:07 am

  13. You’re ignoring the facts I’ve established. I haven’t said the foreskin is essential. I’ve said there is physical harm from the procedure. That is undeniable. I’ve also said an individual may value the benefits more, or may be indifferent to those harms. Neither retroactively eliminates the harms. Think in trade-offs, not absolutes at the extremes.

    To your example, your arm isn’t essential to your life, apart from the fact that you could die during a surgery to remove it. You could adapt to life without it. If living without it is all you’ve ever known, you might even say you’re not hindered by it. But we recognize that non-therapeutic alteration of another is wrong in principle, regardless of necessity. We also recognize our normal body parts serve useful purposes, so the idea of removing or altering them on another person for non-therapeutic reasons is correctly foreign to us.

    That concept is foreign, except where it allegedly doesn’t apply to the genitals of male children. We recognize that normal body parts serve useful purposes, except where it allegedly doesn’t apply to the genitals of males. We recognize that healthy girls should be protected from genital cutting for the same excuses we permit parents to cut boys. Is the clitoris “essential”? In the “lesser” forms of female genital cutting, only the clitoral hood is removed. It’s analogous to the foreskin. Is it “essential”? Removing it without the individual’s consent is wrong, but what is removed may not be essential. Removing it is still wrong. Yet, I can point you to examples of women who’ve been mutilated who profess its virtues and intend to impose it on their daughters. Does their approval of what was done to them make it acceptable to impose on their children? They don’t view themselves as harmed.

    Nothing you’ve said proves that circumcision hasn’t altered your ability to perform life (i.e. sexual) functions. I’ve never said anything about inhibiting those functions. Most men can perform the basic functions. (Not the boys who lose their penis or die from circumcision, of course. Have they been harmed? All circumcised boys faced that risk.) The quality of that change is subjective to the circumcised individual, not the person who imposes circumcision on him or those who are happy with the circumcision imposed on them. Whether or not you’re happy with the way your normal body was altered and now functions is a judgment call for you to make about your body. But you underwent surgery. Surgery is harm. You were harmed.

    Comment by Tony — 11/15/2010 @ 7:31 am

  14. Tony,

    While you have said there is physical harm, you have not explained what the physical harm is that I have suffered from the removal of my foreskin. And if you seriously consider the removal/loss of one’s arm to be in any way comparable to the removal/loss of one’s foreskin, then I’m afraid we are at an impasse.

    We recognize that normal body parts serve useful purposes, except where it allegedly doesn’t apply to the genitals of males.

    In that respect, you are correct: I have been unable to recognize the useful purpose that my foreskin would have performed. Perhaps you can enlighten me by explaining the action that I am unable to perform.

    Is the clitoris “essential”?

    “The abundance of nerve endings in the clitoris makes it very sensitive to direct or indirect touch or pressure. Stimulation of the clitoral area can be very pleasurable… The tissue of the inner lips normally covers the shaft of the clitoris, which makes a hood, or prepuce, to protect it.”
    http://healthguide.howstuffworks.com/clitoris-dictionary.htm

    The clitoris is essential for most women to enjoy sexual intimacy. In fact, a primary purpose of female genital mutilation (FGM) is to reduce the woman’s libido — to make her submissive and chaste.

    In addition to the immediate and often dire medical complications, women who have undergone FGM frequently suffer from long term consequences that include:

    •recurrent bladder and urinary tract infections
    •cysts
    •infertility
    •an increased risk of childbirth complications and newborn deaths
    •the need for later surgeries
    http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs241/en/

    There are no known medical benefits of FGM.

    But you underwent surgery. Surgery is harm. You were harmed.

    I would appreciate it if you would explain to me how the act of surgery constitutes harm.

    Comment by aunursa — 11/15/2010 @ 8:24 am

  15. I have explained it: the removal of your (healthy) foreskin is harm. Someone took a blade to your penis and cut your foreskin off. If someone took a blade to any other part of your anatomy, or any part of a female minor’s body, I don’t think you’d have this bizarre objection to a basic fact. I don’t understand why this isn’t clear. Perhaps you’re factoring in your conclusion that the foreskin serves no useful purpose? If so, strip that out. You can still use it later to get to your personal conclusion for you. First you have to recognize that non-therapeutic child circumcision isn’t a “Pros” column full of justifications next to an empty “Cons” column.

    The cutting, scarring, and risks of complication and infection are all reasons the act of surgery constitutes harm. There is usually a net benefit, an attempt to remedy some malady. With non-therapeutic surgery (e.g. circumcision) there is a subjective benefit perceived to undergoing the procedure that outweighs the objective harm. Because the value of the perceived benefit is subjective to the patient, proxy consent is illegitimate. As it is with female genital cutting, it should be with male genital cutting.

    As for enlightening you, I can’t do that if you’re not willing to cooperate. I stated that circumcision alters, not eliminates, penile function. I won’t defend what I haven’t claimed or implied.

    You’re also debating from ignorance, as I am. Neither of us remembers what it’s like to have our normal anatomy. Declaring the foreskin to be useless requires more than just your opinion. This is a significant reason I do not declare that my life would be all puppies and rainbows if I still had my foreskin. My objection is not that the foreskin is filled with magic. Rather, my objection is to removing the healthy child’s choice from him. Debating the differences in function is useful but a tangent from the core issue.

    But you want me to defend my point. Circumcision alters the functioning of the penis. Consider masturbation. It’s still possible to masturbate, but the process is different. With normal anatomy, there is unlikely any need for external lubrication since the foreskin facilitates the necessary gliding. After circumcision, there likely is a need for external lubrication. Without it, friction can be a problem. If that change isn’t a problem to you, that’s fine, but again, that’s your subjective conclusion about your body. Don’t pretend that your evaluation using your personal criteria is an objective fact for all circumcised males.

    I’m willing to discuss FGM and how it relates to MGM, but first we have to work out the original issue of harm. Until you understand my argument, I suspect any further analysis would simply leave us where we already are.

    Comment by Tony — 11/15/2010 @ 9:47 am

  16. If the foreskin serves a useful purpose, then its removal of the foreskin would constitute harm. Absent a useful purpose, then its removal does not in and of itself constitute harm. Merely declaring that foreskin removal constitutes harm does not make it so.

    The cutting, scarring, and risks of complication and infection are all reasons the act of surgery constitutes harm.

    Please explain how cutting the foreskin and scarring constituted harm to my person.

    Risks constitute potential harm. No complications and no infections mean no actual harm.

    Your point about lubrication is well taken. Nevertheless, taken as a whole, studies about penile function, sexual sensation, and sexual satisfaction conducted by unbiased medical authorities are inconclusive. While some studies report benefits for circumcised men, and others report benefits for uncircumcised men, the vast majority have reported no difference:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexual_effects_of_circumcision

    Comment by aunursa — 11/15/2010 @ 3:36 pm

  17. The foreskin has several functions broadly speaking the primary two are:

    1. It exists to protect the glans penis. To illustrate, the glans of an intact male is soft, like the interior of your cheek. The glans of a circumcised male is more like the sole of your foot.

    2. It is a primary sensory part of the penis, containing some of the most sensitive areas of the penis. See: Kim D, Pang MG. The effect of male circumcision on sexuality. BJU International.
    2007;99(3):619-22.

    “Please explain how cutting the foreskin and scarring constituted harm to my person.”

    Cutting is by definition harm, scarring is the result of that harm. That harm is justified though by the objective benefit received. If someone on the street cut you, would you have said they harmed you or would you argue that cutting is not harmful?

    Comment by Joe — 11/15/2010 @ 5:31 pm

  18. I don’t think my point about lubrication is well taken because you keep insisting that I adhere to lost “uesful” function as the proof of harm, yet when I offer a useful function, it changes nothing. I’m not sure you’ll ever think the foreskin is useful, even though I don’t need it to be useful to prove what I’ve already proven. I’m not dealing in opinion on harm. What is removed is lost, and the scarring that remains is real. You don’t mind it. That’s your choice. It’s not the conclusion I’ve reached for me.

    We can debate how our opinions diverged, but we still need to agree on basic, undeniable facts. We can’t seem to do that. Given that you’ve set the standard for objective harm based on your subjective evaluation of the foreskin as an unnecessary body part, there seems to be nothing I can say that will satisfy your already-established conclusion.

    As for that Wiki link, I’ve already implied that circumcision’s effect on sexual satisfaction is subjective to the individual. I make no specific claim other than the child’s parents can’t know what he will prefer. Relying on studies like that is declaring that the minority is entitled to the majority’s opinion. No, thanks.

    A major flaw you’ll find in any study on circumcised vs. intact sensation is that they only compare the same points on the two penises. The foreskin has nerves which are removed during circumcision. Those can’t be studied in the circumcised male, so they study what’s left compared to the same areas on the intact penis. That’s an incomplete analysis. It omits the ethics of non-therapeutic child circumcision. Again, the issue is force, not circumcision itself. It doesn’t matter what a majority reports. Each individual has subjective preferences for what he does and does not value and what constitutes sexual satisfaction.

    Comment by Tony — 11/15/2010 @ 7:40 pm

  19. Joe,

    1. There is disagreement regarding the foreskin’s protection. For example, “higher rates of inflammation in uncircumcised boys older than one year … [T]his finding is well supported by other reports in the literature… Circumcision appears to have a protective effect in adulthood.”
    http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/eletters/81/4/537#1382

    2. That the foreskin performs a primary sensory role is also in dispute.
    “Objective published studies over the past decade have shown no substantial difference in sexual function between circumcised and uncircumcised men.”
    http://www.cfp.ca/cgi/content/full/53/12/2096

    If cutting is by definition harm, then would you say that I am harmed every time I get a haircut? Would you say that surgery to remove cancerous cells is harmful?

    Comment by aunursa — 11/16/2010 @ 6:51 am

  20. Some men circumcised as adults have reported decreased pleasure and increased masturbatory difficulties, while others reported the opposite. While it’s more likely that an uncircumcised man will require additional lubrication, it varies by individual – the effect is minor. As I noted, the studies vary as to overall sexual effects.

    I agree that the difficulty appears to be that you and I have different standards regarding what constitutes harm. My evaluation of the foreskin is not based on a subjective evaluation, but on the available research that has been conducted by unbiased medical authorities. Similarly, my conclusion is not “already-established”, but is based on the conclusions of unbiased medical authorities. Since we agree that “circumcision’s effect on sexual satisfaction is subjective to the individual” and since studies are inconclusive at best, there cannot be a general rule regarding the effect of a foreskin on sexual activity.

    I don’t understand the major flaw that you cite regarding studies. Circumcised men compare sensation before and after the operation. A man who has sexual activity before and after circumcision is certainly in a position to determine the effect on sensation. How would you conduct a study to compare the effects of circumcision on sexual pleasure?

    Comment by aunursa — 11/16/2010 @ 6:53 am

  21. The flaw is that studies on differences in sensitivity compare certain areas on a circumcised man to the same areas on a different, intact man. It’s not a study of each man pre- and post-circumcision. Aside from the subjectivity across individuals, they generally ignore the foreskin from analysis since the circumcised man doesn’t have his. That doesn’t mean research including the foreskin would prove anything more for me, but it certainly doesn’t prove anything against me, especially regarding harm.

    I’m not seeking to establish a general rule on the effect of a foreskin on sexual activity, as in a conclusion on whether it’s “good”, “bad” or nothing. I’m claiming it’s different. What each man concludes for himself will be based on his criteria. My argument for objective harm includes only the initial act of circumcision. The post-circumcision interpretation by the individual is beyond the fact of harm I’ve established. If he thinks benefit X outweighs the harm, he’s correct for himself, but that doesn’t eliminate the harm.

    Cutting is by definition harm. I would not say you’re harmed by a haircut because your hair isn’t living tissue and nerves like the normal human foreskin. But if it is harm in some obscure manner, you can choose to get a haircut or not. The better comparison is whether or not parents can remove some significant portion of their child’s (sons only, of course) hair follicles through electrolysis. The answer is, I hope, self-evident, but that’s a silly tangent I don’t want to pursue further.

    Circumcision is harm because it involves cutting and excising living tissue and nerves. It leaves scarring. If you have surgery to remove cancerous cells, it is harmful in the same ways. I know that from experience. I have the scar on my neck where a section of skin used to be. I had the open wound and stitches after my doctor took the blade to my neck. I had the pain once the local anesthetic wore off. There is no question it was harm.

    The difference between that and non-therapeutic (child) circumcision is that there was a reason to intervene. Removing the carcinoma was more important than the harm it created. I deemed the net effect beneficial to me, and yes, the decision was easy. But there was a disease to address, so I weighed the harm against the need, unlike how either of our parents decided on our circumcisions. I’m not in the habit of having bits of healthy skin excised because it might one day become cancerous.

    Circumcision is harm. As a start, that’s all I’m trying to prove. I’ve done that.

    Comment by Tony — 11/16/2010 @ 6:58 pm

  22. Aunursa,

    It’s important to point out that the two articles you’ve cited are actually opinion pieces which, while useful to begin your literature search, will only tell you half the story and put undue weight on the half they tell you. These two are an especially bad choice as the two authors are known, strong, advocates of neonatal circumcision though I doubt you could have known that.

    You asked: “If cutting is by definition harm, then would you say that I am harmed every time I get a haircut?” Since hair, and before you jump to them nails, neither have sensitive nerve endings, blood supply, or immunity to infection they are considered dead tissue; I would say no.

    On the flip side you stated that cutting tissue that has all of that (and more) isn’t prima facie harm. When a child is circumcised, at the very least (if he’s lucky) there is bleeding, a wound that must heal, afterwards a scare, and a glans whose surface is transformed from a sensitive internal organ to a less sensitive external one. The objective harm caused by cutting [i]can[/i] be justified when there is an objective therapeutic benefit which clearly exceeds that harm. You provide an excellent example when you later ask me, “Would you say that surgery to remove cancerous cells is harmful?”

    Whether a surgery is harmful depends on the circumstances. Is there a less invasive way to treat the tumor that would provided a similar outcome? Then yes. If the surgical approach is the least invasive approach then no, clearly it’s justified. How exactly does this does this relate to circumcision though? The foreskin is not pathological, malignant, or some congenital birth defect.

    Circumcision does cause objective harm, based only on the fact that it is a surgical procedure. The foreskin in nearly all boys is healthy, so why then would intervention even be considered?

    You never did answer my question, how about a little quid pro quo? If cutting and scarring aren’t harm, then if someone on the street cut you, would you have said they harmed you or would you argue that cutting is not harmful?

    Comment by Joe — 11/16/2010 @ 7:16 pm

  23. Tony: Some studies compare the sensitivity of men before and after their circumcision.

    You contradict yourself by stating that “cutting is by definition harm” and “you’re not harmed by a haircut”.

    You stated that cutting live tissue is harm because (1) scarring, and (2) pain. Scarring is a result of surgery, but is not in and of itself harm. Strictly speaking, pain constitutes harm. However society doesn’t generally consider immunization shots and blood test to be “harm” in spite of the pain they cause the patient. If you’re going to state that a circumcision is harmful when it involves pain, then by the same reasoning an immunization shot or a blood test is harmful. Most people would consider otherwise.

    Comment by aunursa — 11/16/2010 @ 9:05 pm

  24. Joe:

    (I don’t have the time to respond to every point both you and Tony raise. Having experienced many online discussions of this type, I’ve learned that the points raised expand exponentially – even moreso when I’m responding to more than one person. If you have a particular point for which you want a response, please indicate priority, or limit your responses.)

    If someone cut me on the street, that would be harm. If a doctor cuts me to perform surgery, that is not harm. You yourself write, “Whether a surgery is harmful depends on the circumstances.” Therefore we agree that there are circumstances in which cutting is not harmful.

    Regarding the articles: As I noted, there is disagreement regarding the role of the foreskin. There are numerous research studies and articles supporting both sides of the debate. Most unbiased medical authorities that consider all of the research conclude that there is no overall sexual benefit for circumcised or uncircumcised males.

    Comment by aunursa — 11/16/2010 @ 9:07 pm

  25. “Therefore we agree that there are circumstances in which cutting is not harmful.”

    Not exactly. Cutting, such as that which produces a wound that requires healing and leaves a scar, is harm. In certain circumstances, such as a surgical procedure, that harm is justified by the objective benefit that would result. Cutting (surgical procedures) that are used to repair injuries, eliminate malignancies, correct deformities, or treat specific maladies serve are still harm (injury) but serve an objective need. Further, nearly all cases, less invasive treatments (which are reasonably expected to work) are tried before surgical solutions are tried.

    Nearly all boys are born with a healthy foreskin; it’s neither malignant nor a birth defect, there is no clinical indication for a circumcision in the neonatal or childhood period. Therefore the harm caused, which can be quite severe, can’t be rationally justified in most cases any more than routinely removing tonsils or an appendix which we no longer do.

    How can one rationally justify a circumcision for only the subjective whim of someone other then the individual? It’s not by any stretch necessary.

    You ask Tony, “Strictly speaking, pain constitutes harm. However society doesn’t generally consider immunization shots and blood test to be “harm” in spite of the pain they cause the patient.”

    Another good example. We don’t consider them harm because of the unambiguous protection they provide that can’t be reasonably obtained in any other way. A substantial difference from circumcision, the two can’t be compared.

    Comment by Joe — 11/17/2010 @ 6:12 pm

  26. aunursa:

    I haven’t contradicted myself. It’s clear that I set the standard at healthy, living tissue. Hair isn’t that, as I said. But I’ll make it explicit: cutting healthy, living tissue is harm. Pre- and post-semantics, I’ve established this fact.

    Some studies do look at men before and after circumcision. They tend to find that the man’s conclusion is correlated with why he had the surgery. If he wanted it, absent need, he tends to state that circumcision makes sex better. If he needed it, he tends to not want it and to state that circumcision makes sex worse.

    That has implications to child circumcision, but the larger point still stands superior to what most unbiased medical authorities may subjectively conclude: all tastes and preferences are unique to the individual. Again, the relevant consideration is different, not better or worse.

    Comment by Tony — 11/17/2010 @ 7:21 pm

  27. As far as many “pro-circumcision” people are concerned (such as myself and my children), the only reason to circumcise an infant is the religious one. I will point out that many people who were unable to be circumcised as a result of the anti-religious coercion of the Soviet Union did so as soon as they could escape, no matter what age they did so. It is actually more harmful to wait until the infant is older in order to perform this “operation”. There have been medical studies that have shown that it is better not to perform a circumcision too “early” as well as better not to perform it “too late”. As an example, adults who escaped from the Soviet Union had to have it performed under anesthesia, while 8 day old infants did not require it.

    Comment by Sabba Hillel — 11/18/2010 @ 12:49 pm

  28. Circumcision is commanded in Genesis 17:10-14 as an outward sign of a man’s participation in Israel’s covenant with God, as well as a sign that the Jewish people will perpetuate through him. The commandment is incumbent upon both father and child – fathers must see that their sons are circumcised, and uncircumcised grown men are obligated to perform the rite.

    Comment by JOSH SILVERSTEIN — 11/18/2010 @ 2:12 pm

  29. Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Ruler of the Universe, who has sanctified us with your commandments and commanded us to bring him into the covenant of Abraham, our father.

    Comment by JOSH SILVERSTEIN — 11/18/2010 @ 2:15 pm

  30. Sabba,

    I’m not aware of anyone in the U.S. suggesting that males can’t choose to have themselves circumcised as a religious rite (or for any other reason). Personally, I’m in favor of putting language in the S.F. proposal to permit male minors to consent. The purpose isn’t to prevent circumcision. It’s only meant to protect males from a circumcision they don’t want. For that reason, what the Soviet Union did isn’t relevant here.

    I’m not sure why you put operation in quotes. Circumcision is surgery, an operation. The context in which it’s performed doesn’t change that.

    It’s not more harmful to wait if the male chooses not to undergo circumcision. It’s not more harmful to wait if the male chooses to have less foreskin removed than would be removed by someone else making his decision. And so on. The issue is still subjective to the individual and whether or not he wants the surgery.

    Comment by Tony — 11/18/2010 @ 4:51 pm

  31. The point that I was making was that performing it at eight days old is the requirement and that it is actually more difficult the older the child gets. If the law requires that the child be old enough to give “consent”, it will be forbidding the actual performance of the circumcision. Additionally, the mohel (Hebrew word for the cicumcisor) is actually much more expert at performing the rite properly than a doctor who may or may not be able to do it properly. Another point would be the restriction that may be put on where and when it can be done as well as who can do it. It is normally done in the synagogue or the home, especially now that the mother and child are sent home after 24 hours.

    I have been a witness to many “brisim” (circumcisions) and have seen how it can be and is done properly.

    When done by a mohel, at the proper age, it is no more “child abuse” than putting in an ear ring.

    Comment by Sabba Hillel — 11/18/2010 @ 5:04 pm

  32. “If the law requires that the child be old enough to give “consent”, it will be forbidding the actual performance of the circumcision.”

    Why shouldn’t I be able to decide whether or not I am circumcised? Unless there is a medical reason, I no more want my parents to do that to me then to tattoo me, brand me, or put jewelry in my body.

    Comment by Joe — 11/18/2010 @ 5:31 pm

  33. Joe:

    The point is that it is a religious rite. If you are not Jewish, then, as far as I am concerned, you are not required to have it done at all. If you are Muslim, then you are required to have it done at the age of 13. If you are Jewish, then you must have it done at the age of eight days. If you insist that others must obey your religious beliefs, then you should require that everyone be provided with a TARDIS in order to provide their parents with the appropriate permission slip.

    You are forcing the parents to commit a sin. It is the same as forcing every Jewish person to eat a beef and bacon cheese burger every day until the son reaches whatever arbitrary “age of consent” that you arbitrarily decide.

    Comment by Sabba Hillel — 11/19/2010 @ 6:16 am

  34. Sabba,

    I understood your point. But in a society ruled by law, rights of the individual must be protected first. The individual’s existence is provable. God’s existence is not. This is not definitive proof that religion is false, but it is is proof that religion must defer to law where the individual does not or cannot consent to what is done to him in God’s name.

    I don’t understand why you put consent in quotes. Like operation, it has a definitive, objective meaning here. There is no ambiguity. If the individual says “Yes, I want my healthy foreskin removed,” that is consent. If the child does not say that, even if it’s exclusively because he can’t yet speak those words, it is wrong to assume them. There are males who were ritually circumcised as a child who now reject it and the religion. That is relevant.

    I recognize that a majority of males raised in a faith that requires circumcision would ultimately choose to have it done. I wish them the best. (This choice is valid whenever he can consent, even if it’s before age 18.) However, I do not agree that circumcision is more difficult as the child ages. It is different. Some aspects are more difficult, some are less. There are trade-offs. But even if it’s entirely more difficult, the male can still determine whether he values the ritual more than the risk. Infants can’t give their voice to that decision.

    Have there been any instances of circumcision gone wrong when performed by a mohel? Even if we ignore what I’ve established as the objective harm of circumcision, this question proves my position because the answer is undeniably “yes”. You can’t predict who will be the victim of additional harm.

    Comment by Tony — 11/20/2010 @ 9:06 am

  35. However, as long as the First Amendment applies to individual jurisdictions, then the forbidding of circumcision as applied to Jews is a violation of that amendment. That is, it is forbidding Jews to carry out an absolute requirement of our religion.

    I used the analogy of the Soviet Union in order to show the importance of this rite. Farther in the past, the Greeks made it a capital crime to circumcise a child and applied the death penalty to both the child and his mother. They were unable to suppress it then and the cretins of San Francisco will be unable to suppress it now.

    Comment by Sabba Hillel — 11/20/2010 @ 7:28 pm

  36. Sabba,

    The First Amendment applies to individuals. The forbidding of circumcision would be a violation. The forbidding of circumcising another without his consent is not that. It is not a violation. Only the latter is part of the proposal in S.F. The child has as much of a First Amendment right as his parents. An individual’s right to practice his religion stops where the body of another begins.

    Under your definition, rights have no meaning.

    Comment by Tony — 11/21/2010 @ 1:59 pm

  37. Actually, the difference between the rights enshrined in the Constitution and the rights enshrined in (Jewish) religious law is based on the priciple behind the law.

    For example, the (Jewish) religious law regarding private property rights is based on my responsibility to avoid not commit the sin of theft. The Constitution, on the other hand, makes the primary emphasis on “my” right to private property, with your responsibility to avoid theft implied by my rights. The philosophical discussion of the differences that occur because of this can be fascinating, though it is off topic.

    In any case, the point that I made was that the circumcision of a child was indeed declared a crime by the Seleucids in the time of the Maccabis as well as the Soviet Union. The reaction was the same as the reaction to the San Francisco proposal. This battle has been fought for the past 3,623 years and we are still here and still performing this sacred rite.

    BTW another attempt to destroy the Jewish religion that is active nowadays is the attempt to forbid kosher slaughter in the same way in New Zealand. They again pretend that they are only forbidding a necessary part of the rite, while not directly forbidding the rite itself.They also pretend that they are acting from the highest motives.

    It is like trying to pass a law that a person is forbidden to close his store on the Sabbath.

    Comment by Sabba Hillel — 11/22/2010 @ 6:30 am

  38. When I said above

    For example, the (Jewish) religious law regarding private property rights is based on my responsibility to avoid not commit the sin of theft

    The meaning was supposed to be

    For example, the (Jewish) religious law regarding private property rights is based on my responsibility to avoid (that is – not commit) the sin of theft

    I accidentally left out the commas that would have shown that meaning.

    Comment by Sabba Hillel — 11/23/2010 @ 6:18 am

  39. This is not like trying to pass a law that a person is forbidden to close his store on the Sabbath. It is not an attempt to destroy the Jewish religion. I understand your defensiveness, but it’s unfair to assign me (and others) motives that are obviously not consistent with actions.

    You want to liken this to the Soviet Union. What occurred then was the complete prohibition of circumcision as a religious expression. This proposal does not do that. It leaves the decision to be circumcised, for whatever reason, to the person who will lose his foreskin. It does not prohibit the surgery. I do not know of anyone who believes it should be restricted regardless of an individual’s preference for himself. It is a challenge to the indefensible status quo on proxy consent.

    I would be foolish to pretend that it’s not a challenge to accepted beliefs, so I don’t pretend that. However, the narrative is between competing rights and the extent to which those rights may be exercised. The child has rights, including the basic human right to be free from harm. Circumcision is objective harm. Just as parents do not have a right to abuse their children in the name of God, they do not have the right to cut their children’s genitals. Society recognizes that as an affront if it’s done to female minors. Do you believe existing legislation prohibiting parents from cutting their daughters’ genitals is unconstitutional as an infringement on religious freedom?

    Comment by Tony — 11/23/2010 @ 7:15 pm

  40. This is not like trying to pass a law that a person is forbidden to close his store on the Sabbath. It is not an attempt to destroy the Jewish religion. I understand your defensiveness, but it’s unfair to assign me (and others) motives that are obviously not consistent with actions.

    I understand that your motives may be “pure”. However, your actions are such as to belie your motives. I will not even ascribe to you the motives of many of those who do attempt to ban circumcision and kosher slaughter and whatever else they can get away with for other reasons. I pointed out the religious aspect because many others have already pointed out your mistakes on medical grounds.

    I also pointed out that the attempt has been made before and that the motives in the past have not been the ones that you describe. In any case, as can be seen, this is now a Moebius strip of an argument and neither of us is going to back down.

    Comment by Sabba Hillel — 11/24/2010 @ 10:50 am

  41. “The point is that it is a religious rite. If you are not Jewish, then, as far as I am concerned, you are not required to have it done at all.”

    And what if I am? I don’t how that makes a difference. Does that mean I can’t resent my parents for violating my body for the sake of their superstition?

    “If you are Muslim, then you are required to have it done at the age of 13.”

    I would dispute this where in their official text does is circumcision mentioned? Further some Muslims believe that female circumcision is required, are we violating their rights by proscribing that practice? If not why?

    “However, your actions are such as to belie your motives.” His only motive is to give boys the same respect for their bodies that women now enjoy, how that could be interpreted as bad is not something I can wrap my mind around.

    “I pointed out the religious aspect because many others have already pointed out your mistakes on medical grounds.”

    I was not aware that someone made a compelling argument for routine circumcision on medical grounds. When did that happen?

    Comment by Joe — 11/24/2010 @ 2:55 pm

  42. I would dispute this where in their official text does is circumcision mentioned?

    The Moslems regard themselves as the descendants of Yishmael, who was circumcised at age 13 (as part of G0d’s command to Avraham) and continued the custom at the same age. Since I am not Muslim, I do not regard it as an accurate following of the commandment.

    In any case, if you regard Judaism as a “superstition” then I pity you and hope that you will repent and learn the truth.

    If not, you will find out the truth eventually.

    Comment by Sabba Hillel — 11/26/2010 @ 6:19 am

  43. I was not aware that someone made a compelling argument for routine circumcision on medical grounds. When did that happen?

    I know that you did not regard any medical arguments as “compelling” as you maintain your position. I just pointed out that there were others who pointed out your mistakes from a medical viewpoint in this thread and in many of the other fora in which the argument is made. For example, take a look at soc.culture.jewish.moderated (or the original soc.culture.jewish) on usenet. As I said, this argument has been going on for the past 3,724 years (since Avraham first circumcised himself and his family, Isaac was the following year).

    Comment by Sabba Hillel — 11/26/2010 @ 6:34 am

  44. “The Moslems regard themselves as the descendants of Yishmael, who was circumcised at age 13 (as part of G0d’s command to Avraham) and continued the custom at the same age. Since I am not Muslim, I do not regard it as an accurate following of the commandment.”

    That isn’t what I asked. I asked, where in their “texts” does it command circumcision? The answer is it doesn’t anywhere. Rather, their “book” describes the human form as perfect, with no mistakes; but that the “devil” will try to coerce them into altering god’s creation. Looks like the prince of darkness won again.

    “In any case, if you regard Judaism as a “superstition” then I pity you and hope that you will repent and learn the truth.

    If not, you will find out the truth eventually.”

    Ya, right. That’s what those Mormon and Jehovah’s Witnesses keep trying to tell me and the Christian “Scientist”. Judaism, Christianity and such are exactly that. Much like Greek, Roman, or Egyptian mythology. Different rituals different deities, the same dance even if it is a different tune.

    “I know that you did not regard any medical arguments as “compelling” as you maintain your position.”

    It seems you don’t know. I never said, nor would I ever say, there was never a compelling medical reason for an individual to consider circumcision; just like there is occasionally a need to pull a tooth, there may be instances where circumcision is medically advisable. However, routine circumcision is no more a reasonable procedure than routine tooth extraction or the routine excising of any other body part. Where there is an objective medical need, there can be a consideration. If there is no need, it’s an abuse of the child and should be prosecuted in the same way we would prosecute a parent for ritually scaring a child or cutting an earlobe off.

    Comment by Joe — 11/26/2010 @ 7:32 pm

  45. Sabba,

    I’m late returning to this because of the holiday, if you see this.

    You wrote:

    “… many others have already pointed out your mistakes on medical grounds.”

    This has not been pointed out. I’ve made no mistakes. Circumcision is objective physical harm. Healthy tissue and nerves are cut away. There is scarring. There is a risk of infection and further complications. There is a post-surgical wound. These are real and exist in every (non-therapeutic) circumcision.

    The only rebuttal offered here so far is akin to “nuh-unh”. It was aunursa equating his indifference to circumcision as proof that it isn’t physical harm. That is not a correction of any alleged mistakes by me. That’s merely substituting his opinion for mine as it relates to my body and citing it as anatomical fact and ethical absolution.

    I get that we’re not going to change each other’s opinion. I don’t expect that. I’m only hoping for critical thinking.

    Comment by Tony — 11/28/2010 @ 3:41 pm

  46. That isn’t what I asked. I asked, where in their “texts” does it command circumcision?

    The point that I made was that the Koran assumes that the command in the original bible (what the Christians call the “Old Testament”) was given and carried out when Yishmael was 13. The Moslems continued that command and maintain that they must do it at the same age as Yishmael was when he had it done. The fact that it may not be an explicit written command in the Koran is irrelevant. This is similar to someone not understanding various commandments of Judaism because they misread the Torah. A simple example would be not understanding the Torah saying “slaughter animals as I have shown you” or not understanding the meaning of various technical Biblical Hebrew terms.

    Comment by Sabba Hillel — 11/28/2010 @ 3:48 pm

  47. It is possible that I may have conflated this particular thread with the thousands of other threads that have been posted on this topic in the past decades. In any case, the medical arguments also have been made in many other locations. Just because you are basing your arguments on various assumptions does not mean that they are correct. I have argued in the past against circumcising for medical reasons. However, there have been a large number of experts giving medical reasons for infant circumcision in the past. In any case, this forum is really not the location for such arguments. As a political blog, the discussion would be, is it an appropriate law for San Francisco to pass in order to attempt to destroy a religion.

    Comment by Sabba Hillel — 11/28/2010 @ 3:55 pm

  48. You keep making assumptions that are equally convenient and incorrect. Why?

    My argument against non-therapeutic infant/child circumcision is based on medical reasons. It is not necessary. Those medical experts ignore that, and pretend that potential benefits matter. They don’t, unless we must also allow parents to alter their children in other unnecessary ways. We don’t, for good reason. The child is healthy. That is science, too.

    Because potential benefits, including perceived social benefits, are accepted as an excuse to mutilate children, this is a political issue and is relevant to a political blog. What amount of harm may one person intentionally inflict on another? That is a political question because it involves rights and they way they’re traded away for fear of entering “untouchable” discussions, such as religion.

    And I am not making various assumptions. Aunursa’s belief that the foreskin has no useful purposes is an (incorrect) assumption. Stating that circumcision makes sex better or worse is an assumption. I have no dealt in those. I’ve stated that circumcision is objective harm to the recipient. Those are facts. You are not entitled to your own facts.

    I don’t know how many different ways I can say it, but this proposal is not an attempt to destroy a religion. It does not ban circumcision for religious reasons. It only states that non-therapeutic circumcision on a non-consenting individual would not be allowed. That is applied equally to religious and non-religious parents alike. It does not prevent an individual from choosing to have himself circumcised as a religious ritual.

    Has Judaism evolved over time in any other ways? Has it let go of practices that a more developed understanding of individual rights shows are now inexcusable?

    Also, what about evidence that shows circumcision was added to Genesis many centuries after the original text, and that the commandment evolved slowly with each revision of the text?

    Comment by Tony — 11/29/2010 @ 4:49 am

  49. Also, what about evidence that shows circumcision was added to Genesis many centuries after the original text, and that the commandment evolved slowly with each revision of the text?

    Actually, there is no evidence that shows that circumcision was added to Genesis after the original text. The claim that the Pentateuch was written over a period of centuries is actually a superstition that was invented in the nineteenth century by an anti-semite named Wellhaussen and has been thoruoghly debunked. However that is a religious argument that does not apply to this thread. Similarly, any attempt to forbid the circumcision of an eight day old infant, no matter what rationalization is used, is an attempt to destroy the Jewish religion.

    It is appropriate that it comes up now as we are about to celebrate the holiday of Chanukah commemorating the failure of the Syrian Greek (Hellenistic) attempt to do the same thing in the time of the Maccabbis.

    Since circumcision in the Jewish religion is for religious reasons, any attempt to ban it (no matter what rationalization is used) is an attempt to ban the religion.

    Comment by Sabba Hillel — 11/29/2010 @ 12:03 pm

  50. Sabba,

    It’s clear you refuse to practice enough critical thinking to understand how ridiculous it is to declare any challenge to a religious practice as an automatic attempt to destroy that religion. Such ad hominem shows this discussion is no longer useful. Thanks for your time.

    Comment by Tony — 11/29/2010 @ 6:02 pm

  51. “The Moslems continued that command and maintain that they must do it at the same age as Yishmael was when he had it done. The fact that it may not be an explicit written command in the Koran is irrelevant. This is similar to someone not understanding various commandments of Judaism because they misread the Torah.”

    Not being written means there is nothing to misread, means it’s not a commandment in their mythology. It is written however that their god made no mistakes creating man but that their devil would trick them into distorting that creation. Seems to me that with the help of people like yourself, the devil has won.

    “As a political blog, the discussion would be, is it an appropriate law for San Francisco to pass in order to attempt to destroy a religion.”

    Actually, I would suggest the discussion would be, do you believe that boys deserve the same respect for their bodies that we already provide girls. I would say yes boys deserve the same protection we provide girls; I understand that some, such as yourself, may not be in favor of that.

    Comment by Joe — 11/29/2010 @ 7:08 pm

  52. It’s clear you refuse to practice enough critical thinking to understand how ridiculous it is to declare any challenge to a religious practice as an automatic attempt to destroy that religion

    I do not declare any attempt to forbid a religious practice as an attempt to destroy the religion. I merely point out that this attempt (as an example) is one that is usually done and has been used as an attempt to destroy the religion. You may be honest in your motives, but most of the people who attempt to do this are not.

    It is clear that you refuse to practice enough critical thinking to understand how serious the attempt to ban this part of the Jewish religion can be.

    Joe: banning circumcision is not “protecting” the infant or showing “respect” for their bodies in the way that girls are protected. The analogy of wearing earrings is closer. In any case, an argument between a “religious” atheist and a “religious” believer tends to be pointless because they are dealing with completely different axioms.

    That is why this forum is not really appropriate.

    Comment by Sabba Hillel — 11/30/2010 @ 6:09 am

  53. “I do not declare any attempt to forbid a religious practice as an attempt to destroy the religion. I merely point out that this attempt (as an example) is one that is usually done and has been used as an attempt to destroy the religion. You may be honest in your motives, but most of the people who attempt to do this are not.”

    Really? So what subjective criteria do you use to determine if an attempt to ban a religious practice is an attempt to destroy the religion?

    “Joe: banning circumcision is not “protecting” the infant or showing “respect” for their bodies in the way that girls are protected.”

    Why not? Girls are protected from any molestation of their genitalia regardless of: the degree, the reason (excluding genuine medical), and regardless of how it is performed. There are no reasons (excluding medical) that parents can provide to perform any degree of circumcision on girls, why shouldn’t boys enjoy the same protection?

    It would be easier if you just admitted that you don’t believe boys deserve the same respect or protection for their bodies that girls enjoy.

    “The analogy of wearing earrings is closer.”

    I disagree. Certain forms of FGM is closer.

    Comment by Joe — 11/30/2010 @ 5:15 pm

  54. Can’t see this discussion at all since abortion is legal in San Francisco. THAT is the ultimate insult to the rights of a young child isn’t it?
    I guess it’s OK to kill a child but not OK to have it participate in a familys’ religous practice.
    Boy talk about BS, which is what I call on this proposal. It’s BS.

    Comment by pitchforkntorches — 11/30/2010 @ 5:17 pm

  55. Really? So what subjective criteria do you use to determine if an attempt to ban a religious practice is an attempt to destroy the religion?

    Actually, I am trying to be kind to you in assuming that you are merely ignorant of the history of previous attempts to ban circumcision. Banning circumcision is one of the standard methods of attempting to destroy Judaism over the past centuries. I decided to take your arguments at face value and assume that you mean what you say and do not have the usual underlying motives.

    If I am wrong then I “apologize“.

    Comment by Sabba Hillel — 12/1/2010 @ 7:02 am

  56. Sabba,
    If the goyim don’t want to be circumcised, fine by me. But they cannot ban the practice as practiced by a long standing group of providers (moyhelim)as requested by the legal guardians of jewish children.
    How can the State defend this ban and not a ban on abortion?
    Wouldn’t the state be supporting one religous view over another?
    Meh. It’s still BS.

    Comment by pitchforkntorches — 12/1/2010 @ 3:33 pm

  57. “I decided to take your arguments at face value and assume that you mean what you say and do not have the usual underlying motives.”

    I am not sure why you have to make that assumption since it is clear in my posts that there is no motives other than making sure that boys enjoy the same protection and respect for their bodies that girls now enjoy. It seems clear to me that you believe boys don’t deserve that same consideration, am I wrong in that assumption?

    “f the goyim don’t want to be circumcised, fine by me. But they cannot ban the practice as practiced by a long standing group of providers (moyhelim)as requested by the legal guardians of jewish children.”

    We already ban all forms of female circumcision even though many claim it is a sacred religious rite. So why can’t boys enjoy the same respect for their bodies that girls enjoy?

    Comment by Joe — 12/1/2010 @ 6:01 pm

  58. Actually Joe,
    With all the daily permission given by parents (and I use that word broadly) to allow body modifications like earrings, tongue studs and yes, labial piercings children are not protected from their parents broad range of what is acceptable body modification.
    I find it interesting however, that we don’t discuss this vis s vis abortion, which is the ulitmate exprssion of ‘parental rights’ is it not?

    Comment by pitchforkntorches — 12/2/2010 @ 2:53 am

  59. “With all the daily permission given by parents (and I use that word broadly) to allow body modifications like earrings, tongue studs and yes, labial piercings children are not protected from their parents broad range of what is acceptable body modification.”

    How many infants and children do you know with tongue studs? Do you seriously believe that anyone who wished to remain free would pierce the labia of an infant or child with or without the
    parent’s permission?

    “I find it interesting however, that we don’t discuss this vis s vis abortion, which is the ulitmate exprssion of ‘parental rights’ is it not?”

    I find it interesting that you make the assumption that all those who oppose circumcision support abortion. I find it interesting that you believe that might be my position despite the fact that I don’t believe that I’ve posted any indication of what it might be (please point it out if I have).

    Comment by Joe — 12/2/2010 @ 4:40 am

  60. I never said that those who support abortion support circumcision. I just find it interesting that the State can reconcile the practice of abortion but is ready to ban Circumcision.

    Comment by pitchforkntorches — 12/2/2010 @ 2:42 pm

  61. “I never said that those who support abortion support circumcision. I just find it interesting that the State can reconcile the practice of abortion but is ready to ban Circumcision.”

    First, you clearly don’t have any idea what is going on here. This is not a proposal of the state or even the city. This is a ballot initiative by a citizen of the city.

    Any resident of the city and/or State can write a ballot initiative and if they collect enough signature (about 7500 for this city level question I believe) the measure is allowed on the ballot for a full vote by the population at the next election. Neither the state, county, or city have anything to do with this. None of those entities are progressive enough (yet) to propose that boys should be treated equally with girls.

    Second, because this is an individual’s initiative, your post suggests that the individuals who are proposing this share a common view on a completely separate subject. That is in your words, “I just find it interesting that the State those who’ve suggested such a ban can reconcile the practice of abortion but is are ready to ban Circumcision.” And even if it was proposed by the State, your post still suggests that all of those behind such a proposal move in lockstep on a separate issue.

    So do you believe that boys should enjoy the same protection and respect for their bodies that girls now enjoy? Do you really think that anyone could get away with giving their infant female child a labia or even a clit ring?

    Comment by Joe — 12/2/2010 @ 4:57 pm

  62. This is not a proposal of the state or even the city. This is a ballot initiative by a citizen of the city

    For constitutional purposes, a ballot initiative if passed is considered to be an exercise of the state’s legislative power. This is fairly well established constitutional law; see, for example People ex rel. Salazar v. Davidson, 79 P.3d 1221, 1237 (Col. 2003).

    So it’s perfectly reasonable, as a legal matter, to describe legislation adopted by ballot initiative as being “the state”, especially if the result will be that the power of the state (in the form of the DA and the city police) are used to enforce whatever ruels are laid down in the legislation.

    Comment by aphrael — 12/2/2010 @ 5:01 pm

  63. Well put Aphrael, if the proposal:

    A. Makes it to the ballot and
    B. Is adopted by the voters.

    Then we can discuss the issue in those terms. Until then this is simply an individual initiative, one of, I am sure, many that are started by the citizens of the city each year.

    Comment by Joe — 12/2/2010 @ 5:20 pm

  64. Joe: in #57 you do say that you do not understand why I am being “kind” to you in assuming that you mean what you say. The reason is that historically, the real reason for attempts to ban circumcision were (as proven by following events) actually attempts to destroy the Jewish religion. I realize that you have not shown such tendencies yet, however most of those expressing such opinions have eventually done so.

    I also realize that, since you do not know the history of attempts to ban circumcision, you do not understand why your own motives are suspect. If you can understand why I bring the analogy to banning kosher slaughter and forbidding stores to close on Saturday, then you might see why many of us worry that the motives behind this movement are the same as they have been in centuries past.

    Comment by Sabba Hillel — 12/3/2010 @ 5:46 am

  65. aphrael,
    Thanks for the citation.
    Joe,
    To answer your question honestly, as a jew, No boys don’t deserve that same “Protection” as girls. It is my belief in my religon that brings me to that practice. I believe that it has been practiced in a humane manner for thousands of years and has shown to have some beneficial-as well as negative effects. To be sure non circumcision has also has beneficial and negative effects.
    Sabba,
    Since any citizen can posit a referendum, maybe some one should request a ban on banning religous practices,
    My original position is that its all BS. And it still is. Have a nice liberal life. Meh

    Comment by pitchforksntorches — 12/3/2010 @ 9:09 am

  66. Sabba –

    I am certainly not oblivious to the history of circumcision. The fact that it is connected to religion is incidental so far as I am concerned; I’d like to see non-therapeutic circumcision proscribed for all children, regardless of their religious association or gender. I am certain that were it not connected with religion, it would already be illegal to do to minors without therapeutic need.

    I see banning male circumcision as no more attacking Judaism than banning female circumcision or honor killings as an attack on the Islamic sects which practice them.

    pitchforksntorches –

    “To answer your question honestly, as a jew, No boys don’t deserve that same “Protection” as girls.”

    Well, at least you’re honest about that. Most people evade the question. Personally, I am an equal protection kind of guy. Girls are protected regardless of the reason, degree, or how it’s done. Why shouldn’t boys enjoy that protection?

    “Since any citizen can posit a referendum, maybe some one should request a ban on banning religous practices,
    My original position is that its all BS. And it still is.”

    So for those religious groups which practice female circumcision, you’re fine with that? For those who participate in honor killings, you’re fine with that? Or any other thing that some one can dream up as a ‘religious’ rite.

    “Have a nice liberal life.”

    I know people on both sides of the political spectrum who are opposed to circumcision and would like to see it proscribed. What makes you think I am a liberal?

    Comment by Joe — 12/3/2010 @ 7:54 pm

  67. Why shouldn’t boys enjoy that protection?

    The reason is that boys are not mutilated by the millions the way girls are.

    Male circumcision is radically unlike female.

    Sure, you can create a hypo where females are circumcised in a way that does them no harm, and say that’s what’s been banned, but I think we’re really looking at laws that may seem to general but in practice only wind up stopping monstrous mutilations.

    Regardless, logically, there’s nothing wrong with male circumcision simply in virtue of any aspect of female circumcision. Lumping the issues together under some absolute law, with all the punch of the more extreme, in order to ban the completely benign, seems unfair.

    So for those religious groups which practice female circumcision, you’re fine with that? For those who participate in honor killings, you’re fine with that?

    This kind of argument speaks for itself. Are you OK with innocent men getting AIDS because they weren’t circumcised? Yes, I know, that’s unfair and ridiculous.

    Comment by Dustin — 12/9/2010 @ 11:10 pm

  68. “The reason is that boys are not mutilated by the millions the way girls are.”

    Oh but they are. Male circumcision is more common than female circumcision.

    “Male circumcision is radically unlike female.”

    Actually, the two are essentially the same. Both are done by the child’s parents, often for religious and/or cultural reasons, sometimes for perceived health reason. Both parents who circumcise sons and daughters believe they are doing them a favor, have their child’s best interests in mind. So they’re not so different.

    “Sure, you can create a hypo where females are circumcised in a way that does them no harm, and say that’s what’s been banned, but I think we’re really looking at laws that may seem to general but in practice only wind up stopping monstrous mutilations.”

    I am not even sure what you’re saying here. The facts are though girls are protected no matter the circumstances. It is irrelevant if it is a religious rite, cultural tradition, doesn’t matter who does, where it’s done, or under what conditions it’s done. The degree to which it’s done is irrelevant. Boys deserve the same protections.

    “This kind of argument speaks for itself.”

    I am not sure what you mean. The original poster suggested a ban on laws that would ban religious practices. I am just wondering how far he is willing to take it. I suspect in the end he would wind up being hypocritical.

    “Are you OK with innocent men getting AIDS because they weren’t circumcised? Yes, I know, that’s unfair and ridiculous.”

    Again you’re not making much sense I am afraid. HIV infection occurs primarily as a result of unprotected sexual intercourse with an HIV positive partner. Circumcision has little to do with the event.

    Comment by Joe — 12/10/2010 @ 6:08 pm

  69. Even though I argue for circumcision on a religious basis only, there are health benefits. This article points out that there are studies showing the health benefits of circumcision.

    And yet, the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2007 endorsed male circumcision as “an important intervention to reduce the risk of HIV”. Three studies in particular were carried out in Kenya, Uganda and South Africa where results indicated that circumcision reduced the risk of HIV infection by 60%. It’s even been predicted that circumcision, as a national health practice, could save three million lives over the next twenty years.

    Similar results are turning up in the US as well; a team of researchers from CDC, John Hopkins, and the Baltimore health department examined the records of 1,000 HIV+ men and found uncircumcised individuals were 50% more likely to be infected.

    Routine circumcision has long been controversial in the US, San Francisco is not the first city to entertain a ban proposal, and yet there’s increasing evidence to correlate circumcision with:

    -A reduced risk of urinary tract infections
    -A reduced risk of STDs
    -Protection against a rare form of cancer in men, reduced risk of cervical cancer in female partners as well as HPV (the human papillomavirus) in both partners
    -Prevention of balanitis and balanoposthitis
    -Prevention of phimosis and paraphimosis

    Even the American Academy of Pediatrics, which does not recommend “routine” circumcision or consider it “essential”, officially acknowledges the existence of enough scientific evidence to demonstrate potential medical benefits and advantages.

    Comment by Sabba Hillel — 12/17/2010 @ 5:32 am

  70. http://www.ou.org/shabbat_shalom/article/san_fran_ban_circumcision/

    What about all those professionals who routinely convince parents to spend incredible amounts of money doing painful and damaging surgery (extracting healthy permanent teeth), to unwilling patients who are then tortured over a period of years with mouthfuls of sharp metal objects?

    So what’s all this fuss about circumcision? I can’t wait to see a San Fran ban on orthodontics!

    Comment by Sabba Hillel — 12/17/2010 @ 5:34 am

  71. Sabba Hillel –

    What your article fails to mention where it quote the WHO is that the WHO’s recommendation applies only to countries with high HIV prevalence not in low prevalence or where the epidemic relates to specific portions of the population. This would exclude most countries outside where they held those trials. It seems to be a popular hobby for those promoting infant circumcision (including those who executed those trials) to misquote the WHO’s statement and neglect to add the caveats.

    However, having said that neither those results nor the other potential benefits you’ve added provide a credible reason to consider infant circumcision. Balanitis, Balanoposthitis, Phimosis, Paraphimosis and UTIs are easily treatable and rarely occur anyway. Circumcising for these reasons would be like saying, “I am going to pull all your teeth to prevent cavities.”
    There has been a stunningly effective HPV vaccine available for both women and men for going on 7 years now, don’t you think it’s time we deprecate HPV as an excuse for circumcision?

    Some STDs are slightly less common in circumcised males, others are more common. In either case the difference is small, unless you’re a research who like promoting circumcision. If a man finds the small additional protection potentially provided, they can opt for circumcision as an adult.

    As to your second post about: “all those professionals who routinely convince parents to spend incredible amounts of money doing painful and damaging surgery (extracting healthy permanent teeth), to unwilling patients who are then tortured over a period of years with mouthfuls of sharp metal objects?”

    I presume you’re talking about extraction of the third molars. Which isn’t even regularly considered until the individual is in their late teens or early twenties when they can provide appropriate input and consent. This isn’t not typically done unless there is clinical need either, usually imminent impaction or concerns with crowding. Braces are also done at an age where the individual can consider their impact.

    Nice try though.

    Comment by Joe — 12/19/2010 @ 11:21 am

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    Comment by las vegas dental care — 10/17/2013 @ 3:27 pm

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