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Oct 01 2013

Put the scissors down

In better news – the countries which I think of as Scandinavia plus Finland but which are properly called Nordic (I learned via this story) want to get rid of infant circumcision.

Yesterday, during a meeting in Oslo, Nordic ombudsmen for children, Nordic paediatricians, and paediatric surgeons agreed a resolution urging their national governments to work for a ban on non-therapeutic circumcision of underage boys.

The children’s ombudsmen from the five Nordic countries (Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, and Iceland), along with the Chair of the Danish Children’s Council and the Children’s spokesperson for Greenland, passed a resolution to: “Let boys decide for themselves whether they want to be circumcised.”

Note that it’s just a resolution and that they’re not legislators, but it’s a step. That’s good. This business of snipping at children’s genitals for no good reason has got to stop. The stopping has to start somewhere.

The ombudsmen concluded that: “Circumcision without a medical indication on a person unable to provide informed consent conflicts with basic principles of medical ethics.” They found the procedure “to be in conflict with the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child, articles 12, and 24 (3) which say that children should have the right to express their own views and must be protected from traditional rituals that may be harmful to their health.”

Dr Antony Lempert, a GP and spokesperson for the UK Secular Medical Forum (SMF) applauded this historic resolution and urged the UK and devolved Governments to work towards protecting all UK children at risk of forced genital cutting.

He said: “This important statement by the Nordic child protection experts is grounded in common sense. Children’s basic rights to bodily integrity and to form their own beliefs should not be overridden because of their parents’ religious or cultural practices.”

Dr Lempert argued that, “with an increasing awareness of serious irreversible harm caused to boys and girls from forced genital cutting it is time for the genitals of all children to be protected from people with knives and strong religious or cultural beliefs. There can be no justification for healthy children to be forcibly cut. All children deserve society’s protection from serious harm.”

Yes.

49 comments

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  1. 1
    Suido

    Absolutely agree, but concerned that circumcision will continue to be practiced without professional medical supervision.

    Education is key, and convincing people to abandon dangerous customs takes time. I’m happy that this is not yet legislation, as I think that the risk of botched backyard circumcisions is greater than the risk of allowing doctors to circumcise boys after explaining potential risks to the parents.

    I think legislation on this issue should wait until there is strong support from within the populations that practice it most, especially if they are minorities. Hence, it’s going to take time.

    I’d definitely advocate circumcision not being covered by public health insurance.

  2. 2
    theobromine

    Absolutely agree, but concerned that circumcision will continue to be practiced without professional medical supervision.

    So, you want a medical practitioner who doesn’t see anything wrong with mutilating a person’s body without their consent to supervise (or perform) said activity? Or you want circumcision to be supervised/performed by a medical practitioner who does think it’s wrong but is willing to do it anyway for the money?

  3. 3
    Jacob Schmidt

    So, you want a medical practitioner who doesn’t see anything wrong with mutilating a person’s body without their consent to supervise (or perform) said activity? Or you want circumcision to be supervised/performed by a medical practitioner who does think it’s wrong but is willing to do it anyway for the money?

    How about a medical practitioner who recognizes that if xe isn’t there, it will be done anyways by someone without the proper training?

  4. 4
    Katherine Woo

    Suido, by your reasoning FGM should not be banned either. After all most forms of FGM are much, much more harmful, so the risks of underground FGM is logically more harmful as well.

    Further you want people to wait until “there is strong support from within the populations that practice it”. Society has a responsibility to protect individuals from the tyranny of the group. Circumcision and FGM show compulsive aspects in adults not unlike sexual abuse victims becoming abusers. Force and ethical conviction is going to win this argument, not sudden intra-cultural enlightenment.

    We all know this will result in fervent accusations of anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, blah, blah, blah and a healthy dose of Godwin’s Law. For the sake of the basic human rights of a child, I am willing to weather some histrionic name-calling. Can you?

  5. 5
    Katherine Woo

    Jacob Schmidt: “How about a medical practitioner who recognizes that if xe isn’t there, it will be done anyways by someone without the proper training?”

    The oath is to “do no harm”, not “do harm, because some fanatic might hypothetically do even more harm”.

  6. 6
    Suido

    @2 and 4:

    Circumcision can be medically prescribed. Hence, it is an operation that doctors are prepared to do if required. There is very little risk of harm due to professional circumcision, and there is some evidence to suggest that circumcision can help prevent certain diseases later in life. It is a medical procedure, not mutilation.

    FGM is a whole different ball game in terms of harm to the victim. Circumcision and FGM are similar in that they both involve the genitals, but other than that I don’t think the two issues should be addressed as equivalent.

    I support reducing harm. I support consent. I think it’s wrong to inflict unnecessary medical procedures on infants and children. I wish I could see a perfect way to appease all three of these, but I can’t.

    However, I also live in world where backyard FGM occurs. Given the near certainty that outlawing circumcision would lead to backyard circumcisions and increase the risk to the children, I don’t think outlawing circumcision is the correct course of action. YET.

  7. 7
    theobromine

    Suido @6:

    Mastectomy can be medically prescribed. Hence it is an operation that doctors are prepared to do if required. If you remove the breasts, it eliminates the source of a potentially deadly cancer.

    I’m not talking about FGM, I’m talking about the removal of an infant boy’s foreskin. I certainly have no objection to medically indicated circumcision, but it *is* mutilation to remove a piece of healthy (and functional) tissue for religious (or cultural) reasons, and it causes pain to a helpless infant for no good reason. There is also a not insignificant risk of serious complications, including permanent damage to the penis, or even death.

  8. 8
    Suido

    @Theobromine #7

    I was replying to two comments at once, so apologies for not answering you specifically.

    I don’t disagree with anything you’ve said, except for describing circumcision as mutilation. To say that circumcision degrades the function or appearance of a penis is disputed both in scientific/medical literature for the former and popular opinion for the latter.

    However, you haven’t given any explanation as to how to prevent harm being done by backyard circumcisions, which are far riskier than having it done by doctors. Greater risk of infections, chronic complications or death. Greater risk of parents ignoring complications arising from circumcisions due to the possibility of prosecution for procuring an illegal circumcision. Add in other factors such as recent immigration, minority demographics, lack of support networks for parents from poor backgrounds and you have a perfect storm for higher rates of mutilated penises and ruined lives than is currently the case.

    Outlawing the procedure will increase harm to many children, given the history of other legal prohibitions. Parents will procure circumcisions irrespective of the legality. To ignore that fact is to indulge in the same magical thinking that abortion opponents use, completely ignoring the real world harm that will ensue from the legislation.

    @Katherine:

    To answer you individually as well, I disagree with the order you proposed. I think the culture needs to begin changing first, followed by a legislative push to finish the job once momentum is building.

    I am extremely skeptical when punitive measures are proposed as the best solution for anything. I’d be interested in your reasons for believing that force would fix this social issue, unlike the vast array of problems that it has failed to fix.

  9. 9
    Katherine Woo

    “There is very little risk of harm due to professional circumcision, and there is some evidence to suggest that circumcision can help prevent certain diseases later in life. It is a medical procedure, not mutilation.”

    What would you label removal of perfectly normal, healthy tissue from a non-consenting person in any other circumstance if not “mutilation”?

    Past the semantics, circumcision has exactly zero life-saving benefits for a child. The only childhood benefit of note is UTI, which have alternate therapies in most cases.

    In contrast even “professional circumcision” can and does cause boys to die every year. It also causes illness or loss of sexual function which are far greater harm than any benefits.

    With any other surgery but this one, that stark discrepancy would make it completely impermissible on a non-cosenting minor patient. Circumcision has been allowed to flaunt basic medical ethics for too long and it is time someone actual applied them to the world’s most common surgery.

    “Circumcision and FGM are similar in that they both involve the genitals, but other than that I don’t think the two issues should be addressed as equivalent.”

    It is interesting how you try to use the word “equivalent”, because the issue is not one of equivalent harm, equivalent protection under the law. If boys received the same protection girls now do, non-theraputic circumcision would be unequivocally illegal. If you want to argue boys do not deserve the same protection as girls, or that girls deserve less protection from FGM, then please do so openly rather than tackling a strawman.

    “I’d be interested in your reasons for believing that force would fix this social issue, unlike the vast array of problems that it has failed to fix.”

    I find it almost sociopathic that you describe routinely cutting off part of a healthy child’s genitals a “social issue”. This is not some abstract matter like school vouchers, labor policy, or racism. This is a concrete act of irrevocable alteration of another person’s body. We use force of law to prohibit such impact on other people all the time, including numerous prohibition on parents for less-invasive acts like tattoos and piercings.

  10. 10
    Minnow

    Given Norway’s history with the Jews, I don’t find this surprising, just nauseating.

  11. 11
    Omar Puhleez

    Male cicumcision and female ‘circumcision’ aka female genital mutilation or FGM have different functions.

    Amongst the followers of Abrahamic religions, male cicumsion marks a rite of passage from boyhood to manhood and is not intended to impair sexual function. It probably would never have achieved traditional acceptance otherwise. Its proponents cite hygeine and less likelihood of certain diseases as part justification of it, and many parents I know had it done on their sons in order that they escape being the butt of jokes amongst their fellows in school change rooms and showers. Etc.

    There is the additional reason given that infancy is the best time for it, as it is arguably less traumatic, though I am unaware of any studies that would enable a conclusion to be resched on this one way or another. I can textify that it was performed on me as an infant, and I have absolutely no recollection of it. I think things would be different if I had been older.

    FGM on the other hand has no purpose other than to wreck a girl’s capacity for sexual enjoyment: specifically, to prevent her from ever being able to achieve orgasm. Its (mainly Muslim) advocates cite as its main advantage the loss of interest or outright aversion to sex that results from it. And thus the control that authoritarians can achieve.

    The male equivalent of FGM would be total or partial excision of the whole penis.

  12. 12
    anne mariehovgaard

    Male cicumcision and female ‘circumcision’ aka female genital mutilation or FGM have different functions.

    In part. But the “religious freedom” BS should give you a hint about an important common function: to mark one’s children permanently as part of “us” and different from “them”.

    Amongst the followers of Abrahamic religions, male cicumsion marks a rite of passage from boyhood to manhood and is not intended to impair sexual function. It probably would never have achieved traditional acceptance otherwise.

    Well… not permanent impairment for the majority, but a few maimed or dead would have been accepted as God’s will. For an initiation rite, pain and risk are features, not bugs.

    There is the additional reason given that infancy is the best time for it, as it is arguably less traumatic

    “Arguably”? The only person whose opinion really matters is not capable of arguing, or forming permanent retrievable memories of what was done to them. That does not magically make it painless or harmless.

  13. 13
    Omar Puhleez

    anne mariehovgaard,

    “But the ‘religious freedom’ BS should give you a hint about an important common function: to mark one’s children permanently as part of “us” and different from “them”.”

    I suppose you are saying that male circumcision and FGM have much the same rite of passage function within the communal fold as say baptism has. Perhaps. Except that in most cultures people keep their genitals well hidden. Circumcision and FGM are not on public display the way, say, the ritiual wounds and scars borne by young Australian Aboriginal men are/were.

    From their outward and clothed appearance, one cannot tell whether or not a young Muslim man or woman has been ritually inducted or not.

    “Well… not permanent impairment for the majority, but a few maimed or dead would have been accepted as God’s will. For an initiation rite, pain and risk are features, not bugs.”

    I think you missed my point there. The male and female casualty rates from male circumcision and FGM can never have been zero. But the fact that these practices have continued for so long indicates to my mind that the powerbrokers of those communities found them acceptable. All I can say is that my own experience of male circumcision left me with no mental scars at all, as far as I know: which does not mean that I endorse it.

    I did read some years ago an account here in Australia of a botched hospital circumcision of a baby boy, which, according to the lawyer acting for him in the subsequent court case, left him in a state without any prospects of marriage in later life. His penis had been terribly mutilated, apparently.

    I confess that while being now opposed to both, I do not see male circumcision as nearly as big an issue as FGM. I suppose that if the choice was left until an appropriate age of consent, there would be few consenting takers for male circumcision, and none at all for FGM: which would upset a number of Abrahamic clerics, I am sure.

  14. 14
    Cassanders

    @Minnow,
    So Norway’s (shameful) history (of jews and the holocaust), somhow has infected the Danes (very impressive track record), the Swedes (fairly good) and Finns(unknown)? Give us a break.

    I am one of quite a number in Norway who deplore the left’s conflation of anti-zionism and antisemittism, who support Isral’s right to exist (e.g. that a one-state-solution would be catastrophic) and fights “the racism of lowered expectations” (I.e. the liberal’s and left’s denial / complacency of increased and institutionalized antisemittism/anti/jewish sentiments among MENA immigrants.

    I am truly sorrow that Norwegian jews have stated that they consider the circ. to be so important that the will likely emigrate if it becomes banned.

    Yet I will back the statement from the ombudsmen, but would regard every jew that emigrates a loss for our societies.

    Cassanders
    In Cod we trust

  15. 15
    theobromine

    @suido #8
    However, you haven’t given any explanation as to how to prevent harm being done by backyard circumcisions,

    For FGM, “backyard” may be the most common form, but for male circumcision, a large number of the procedures (probably the majority in many countries) are not done for reasons of religion or even strong cultural pressures, and are done in hospitals by doctors. On the other hand, for Jewish religious circumcision, there is already an entrenched system of “backyard” procedures. (e.g the recent case in which 11 baby boys in New York City were infected with herpes (2 got brain damage and 2 died) http://healthland.time.com/2012/06/07/how-11-new-york-city-babies-contracted-herpes-through-circumcision/)

    @ Omar #13

    The male and female casualty rates from male circumcision and FGM can never have been zero. But the fact that these practices have continued for so long indicates to my mind that the powerbrokers of those communities found them acceptable.

    When the infant and child mortality rate is already around 20% (as it has been for most of human history), the few extra deaths from circumcision or FGM would probably not even be noticeable.

  16. 16
    Minnow

    “I am truly sorrow that Norwegian jews [sic] have stated that they consider the circ. to be so important that the will likely emigrate if it becomes banned.”

    But, you know, if Jews will be so unreasonable, they just have to be let go, just one of those things, nothing to do with racism, just a sad by product of the over-defensiveness of the Jews (Iafter all, Norway hasn’t murdered Jews for ages!).

  17. 17
    theobromine

    @ Minnow

    At least in North America, there is very little racism in the movement against circumcision – the vast majority of circumcised babies are not Jewish. The most recent stats I could find were from 2005 – at that time the circumcision rate was 32% in Canada and 56% in the US, while the Jewish population comprised about 1% of Canadians and just under 2% of USAmericans.

    (For the record: I’m Jewish by ethnicity, though not by observance.)

  18. 18
    anne mariehovgaard

    I suppose you are saying that male circumcision and FGM have much the same rite of passage function within the communal fold as say baptism has. Perhaps. Except that in most cultures people keep their genitals well hidden. Circumcision and FGM are not on public display the way, say, the ritiual wounds and scars borne by young Australian Aboriginal men are/were.

    Not really. Baptism does not permanently mark your body as belonging to your tribe, not yourself. Initiation rites are not so much about what outsiders think; their function is to tie you to the group. You had to go through this terrible ordeal to become a True Member of Our Group; that’s how important and valuable group membership is! And if it leaves permanent marks, then whenever you look at your own body, you will always know that’s who you are. (What was that about “religious freedom”?) And it marks you as the right sort of person for someone in Our Group to marry.

  19. 19
    anne mariehovgaard

    Minnow:
    Saying that the infant sons of Jews and Muslims should not have the same rights as other boys seems pretty racist to me.

  20. 20
    Anniemouse

    Additionally, there are many Jews who do not believe in mutilating their infant son’s penises. Opposing nonconsentual mutilation does not equal anti-Semitism. There’s every opportunity for adult men to decide for themselves whether or not to mutilate their penises.

  21. 21
    Juan Stein

    Glad to see right-thinking, civilized, white Europeans no longer tolerating barbaric Jewish and Muslim practices like this.

  22. 22
    Juan Stein

    In all seriousness the idea that you could comment on this issue without so much as mentioning that this is a white, Christian/secular majority passing a resolution against the practices of long-opressed ethnic minorites is appalling. Routine medical circumcision is not practiced in Northern Europe, this resolution is targeted at Jews and Muslims.

  23. 23
    opposablethumbs

    Einstein/Juan Piedra, all baby girls and boys – whether born into Jewish, Muslim or Christian families from FGM-practising regions – are entitled to the same protection from bodily harm. It’s true that in Europe it’s important to explicitly reject the racist creeps who would love to make this a bandwagon under whose wheels they could throw whole ethnic groups (just like the NF and EDL scum transparently pretending they care about the oppression of women), but it’s still true that the infants concerned have the right to be protected.

  24. 24
    Ophelia Benson

    Such a fascinating way of putting it – “targeted at Jews and Muslims” – as if Jews and Muslims were some uniform blob, like mashed potatoes. What about the infant sons of Jews and Muslims? Don’t they count at all?

  25. 25
    Minnow

    “Glad to see right-thinking, civilized, white Europeans no longer tolerating barbaric Jewish and Muslim practices like this.”

    Quite agree, these people have been polluting our societies for too long. You would think they would have learned their lesson (but some people just can’t learn).

  26. 26
    theobromine

    @ Minnow:

    At the risk of being repetitive:

    Aside from the massive chip on your shoulder, why should being Jewish or Muslim give a person the right to mutilate the body of another person, putting them at risk of injury or death?

  27. 27
    Juan Stein

    Haha “we must protect Jewish infants from thier barbaric parents,” that’s a new one (it’s not, it’s a well-established anti-semitic trope that lead to the systematic kidnapping of Jewish children for centuries).

    It’s really too bad passing legislation on this issue would cause nearly every Jew in the country to emigrate but what can we do? There’s no talking to those people!

  28. 28
    Ophelia Benson

    Ok settle down. If you can’t argue without the accusations of anti-Semitism, you can’t keep commenting.

  29. 29
    Juan Stein

    hahahahahahaha are you listening to yourself? It’s alright, I understand Jews are not welcome on yr blog. Bye friends!

  30. 30
    theobromine

    http://www.jewsagainstcircumcision.org/

    We are a group of educated and enlightened Jews who realize that the barbaric, primitive, torturous, and mutilating practice of circumcision has no place in modern Judaism.

    Rabbi Moses Maimonides himself acknowledged that circumcision is done to desensitize the penis and curb masturbation.

    Jews are some of the smartest people in the world. We are 1/3rd of 1% of the population, yet we hold 33% of Nobel prizes. We are smart lenough to understand that mutilating a little boys’ penis is not an acceptable practice in modern times.

  31. 31
    Katherine Woo

    In all seriousness the idea that you could comment on this issue without so much as mentioning that this is a white, Christian/secular majority passing a resolution against the practices of long-opressed ethnic minorites is appalling.

    No what is “appalling” is that you and Minnow think you can simply wave away the human rights and medical ethics arguments with some vague references to bigotry. And as usual your mindset could equally apply to laws against FGM (and a range of other practices, e.g. dog meat).

    Besides those “right-thinking, civilized, white Europeans” you scoff at pioneered the concept of universal human rights and have been in the vanguard of pretty much every major human rights advance of the past two centuries, so forgive me if I give them the benefit of the doubt when it comes to cutting healthy, normal tissue off a child’s genitals.

  32. 32
    Minnow

    I don’t think I can Ophelia, I think antisemitism is right at the heart of this and it makes me boil with anger, especially when the children of the Jewish victims last time round are still living in places like Oslo, watching it all creep up again,. But it is pointless anger, so I will shut up.

  33. 33
    HappiestSadist, Repellent Little Martyr

    Children are not the property of their parents or religions. Parents have an obligation to not harm their children, and to protect them from harm. Surgically or cosmetically altering the bodies of infants for no medical reason (as there are situations that require medical intervention) is harm. All children, regardless of the religion and culture of their parents, have the right to not be harmed.

  34. 34
    Anniemouse

    @Minnow; I think you’re the person wallowing in anti-Semitism. Your opinion (despite proof to the contrary in link 30) seems to be that Jewish parents are so barbaric that they will mutilate their children no matter what.

  35. 35
    theobromine

    Minnow:

    Do you think antisemitism is at the heart of Jews Against Circumcision? Do you think antisemitism is the motivation for North Americans who want to see circumcision banned, when most of those affected aren’t even Jewish?

    Please ask yourself this question: Should a person ever be allowed to make (or cause to be made) a permanent physical alteration to another person’s body without consent? If not, why does it matter if the person wanting to make the alteration to the body of another is of a particular religion or ethnicity?

    I am fortunate that my ancestors made it to North America in the early 1900s, so were spared the horrors of the Holocaust. My grandparents were denied numerous opportunities and access, my parents rather less so. I grew up in the 1960 and ’70s, and all I had to worry about was schoolyard taunts about being a Christ-killer. Please explain how this gives me the right to cut off a piece of my son’s penis.

  36. 36
    Ophelia Benson

    Minnow, do the rights of children not to be mutilated play no part in your thinking here at all? If they don’t, why don’t they?

  37. 37
    Omar Puhleez

    anne mariehovgaard @ #18

    “And if it leaves permanent marks, then whenever you look at your own body, you will always know that’s who you are…. And it marks you as the right sort of person for someone in Our Group to marry.”

    That is a most important point, and I thank you for it.

    Most symbols of tribal membership are outward, proclaiming ‘I am one of them’: eg wearing of a uniform of some kind with or without badges of rank, etc: found in all sorts of organisations and affiliations. But circumcision, precisely because it alters the most private and normally hidden parts of the body, carries the message from the group to the owner of that body: ‘you are one of us; belong with us, if not belong TO us.’

    (None the less, I would maintain that the primary function of FGM is not emblematic, but rather all about control.

    Going by the conversation above in this thread, for Jews male circumcision is a pretty powerful reminder and proclamation of their Jewishness. Although many non-Jewish males are circumcised, few Jewish males are not so. Even non-religiously observant Jews are highly inclined to identify themselves as Jews nonetheless.

    However, because it has such a long antiquity and wide geographical spread, the practice of male circumcision cannot be said to be an Abrahamic invention.

    My own cicumcision had little to do with proclaiming a group identity (my mother was a Christian, my father a staunch and proselytising atheist) but far more with general conformity. It was simply the done thing for boys of my generation.

    Sadly, by mentioning it on this blog, I have probably blown my cover for all time.

    Ah well. Life wasn’t meant to be easy.

    ;-)

  38. 38
    Cassanders

    @Minnow,
    You have a very warped way of thinking.

    1) You have not even tried to adress my point WRT the other Scandinavian countries’ Ombundsmen unanimously support for a ban , you just harp on with Norway’s alleged antisemittism.
    2) You disregard that there are (of course) opposition to the suggestion of such a ban in all Nordic countries ( from various groups, – both religious and secular).
    3) You disregard that there are Jewish (sic) organisations working for similar ban’s
    4) You disregard that there are medical and humans rights organizations working to ban the cs-practice on non-jewish/non-muslim children in USA/Canada. In this context you disregard the owerwhelming lage precentage of the latter compared to the minorities.
    The mere idea that the antiCS groups in USA /Canada just uses the general male population to target the jewish/muslim minority is simply ludicrous.

    Cassanders
    In Cod we trust

  39. 39
    Minnow

    “Minnow, do the rights of children not to be mutilated play no part in your thinking here at all? If they don’t, why don’t they?”

    I don’t think that it is reasonable to call male circumcision (properly done) ‘mutilation’, otherwise we end up subjecting boys (I know some of them) to genital mutilation for health purposes.

    So the question is whether the disbenefits from circumcision outweigh the benefits such that we should introduce legislation that will almost certainly have a deeply damaging effect on a vulnerable and historically victimised section of society. I can’t see any evidence for that. So why get this particular bee in one’s bonnet? It is because the bee has an ‘oriental’ look, I think . Norway made a good fist of murdering all its Jews fairly recently but was thwarted in the end. So other means are needed. Our commentator above admits that the Jews are likely to be driven out by this sort of legislation and is ever so sorry about that but shrugs because it is a price worth paying in order to … well what? If the Jews are just going elsewhere to perform their barbaric mutilations of children? In order to have fewer Jews that’s what.

    I know I said I would shut up, but the question was aimed at me and I get very angry about this. I think it may read a little different from this side of the Atlantic where the carnage was actually done.

  40. 40
    Minnow

    By the way, just for context and for a bit of light relief, here is a famous gag by one of Norway’s most famous comedians made on his TV show in 2008:

    “I would like to take the opportunity to remember all the billions of fleas and lice that lost their lives in German gas chambers without having done anything wrong other than settling on persons of Jewish background.”

    Classy, right? Fleas and lice! So funny. Why should Norway’s remaining 800 Jews feel remotely intimidated? Always playing the victim!

  41. 41
    theobromine

    @Minnow:

    First: Your continuing accusations of antisemitism (as in #40) are becoming tiresome and ridiculous. I have not seen anything in the comments here resembling the straw persons you have been setting up – no one has made jokes, no one has even come close to disputing that the holocaust happened and was anything but horrible.

    Regarding using the term “mutilation”:
    If I cut off someone’s finger because it has gangrene, it’s a medical procedure done to save the life of the person. Yes, the surgery has risks, but they are far outweighed by the benefits. If I cut off someone’s perfectly healthy finger for religious or cultural reasons, it is mutilation.

    But, I’ve asked this before, and I will ask it again: Why should any person have the right to permanently alter the structure and function of the perfectly normal and healthy body part of another person, without consent, subjecting them to pain and the risk of serious complications, including death? Why should the past bad treatment of Jews give them a pass for a cultural religious practice that, absent religious justification, would be unequivocally rejected? Why should strongly held beliefs, or past (or even present) persecution of a group grant them special rights for consideration of their behaviour? That approach sets Jews apart from “normal” people, implying that we are too fragile and vulnerable to be expected to make good moral choices. I don’t know if you (Minnow) are Jewish yourself, but I find that position to be very anti-Semitic.

  42. 42
    Minnow

    Theobromine, here is a line from a different article in the same publication linked to above. It is in another article about Jews, comes right at the end, mentioned just in passing:

    “Last year, an attempt by the far-right Sweden Democrat party to ban circumcision was rejected.”

  43. 43
    opposablethumbs

    Minnow, you have not answered any of the questions raised by several people in this thread. To re-iterate only the latest of these:

    Why should any person have the right to permanently alter the structure and function of the perfectly normal and healthy body part of another person, without consent, subjecting them to pain and the risk of serious complications, including death?

    Come on – what gives anybody the right to cut off someone else’s healthy tissue without their consent, except in rare cases of immediate and overwhelming medical necessity?

    What are your opinions on FGM?

  44. 44
    Ophelia Benson

    Minnow @39

    I don’t think that it is reasonable to call male circumcision (properly done) ‘mutilation’, otherwise we end up subjecting boys (I know some of them) to genital mutilation for health purposes.

    I can’t figure out what you’re trying to say there.

    Please explain clearly why you don’t think it’s reasonable to call it mutilation to cut off an infant’s foreskin for a religious reason.

    And in doing that, please stop simply assuming that all this is merely veiled anti-Semitism. Just quoting people who are anti-Semitic doesn’t do the job.

  45. 45
    Cassanders

    @ Minnow (#40)
    1) As there still are people actually thinking in those terms, the statement is not funny.
    2) The statement is fairly accurate, but the context is the opposite of what you allude to.

    This completely tasteless “punch-line” was delivered by Otto Jespersen. He is ostensibly a “leftist” comedian, and while leftist apologets would (lamely) argue that he tried to be ironic, these kind of statements is an integral part of the “young” left’s problematic attitude to jews. They pretend (and poses) to be “anti-establishment” by delivering “un-speakable” statements, but end as useful idiots for both old and freshly molded antisemits.

    Cassanders
    In Cod we trust

  46. 46
    Cassanders

    Commenting myself (45)
    ….I wrote: The statement is fairly accurate…

    Let me rephrase to avoid misunderstadnings. My point was:

    The statement is fairly accurately reproduced.

    The shift of focus from jews to arthropods in the gas-chambers is morally corrupt and mindboggeling tasteless.
    And even more, it plays into the hands of those using de-humanization of jews as a (pseudo)rationale for their persecution.

    Cassanders
    In Cod we trust

  47. 47
    theobromine

    Meta comment::

    Interesting to note that many FGM discussions tend to be derailed by discussions of male circumcision. Now we know what happens to discussions that start out being about male circumcision.

  48. 48
    opposablethumbs

    Yes @ theobromine! Although FGM has been mentioned, the thread has been derailed to raise (not this but) antisemitism. (I wonder if that would prove as reliable a regular derail every time m-circ comes up as m-circ is every time the topic is FGM :-\ )

    I’m still annoyed that minnow refuses to answer the question as to what gives anyone the right to cut off someone else’s healthy tissue without their consent.

  49. 49
    Cees van der Duin

    The foreskin probably has the sexual potential and genital sensitivity of the clitoris.

    They children’s ombudsmen are able to alibi: EITHER we work for a ban on non-therapeutic circumcision of underage boys OR we ask the boy: “my son, decide whether you want to be ugly and undutiful non-kosher, hell-bound and infamous harâm, or want to please The Heaven and be circumcised tomorrow.”

    Let’s face it: average twelve or fourteen year old jewish or muslim boy wants to belong to the family and the peer group, and to earn honour – and won’t be able to say ‘No’ to the mutilation.

    The children’s ombudsmen from the five Nordic countries tolerate the harmful mutilation, backtrack from the fundamentalist communities of Halakha Law or Shariah Law, and give the boys away.

    “Let boys decide for themselves whether they want to be circumcised” is just a code for: let them mutilate as before.

    Oslo Resolution on circumcision – to backslap selfcongratulatory – in actual fact a ‘Black Day for Children’s Rights’.

    Time for policy shift: Let’s ban circumcision for all males under the sage of 18.

    Cees van der Duin

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