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Jul 01 2012

The Case Against Religious Circumcision


Paperoairplane makes his case for why circumcision is important and why those who are against it’s cosmetic use are impinging on his rights.

Circumcision is NOT essential to Judaism. The argument that circumcision is a painless (relatively speaking. It’s pretty painful. Ask anyone who has been circumcised as an adult if they would do it without anaesthetic) surgical removal of an unnecessary (it acts as a lubricating sleeve and protective layer for the penis) piece of skin. There are no benefits to circumcision that cannot be gained by proper hygiene.

If a religious practice is inherently harmful then that practice must be stopped no matter how much of a core belief the practice is. There is no difference from the lack of vaccination or use of medicine of the Christian Science sect and the unwillingness to accept organ and blood donations of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and this.

The difference between us and religion is very simple. We are willing to ask “Why”?

A brit milah is  the covenant between the Jewish People and God. Why? Because he says so? Because he gave a list of proper reasons? There is no explanation for this unnecessary piece of damage to the male genitals. It’s not on the scale of Female Genital Mutilation but it is not necessary. Without a Bris a boy can be called up to Torah, you just have to tell him. There won’t be any lightning or thunder or divine ninjas. It will just be a guy who follows the teachings of judaism with his foreskin intact. So far the risk of Kares doesn’t seem to be divinely ordained as a direct message from Jehovah/Yahweh/Allah.

I will you know!

It’s something practiced by jews as people. It’s a shunning. It’s a disconnect. It’s losing your street cred. It’s being ostracised. And it’s no different from any other sort of bullying. It’s not divinely ordained, it’s done by people. I suspect because that they are irritated that you won’t follow the rules of the club and are willing to make a stand on this. No man or woman will mutilate my children unless they reach the age of majority and make the decision to do so and even then I am fully within my rights to go “WHHHYYYY” or “NOOOOO!” really dramatically. 

I also “Do Not Want”

Circumcision doesn’t make you jewish. Neither does some mythical tribal affiliation. It’s a religion just like any other. People can marry out, people can convert. And people can chose to not get circumcised and still be jewish. If all the movements of Judaism think that circumcision is necessary but secular society thinks otherwise then secular society wins out. It’s the same way that we don’t care much for all those Old Testament/Torah lines on the posession of slaves. Remember secular society also doesn’t care much for how a lot of orthodox jews treat women. It’s not anti-semitism. It’s common fucking sense.

I find it arrogant that people like Paperoairplane think that their almighty god with insane magical powers cannot tell the difference between jew and non-jew unless through penis mutilation. That they think the most important part of being a Jew is a pointless procedure created by a bunch of people who would consider us gods for our technology. The only reason circumcision is necessary in judaism is because jews think it’s necessary. If all the Jews decided to not circumcise, judaism will not suddenly vanish. It will just be an entire group of people who used to do something stupid but now don’t. There is no arrogance in pointing out the Emperor’s Nudity. It is not anti-semitism to suggest that the medical procedure of circumcision should be the only one practiced.

The truth remains as such. For most of us there is no need for circumcision. Even phimosis can be treated using a topical steroid and stretching of the foreskin to encourage growth and looseness. Only adherent phimosis really requires circumcision. Jews and Muslims and many Christians circumcise solely for cosmetic reasons. Yes, your belief in a religious faith is a cosmetic reason to do ANYTHING. Doing ANYTHING for the sake of religion is inherently superstition. If it is wrong for a christian to circumcise then the same rules apply to Jews. The so called benefits of circumcision are gained through cleanliness and hygiene. You wouldn’t cut your ears off to make washing behind them easier, then why would you cut your foreskin off to make cleaning the head of the penis easier?

So far there is no actual reason except for peer pressure, cosmetic and religious reasons to circumcise in the way that people do. Because it makes the penis look nice is a stupid reason to reduce sensitivity in the head. Because a unknown, unprovable entity that can willingly break the laws of physics said so is actually more stupid than cosmetic because atleast “it looks nicer” is actually a slightly more valid reason for doing something. Just not to your own kids.

The other main reason it is done is because it’s “what everyone else is doing”. If your kid isn’t circumcised he would be laughed at in the gym. Guess what? Guys don’t look at each other’s penises and don’t comment on them. I have never been involved in a scenario where the appearance of my penis has brought derision and laughter to those around me. (Ladies! Take that however you want…)

We routinely tell our children and teenagers to not subject themselves to peer pressure. We even say such things like “If Everyone Else jumped into a Well, would you?”. And we fall for it ourselves. Except this isn’t a fancy barbeque grill or a nice car. This is a medical procedure done to your children when they cannot have any say in the matter.

Let them make their own idiotic decisions when they are 18 or even 16. Until then? Leave their foreskins alone. 

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