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Dec 03 2013

Courts must not rule on circumcision, even in Israel

It is difficult to decide what is most shocking about the decisions made by Israeli Rabbinical courts last month. First there is the simple outrage that a mother could be fined for refusing to allow her son to be circumcised, with an additional 500 shekels (around £90) levied for every day she refuses to submit to the ruling. There is no secular law mandating circumcision in Israel, but the case arose as part of a divorce hearing, ruled upon by a religious tribunal, which also has the power to impose fines on plaintiffs.

The baby boy at the centre of the case did not have the traditional Jewish brit milah at eight days old, due to health concerns. By the time he was healthy, his mother had second thoughts. “I realized that I couldn’t do that to my son,” she was quoted as saying in Haaretz. “He’s perfect just as he is.”  Although the dispute between the issue of the circumcision is said not to be a factor in the divorce, establishing which parent has the authority to make such a decision has proved to be a point of bitter contention.

The district Rabbinical court of Sharon disagreed, ruling that “The Jewish people have always seen the circumcision as an act of repairing and completing the Creation.” Last week the High Rabbinical Court refused to overturn the original ruling. The woman now plans to appeal to the national supreme court.

Perhaps even more disturbing, the rabbis making the original judgement were quite clear that there was a political angle to their ruling. They noted a growing global trend against acceptance of infant circumcision, and were quite explicit that they were not going to tolerate a similar debate in Israel, stating:

“What will the world say if here too the matter of circumcision will be subject to the consideration of every person according to his perceptions? It is unthinkable that the matter of performing or failing to perform the circumcision will be taken away from Jewish scholars and be subject to the consideration of a civil court, when each one has his own opinions and worldview – this will not happen in Israel, God forbid.”

I hope what the world will say is that it unthinkable that such decisions might be ruled upon anywhere but in a civil court. In a state that so often proclaims its democratic credentials in contrast to its corrupt, totalitarian and theocratic neighbours, it is grotesque that theological interpretations should trump secular law.

Contrary to widespread perceptions, there is not uniform agreement on circumcision even among Jewish people. Both in Israel and around the world there is a small but growing movement of Jews who consider the practice anachronistic and barbaric.and who call for reform of the tradition. Without getting into Jewish theology, it is clearly essential to democracy and free civil society that people can explore and discuss such beliefs and live their lives in accordance with their own conscience, especially if their conscience is turning them away from harming others.

While the details of this case may be unique to Israel, in every country and culture where circumcision is practised, there will be families riven apart by the precise same argument – to cut or not to cut. Such disputes are likely to become more common as awareness grows of the risks of adverse consequences and complications, as religious devotion slides and appreciation of individual human rights to bodily integrity grows, and as claims for health benefits from routine ritual circumcision are increasingly shown to be arguable, if not downright spurious. Circumcision is a topic that divides opinions and divides communities so it is hardly surprising that it sometimes divides families.

Where such disputes arise, there can be only one humane judgement. When a child grows old enough to decide he would prefer to be circumcised – for whatever reason – he can make that choice. Once a foreskin is removed, it is gone forever.

Those who advocate the rights of parents to circumcise infants generally fall back on an argument of free choice and lifestyle. It is morally questionable, to say the least, that parents should have the right to irreparably mutilate a baby who is too young to dissent. The idea that a religious court should make such a decision, against the wishes of at least one parent, must be considered reprehensible.

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  1. 1
    123454321

    I was about 10 when I realised our World wasn’t civilised and it wasn’t long after that when I turned my back on religion. I’ve never looked back. Most religions need to grow up and recognised that the world is a different place to what it used to be several thousand years ago when circumcision first began. It’s despicable that infants and children are still circumcised and it is indeed reprehensible that any court of law could enforce such a monstrous act of inhumane, sadistic cruelty against the wishes of a parent who wants to keep their child intact. Geez, grow up World.

  2. 2
    JT

    Its not just radical Islam we should be concerned with. It seems to me the radicals of the 3 big religions on the block are equally nuts.

  3. 3
    mastmaker

    @JT

    Make that FOUR. Hindu radicals are getting crazier all the time, too.

  4. 4
    Thil

    “They noted a growing global trend against acceptance of infant circumcision, and were quite explicit that they were not going to tolerate a similar debate in Israel”

    and if you want to avoid a public debate about an issue the best way to go about it to force someone into a position where they feel threatened enough to go to press. Real smart move guys

  5. 5
    Thil

    @mastmaker

    he means the three monotheist religions, not the just the biggest on earth. also his comment was kind of redundant, radicals are kind of crazy by definition

  6. 6
    Tamen

    radicals are kind of crazy by definition

    *Popping popcorn while waiting for any radical feminists to show up*

  7. 7
    pikeamus

    Somewhat tangentially related to Ally’s post but I have to say I’m rather despondant about the state of the circumcision debate. There was an article on the guardian last week about a circumcision drive being launched in Rwanda to combat HIV and it was the most moderated thread I’ve ever seen on that website. About half the comments arguing against circumcision were deleted. I had several comments deleted that I assume the moderators didn’t even read, since they were strictly factual and I avoided overly emotive language. I even had to argue with some folks that were suggesting that cirucmcision was no worse (or in one case, better) than the HPV vaccine! Shocking and depressing.

  8. 8
    Lucy

    JT

    “It seems to me the radicals of the 3 big religions on the block are equally nuts.”

    Equally? Really?

    Is that a veiled way of saying circumcision is on a par with suicide bombing or threatening to set fire to a Quran and not doing it?

    And parents following an ancient religious tradition of circumcising infant boys isn’t nuts, it’s rational bonding tribalism and ancestor worship in a part of the world where that can be the difference between life and death. Some people, from some parts of the world don’t share our concern for bodily integrity and a risk-free existence, they have other priorities.

  9. 9
    Lucy

    ‘“What will the world say if here too the matter of circumcision will be subject to the consideration of every person according to his perceptions? It is unthinkable that the matter of performing or failing to perform the circumcision will be taken away from Jewish scholars and be subject to the consideration of a civil court, when each one has his own opinions and worldview – this will not happen in Israel, God forbid.”

    I hope what the world will say is that it unthinkable that such decisions might be ruled upon anywhere but in a civil court. In a state that so often proclaims its democratic credentials in contrast to its corrupt, totalitarian and theocratic neighbours, it is grotesque that theological interpretations should trump secular law.”‘

    So in other words, Northern and Western, notions of Protestant secular law and individual freedom trump Eastern and Southern ones of Catholic, Orthodox, Jewish, Hindu and Muslim law and community freedoms.

    Then you’re in uneasy territory for two reasons,
    1) a biased international standard is set
    2) the state usurps the parent

  10. 10
    JT

    it’s rational bonding tribalism and ancestor worship in a part of the world where that can be the difference between life and death.(Lucy)

    Yep, and the Bloods and the Crips have a few rituals that are rational bonding tribalism in their neck of the woods too. Im thinking the person who flips out cause you burn a Quran but doesn’t if someone cuts his sons dick certainly has some priorities a little mixed up(nuts).

  11. 11
    JT

    @Lucy

    Im curious, do you think if the Ultra Orthodox Jews in Israel had access to their nuclear arsenal with no secular state to impose restrictions on them would there still be an Iran? The article Alley wrote is really about so much more than just circumcision. It is important to see how bodily integrity(or lack there of) might lead to giving up more than just your foreskin.

  12. 12
    Copyleft

    This is a useful reminder for those deluded folks who hold up Israel as a good example of “democracy.” Where religion controls the government, freedom is impossible.

  13. 13
    Zyzle

    Lucy :8

    And parents following an ancient religious tradition of circumcising infant boys isn’t nuts, it’s rational bonding tribalism and ancestor worship in a part of the world where that can be the difference between life and death. Some people, from some parts of the world don’t share our concern for bodily integrity and a risk-free existence, they have other priorities.

    …so its just like FGM then? Those are after all the same arguments.

    I also particularly like the “part of the world where that can be the difference between life and death”, how does 21st century Israel look in your imagination?

  14. 14
    Ginkgo

    Thil,
    ‘…and if you want to avoid a public debate about an issue the best way to go about it to force someone into a position where they feel threatened enough to go to press. Real smart move guys.”

    Lucy,
    There is always at least one disgusting apologist who comes in stink up the place and this time it’s you. And if tribal bonding is any kind kind of justification for anything, you just dismissed a bunch of tribal bonding gang rape rituals. so you’re that kind of apologist too.

  15. 15
    Thil

    @Ginkgo

    you quoted me without commenting on what I said?

  16. 16
    Ally Fogg

    As others have said, Lucy, I’d be really interested to know what your position is on the acceptability of FGM?

  17. 17
    123454321

    #8 Lucy,

    “And parents following an ancient religious tradition…”

    Yeah that’s right, luddite Lucy, you stick right there with supporting ancient traditionalism founded upon way out of date cultural values that have no place in today’s society and serve no meaningful benefits to anyone with half a brain. I’m sure you’re proud of defending the mutilation of young boys.

    “…of circumcising infant boys isn’t nuts, it’s rational bonding tribalism and ancestor worship in a part of the world where that can be the difference between life and death.”

    Rational bonding tribalism, my arse. How can you possibly defend such a barbaric act of violence against children in such a cool, calm and collected way without even a hint of remorse? Those people involved, whether they be supporters of MGM, perpetrators of the cutting, or even on the receiving end, are generally brainwashed, indoctrinated or mentally blackmailed into believing that there are benefits to cutting away the foreskin. This doesn’t mean to say that it is right and that it should continue. Evolution amounts to change and change is driven by competition, discovery and most importantly collaboration and education. If we want to help everyone change and evolve in the right direction then you have to accept that you can’t just simply exclude certain groups just because you respect their frigging bonding methodology. These guys know of no other way. It’s down to education. And you’re standing there right in the middle of the highway blocking their path to the future. Stop defending MGM and move forward.

  18. 18
    Lucy

    Okay my position on FGM is that it has a cultural context. In the UK it is indefensible, in a different cultural context it may not be.

    However the question is a peculiar one because, like male on male violence and male on female violence, male on female circumcision is not a parallel practise to male on male circumcision for at least two reasons:

    1) Female circumcision is a tradition imposed by patriarchal cultures on their female members, male circumcision is a tradition imposed by patriarchal cultures on their male members. Male members of patriarchal cultures by definition design and influence the nature of patriarchal cultures whereas female members are by definition disenfranchised by them.
    2) Female circumcision involves the removal of an organ and the complete eradication of sexual sensation in order to control female sexual function, male circumcision doesn’t. Female circumcision is the equivalent of removing the male glans.

    So I’m not sure what the question is driving at. That sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander?

  19. 19
    Lucy

    Of course the mother in question has a simple way to avoid circumcising her son. She could stop being Jewish and thereby no longer recognise the authority of that religion’s court system and enter the secular court system instead.

    Or if she’s unwilling to do that and she wants to remain within the religion, recognise the authority of its court system, but refuse to comply with its decision, she could pay the penalty until the child is 13.

    But it’s hardly reasonable to be Jewish, use the Jewish court system, accept its authority, reject its decision, reject its penalty for rejecting its decision and look to the secular system to support that.

  20. 20
    Lucy

    123454321

    “Yeah that’s right, luddite Lucy, you stick right there with supporting ancient traditionalism founded upon way out of date cultural values that have no place in today’s society and serve no meaningful benefits to anyone with half a brain. I’m sure you’re proud of defending the mutilation of young boys.”

    They clearly have a place in today’s society; 100s of 1000s of people in today’s society follow the practise.

    —-

    “Rational bonding tribalism, my arse. How can you possibly defend such a barbaric act of violence against children in such a cool, calm and collected way without even a hint of remorse? Those people involved, whether they be supporters of MGM, perpetrators of the cutting, or even on the receiving end, are generally brainwashed, indoctrinated or mentally blackmailed into believing that there are benefits to cutting away the foreskin. This doesn’t mean to say that it is right and that it should continue. Evolution amounts to change and change is driven by competition, discovery and most importantly collaboration and education. If we want to help everyone change and evolve in the right direction then you have to accept that you can’t just simply exclude certain groups just because you respect their frigging bonding methodology.”

    Well if you’re talking about evolution and successful human populations, you’d have to say modern day Jewish people are doing quite well. Maybe they think they are already evolving in the right direction?

    Maybe for example individualism isn’t a universal virtue, but rather is an alternative to collectivism. Maybe for example, individualism is a feature of certain cultures struggling with excessive diversity, lack of solidarity, selfishness, loneliness, atomisation, mental illness and violence. Maybe collectivist societies suffer lower levels of all of these things (which in fact they do).

    “These guys know of no other way. It’s down to education. And you’re standing there right in the middle of the highway blocking their path to the future. Stop defending MGM and move forward.”

    Do Jews need lessons on education and progress? From you?

    They are one of the most educated and if Nobel prizes are anything to go by, one of the most scientifically proficient groups on the planet.

  21. 21
    Lucy

    JT

    “Im curious, do you think if the Ultra Orthodox Jews in Israel had access to their nuclear arsenal with no secular state to impose restrictions on them would there still be an Iran? The article Alley wrote is really about so much more than just circumcision. It is important to see how bodily integrity(or lack there of) might lead to giving up more than just your foreskin.”

    I’m curious to know how any secular restrictions could withstand a nuclear arsenal.

    So no, I do not think Ultra Orthodox Jews in Israel are psychopaths.

  22. 22
    Lucy

    I’m curious to know what you all think about parents’ rights to impose other permanent things on their children.

    Say for example, the permanent psychological effect of raising girls within the Islamic faith and/or imposing an inferiority complex and “modesty” (aka removal of bodily integrity) on them.
    Or the permanent emotional effect of mothers leaving newborns after two weeks, as proposed by the coalition, when we don’t separate farm animals or pets from their mothers until 13 weeks.
    Or the physical effect of cousin marriages, smoking and drinking and stress prior to conception or during pregnancy,
    Or the economic effects of the imposition of cultural values, educational and aspirational levels on them.
    How about the fatal effects of late term abortion?

    Or are these less problematic cos you can’t see them?

    Why not get shot of parents and hand kids over to the state which can raise them properly? I’m sure secular law is up to the job.

  23. 23
    Mr Supertypo

    ” And parents following an ancient religious tradition of circumcising infant boys isn’t nuts, it’s rational bonding tribalism and ancestor worship in a part of the world where that can be the difference between life and death. Some people, from some parts of the world don’t share our concern for bodily integrity and a risk-free existence, they have other priorities. ”

    Load of *beep* this is no more rational than my little finger is the cause for world peace.

    Religion and worship is not rational per definition religion is superstition thus not rational. And MGM as FGM is child abuse. Child abuse its not rational, but emotive, and talking about religious aspect again as I pointed out before, its not rational and cannot be because religion is not based on rationality. Therefore this practice is just as rational as going to a fortune teller…

  24. 24
    Thil

    @Lucy @18

    “Female circumcision is a tradition imposed by patriarchal cultures on their female members, male circumcision is a tradition imposed by patriarchal cultures on their male members. Male members of patriarchal cultures by definition design and influence the nature of patriarchal cultures whereas female members are by definition disenfranchised by them”

    No, only the male members of the ruling class set the rules, and only the adult members at that. Boys are circumcised at an age where they are not mentally composite to understand/influence their society’s rules, and most of them will never find them selves in a position to do so when they are old enough

  25. 25
    Mr Supertypo

    ” No, only the male members of the ruling class set the rules, and only the adult members at that. Boys are circumcised at an age where they are not mentally composite to understand/influence their society’s rules, and most of them will never find them selves in a position to do so when they are old enough ”

    Actually the male members (adult or infants) follow the rules and are just as powerless as female members at breaking them. Its tempting to point the finger at males, but its also wrong since males are just as oppressed (incredible but true).

  26. 26
    Thil

    @Mr Supertypo @25

    typically any given White men in a western country is less oppressed that an individual of any other race or gender, in the same financial circumstances

  27. 27
    Mr Supertypo

    ” typically any given White men in a western country is less oppressed that an individual of any other race or gender, in the same financial circumstances ”

    I though we were speaking in general and not specific.

  28. 28
    Thil

    @Mr Supertypo

    that was a general statement

  29. 29
    Mr Supertypo

    ” that was a general statement ”

    Not when you specify exclusively white and western and Im thinking more in global term, from African to middle east to est asia and yes western included. That was what I meant with general.

  30. 30
    Thil

    “Maybe for example, individualism is a feature of certain cultures struggling with excessive diversity, lack of solidarity, selfishness, loneliness, atomisation, mental illness and violence. Maybe collectivist societies suffer lower levels of all of these things (which in fact they do)”

    firstly more then half of those things aren’t always good. secondly, source please?

  31. 31
    Thil

    @Mr Supertypo @29

    typically any given man is less oppressed than a women in the same financial circumstances

  32. 32
    Thil

    @22 @Lucy

    In your mind there is nothing between the British state controlling every aspect of a child’s life, and allowing the parent to control every aspect of a child’s life. To you there is a total dichotomy?

  33. 33
    bugmaster

    @Lucy:

    Can you outline a “cultural context” in which FGM might be permissible ? I’m not entirely sure what you mean by the term.

    In general, do you believe that it is sometimes acceptable for parents to perform surgical procedures on their children, if the physical effects of these procedures result in a net diminished capacity for the child ? For example, would it (hypothetically speaking) sometimes be acceptable for parents to routinely cut off an infant’s pinkie ? If so, can you explain the decision process you use in order to determine when such a procedure is acceptable and when it is not ?

    On a side note,

    Do Jews need lessons on education and progress? From you?

    The obvious answer is “sometimes, yes”, in the same way that Christian Creationists need lessons on education and progress (though obviously, not being a teacher, I’m not the best person suited to deliver such lessons).

  34. 34
    JT

    So no, I do not think Ultra Orthodox Jews in Israel are psychopaths(Lucy)

    So do you grant the same viewpoint for the Ultra Orthodox Islamists in Iran?

  35. 35
    Lucy

    Mr Supertypo

    “Religion and worship is not rational per definition religion is superstition thus not rational. And MGM as FGM is child abuse. Child abuse its not rational, but emotive, and talking about religious aspect again as I pointed out before, its not rational and cannot be because religion is not based on rationality. Therefore this practice is just as rational as going to a fortune teller…”

    Hazing new members of an exclusive fraternity is entirely rational. It’s a tried and tested technique used by various kinds of male groups in various cultures ranging from priests to warriors.
    And asserting central control over members’ bodies and sexuality is equally rational when you intend to harness those to maintain your group’s exclusivisity.

  36. 36
    Lucy

    Thil

    “No, only the male members of the ruling class set the rules, and only the adult members at that. Boys are circumcised at an age where they are not mentally composite to understand/influence their society’s rules, and most of them will never find them selves in a position to do so when they are old enough”

    No, Jews do not operate a class caste system and they operate universal children’s education. Any boy can grow up to have religious influence. And for at least 2000 years they have been doing so and maintaining this practise. Judaism does however operate a gender caste system.

  37. 37
    Lucy

    Thil

    “In your mind there is nothing between the British state controlling every aspect of a child’s life, and allowing the parent to control every aspect of a child’s life. To you there is a total dichotomy?”

    No, in my mind it is grotesque for the demonstrably flawed and culturally-specific secular law to trump other forms of effective, culturally-specific community law. Particularly when secular law affects to respect parental rights to raise children according to personal and religious conscience. There should be a push and a pull between the two.

    In my mind, harm is something unavoidable in life, and our efforts should be directed towards minimising it rather than eliminating it while not losing sight of the fact that we are human beings not the instruments of enlightenment rationalism.

    In my mind, the culturally tone-deaf calls to dismantle the exclusivisity and collectivism of Jewish people and forcing an exodus towards the metropolitan left’s religion of non-dissenting individualism will not minimise harm in either the short or the long term.

  38. 38
    Lucy

    Thil

    ‘Me: “Maybe for example, individualism is a feature of certain cultures struggling with excessive diversity, lack of solidarity, selfishness, loneliness, atomisation, mental illness and violence. Maybe collectivist societies suffer lower levels of all of these things (which in fact they do)”
    You: firstly more then half of those things aren’t always good. secondly, source please?’

    If I spend ages finding sources are you actually going to read them? I’ll test you.

  39. 39
    Thil

    @Lucy

    @36

    firstly I was thinking of all Jews everywhere and all Muslims everywhere, not just the jews in Israel. Secondly the Jews had a king 2000 years ago yet according to they had no class system? Thirdly you don’t need to invest a ruling class with inherent legal advantages for one to exist

    @37

    why is preserving a culture automatically a good thing?

    @38

    yes I suppose so but to be honest I was hoping someone better at getting the truth from statistics would look over them as well.

  40. 40
    James Willmott

    Circumcision is too nice a word for it. Call the practice what it is, mutilation.

  41. 41
    Copyleft

    It’s funny that anyone would try to put tribalism and ancestor-worship in the same sentence as ‘rational.’

    Tradition: the least important reason to do anything.

  42. 42
    Zyzle

    Copyleft: I’ve always liked the definition:

    Tradition; The old corrupting the young to appease the dead.

  43. 43
    JT

    Lucy

    Are you Jewish?

  44. 44
    Copyleft

    Good one, Zyzle. I’ll have to remember that.

  45. 45
    Raging Bee

    “The Jewish people have always seen the circumcision as an act of repairing and completing the Creation.”

    Um…if that all-powerful, all-knowing god of theirs didn’t want boys to have foreskins, then why does he allow boys to be born with foreskins? This quote alone shows how easily religious con-artists can change their basic beliefs on the fly to suit their prejudices.

    And parents following an ancient religious tradition of circumcising infant boys isn’t nuts, it’s rational bonding tribalism and ancestor worship in a part of the world where that can be the difference between life and death.

    Arbitrarily declaring an unnecessary act of mutilation to be “TRADITION!!!” and then saying adherence to “TRADITION!!!” is a matter of life or death, is not rational — it’s a con-game that plays on ignorant fear.

    Some people, from some parts of the world don’t share our concern for bodily integrity and a risk-free existence, they have other priorities.

    And why should anyone have any respect for such priorities, when they cause needless harm to innocent people with no benefit?

    Hazing new members of an exclusive fraternity is entirely rational.

    Do you even know what specific actions fall under the term “hazing?” SOME such activities may serve a rational purpose, but to call ALL of them “entirely rational,” without discussing specifics, proves you to be a total blithering idiot.

  46. 46
    Raging Bee

    No, Jews do not operate a class caste system and they operate universal children’s education. Any boy can grow up to have religious influence…

    Note the word I’ve bolded there, Lucy — it’s the word that totally invalidates your argument. A boy who wants to have influence can only have influence within the pre-existing religious doctrine, which doesn’t allow radical re-interpretation of the most basic rules.

    And for at least 2000 years they have been doing so and maintaining this practise.

    Actually, as we can see, they’re starting to question and move away from this practice — that’s why these rabinnical courts are flipping out and actively seeking to DENY influence to people who don’t already support their status quo.

  47. 47
    JT

    @Bee

    Lordy, lordy………I think it must be a miracle. I agree with everything you just said. WOOHOOOooo. ;)

  48. 48
    Thil

    @Raging Bee

    I’d bet you a million dollars Lucy will say something to the effect of your morality is the product of your culture and you should respect the traditional Jewish notion of morality because your ideals are equally as subjective as there’s

  49. 49
    Raging Bee

    Of course the mother in question has a simple way to avoid circumcising her son. She could stop being Jewish and thereby no longer recognise the authority of that religion’s court system and enter the secular court system instead.

    In a state whose basic identity is as a JEWISH STATE, at a time when backward bigoted zealots harass women in public (and rape boys in private) with near-total impunity? You really think such a choice would be feasible? And if such a choice is feasible, why didn’t she take it?

    1) Female circumcision is a tradition imposed by patriarchal cultures on their female members, male circumcision is a tradition imposed by patriarchal cultures on their male members. Male members of patriarchal cultures by definition design and influence the nature of patriarchal cultures whereas female members are by definition disenfranchised by them.

    So fucking what? In both cases, the victims of such mutilation are powerless to resist it, because they’re CHILDREN. So it doesn’t really matter how much influence they get AFTER the irreparable damage is done.

    2) Female circumcision involves the removal of an organ and the complete eradication of sexual sensation in order to control female sexual function, male circumcision doesn’t. Female circumcision is the equivalent of removing the male glans.

    Again, so fucking what? Chopping off two fingers does less damage than chopping off a whole arm — does that mean the former can be considered acceptable?

    I hate to say this, Lucy, but your arguments here are not at all rational, and your priorities just plain suck.

  50. 50
    Raging Bee

    Thil: I’ve heard that BS before, so I won’t be betting against you there.

  51. 51
    Copyleft

    But think of the health benefits! If you chop off your baby’s feet, he’ll never suffer a sprained ankle! You can’t argue with airtight logic like that.

  52. 52
    freja

    Lucy, the background doesn’t matter here. Choices like these should be made with the informed (i.e. adult) consent of the person whose body is on the line, and Israel shouldn’t claim moral highground (especially over the west) while allowing this thing to go on.

    On a slightly different note, I’m curious as to how MRAs are reacting to this. I’d almost wish Mike would come back.

  53. 53
    Thil

    Copyleft

    If you murder a person at birth they’ll never ever get sick or feel pain

  54. 54
    Raging Bee

    …You can’t argue with airtight logic like that.

    I would certainly hope that an airhead’s logic is airtight, otherwise he/she would have major breathing, sinus or ear problems…

  55. 55
    TMK

    Lucy,

    Particularly when secular law affects to respect parental rights to raise children according to personal and religious conscience

    Wait, what country still has such barbaric parental ownership doctrine? Or do you actually mean the modern thought of parental duties to raise child according to their best abilities?

    Freja

    Choices like these should be made with the informed (i.e. adult) consent of the person whose body is on the line,

    I dont actually know what to think about it. Should people be able to cut off their little finger? (i mean, go to the hospital and order the procedure, not in their homes). Because that seems to be the analogy, not something like piercing an ear.

  56. 56
    Marcus Ranum

    And parents following an ancient religious tradition of circumcising infant boys isn’t nuts, it’s rational bonding tribalism and ancestor worship

    Kinda like getting a great big “AT&T” logo branded on your kid’s forehead so everyone’ll know who his parents’ employer was? … Because that makes just as much sense. I.e.: none.

    It’s always funny until it’s your woo that’s in the spotlight.

  57. 57
    Marcus Ranum

    If you murder a person at birth they’ll never ever get sick or feel pain

    Kinda like:
    if you give a man a match, you’ve made him warm for a day
    if you set a man on fire, you’ve made him warm for the rest of his life…

  58. 58
    123454321

    #51copyleft.

    “But think of the health benefits! If you chop off your baby’s feet, he’ll never suffer a sprained ankle! You can’t argue with airtight logic like that.”

    brilliant idea! let’s go one stage further and chop everyone’s head off at birth and nobody would ever get a headache ever again! Genius!

  59. 59
    123454321

    #20 Lucy

    “They clearly have a place in today’s society; 100s of 1000s of people in today’s society follow the practise.”

    …and hundreds of thousands of people are thieves and practise burglary – they still have a place in today’s society. We don’t tolerate thieves – because we have come to accept that it is wrong – and don’t forget that we’re dealing with child abuse and mutilation here, which is far worse.

    “Well if you’re talking about evolution and successful human populations, you’d have to say modern day Jewish people are doing quite well. Maybe they think they are already evolving in the right direction?”

    And you think that they wouldn’t be where they are today if their boys had retained their foreskins? Stop being ridiculous.

    “Do Jews need lessons on education and progress? From you?”

    Yes indeed I think they do. In actual fact, if they listened and learned from me they could have everything in the World that they already have plus a foreskin. Again, stop being ridiculous about this.

    “They are one of the most educated and if Nobel prizes are anything to go by, one of the most scientifically proficient groups on the planet.”

    And your point is? Oh, hang on, perhaps you have evidence that chopping off part of a boy’s penis contributes towards greater success for his ethnicity group? B U L L S H I T. Do you not think that their intelligence stems from their cultural emphasis on study and learning and NOT the cultural ritual of chopping a boys penis in half?

  60. 60
    Jafafa Hots

    Is stoning to death women accused of adultery possibly acceptable depending on cultural context?
    Because there are cultures that think so.

    Maybe this is why I never join anything. If tribal unity requires me to do something otherwise thought barbaric, then fuck tribal unity.

    And by the way – kids are NOTORIOUS for not washing behind their ears.
    And you can hear perfectly well without the outer ear. Sure you can argue that hearing is affected in SOME way, but you can still hear very well.

    So it is in the best interest of children to allow parents to have their kids’ ears cut off if they feel it necessary. Purely for reasons of hygiene. That’s SCIENCE!

  61. 61
    freja

    @55, TMK

    I dont actually know what to think about it. Should people be able to cut off their little finger? (i mean, go to the hospital and order the procedure, not in their homes). Because that seems to be the analogy, not something like piercing an ear.

    The breasts are an erogenous zone for many women, and yet we allow cosmetic surgery in that area even though it can result in decreased sensitivity. The same for labiaplasty, vaginoplasty, hymenorrhaphy, vaginal rejuvenation, and clitoral hood reduction, which can be done simply because the woman (or with disturbing frequency, her male partner) doesn’t like the way her nether regions look or doesn’t think she’s tight enough. Many women have completely internalised the idea that their value as sexual objects is more important than their own enjoyment (or that the two are inseparable), and we allow them to act on those ideas to a very high extent.

    I’m all for equality, so I believe that just as men have the same rights as women to be protected from bad surgical decisions while they’re children, they should be allowed the same freedom and have the same responsibility as women when they become adults. And if a number of men think their foreskin is a disgusting abomination or learn that their female partners believe an uncut penis to be inferior, and decide to get it chopped up because of that, it’s unfortunate but it’s no different than what’s already going on with women, and most of the protection we can give them will have to come at the expense of their personal freedom.

  62. 62
    Raging Bee

    I dont actually know what to think about it. Should people be able to cut off their little finger? (i mean, go to the hospital and order the procedure, not in their homes). Because that seems to be the analogy, not something like piercing an ear.

    IANAE, but I’m pretty sure most doctors would refuse to do such a thing, even for an adult who shows no signs of mental impairment, because it violates medical ethics (or at least the doctor’s personal ethics). Prople generally don’t want to feel even partially responsible for such seemingly pointless self-injuries.

    As for cosmetic surgery, all I can say is that if anyone sought my advice, I’d advise them to think very carefully about what they were planning to do, and about why they were doing it and whether it would really do that much good. Adult women have a right to get boob jobs, and adult men have a right to get circumcised; but we’re all still responsible (at least to ourselves) for making sensible decisions in the exercise of our rights.

  63. 63
    Ginkgo

    Thil @ 15 – I meant to point out that this was an example fo the Streisand Effect.

    Sorry.

    Lucy,

    “1) Female circumcision is a tradition imposed by patriarchal cultures on their female members, male circumcision is a tradition imposed by patriarchal cultures on their male members. Male members of patriarchal cultures by definition design and influence the nature of patriarchal cultures whereas female members are by definition disenfranchised by them.”

    By defninition? The definition ooyu are using is a theeoretical construct, not an emprical description of any real society. in addition your formulation is a reflection of male hyperagency/female hypoagency, which are the foundation of patriarchal gender roels, so yoyur formulation derives form and re-inforces patriarchal norms.

    “2) Female circumcision involves the removal of an organ and the complete eradication of sexual sensation in order to control female sexual function, male circumcision doesn’t. Female circumcision is the equivalent of removing the male glans.”

    This is false on the facts. Women report reduced sexual sensation, not toaatl eradication. The word of a mere Somali woman is not something a white Social Justice Warrior is likely to pay much attention to, but there it is.

    Secondly FGM does not remove the entire clitoris, as anti-FGHMers claim, as most of the clitoris is internal, with only the tip protruding – not that it matters; any cutting is abhorrent.

  64. 64
    nrdo

    Israeli citizens who are Christian and Muslim have, ironically, more freedom in familial issues than Jewish citizens because they don’t have to go to the rabbinical courts. This arises because Israel’s religious freedom laws are vaguely worded and improperly implemented. They’re structured to avoid “offending” religious groups rather than guaranteeing individuals’ rights. I’m fairly hopeful that this ridiculous ruling will be overturned by the supreme court

  65. 65
    Thil

    “Courts must not rule on circumcision”

    you know that title seems a bit too broad. I mean if I broke into your house, drugged you and then cut your foreskin off, I imagine you’d want a court to be involved at some point?

  66. 66
    anat

    nrdo, regarding Israel’s non-Jewish citizens: No. In Israel *all* matters of personal status are handled by religious courts. Muslim marriages, divorces, inheritances etc are dealt with via sharia courts. There are Christian religious courts for dealing with those matters for Christians. People who do not belong to any recognized religion or in the case of interfaith marriages, the solution is to have a secular marriage abroad (usually in Cyprus, it’s the cheapest fare). It is also possible to formalize a common-law marriage by secular contract. Dissolving such a contract or a civil marriage conducted in a foreign country may be a tricky business. For Jews, if the two people are both recognized as Jews (regardless of their self-identification) and they are such that could have in principle had a Jewish marriage, they are considered de-facto religiously-married and are required to undergo a religious divorce. I’m not sure about Muslims and Christians with this regard. OTOH interfaith marriages conducted abroad (and presumably also marriages of 2 Jews who are forbidden to marry one another according to Jewish law, such as a marriage between a Cohen man and a divorced woman) can be dissolved via a secular court.

  67. 67
    Phil

    @anat

    I’m starting to think this is a little like writing an article about a North Korean concentration camp or anIslamic cheating wife stoning. It’s awfull but also unremarkable compared to the other things that go on there.

  68. 68
    Lucy

    JT

    “Are you Jewish?”

    No, I’m a northern-European, pagan-feminist-Protestant-Judeo-Christian, post-Enligtenment agnostic atheist. With Buddhist and Hindu influences.

    If I believed in wood nymphs, and going outdoors in storms, that’s the direction I’d go in. I’d have a staff and a caldron, carry out menses celebrations and rarely think about foreskins, except to darkly mumble about them in an extinct language when a patriarch hoved into view.

  69. 69
    Lucy

    Thil

    “firstly I was thinking of all Jews everywhere and all Muslims everywhere, not just the jews in Israel. Secondly the Jews had a king 2000 years ago yet according to they had no class system? Thirdly you don’t need to invest a ruling class with inherent legal advantages for one to exist”

    Indeed. But it helps. Women are legally disenfranchised in Judaism and Islam. Theologically disenfranchised too. Men aren’t. If Judaism and Islam wan’t to disenfranchise a caste of men, they would have put some kind of theological justification in place rather than leave it to chance.

    Men within those faiths have invented a hazing initiation ceremony in order to join the *fraternity*.

    @37

    “why is preserving a culture automatically a good thing?”

    It isn’t. Cultures are frequently bullshit. But so can secular law (which isn’t rational by any stretch of the imagination by the way and doesn’t currently have the mechanism to become so given as it is in the gift of the media and twittersphere and most definitely is not neutral or objective).

    My point isn’t that religious law is good, it’s that in certain situations it works. It works to achieve different priorities to the secular west’s perhaps, but that’s okay isn’t it? Our priority is to individualism, we are prepared to kill 100s of thousands of conscious unborn children or to enforce disabling surgery on infants to achieve that aim for example. A tribe’s priority may be the maintenance of a certain hierarchy and loyalty, so they haze teenage boys, or file women’s teeth, put rings round their necks, scarify people’s skin, remove male foreskins. If you take away male circumcision in Judaism, that isn’t all that will go, you may well also lose Jewish exclusivity, loyalty, fraternity, theological covenant; the effects could be quite profound, and not necessarily for the good. And the best people to make that judgement are Jews.

    @38

    “yes I suppose so but to be honest I was hoping someone better at getting the truth from statistics would look over them as well.”

    If I have time later today, I’ll look some out. But I have to make some gingerbread women.

  70. 70
    Lucy

    TMK

    “Me: Particularly when secular law affects to respect parental rights to raise children according to personal and religious conscience
    You: Wait, what country still has such barbaric parental ownership doctrine? Or do you actually mean the modern thought of parental duties to raise child according to their best abilities?”

    Well England for one.

    Declaration of Human Rights, Article 18:
    Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

    The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to have respect for the liberty of parents and, when applicable, legal guardians to ensure the religious and moral education of their children in conformity with their own convictions.
    http://1.usa.gov/198WIjN

  71. 71
    Lucy

    Jafafa Hots

    “Is stoning to death women accused of adultery possibly acceptable depending on cultural context?
    Because there are cultures that think so.”

    In my opinion, on three conditions:
    1) women have the option to enter or leave that cultural context
    2) women are fully enfranchised to determine the nature of that cultural context
    3) it works

    But seeing as stoning is one of a suite of mechanisms used in patriarchal cultures to disenfranchise women who do not have the option of leaving them and which patently don’t work, no.

    But if you are asking me if stoning serves a cultural purpose in certain cultural contexts to enforce a kind of collectivism. As a deterrent to women to choosing their own sexual partners, thereby throwing paternity into doubt and undermining patriarchal inheritance rights and therefore the basis of the entire culture, then clearly, yes it does.

    “Maybe this is why I never join anything. If tribal unity requires me to do something otherwise thought barbaric, then fuck tribal unity.”

    Don’t then.

    “And by the way – kids are NOTORIOUS for not washing behind their ears.
    And you can hear perfectly well without the outer ear. Sure you can argue that hearing is affected in SOME way, but you can still hear very well.
    So it is in the best interest of children to allow parents to have their kids’ ears cut off if they feel it necessary. Purely for reasons of hygiene. That’s SCIENCE!”

    I’m sure there’s a tribe somewhere that did or does.

  72. 72
    Lucy

    “Such disputes are likely to become more common as awareness grows of the risks of adverse consequences and complications, as religious devotion slides and appreciation of individual human rights to bodily integrity grows”
    Ally Fogg

    “Until now, the rabbinical courts have not experienced an objection in principle to the performance of circumcision as part of a divorce battle, and if an opening is made here and the mother is given the opportunity to prevent the circumcision or to use her objection as a way to obtain things in the divorce settlement, we will likely find ourselves facing an outbreak of such cases, and then another dimension will be added to the [already] frightening divorce process. This trend must be stopped immediately, since the common good outweighs that of the individual,”
    The Supreme Rabbinical Court for Appeals in Jerusalem

  73. 73
    Lucy

    Ginkgo

    “Me: 1) Female circumcision is a tradition imposed by patriarchal cultures on their female members, male circumcision is a tradition imposed by patriarchal cultures on their male members. Male members of patriarchal cultures by definition design and influence the nature of patriarchal cultures whereas female members are by definition disenfranchised by them.”

    You: By defninition? The definition ooyu are using is a theeoretical construct, not an emprical description of any real society. in addition your formulation is a reflection of male hyperagency/female hypoagency, which are the foundation of patriarchal gender roels, so yoyur formulation derives form and re-inforces patriarchal norms.”

    Disenfranchisement of women in the patriarchal cultures within Africa, the Middle East and S.E. Asia is a theoretical construct? It’s the feminists disenfranchising them by reinforcing gender roles of hyper and hypo agency? I’m sure you didn’t mean to parrot the call of the porn fiend and prostitution client “stop patronising women, we pay ‘em don’t we?”

    There is nothing theoretical about women being prevented from being religious authorities within Islam and Orthodox Judaism. Beth Din rabbinical courts of the kind that ruled on this male baby’s circumcision are headed by three male judges with a supposedly unbroken line of inheritance from Moses.

    And that’s before we get into all the really insidious economic, social and metaphysical stuff.

    Regarding FGM and disenfranchisement,
    James, Stanlie M. “Female Genital Mutilation,” in Bonnie G. Smith (ed.). The Oxford Encyclopaedia of Women in World History, Oxford University Press, 2008 (pp. 259–262), p. 261: “The most frequently mentioned rationale is the need to control women, especially their sexuality.”
    Nussbaum, Martha. “Judging Other Cultures: The Case of Genital Mutilation,” Sex and Social Justice, Oxford University Press, 1999 (hereafter Nussbaum 1999), p. 124: “Female genital mutilation is unambiguously linked to customs of male domination.”
    WHO 2008, p. 5: “In every society in which it is practised, female genital mutilation is a manifestation of gender inequality that is deeply entrenched in social, economic and political structures,” and WHO 2013: “FGM is recognized internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women. It reflects deep-rooted inequality between the sexes, and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women.”
    Rahman, Anika and Toubia, Nahid. Female Genital Mutilation: A Guide to Laws and Policies Worldwide, Zed Books, 2000 (hereafter Rahman and Toubia 2000), pp. 5–6: “A fundamental reason advanced for female circumcision is the need to control women’s sexuality … FC/FGM is intended to reduce women’s sexual desire, thus promoting women’s virginity and protecting marital fidelity, in the interest of male sexuality.”
    “Harmful Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children”, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Fact Sheet No. 23, section 1A: “It is believed that, by mutilating the female’s genital organs, her sexuality will be controlled; but above all it is to ensure a woman’s virginity before marriage and chastity thereafter.”
    Mackie, Gerry. “Ending Footbinding and Infibulation: A Convention Account”, American Sociological Review, 61(6), December 1996, (pp. 999–1017), pp. 999–1000 (hereafter Mackie 1996): “Footbinding and infibulation correspond as follows. Both customs are nearly universal where practiced; they are persistent and are practiced even by those who oppose them. Both control sexual access to females and ensure female chastity and fidelity. Both are necessary for proper marriage and family honor. Both are believed to be sanctioned by tradition. Both are said to be ethnic markers, and distinct ethnic minorities may lack the practices. Both seem to have a past of contagious diffusion. Both are exaggerated over time and both increase with status. Both are supported and transmitted by women, are performed on girls about six to eight years old, and are generally not initiation rites. Both are believed to promote health and fertility. Both are defined as aesthetically pleasing compared with the natural alternative. Both are said to properly exaggerate the complementarity of the sexes, and both are claimed to make intercourse more pleasurable for the male.”

    “Me: 2) Female circumcision involves the removal of an organ and the complete eradication of sexual sensation in order to control female sexual function, male circumcision doesn’t. Female circumcision is the equivalent of removing the male glans.”

    You: This is false on the facts. Women report reduced sexual sensation, not toaatl eradication. The word of a mere Somali woman is not something a white Social Justice Warrior is likely to pay much attention to, but there it is.”

    Am I the white Social Justice Warrior or was it just a generic one you had in mind?

    Female circumcision takes a variety of forms and has a variety of consequences. For some women the nerve damage is profound and there is no pleasurable sensation at all, in fact sex can be excruciatingly painful.

    “Secondly FGM does not remove the entire clitoris, as anti-FGHMers claim, as most of the clitoris is internal, with only the tip protruding – not that it matters; any cutting is abhorrent.”

    Alright I’ll concede that point. But the fact remains that it is nothing like male circumcision which would be the equivalent of removing the clitoral hood in a society headed up by councils of women at the behest of a celestial female government to usher girls into a sorority of privilege and responsibility.

  74. 74
    Lucy

    freja

    “On a slightly different note, I’m curious as to how MRAs are reacting to this. I’d almost wish Mike would come back.”

    He’s probably here in disguise. I’ll flush him out:

    Businesses should be organised to reflect their female employees’ needs as well as their male ones. Female police women should have uniforms that fit them too. Female firefighters and soldiers should have equipment to compensate for any lack of physical strength, like male ones do. We should have maternity leave as well as sleep leave, and heart-attack-in-your-50s leave. Women should be paid for the domestic public service like motherhood and caring for elderly relatives and husbands.

    Give it a few hours…

  75. 75
    Thil

    @Lucy @69

    “Indeed. But it helps. Women are legally disenfranchised in Judaism and Islam. Theologically disenfranchised too. Men aren’t. If Judaism and Islam wan’t to disenfranchise a caste of men, they would have put some kind of theological justification in place rather than leave it to chance”

    disenfranchising the poor is hardly something the privileged consciously set out to do, also there are lots of groups who hold prejudges that they have no express theological justification for.

    “Cultures are frequently bullshit. But so can secular law (which isn’t rational by any stretch of the imagination by the way and doesn’t currently have the mechanism to become so given as it is in the gift of the media and twittersphere and most definitely is not neutral or objective).”

    At lest the secular authorities pay lip service to objectivity. They acknowledge at lest in theory, that their laws should be grounded in intelligible logic. That’s better than not even making the attempt

    “My point isn’t that religious law is good, it’s that in certain situations it works. It works to achieve different priorities to the secular west’s perhaps, but that’s okay isn’t it?”

    We have those priorities because we think they’re correct, So no

    “Our priority is to individualism, we are prepared to kill 100s of thousands of conscious unborn children or to enforce disabling surgery on infants to achieve that aim for example”

    There are many instances were there’s a conflict between personal freedom and the right to life, that doesn’t mean the entire notion of personal freedom dead on arrival. Also just because something sounds bad doesn’t mean it’s necessarily wrong, I mean I could probably make forcing women to carry unwanted babies sound just as awful if I put it I bad enough terms. “disabling surgery on infants to achieve that aim for example” what the hell are you talking about?

    “A tribe’s priority may be the maintenance of a certain hierarchy and loyalty, so they haze teenage boys, or file women’s teeth, put rings round their necks, scarify people’s skin, remove male foreskins”

    such a system doesn’t deserve loyalty. Also maintaining such a system may just be standing in the way of allowing a better one to be formed. The alternative to the established order isn’t necessarily anarchy

    “If you take away male circumcision in Judaism, that isn’t all that will go, you may well also lose Jewish exclusivity, loyalty, fraternity, theological covenant; the effects could be quite profound, and not necessarily for the good. And the best people to make that judgement are Jews”

    and maybe if I save a child’s life he’ll grow up to be the next Hitler.

    “And the best people to make that judgement are Jews”

    Not unless that Jew is a secular elected leader or a secular legal judge

  76. 76
    bugmaster

    @Lucy #69:
    You keep saying that tribal customs that involve the ritual mutilation of certain members of the tribe “work”, but I’m not sure what you mean by “work”. You say:

    My point isn’t that religious law is good, it’s that in certain situations it works. It works to achieve different priorities to the secular west’s perhaps, but that’s okay isn’t it? … A tribe’s priority may be the maintenance of a certain hierarchy and loyalty, so they haze teenage boys, or file women’s teeth, put rings round their necks, scarify people’s skin, remove male foreskins. If you take away male circumcision in Judaism, that isn’t all that will go, you may well also lose Jewish exclusivity, loyalty, fraternity, theological covenant…

    I do agree with you that circumcision does work to promote tribal identity; so does FGM, stoning disobedient women to death, etc. But I do not understand why you believe that tribal identity is a good thing. I would argue that, for example, any tribe that routinely stones women to death basically just for being female, deserves to be dissolved. You might counter by saying, “ah, but the tribe also has a deep and ancient tradition of making truly beautiful pottery, and if the tribe were to dissolve, this tradition could be lost”. My answer to that is twofold. Firstly, there is no law of nature that says that such pottery can only be produced by someone who stones people; and thus, pottery-making techniques may be preserved even in the absence of stoning. Secondly, I don’t really care about pottery as long as people are being stoned; people are more important than pots.

    Would you agree with my example above ? If not, why not ? If so, then what is the difference between that and circumcision ? Is it the fact that the damage done is not nearly as severe; or that the victims are men instead of women; or what ?

    In general, as per my previous question to you, what level of ritual mutilation do you find acceptable, and how
    did you arrive at this value ?

  77. 77
    123454321

    #74

    Here we have it: proof that Lucy likes to provoke a reaction and prioritises stirring above and beyond a young male child loosing his foreskin. Clap, clap for Lucy.

  78. 78
    Gjenganger

    @Lucy
    Thanks for your posts. I really agree with what you are saying on this thread. Not sure I am doing you a favour by saying so, but anyway…

  79. 79
    Thil

    @Gjenganger @78

    defiantly not doing your self a favour

  80. 80
    Gjenganger

    @ Thil 79
    Oh, your bad opinion of me is something I value. I would not want to lose it.

  81. 81
    Raging Bee

    No, I’m a northern-European, pagan-feminist-Protestant-Judeo-Christian, post-Enligtenment agnostic atheist. With Buddhist and Hindu influences.

    If I believed in wood nymphs, and going outdoors in storms, that’s the direction I’d go in. I’d have a staff and a caldron, carry out menses celebrations and rarely think about foreskins, except to darkly mumble about them in an extinct language when a patriarch hoved into view.

    What the fuck are you trying to do — pretend to be a “pagan” stereotype that’s been debunked long ago? Take it from a real Pagan: you’re not fooling anyone. And no, we don’t “mumble darkly” about foreskins, in any language — and what the fuck does that even mean? You sound like someone who got all her religious education from bad horror movies.

    …secular law (which isn’t rational by any stretch of the imagination…)…

    You’ve already proven you have no idea how rational argument works, so this idiotic opinion can be dismissed without a second’s thought.

    My point isn’t that religious law is good, it’s that in certain situations it works. It works to achieve different priorities to the secular west’s perhaps, but that’s okay isn’t it?

    That depends on the priorities — which you haven’t actually specified. Do you even know what you’re talking about?

    If you take away male circumcision in Judaism, that isn’t all that will go, you may well also lose Jewish exclusivity, loyalty, fraternity, theological covenant; the effects could be quite profound, and not necessarily for the good.

    You sound like a simpleton raving incoherently about how changing one hallowed tradition will destroy civilization as we know it and OPEN THE GATES OF HELL!!! Do you really believe all that nonsense? Or are you just trying to sound as silly as you possibly can?

    And the best people to make that judgement are Jews.

    Which Jews? They’re not all agreed, you know.

    [post edited by AF]

  82. 82
    Gjenganger

    @Raging 81

    Which Jews? They’re not all agreed, you know.

    Jews as a group – this is a group norm and a collective decision. If you disagree with the majority line you are free to argue your case, politick and lobby to your hearts content, but when push comes to shove you have to either abide by the group norm or leave the group and form you own schism. That is no different whether you are talking about Jews against circumcision, or C of E members agains female priests.

  83. 83
    Phil

    @82

    The difference is that’s a choice made about the internal running of an organisation no one has to enter into, where as this is a choice about whether or not to force something on people who have no option to opt out. a baby can’t opt out of their parent’s culture and in the case it would seem that the parent can’t either

  84. 84
    JT

    Interesting that some think we should care what Jews as a group think, when in this case they dont even care about the youngest of their own group or the one’s who attempt to protect the youngest. Weird, very weird.

  85. 85
    bugmaster

    @Raging Bee #81:

    What the fuck are you [Lucy] trying to do — pretend to be a “pagan” stereotype that’s been debunked long ago?

    Yeah, I was wondering that too. IMO she’s just trolling.

    That said, I think her one point, if she has any at all, is valid: it doesn’t matter in this case whether Lucy is Jewish or not. She still needs to present a convincing argument, either way.

  86. 86
    Ally Fogg

    Sorry I’ve been neglecting this thread, but just popping by now to remind everyone to try to remain civil, even if someone is saying things we might find outrageous or offensive.

    In particular, there is a comment up there about someone being ‘off their meds’

    That is a big fucking No-No round here folks. I’ll respect everyone’s intelligence enough that I presume I don’t need to spell out reasons.

    Play nice.

  87. 87
    Lucy

    Raging Bee

    “What the fuck are you trying to do — pretend to be a “pagan” stereotype that’s been debunked long ago? Take it from a real Pagan: you’re not fooling anyone. And no, we don’t “mumble darkly” about foreskins, in any language — and what the fuck does that even mean? You sound like someone who got all her religious education from bad horror movies.”

    No, you’re not a “real” pagan; there’s no such thing. At best you ape a Victorian reinvention of paganism, so you can get off your silver pony.

    “You’ve already proven you have no idea how rational argument works, so this idiotic opinion can be dismissed without a second’s thought.”

    Well, no I haven’t. So no it can’t.

    “That depends on the priorities — which you haven’t actually specified. Do you even know what you’re talking about?”

    I thought I had, a couple of times.

    “You sound like a simpleton raving incoherently about how changing one hallowed tradition will destroy civilization as we know it and OPEN THE GATES OF HELL!!! Do you really believe all that nonsense? Or are you just trying to sound as silly as you possibly can?”

    You sound like you have a lazy and boring brain, but we all have our crosses to bear.

    “Which Jews? They’re not all agreed, you know.”

    All of them. Not the Victorian quasi-pagans.

  88. 88
    Lucy

    Bugmaster

    “Yeah, I was wondering that too. IMO she’s just trolling.”

    The explanation for all “outrageous” or “offensive” points of view. Sorry to gate-crash the echo chamber.

    “That said, I think her one point, if she has any at all, is valid: it doesn’t matter in this case whether Lucy is Jewish or not. She still needs to present a convincing argument, either way.”

    Convincing argument against what? I haven’t seen an argument here yet. “I don’t like it” doesn’t count you know. I’m practically the only person in this thread or this article who has bothered to put anything resembling an argument together.

  89. 89
    Lucy

    123454321
    “#74
    Here we have it: proof that Lucy likes to provoke a reaction and prioritises stirring above and beyond a young male child loosing his foreskin. Clap, clap for Lucy.”

    I’m flattered that you think I have any influence on male children losing their foreskins, but I fear I may have to bring you back down to earth. This is a comment on a little blog in the Internet suburbs that I feel confident isn’t on the reading list of the rabbinical courts.
    This comment thread is what is known as a conversation, this involves a point of view, and then another point of view and then another point of view being expressed.
    If you want to listen to the same point of view being expressed repeatedly, there are numerous ways you can achieve this: talking to yourself for instance, talking to a select group of people who all have the same point of view is another way, writing a diary is a good one.

    Gjenganger
    “@Lucy
    Thanks for your posts. I really agree with what you are saying on this thread. Not sure I am doing you a favour by saying so, but anyway…”

    You are actually, it can be demoralising being faced by a wall of orthodox dogmatists with a draconian bent and a taste for theatre.

  90. 90
    Gjenganger

    @Lucy 88
    Hear, hear!

  91. 91
    Lucy

    Raging Bee

    “Me: No, I’m a northern-European, pagan-feminist-Protestant-Judeo-Christian, post-Enligtenment agnostic atheist. With Buddhist and Hindu influences.
    You: What the fuck are you trying to do — pretend to be a “pagan” stereotype that’s been debunked long ago? ”

    No, I was *trying* to illustrate that my secular identity is not pure as the driven snow. That it, like yours, like secular law’s has a philosophical back-story that makes it highly biased and far from rational.

  92. 92
    bugmaster

    @Lucy #88:

    Hey, Raging Bee, guess what ? You and I are the echo chamber now ! Because we totally agree on everything all the time. Heheh.

    Anyway, back to the point:

    Convincing argument against what? I haven’t seen an argument here yet.

    It is a bit hard to mount an argument against you, since your actual claims are somewhat vague (besides the basic idea that circumcision is a-ok). For starters, you could answer the questions I posed to you in my previous comments; that would go a long way toward clarifying where you are coming from.

    The reason I asked you these questions is, in part, because I am not sure if you are advancing some form of cultural relativism (“ritual mutilation is immoral in our society but moral in theirs, who are we to judge which is right”), or utilitarianism (“ritual mutilation ultimately brings more good than harm, and thus should be upheld”).

    In my opinion, cultural relativism simply doesn’t hold water as a moral philosophy, but I don’t want to waste time discussing my reasons for it unless this is a position you actually hold. I do agree that some form of consequentialism/utilitarianism is a better way to go; however, in this case I’m not sure how you are measuring the good vs. the harm that comes from any sort of a cultural tradition in general, ritual mutilation in particular, and circumcision specifically.

    In addition, as far as I can tell, you are against FGM but pro circumcision, but I’m not sure why, other than the simple fact that you care more about women than about men.

    So, all I’ve got are questions and no answers. I don’t really care what flavor of pagan you are, I want you to answer the questions that are actually on-topic.

  93. 93
    bugmaster

    No, you’re not a “real” pagan; there’s no such thing. At best you ape a Victorian reinvention of paganism, so you can get off your silver pony.

    On a side note, as an atheist, I find the discussions of who is “more Pagan than thou” utterly pointless. As far as I’m concerned, all religions are wrong on a very fundamental level, regardless of flavor. That said, what’s with the ad hominem attacks ? How does this help you defend your original claim ? Are you just trying to deflect attention, or what ?

  94. 94
    lelapaletute

    Lucy: I have been watching this with a combination of interest and confusion. Just to be clear: is your argument in favour of male circumcision (or at least, against criticism of the practice) that it serves a function of community cohesion and group identity, and that this group benefit which will ultimately include the child overrides the harm of the injury done to the child at the time of its enactment? And that this benefit of community cohesion even overrides the necessity to ensure that such surgery is performed as safely and painlessly as the modern age can allow (i.e.in sterile, surgical conditions under anaesthetic)?

    Because if so, what you seem to me to be postulating is that the community cohesion fostered by tradition is more important than the individual life.

    If this is your position, do you also think that the witch-burnings of the 17th century, twin-murder among 18th century Congo tribes, and the see-sawing state burning of Catholics and Protestants according to the prevailing national mood under the Tudor monarchs, served the same purpose and were therefore legitimate in their cultural context? I do not say this to be provocative, but simply to establish how far this cultural relativism is a point of principle with you, or whether it is simply because you deem the harm and risk of male circumcision to be negligible and therefore subordinate to the need for tribal identity.

    There also seems to be an undercurrent to your argument that because male circumcision is enacted on male babies by male religious authorities as part of a male-dominated patriarchal tradition, this is less reprehensible that female circumcision (leaving aside the relative physical damage and sticking with the ethical considerations), because this is female people being enacted upon by a system they do not and can never have a stake in. Do I have this right?

  95. 95
    Gjenganger

    @Bugmaster 92
    Can I join?

    what’s with the ad hominem attacks ? How does this help you defend your original claim ? Are you just trying to deflect attention, or what ?

    Did you put a similar point to Raging, somewhere above? If so I seem to have missed it. But back to the serious stuff:

    if you are advancing some form of cultural relativism (“ritual mutilation is immoral in our society but moral in theirs, who are we to judge which is right”), or utilitarianism (“ritual mutilation ultimately brings more good than harm, and thus should be upheld”).

    I cannot speak for Lucy, but I would hold both, up to a point.

    On the utilitarian front, circumcision does very little actual harm. There are no notable ill effects from the procedure itself, the risk of accidents is very small (if done correctly), and there seem to be some limited medical benefits as well. This is very different from FGM. As against that there is the fact that it is an irreversible procedure where parents consent on their children’s behalf, which, while true, is a rather abstract point. And there is a small number of people who feel profoundly wounded by having been circumcised – or latch on to circumcision as a focus for their discontent, depending how you look at it. On the plus side we have (as Lucy pointed out) a rite of passage that initiates the individual as a member of his trive, and in general places him as a successor of a few thousand years of ancestors. These benefits are intangible and you can debate their importance, but they are real, which is why various kinds of foprmal or informal initiation rituals keep happening.

    On the other point, the only alternatie to cultural relativism is cultural imperialism – “we do it my way because I happen to be right and all of you happen to be wrong”. +

  96. 96
    Gjenganger

    @Bugmster 92
    OOps, pressed Submit by mistake. Continuing:

    It would be ridiculous to say that all cultures are equally right and nobody can impose anything on anybody else, but you can do with less. First, cultures would tend to come with both good and bad aspects that cannot easily be separated. You might sensibly consider both, instead of banning the things you do not like and just dismissing the rest. I think this is what Lucy means when she talks about whether things work. Second, I think that the continuation of different cultures is a good thing in itself, on the grounds of diversity, minority protection, the belonging and identity of new generations, and simply social peace – exterminating cultures you do not like leads to oppression and religious wars.

    In the end we need to weigh up costs and benefits before we decide what to do. I would argue that on balance you should let people bring up their children in their culture, where reasonably practical, unless the costs clearly outweigh the benefits. For FGM, for instance they do, but for circumcision they do not, abstract philosophical arguments notwithstanding.

    To put it into perspective, parents do all kinds of things that have far-reaching and irreversible consequences. The risks from a contested divorce, or from sending your son away to boarding school at age seven, seem no less irreversible, and clearly higher, than the risks from circumcising him. Yet these are the kind of decisions that we are happy to leave to parents. Why get so carried away over circumcision, then?

  97. 97
    Thil

    @Gjenganger @95 @96

    can you give me a specific example of something tangible bad and likely that you think will happen to the Jewish people as a knock on effect of forcing them to stop circumcising? until you do by reply is that you can’t make choices based on the assumption unknown bad things are likely to happen if you act in anyway, if you do you would never act at all.

    “To put it into perspective, parents do all kinds of things that have far-reaching and irreversible consequences. The risks from a contested divorce, or from sending your son away to boarding school at age seven, seem no less irreversible, and clearly higher, than the risks from circumcising him. Yet these are the kind of decisions that we are happy to leave to parents. Why get so carried away over circumcision, then?”

    ok firstly the difference is that it’s almost impossible to quantify the effects of mental stimuli, compared to physical injury. Secondly with regard to the divorce thing, it would be impossible to live your life if you avoided every possible personal decision for fear of how it might negatively effect the people around you.

  98. 98
    Gjenganger

    can you give me a specific example of something tangible bad and likely that you think will happen to the Jewish people as a knock on effect of forcing them to stop circumcising?

    Short answer: No. The effects will be in terms of lessened sence of group cohesion, of belonging, of connection with the ancient Jewish nation, of connection with God – you would have to ask a Jew for specifics. These things are all intangible, but real and known for all that. If you choose a priori to consider only tangible effects, your conclusion follows. And, by the same token, you have nothing to say to people who choose to consider intangible effects as well.

  99. 99
    Gjenganger

    @Thil 97

    the difference is that it’s almost impossible to quantify the effects of mental stimuli, compared to physical injury.

    Which effects? The physical effects of mental simuli are zero, but the purely physical effects of circumcision are negligible. We know that. As they say: a difference is only a difference if it makes a difference.The point is: what difference does it make that you are missing a bit of skin? What matters in both cases are mental effects, And they can be measured, even if not easily. Do a controlled comparison study on 100 000 people or so, and compare the life outcomes, mental health, personality profile, self-image etc. between the two groups.

  100. 100
    Gjenganger

    @Thil 97

    it would be impossible to live your life if you avoided every possible personal decision for fear of how it might negatively effect the people around you.
    We never know for sure what will follow from our actions – that is why God gave us probability theory. The answer to uncertainlty is not to ignore the possible consequences, but to judge on the likely outcomes. The statistical expectation of what will happen to your children if you leave your wife for younger model or send you son to boarding school at 7 can be worked out fairly well.

  101. 101
    Thil

    “Short answer: No. The effects will be in terms of lessened sence of group cohesion, of belonging, of connection with the ancient Jewish nation, of connection with God – you would have to ask a Jew for specifics. These things are all intangible, but real and known for all that. If you choose a priori to consider only tangible effects, your conclusion follows. And, by the same token, you have nothing to say to people who choose to consider intangible effects as well”

    If it’s not measurable how can you know it’s worth it?

    “Which effects? The physical effects of mental simuli are zero, but the purely physical effects of circumcision are negligible. We know that. As they say: a difference is only a difference if it makes a difference.The point is: what difference does it make that you are missing a bit of skin? What matters in both cases are mental effects, And they can be measured, even if not easily. Do a controlled comparison study on 100 000 people or so, and compare the life outcomes, mental health, personality profile, self-image etc. between the two groups”

    Apparently it reduces the pleasure of sex

    “We never know for sure what will follow from our actions – that is why God gave us probability theory. The answer to uncertainlty is not to ignore the possible consequences, but to judge on the likely outcomes. The statistical expectation of what will happen to your children if you leave your wife for younger model or send you son to boarding school at 7 can be worked out fairly well”

    Like I said you can’t quantify mental anguish? There’s no way to know the pain the parent experiences is not worth what the child is put through

  102. 102
    Gjenganger

    @Thil 101

    If it’s not measurable how can you know it’s worth it?

    And how can you know it is not? You cannot conclude that because something is hard to measure it is necessarily unimportant

    Apparently it reduces the pleasure of sex

    I have tried both with and without, and it did not, in my case. But this one is measurable. If you can show me a sociological consensus, based on large, controlled trials, that show that a (not botched) circumcision has clear adverse effects, I shall reconsider my views.

    There’s no way to know the pain the parent experiences is not worth what the child is put through

    And there is no way of knowing if the mental gain to parents and circumcised children, on the average, is not worth the mental pain to the circumcised children, on the average. As you said, we cannot quantify it, right?

  103. 103
    JW

    @ gjenganger 99 I’m not so certain the physical effects of circumcision are negligible. The mental impacts don’t look to be entirely positive either. The studies refered to on this site look like an unbiassed assessment http://www.circumcision.org/studies.htm. I think it’s also telling that the nhs does not provide this as an elective service, only in the rare cases where there are genuine medical benefits. I have no problem with adult men undergoing surgery if they have given informed consent, but I don’t buy the argument that mutilating genitals of babies has an irreplaceable social function. There are so many ways that a culture can express its identity that do not rely on causing permanent harm, or at least deferring it until it is a willing sacrifice by the person most affected. From my admittedly western culturally biassed perspective I’d have thought that group identity could be fostered using language, clothing, food, music, mythology, etc. I also wonder whether using the penis to show tribal identity is appropriate in the 21st century. I have no idea whether my male friends have been circumcised or not. Is that what urinals are really about? I take your point that parents can make bad decisions for their children, but why oppose a mother who is trying to prevent her son from being harmed?

  104. 104
    Gjenganger

    @103 JW
    Thanks for the answer. The studies on your site may be unbiased, but it is obviously an anti-circumcision site. It looks pretty sober, but before I could trust it I would have to analyse their papers, find a pro-circumcision site to compare it with, and make my own judgement. More than I can fit in, I am afraid (I know, I am lazy,), so I shall file it as unproven for now. My starting guess is that given the numbers of men who have been circumcised, also for non-religious reasons, any big effect would have been obvious already. But OK, unproven.

    You are right that group identity could be fostered in many other ways. But is it up to us to tell the Jews that they should dump their millenia-old practice in favour of something less invasive and less permanent? I would say it is their decision to take, and that the effects are mild enough that it falls within the things that parents can decide for their children.

    On the specific case, I would bow to Lucy’s post 19, which seems to be informed on the facts. Apparently the mother has the choice of leaving Judaism, and therewith getting out of the jurisdiction of the rabbinical courts. Which would seem a more appropriate solution than asking the supreme court to overrule them.

    why oppose a mother who is trying to prevent her son from being harmed

    Well, if you think that circumcision (of children) is inherently bad, any doubt should obviously be resolved in favour of not performing it. But then I do not agree with the premise. One aspect might be if the father has anything to say on the matter, most children have two parents after all. But the big one remains that the mother has the choice of opting out of her religion, if she does not like to follow the rabbinical rulings.

  105. 105
    Thil

    @Gjenganger @102

    “And how can you know it is not? You cannot conclude that because something is hard to measure it is necessarily unimportant”

    You also don’t know if taking a shit will increase the likelihood of the planet Jupiter exploding. In the absence data the only reasonable thing to do is behave how you otherwise would

    “I have tried both with and without, and it did not, in my case. But this one is measurable. If you can show me a sociological consensus, based on large, controlled trials, that show that a (not botched) circumcision has clear adverse effects, I shall reconsider my views”

    You want me to find a scientifically conducted trial where thousands of adult men consented to have an irreversible medical procedure for the sake of finding out if it would reduce their enjoyment of sex?

    “There’s no way to know the pain the parent experiences is not worth what the child is put through
    And there is no way of knowing if the mental gain to parents and circumcised children, on the average, is not worth the mental pain to the circumcised children, on the average. As you said, we cannot quantify it, right?”

    Physical injury is measurable, psychological pain is not. Ergo the law should be concerned with the former and not the later

  106. 106
    Raging Bee

    No, you’re not a “real” pagan; there’s no such thing.

    …says someone who has already proven she has no clue what she’s talking about. Sorry, Lucy, you’re dead wrong again. I know this from decades of personal experience.

    No, I was *trying* to illustrate that my secular identity is not pure as the driven snow. That it, like yours, like secular law’s has a philosophical back-story that makes it highly biased and far from rational.

    You can dredge up all the “back-story” you want (oh, wait, you haven’t actually dredged up any), but your statement is still just plain FALSE. Secular law is about the most rational law we have, and it’s far more rational than any of the religious codes and cult practices you’re trying to defend. Secular law is, at the very least, derived from cherry-picking the most rational bits of everyone’s religious laws, to get a basic code of laws that all the various tribes and sects can agree to share and live by. And on what is this mutual agreement based? On a rational conclusion that those laws are objectively beneficial regardless of one’s religious identity.

    If you really want to show that secular law is no more rational than religious law, then you’ll have to cite irrational shit in secular law, and compare it to all the irrational shit we find in religious laws.

    And you’ll also have to account for the fact that secular law can be changed, because it was made by people. Religious law comes from GAWD, so it can’t be changed by people no matter how irrational it is. (Or at least that’s what the religious laws say.)

    Until you’re able to address both of those points, Lucy, all you have is a mindless assertion that was already disproven, in US courts as well as other places.

    There also seems to be an undercurrent to your argument that because male circumcision is enacted on male babies by male religious authorities as part of a male-dominated patriarchal tradition, this is less reprehensible that female circumcision…

    Yeah, I noticed that too — a woman saying it’s perfectly okay to cut up male bits. Am I the only one here who has a problem with that? I mean, we men aren’t saying it’s okay to cut up female bits, so the women here should at least play by the same rule.

    On the utilitarian front, circumcision does very little actual harm.

    MANY people who have been circumcised do not agree with that statement. Your statement is a gross over-generalization, and is not a valid basis for making policy or law.

    And yes, a lot of that damage comes from botched circumcisions. But when a surgical prodedure is done ROUTINELY AND INDISCRIMINATELY, for reasons that are considered more important than the patients’ medical needs, then a high rate of failures becomes inevitable. (And if the procedure is mandated by an overriding religious law, then there will be little or no accountability for malpractice.) So you cannot pretend you can separate a mandatory unnecessary procedure from the consequences of botched procedures — they will always go together.

    To put it into perspective, parents do all kinds of things that have far-reaching and irreversible consequences. The risks from a contested divorce, or from sending your son away to boarding school at age seven, seem no less irreversible, and clearly higher, than the risks from circumcising him.

    The risks of those actions are extremely variable and unpredictable — many kids are harmed by such things, but many others benefit; and each of those actions has a potentially worse alternative — refusing to divorce can mean a kid is stuck in a toxic or abusive environment, and boarding school may be the best choice for a kid’s education.

    Yet these are the kind of decisions that we are happy to leave to parents. Why get so carried away over circumcision, then?

    For the same reason we get “carried away” over physical and sexual abuse of children: it is both unnecessary and uniformly and predictably harmful. If we restrict parents’ ability to have sex with their kids, then, by the same token, we should also restrict their ability to subject them to physical harm with no foreseeable benefit.

    So I’ll turn your question back to you: we’re perfectly happy to try to deter parents from chopping off their babies’ fingers, toes, ears, eyes, etc. So why are you getting so carried away over chopping off a certain other body part?

  107. 107
    Gjenganger

    @105 Thil

    The number of circumcised men on the planet must run in the hundreds of millions. With a bit of ingenuity a controlled trial ought to be possible. If they can do it with exposure to organic solvents, interracial adoption, …

    Anyway, this is where we stop. You choose to consider only physically visible effects, and treat anything else as non-existent. I disagree. We will never get anywhere by continuing to talk, and I for one have written enough that any third party can decide which version they prefer.

  108. 108
    Thil

    “But the big one remains that the mother has the choice of opting out of her religion, if she does not like to follow the rabbinical rulings”

    No she doesn’t. This is happening in Israel, The Rabbinical court has actual legal powers

  109. 109
    Thil

    @Gjenganger

    most men are circumcised as babies. You’d need to ask men who have experienced sex both ways

  110. 110
    Gjenganger

    @Raging 106

    why are you getting so carried away over chopping off a certain other body part

    Because I believe that the actual harm from the procedure itself (not counting medical incompetence or traffic accidents on the way to the clinic) is pretty much negligible. As I said above. If you can show me a medical consensus that the basic circumcision procedure (minus botches) is clearly and generally harmful, I shall reconsider.

  111. 111
    Gjenganger

    @Thil
    108: Again, according to Lucy, the legal powers of the rabbinical court are limited to Jews. Which would rather make sense, no?
    109 You could find a fair few who were circumcised as adults. Or you could do statistics on sexual responses for large groups. FGM apparently has quite a bad effect on sexual pleasure, and nobody dismisses those findings. It is not impossible to find information on the effect of circumcision on sexual pleasure – unless you want it to be.

  112. 112
    Thil

    @Gjenganger @111

    “Again, according to Lucy, the legal powers of the rabbinical court are limited to Jews. Which would rather make sense, no?”

    A “Jew” is a person who comes from a particular background, not a person who voluntarily follows a particular religion

  113. 113
    Gjenganger

    @Thil 112
    SIgh!
    Again, according to Lucy, the legal powers of the rabbinical court are limited to people who are following the Jewish religion. Which would rather make sense, no?” As you understood perfectly well.
    If you claim that by Israeli law anybody with a Jewish mother has an inescapable duty to have her children circumcised that really would be a scandal. But it sounds too unlikely to bother about, unless you can provide some proof.

  114. 114
    Thil

    @Gjenganger @113

    I’ll get back to you on that. In the mean time I would say that even if that’s the case no higher authority should get to dictate how you practice your religion. This women shouldn’t have to choose between self identifying as Jewish and abiding by the decisions of the rabbinical court

  115. 115
    JW

    @104 gjenganger.
    I’m less certain that the numbers of men that have been circumcised means that any “big” effect would be obvious already. Relatively few would be able to make comparisons of before and after, and if it is seen as culturally important then there would be social pressure to shut up and live with it, especially as options to reverse the problems are limited. Can you protest against what your parents did to you and maintain healthy family relationships? Aren’t people especially unwilling to talk about their own sexual problems and mental health issues compared with going to the doctor for , say, a broken arm? Clearly not every circumcised man is unhappy about it, but I don’t think that’s enough justification to do something that a significant number feel has harmed them (and appears to be backed up with credible evidence – notwithstanding your point about potential bias. )
    I think harm and consent are the key points. If there is demonstrable harm then that does legitimise interfering with ancient practices. I don’t believe Jews still keep slaves or kill disobedient children despite that appearing to have been permissible in the old testament. I’m not saying this was a change imposed on them from outside just that change is possible without losing identity. While I agree the best option for the mother in the case is to leave her faith, it can’t be as easy for a Jew in Israel as it might be for a Christian in the uk. The like it or lump it approach may well preserve tradition, good and bad, but closes the door to beneficial changes and progress.

  116. 116
    TMK

    @Gjagenter

    If you are too lazy to find out for yourself, would not the reasonable opinion be that something that, by common reason, is harmful, should not happen? By common reason i mean cutting off part of the body with large amount of nerve endings. If you go with unproven, i think in case of medical procedures, the proof should be on the positive side, no?

    (to be frank, it is surreal. We are discussing painful cutting procedure performed on infants, and your response is: well, there is no proof that cutting off part of the body is harmful, so in absence of evidence i think it is okay. As i said, surreal)

    In any case, a perfect controlled trial study on the effect of circumcision on sexual life is impossible, since it concerns things in the fu

    And when it comes to the mother in question, whz do you think asking for supreme court overrule is not appropriate? It is not like the state is not already involved, otherwise the rabbinical court fine ruling would bear no signifcance (i guess it is state-enforced, and not punished simply with a Judaism-excommunication-equivalent or something like that)

  117. 117
    123454321

    Gjenganger – I think you’ll find that the vast majority of men fortunate enough to have retained their foreskin through childhood would agree that their foreskin is a very valuable attribute which brings much pleasure to them. As adults, I imagine there are only a very tiny, tiny proportion of men who choose to have it removed outside of medical reasons.

    Happy for you to prove me wrong.

  118. 118
    Gjenganger

    @JW We still disagree, but those are all fair points.
    @TMK, 123… I thought that a big thing on this site was to build on well-established and reliable information instead of just loose impressions. That being so, I am asking if somebody can supply some of this reliable information, or failing that tell me why they are so all-fired furiously convinced that their loose impressions are much more reliable than mine. Is that really unreasonable?

  119. 119
    TMK

    Well, unfortunately i am also too lazy to digest that, so i cannot supply that reliable information, neither. It is just that i found your conclusion in the face of the lack of evidence/information, say, weird.

  120. 120
    Gjenganger

    @TMK 119
    As a general principle I would say that the burden of proof is on people who want to make changes, and on people who want to compel others. Those who want things to remain as they are and/or let other people decide for themselves what to do, can win their case by default. That does not mean you can never make changes, but those who want e.g. to ban circumcision have a higher bar to get over than those who want to preserve it. As far as making circumcision medically safe, I think you have met that standard. As far as banning it altogether, I think you have not.
    If you like, there are many things that we would not introduce if we were starting with a clean slate: ritual circumcision, alcohol, tobacco, monarchy, first-past-the-post voting, … But now they are there and people have grown up being used to them, it takes a lot more to remove them than a balance-of-probabilities judgement.

  121. 121
    Thil

    @Gjenganger @120

    “make changes”

    having a foreskin is natural, the people who them removed are the ones who want to make a change from the default

    “people who want to compel others”

    the Rabbinical court are the ones compelling other people. the parents are the ones forcing a something on a party who has no say

  122. 122
    TMK

    Gjenganger,

    First, sorry for horribly mangling your nickname last time.

    I am a bit surprised, though. It seems that you are now talking about politics, activism, society, and tactics/strategy, whereas i though we were talking about your own opinions. Yes, i get that the side making changes is usually the one that needs to make its case (although, tbh, in this case it really depends on the place, no? Here, almost nobody gets circumscised), but how does that translate into your own opinion, i am not sure.

    Because it sounds to me that you are simply willing to follow the tradition, without making your own, even if somewhat ignorant (since we talked about getting informed and laziness) judgement about the practice. I mean, your first reaction might be on the side of the established practice, that is somewhat understandable (although i personally do not think it is good, but then again, i got literally the max score on the liberalism scale of Big Five test, so there is that), but surely only until you make the minimal effort to consider other things you know about it, namely that it involves cutting off parts of the infant body (with lots of nerve endings. And, iirc, often without anesthesia)

    I mean, if you would have to judge the practice of Sati, or Incan religious child sacrifice, you would not rest on the tradition side if no one else would present you a proof?

    I am not sure what about the other things you bring up. Surely, we can all agree that alcohol (well, in excess) and tobacco are unhealthy, even if though that does not mean banning it, because of obvious reasons. (but no one advocates banning circumcision for adults, even though i raised the issue in a reply to Freja in this thread.

    (hmm, i just noticed i got a response i missed. damn)

  123. 123
    TMK

    @61

    Freja,

    Sorry for not noticing your reply. First, a bit of digression:

    which can be done simply because the woman (or with disturbing frequency, her male partner) doesn’t like the way her nether regions look or doesn’t think she’s tight enough.

    Are you sure about the male partners? I ask, because from my personal experience, the anxiety about body is almost exclusively women phenomen (i mean, anxiety about female body). Most of my male peers were totally oblivious to the more intricate issues of body image that plague my female peers.

    It might be important that our experience is (assuming you are fromo western Europe/USA etc) completely different, i grew up in communist country and there were none, no advertisements whatsoever. No images of women bodies looking from countless billboard or in every TV break (there were no TV breaks back then).

    Seriously, you people have no idea how much better life without advertisements is. But yes, digression. So, i wonder why do you make that statement. Survey? Personal experience? Especially curious about the frequency bit, seemingly implying a rising prelevancy.

    I’m all for equality, so I believe that just as men have the same rights as women to be protected from bad surgical decisions while they’re children, they should be allowed the same freedom and have the same responsibility as women when they become adults.

    So i get that you think if some adult wants to have his legs amputated, because, idk, sexual fetish (i heard it exists!), should be able to have that procedure carried out in a hospital?

    Well, come to think of it i agree with that. I mean, i think euthanasia is okay, so why not legs? It is not like there are issues like with organ buying or something like that.

  124. 124
    Gjenganger

    @Thil 121

    having a foreskin is natural, the people who them removed are the ones who want to make a change

    What I am saying is that you need more proof to change the status quo than to keep it, and permitting circumcision is undoubtedly the status quo. Whether one side or the other best corresponds to the abstract concept of ‘change’ is irrelevant, AFAIAC. It is certainly a different question.

    the Rabbinical court are the ones compelling other people

    Good point. There is more to this than I posted so far. Having the right to do things the way you want them does not mean that other people have an obligation to respect or support your choices, or that the the self-determination of the indivudual must necessarily override the decisions of the group. It is accepted opinion by the Jewish community and religiuos authorities (they go together) that circumcision is a necessity and a duty for a good Jew. The mother in question is free to think that is wrong, free to refuse to circumcise her son, and free to consider herself no less good a Jew for that. But the other Jews are free to disagree, and to give her the choice between complying, paying her fine, or opting out of official Judaism. She can freely start her own schism, but she can not compel all other Jews to accomodate her opinions.
    For comparison, consider marriage. You are free to go through something that you call a marriage ceremony, possibly with 4 women at once, and declare that from now on all five of you will live together and consider yourself to be married. But people around you are equally free to disregard your ceremony, and to withhold the respect and benefits that they normally give to people who are married. Social institutions, like religion or marriage, can not be changed unilaterally by individuals.

    the parents are the ones forcing a something on a party who has no say

    That argument does have some weight. But the point is that children are not able or competent to have a say on their own behalf, be it on circumcision, studying the Koran, doing their piano lessons, or eating their vegetables. They are not yet fully formed individuals, and the parents have the right and duty to decide on their behalf how they should be formed and where their interests lie. You can certainly argue which parental decisions are good, neutral, or contrrary to the childrens interests, but responsibility and power both lie with the parents. Interfering with this requires a solid justification that particular decisions are against the children’s interest, which is exactly what I do not think the anti-circumcision movement can provide. Parents have to take lots of decisions that are in practice irreversible. Well before any of us reached maturity it was already decided that the Polgar sisters would be world-class chess players with a weird childhood, and that I would not.

  125. 125
    TMK

    They are not yet fully formed individuals

    Oh how i hate that phrase. you know who else is not fully formed individual? You. And me.

  126. 126
    Gjenganger

    @TMK 125
    True. But somewhere between babyhood and senility you have to draw a line.

    @TMK 122
    It is true that circumcision involves removing a healthy part of a childs body, lots of nerve endings and all, that it is irreversible, and that it is decided by parents and undergone by children. I have considered that – I just think that this is all rather theoretical and pales besides the main point: Are the circumcised measurably worse off than the non-circumcised? And to me the evidence suggests that if there are any differences they would have to be pretty minor. The big argument is that if there were clear differences, it would be known all through popular culture, given how many people get circumcised. But no. No sterotypes or anecdotes, no received wisdom that you had better not get it done because it takes all the fun out of sex, no clear guidance or conclusions out of the AMA, the BMA, the WHO, or, closer to home, out of Ally Fogg. And no observable difference to me, who had it done in adulthood (medical reasons, not by choice). You were right when you said that this is not proof – there could be reasons why this kind of thing got suppressed – but with that many people getting circumcised it must at least put an upper limit on how big the damage can be. Compare with FGM, where it is absolutely uncontroversial that the operation very often causes pain and sexual dysfunction. As for child sacrifice? Forget it – I do not need sociological evidence to decide that killing children is bad. So, I have made a judgement, on the available evidence, and I am happy to leave it at that, until such a time as I see enough credible evidence from an unbiased source to make me take it up again. It is not science, but it is as good as the information that goes into many of our judgements, I would say.

  127. 127
    Thil

    “What I am saying is that you need more proof to change the status quo than to keep it, and permitting circumcision is undoubtedly the status quo. Whether one side or the other best corresponds to the abstract concept of ‘change’ is irrelevant, AFAIAC. It is certainly a different question”

    that only applies in situations where doing nothing in harmful. like for example you feed your child the healthiest diet you know because they’ll defiantly die if they don’t eat at all. If there’s no advantage to acting you should do nothing.

    “Good point. There is more to this than I posted so far. Having the right to do things the way you want them does not mean that other people have an obligation to respect or support your choices, or that the the self-determination of the indivudual must necessarily override the decisions of the group. It is accepted opinion by the Jewish community and religiuos authorities (they go together) that circumcision is a necessity and a duty for a good Jew. The mother in question is free to think that is wrong, free to refuse to circumcise her son, and free to consider herself no less good a Jew for that. But the other Jews are free to disagree, and to give her the choice between complying, paying her fine, or opting out of official Judaism. She can freely start her own schism, but she can not compel all other Jews to accomodate her opinions.”

    She has to emigrate if she wants to be free of either paying the fine or the chop. Everyone I asked about this told me being “Jewish” isn’t something you can opt out of in Israel, it’s determined by birth

    “For comparison, consider marriage. You are free to go through something that you call a marriage ceremony, possibly with 4 women at once, and declare that from now on all five of you will live together and consider yourself to be married. But people around you are equally free to disregard your ceremony, and to withhold the respect and benefits that they normally give to people who are married. Social institutions, like religion or marriage, can not be changed unilaterally by individuals”

    if your parents are Jewish in Israel you have to have a Jewish ceremony if you want it to be legally recognised

    “That argument does have some weight. But the point is that children are not able or competent to have a say on their own behalf, be it on circumcision, studying the Koran, doing their piano lessons, or eating their vegetables. They are not yet fully formed individuals, and the parents have the right and duty to decide on their behalf how they should be formed and where their interests lie. You can certainly argue which parental decisions are good, neutral, or contrrary to the childrens interests, but responsibility and power both lie with the parents. Interfering with this requires a solid justification that particular decisions are against the children’s interest, which is exactly what I do not think the anti-circumcision movement can provide. Parents have to take lots of decisions that are in practice irreversible. Well before any of us reached maturity it was already decided that the Polgar sisters would be world-class chess players with a weird childhood, and that I would not”

    irreversible physical changes should be assumed to be harmful until proven otherwise

  128. 128
    Raging Bee

    Because I believe that the actual harm from the procedure itself (not counting medical incompetence or traffic accidents on the way to the clinic) is pretty much negligible.

    Your belief is contradicted by the beliefs — and actual experiences — of others. That makes it suspect, at best, and certainly not a sufficient basis for making law or policy.

    As I said above. If you can show me a medical consensus that the basic circumcision procedure (minus botches) is clearly and generally harmful, I shall reconsider.

    The concensus has been obvious for years now: routine mandatory circumcision of baby boys offers NONE of the medical benefits it was once believed to offer, except perhaps in a very narrow range of circumstances that don’t even apply where most of this crowd lives. And damaging or removing any body part — ESPECIALLY of a child who can’t consent or refuse — without medical necessity or prospect of benefit, is just plain unethical, even if there are no screwups. We apply this reasoning to fingers and toes (even the smallest and least useful ones), ears, eyes, arms, legs, etc.; so there’s no reason not to apply the same reasoning to one more body part.

    And the fact that you have ignored this concensus up to now, pretty much proves you won’t be reconsidering your prejudices any time soon. (And the fact that you keep on comparing your voluntary, medically-required, adult circumcision to the routine mandatory circumcision of baby boys, further proves your intellectual dishonesty.

    What I am saying is that you need more proof to change the status quo than to keep it…

    That’s the standard reactionary dodge: we have to accept things as they are, and I won’t accept any change unless you can satisfy my arbitrary and ridiculously high standard of proof. And it’s pure fucking hypocricy: did the people who created the status quo in the first place have to clear a similar hurdle?

    It is true that circumcision involves removing a healthy part of a childs body, lots of nerve endings and all, that it is irreversible, and that it is decided by parents and undergone by children. I have considered that – I just think that this is all rather theoretical and pales besides the main point…

    Just because a certain thing doesn’t happen to YOU, does not mean it’s “theoretical.” The permanent damage done by unnecessary circumcision is no more “theoretical” than the harm done by sexual abuse. You’re really starting to sound like a spoiled, sheltered, self-important, clueless, condescending twit.

  129. 129
    Gjenganger

    @Thil 127

    She has to emigrate if she wants to be free of either paying the fine or the chop. Everyone I asked about this told me being “Jewish” isn’t something you can opt out of in Israel, it’s determined by birth

    I am following Lucy on this. She would have to answer. The only thing I could find on Google was an Israeli Supreme Court decision that a Jew who had converted to Christianity (and indeed lived for years as a Christian monk) did not count as Jewish for the purpose of the Right of Return laws. Presumably he would not count as Jewish for the family court either (though you never know, with lawyers). Another relevant point is that the couple is in divorce proceedings – and the father does want the circumcision.

    if your parents are Jewish in Israel you have to have a Jewish ceremony if you want it to be legally recognised

    That rather fits my point, actually. You are free to do whatever you want and call it marriage, but if you set your own rules without regard to anyone else, you can not claim a right to legal recognision afterwards. The practical solution is to get married in Cyprus, i believe.

    irreversible physical changes should be assumed to be harmful until proven otherwise

    Why? That is a well-known cheap trick. If you cannot prove that something you dislike is actually harmful, you insist that you are obviously right, and we should do things your way unless other people can prove you wrong. Which, curiosly enough, they can never manage to do to your satisfaction.

  130. 130
    Gjenganger

    @Raging 128
    And I admire and respect you too, Sir.

  131. 131
    Raging Bee

    irreversible physical changes should be assumed to be harmful until proven otherwise

    Assumed? There’s no need to “assume” anything — cutting someone open is by definition harmful. The entire medical profession are acting on this basic precept, that surgery is harmful really risky and should only be done if there’s no other choice; and they’ve directed lots of effort and resources to finding other means of helping patients: both non-surgical remedies and more precise surgical techniques that involve less actual cutting and smaller holes gouged out of flesh.

  132. 132
    Gjenganger

    @Thil 127
    I missed a point in your last post. Sorry.
    Are you saying that it is illegal and impossible for Jews to become apostates, in Israel? Or merely that as long as you count as Jewish you have to use the Jewish ceremonies? The former I have heard about some Muslim countries, but never about Israel – which is why I would doubt it without direct proof. The latter is just another example of ‘follow the group rules or leave the group’.

  133. 133
    Raging Bee

    Are the circumcised measurably worse off than the non-circumcised?

    Are they measurably BETTER off? If you can’t show any actual BENEFIT, then you are, at the very least, defending a totally pointless medical procedure that wastes time and money that could be better spent saving lives. Routine mandatory circumcision of babies is, at best, no better than any of the unnecessary and redundant tests doctors routinely order just to cover their sixes.

  134. 134
    Gjenganger

    @Raging 131

    The entire medical profession are acting on this basic precept, that surgery is harmful really risky and should only be done if there’s no other choice

    Cosmetic surgery?

  135. 135
    Gjenganger

    @Raging 133
    They are better off according to the fathers and mothers who decide for circumcision – and according to people who have been circumcised themselves (the same fathers generally). So who has the rights to make that judgement., the parents or Raging Bee?

  136. 136
    Thil

    @Gjenganger

    “I am following Lucy on this. She would have to answer. The only thing I could find on Google was an Israeli Supreme Court decision that a Jew who had converted to Christianity (and indeed lived for years as a Christian monk) did not count as Jewish for the purpose of the Right of Return laws. Presumably he would not count as Jewish for the family court either (though you never know, with lawyers). Another relevant point is that the couple is in divorce proceedings – and the father does want the circumcision”

    everyone I’ve asked about this, Wikipedia and this article support that what I’m claiming is correct

    “That rather fits my point, actually. You are free to do whatever you want and call it marriage, but if you set your own rules without regard to anyone else, you can not claim a right to legal recognision afterwards. The practical solution is to get married in Cyprus, i believe”

    individuals are allowed to think what ever they want. The government should not be allowed to act how ever it pleases

    “Why? That is a well-known cheap trick. If you cannot prove that something you dislike is actually harmful, you insist that you are obviously right, and we should do things your way unless other people can prove you wrong. Which, curiosly enough, they can never manage to do to your satisfaction”

    that’s bloody rich coming from you Mr. “we should leave the Jews alone because some totally unknowable bad thing might happen if we interfere in their affairs”

    the Burdon of proof is on the people who want to act unless doing nothing is harmful.

  137. 137
    Raging Bee

    No sterotypes or anecdotes, no received wisdom that you had better not get it done because it takes all the fun out of sex…

    Actually, we’re hearing LOTS of such received wisdom, and you’re ignoring it all.

    And here’s another bit of received wisdom: I was circumcised at birth, like many other American men of my generation; it went off without any screwups; and I don’t really feel irreparably harmed or damaged by it in any way. But here’s the catch — I haven’t seen any signs of BENEFIT from it either. My parents (neither of them at all knowledgeable of medicine) went with the flow, and some doctor wasted time and resources doing something no one even bothered to justify (and got paid for it), which has absolutely ZERO connection to any of my most meaningful (or even least meaningful) life experiences. That operation did absolutely NOTHING for me, and here you are, Gjenganger, defending it like it’s the bedrock of civilization as you know it. I don’t hate my parents for any of this — they were good and sensible people. But I do have a huge amount of contempt for people like Gjenganger, who treat an act of mutilation that is, at best, pointless, like it’s so important and necessary that mountains must be moved, and basic medical ethics ignored, to keep it going. What the hell kind of “values” does this behavior reflect? Whatever your “values” are, they have nothing at all to do with any needs or legitimate interests of mine.

    And don’t hand me any blather about “cultural markers” either — an operation I don’t even remember can’t possibly have any connection to either my or anyone else’s culture — especially when it’s excused by saying it’ll prevent masturbation (which it doesn’t) or some other bogus pseudo-medical horseshit.

  138. 138
    Raging Bee

    They are better off according to the fathers and mothers who decide for circumcision…

    Better off HOW, specifically? Do the fathers and mothers show any evidence to back up their claims?

    There’s lots of parents who think beating the shit out of their kids, and/or hammering insane religius doctrines into their heads, and/or keeping them out of schools, make their kids better off. A civilized society doesn’t automatically take their word on that, so why should we suddenly take their word here either?

  139. 139
    Gjenganger

    @Thil 136

    everyone I’ve asked about this, Wikipedia and this article support that what I’m claiming is correct

    Could you give the link, to Wikipedia? I did try but found nothing explicit on the jurisdiction of Israeli religious courts in the case of apostates.

    individuals are allowed to think what ever they want. The government should not be allowed to act how ever it pleases

    The state can not act arbitrarily, but the state, like any other group, can set up and enforce general rules. For instance that it only recognises marriage to one person at a time, or that people who choose to stay under the jurisdiction of the Jewish family court have to follow its rulings, or that a divorcing couple has to take decisions jointly according to specific rules. You do have to leave people the freedom to make their own arrangements, in this case cohabitation or apostasy, but individuals do not have an automatic right to ignore rules they do not like without any cost to themselves.

    the Burdon of proof is on the people who want to act unless doing nothing is harmful.

    Correction: “the burden of proof is on the people who want to act unless you can prove that doing nothing is harmful”. Which brings us back where we started.

    that’s bloody rich coming from you Mr. “we should leave the Jews alone

    I can see the similarities, but there are differences as well. Sure, my general principles fit fairly well with my overall opinions – as you yourself said “I would not hold these opinions if I did not think they were right”. But for one thing I am not saying that tradition ‘should be assumed to be’ OK unless you can prove otherwise, merely that it takes more to overthrow a tradition than to uphold it. The direction may be similar but my version is much less extreme. Besides, my version is general enough that it can be aplied to several areas, including where I might not agree, Yours is limited to a specific field where you know your doctrine will always support you. I could give general arguments why I think accepting the status quo, or leaving other people alone, should be favoured a bit over the alternative. What general arguments can you give that certain medical procedures should be ‘assumed to’ be dangerous when the evidence does not support it?

  140. 140
    Raging Bee

    What general arguments can you give that certain medical procedures should be ‘assumed to’ be dangerous when the evidence does not support it?

    The fact that the evidence DOES support it, and you’re lying when you say otherwise. The harm done by circumcision isn’t an “assumption,” it’s an OBSERVABLE FACT. As is the lack of any medical benefit arising from it.

  141. 141
    Gjenganger

    @Raging 137-8
    I think we are having some progress. Can we agree that circumcision is not obviously particularly harmful, and that any benefits are neither medical nor tangible? And that intangible benefits (if any) are something that a lot of people think are important, and you think are worthless or non-existent? That would bring us to the core question: If there are no obvious costs to ritual circumcison, why should your values and your judgements override those of other people? The same would apply to religious education. Not to corporal punishment, though. The harm from corporal punishment is well established, so ‘preserving tradition’ is not a sufficient argument here.

  142. 142
    Gjenganger

    @Raging 140
    I continue to maintain that childhood cirumcision, if carried out according to correct medical procedures, has only a minimal risk of complications and has no proven general ill effects. I am still waiting for somebody to present scientifically reliable proof to the contrary.

  143. 143
    Thil

    “Could you give the link, to Wikipedia? I did try but found nothing explicit on the jurisdiction of Israeli religious courts in the case of apostates”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chief_Rabbinate_of_Israel

    “Many objections have been raised by secular Israelis, and Jews from non-Orthodox streams of Judaism regarding the Chief Rabbinate’s strict control over Jewish weddings, divorce proceedings, conversions, and who counts as Jewish for the purposes of immigration. Rabbi Dr. Donniel Hartman of Jerusalem, President of the Shalom Hartman Institute, has argued that the State of Israel needs multiple rabbinates “that reflect the diversity of ideology permeating Israeli religious life. As the home of all Jews, the State of Israel does not have the right to determine authentic Judaism, but must reflect the diverse Jewishness of that population.”[12]

    The Rabbinate does not accept non-Orthodox converts or Rabbis to take part in any of the above listed ceremonies or proceedings. Because of this, many Israelis choose to marry abroad in nearby Cyprus or another location. About 47,000 Israelis, or 12 percent of those who married between 2000 and 2005, secured their union abroad, according to Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics. The Masorti (Conservative) Movement in Israel reported that in recent years about 20 percent are opting out annually”

    “The state can not act arbitrarily, but the state, like any other group, can set up and enforce general rules. For instance that it only recognises marriage to one person at a time, or that people who choose to stay under the jurisdiction of the Jewish family court have to follow its rulings, or that a divorcing couple has to take decisions jointly according to specific rules. You do have to leave people the freedom to make their own arrangements, in this case cohabitation or apostasy, but individuals do not have an automatic right to ignore rules they do not like without any cost to themselves”

    That would all be fine if this women could opt out of being Jewish, she can not

    “Correction: “the burden of proof is on the people who want to act unless you can prove that doing nothing is harmful”. Which brings us back where we started”

    unless they can prove actually

    “I am not saying that tradition ‘should be assumed to be’ OK unless you can prove otherwise, merely that it takes more to overthrow a tradition than to uphold it. The direction may be similar but my version is much less extreme”

    interfering is obviously easier than not interfering.

    “Besides, my version is general enough that it can be aplied to several areas, including where I might not agree”

    why is that good? I’m not sure what you’re getting at here?

    “Yours is limited to a specific field where you know your doctrine will always support you. I could give general arguments why I think accepting the status quo, or leaving other people alone, should be favoured a bit over the alternative. What general arguments can you give that certain medical procedures should be ‘assumed to’ be dangerous when the evidence does not support it?”

    my argument can apply to any situation where a parent wants to perform a medical procedure with demonstrable advantage

  144. 144
    Thil

    *that should be

    “my argument can apply to any situation where a parent wants to perform a medical procedure with no demonstrable advantage”

  145. 145
    Raging Bee

    I think we are having some progress.

    “We?” You’re ignoring mountains of evidence and reasoned argument, so no, YOU are not making any progress.

    Can we agree that circumcision is not obviously particularly harmful…

    No, we can’t, because it IS harmful. Physical damage is done (intentionally), with no physical benefit to balance it against; therefore the net effect is demonstrable harm and zero good; therefore non-medical circumcision is harmful. Period.

    And that intangible benefits (if any) are something that a lot of people think are important, and you think are worthless or non-existent?

    “Intangible benefits” as in lucky special magic beliefs that override basic decency when one cult (but not necessarily another) gets to say they do?

    That would bring us to the core question: If there are no obvious costs to ritual circumcison…

    Your “core question” is based on a false premise — there ARE obvious costs to ritual circumcision, as you yourself have already admitted.

    I continue to maintain that childhood cirumcision, if carried out according to correct medical procedures, has only a minimal risk of complications and has no proven general ill effects.

    I can say exactly the same thing about lopping off a baby’s right arm, if carried out according to correct medical procedures. And I’m still waiting for you to show any meaningful distinction between one unnecessary act of mutilation and the other; and why “intangible benefits” can justify one but not the other?

  146. 146
    Gjenganger

    @Thil 143
    Having read the article, and others it links to, it is still not clear to me whether you can opt out of being a Jew for divorce purposes. You can lose rights as a Jew, by converting to another religion. The system looks so complex that it would need a local expert, not a quick look at Wikipedia, to be sure. But for the specific case I am not sure this is the main point. Arguably, the primary dispute is between the wife and her husband, not between the wife and the rabbinate. The couple is divorcing, the husband wants circumcision, for the whole marriage the couple has been under Jewish marriage law. Changing your religion at the last second as a form of jurisdiction-shopping is not a practice we would necessarily support if this was a dispute on alimony or custody, rather than circumcision.

    why is that good? I’m not sure what you’re getting at here?

    It is always a temptation to decide that you are so obviously right that other people should defer to your opinions even if you cannot prove them, unless and until they can prove you wrong beyond a reasonable doubt. I have seen it applied by proponents of censorship for violence and pornography, for instance. Since this is in effect a ploy to put your opinions beyond criticism and imposing yourself on everybody else it is not good good for debate. So if someone will claim that certain propositions require less proof than others (as I admittedly do), it is at least good that the rules are objective and general. That means you cannot invoke something like this whenever people refuse to be convinced by one of your pet ideas.

  147. 147
    Gjenganger

    @Raging 145
    I take that back: We are not making any progress, we are just saying the same things over and over. Sayonara

  148. 148
    Thil

    “It is always a temptation to decide that you are so obviously right that other people should defer to your opinions even if you cannot prove them, unless and until they can prove you wrong beyond a reasonable doubt. I have seen it applied by proponents of censorship for violence and pornography, for instance. Since this is in effect a ploy to put your opinions beyond criticism and imposing yourself on everybody else it is not good good for debate. So if someone will claim that certain propositions require less proof than others (as I admittedly do), it is at least good that the rules are objective and general. That means you cannot invoke something like this whenever people refuse to be convinced by one of your pet ideas”

    1) I don’t just think the burden of proof should be on the people in favour of circumcision just because I think circumcision is bad. I’d take this attitude about any medical procedure

    2) not everything in life is a matter of physical evidence. there are some positions you can only defend with pure abstract reason.

  149. 149
    Gjenganger

    @!48 Thil
    1) Your original point was “irreversible physical changes should be assumed to be harmful until proven otherwise“. Medical procedures is still a very narrow field, and I wonder where else it might be applied. Would you be against all cosmetic surgery, giving growth hormone to dwarves, exctraction of healthy teeth (I lost two while still a minor – no room in my jaw) etc. on the same grounds? I suspect you are fairly safe from your principle ever coming back to bite you.

    2) For positions that make any a difference to peoples lives, I think that you should always refer back to the actual consequences, be they physical, mental, or social, direct or indirect. Regulating people’s lives by pursuing pure, abstract reason while ignoring the consequences on the ground sounds to me like a recipe for pure, abstract disaster.

  150. 150
    Raging Bee

    Since this is in effect a ploy to put your opinions beyond criticism and imposing yourself on everybody else it is not good good for debate.

    Yeah, it’s such a pain in the ass debating someone who can prove he’s right, innit?

    PS: someone here mentioned cosmetic surgery earlier; to which I reply that that is not at all comparable to routine non-medical infant circumcision, because: a) it’s voluntary; b) it’s done to people who have the capacity to consent, not to newborn babies; b) it’s not indiscriminately mandated by any religious law or other custom. So while there may still be an unconscionable amount of social pressure to get botox or boob jobs or whatever, it’s not nearly as bad as the pressure in some places for FGM or MGM — as Gjenganger’s relentless asinine rationalizations indicate.

  151. 151
    Raging Bee

    Regulating people’s lives by pursuing pure, abstract reason while ignoring the consequences on the ground….

    Um, Gjenganger, the only person ignoring consequences — and blathering about “intangible benefits” instead — is you.

    PS: That second point b @150 above should be point c. My b)ad.

    Sincerely,
    Raging b)

  152. 152
    Gjenganger

    @Raging 150
    Well, you said that

    The entire medical profession are acting on this basic precept, that surgery is harmful really risky and should only be done if there’s no other choice.

    If that is true, cosmetic surgery is wrong. Since you do not think that cosmetic surgery is wrong, you have clearly said something that is not true. That is logic, I believe. No hard feelings, we all make mistakes, but it would improve the quality of the debate if you admitted it when you were wrong. It would also help if you cut down on the insults a bit. It is already clear to everybody on this blog that you think I am a moron. You are entitled to your opinion, but it does not add much to the debate that you keep repeating it.

  153. 153
    Raging Bee

    Since you do not think that cosmetic surgery is wrong…

    And there’s where your logic fails: I never stated an opinion on cosmetic surgery, I only differentiated it from infant circumcision. Furthermore, what I said about the meidcal profession does not in itself say cosmetic surgery is wrong; it merely acknowledges that surgery is dangerous and doctors should (and do) work toward avoiding surgery when possible and making surgery less destructive when it’s necessary.

  154. 154
    Gjenganger

    @Raging 153

    should only be done if there’s no other choice

  155. 155
    Raging Bee

    Oh, and if you don’t like being thought of as a moron, then stop acting like one. After all the dishonesty, willful ignorance, flat denials of reality, ignoring evidence and facts that are already common knowledge, selective disregard for basic principles of medical ethics, “intangible benefits” woo, and other logical fallacies, how do you expect us to see you?

  156. 156
    Raging Bee

    Gjenganger, you can quote that phrase as many times as you want, but it still won’t mean what you want it to mean. And, more to the point, it sure as hell doesn’t make your support of infant mutilation any more excusable.

  157. 157
    Gjenganger

    @155 Raging
    It does not particularly matter to me how you see me. I just wish you were less boring and repetitive about it.

  158. 158
    Raging Bee

    Well, if you’re less repetitive in your bogus arguments, I’ll be less repetitive in my debunking of same.

  159. 159
    Thil

    “Your original point was “irreversible physical changes should be assumed to be harmful until proven otherwise“. Medical procedures is still a very narrow field, and I wonder where else it might be applied. Would you be against all cosmetic surgery, giving growth hormone to dwarves, exctraction of healthy teeth (I lost two while still a minor – no room in my jaw) etc. on the same grounds? I suspect you are fairly safe from your principle ever coming back to bite you”

    that’s a matter of adults making choices about their own bodies, not the body a child third party. The dwarf thing is about correcting a deformity

    “For positions that make any a difference to peoples lives, I think that you should always refer back to the actual consequences, be they physical, mental, or social, direct or indirect. Regulating people’s lives by pursuing pure, abstract reason while ignoring the consequences on the ground sounds to me like a recipe for pure, abstract disaster”

    science can tell us the consequences of a specific course of action, we have to use logic & reason to figure out which of those constitutes constitute the right and wrong thing

  160. 160
    123454321

    I’ll bet you my last dollar that all cultural aspects of circumcision, when you follow it through conclusively, have an acumulation of positive benefits that favour their women at the expense of their men.

    It’s probably all very complex but, then again, social evolutionary engineering can be quite complex.

  161. 161
    lelapaletute

    @160

    And the award for cavalier, fact-free, mud-slinging, axe-grinding, pointless post of the thread goes tooooo…

  162. 162
    Raging Bee

    I’ll bet you my last dollar that all cultural aspects of circumcision, when you follow it through conclusively, have an acumulation of positive benefits that favour their women at the expense of their men.

    You made the bet, you do the research to back it up.

  163. 163
    Mr Supertypo

    Its hard to me to understand that some people (including women) can support male infant mutilation. Whats the excuse? its because its a boy therefore not deserving empathy? or is it because some women claims that they get more sexual benefits? therefore you are willing to mutilate a baby just to justify your lust? Or is it because some nebulous tradition support babble? so girls should be protected by mindless violence and boys not? did the cat eat your brain?

    There is NO WAY to excuse baby mutilation (male or not) that is just plain violence and abuse. PERIOD. There is no tribal, political or traditional justification. Its all BS. And the theological arguments are invalid.
    Genital mutilation IS pure violence, and people who oppose FGM should also by definition oppose MGM. If they dont, it can only be because they are not honest with their opposition to GM. Therefore they are faking their support against FGM for their own motives.

    It is acceptable however if a person in adult age makes a mature decision to undergo such treatment. Because then it becomes a personal choice not imposed violence by some random thug (yes for me people who impose GM are thugs).

  164. 164
    Gjenganger

    @Supertypo 163

    people who oppose FGM should also by definition oppose MGM. If they dont, it can only be because they are not honest with their opposition to GM

    Well, we are never going to agree, but your logic does not hold. I oppose FGM because it is obvious to me that it causes significant pain and hardship to those who undergo it – and I do not oppose circumcision because it is not obvious to me that it causes significant pain and hardship to those who undergo it. At the very least, the consequences of FGM are clearly much more severe than the conseqeunces of circumcision.There are other arguments on either side (that we obviously do not agree about) but that is at least one argument for treating the two things differently.

  165. 165
    Mr Supertypo

    @164

    What a pointless answer to child abuse. Hallo? its a mutilation of a BABY, a ADULT person MUTILATE a BABY. And the only think you can argue about is the difference between FGM and MGM? A baby get mutilated and thats all you can do? witch part you dont understand that this is crude violence?

    Yours is a wrong and offensive answer. There is only ONE answer acceptable and that is a clear and loud NO regarding this practice. And prison forever to the thugs who support this.

  166. 166
    Gjenganger

    @165 Supertypo
    You know, this is a debate? Where people try to settle on their facts, clarify their arguments, see what they can and can not agree on? You were the one claiming that there was no difference between FGM and circumcision. I chose to call you on that, because trying for some agreement on specific points might lead somewhere, and trying to convince each other surely will not. I thought the main point of this blog was that people with wildly different opinions could meet and debate – that is why I am still here. You are very welcome to despise me, but if all you want is to shout ‘YAHHH RIGHT!’ to those who agree with you and ‘BOOOH THUG!!’ to those who disagree, then one of us is on the wrong blog. Which one would be up to Ally, he is the owner.

  167. 167
    Mr Supertypo

    @166 Please, I never stated they were the same. Yes as a act of violence from a adult toward a minor but not at the level of damage. And stop inventing excuses for avoiding my points.

    You tell me, what kind of ADULT enjoy torturing and mutilating infants? sorry if this topic angers me, but child abuse is and should be triggy topic for everyone. Does the thugs who support GM also support pedophilia? do they also support beating children? yeah I draw a line to this because all have the basic matrix. A grown up person, a adult, who perform a act of abuse on a minor (in this case a baby) who cant runaway, who cant defend itself, who cant even complain, beside crying. Oh yeah baby’s cry all the time, thats what they do right?
    Actually this practice also shows clearly the ‘evil’ habit of the powerful in abusing the weak. Adults mutilate baby’s, adults beat children, men beat and rape women (and vice versa) politicans abuse their folks ect. Its the chain of abuse.

    Im sorry but I dont understand how some people can justify MGM, the level of damage is not the issue. The issue is the violence from a powerful adult toward a defenseless baby. I believe who is against FGM and support or is tolerant toward MGM is because they have other motives in mind, and not the well being of the child. Like trying to look good in the eyes of their peers or whatever else, but NOT the child. They are indifferent toward the infant. Practically they dont care.

    ” ‘YAHHH RIGHT!’ to those who agree with you and ‘BOOOH THUG!!’ to those who disagree, then one of us is on the wrong blog. Which one would be up to Ally, he is the owner. ”

    Why do you drag Ally in this? and what has my personal liking to do with the blog? my point is clear (dont try to ignore this time) and its child abuse. How are MGM enforcer and supporters not child abusers?how could they have any interest what so ever toward the safety of the children if the first thing they do is to mutilate and deform their genitals? And since they are child abusers how are they not thugs?

    Now you feel personally attacked by me, fine, fair enough. But ask your self, do you support child abuse, yes or no?

  168. 168
    Gjenganger

    @Supertypo 165
    As with Raging, so with you. You make an absolute statement::

    people who oppose FGM should also by definition oppose MGM

    Which logically means that the two phenomena are so identical that you cannot oppose one without opposing the other. I challenge it by giving an example of what I think is an important and relevant difference. And instead of adressing my point you get all upset because I do not share your outrage. Before insisting that I pay attention to your points, what about paying attention to mine?

    So you are angry. Well, I can make allowances, but you really should consider that the strength of your feelings does not guarantee the rightness of your position, and that shouting louder does not make your arguments any better. Saying the same thing more loudly is not the way to convince anybody.

    So, do I support child abuse? No, unsurprisingly. I am strongly against ill-treatment of children, I just do not think that an action that has no measurable adverse consequences can be described as ‘ill-treatment’. You can disagree with this on philosophical grounds if you like, just say the word. To what extent circumcision has measurable adverse consequences is a question of fact, not philosohpy, and I will happily listen to any solid evidence you may have.

    How can you feel anything for the welfare of your children if you circumcise them? Well the point of circumcision is that it brings the child into the people of God, and under His protection now and in the hereafter, which would clearly be in the child’s interest. I do not agree myself (I am not a Jew), and I am sure you do not agree either. but the issue is one of how you judge different costs and benefits, not of whether you care for the child. They are caring, all right, they are just (by your standards) dreadfully misguided.

    Do I ‘feel personally attacked’? Well my feelings are neither here nor there – if I could not put up with irrational insults I would not be debating on an atheist web site. But sticking to facts – if somebody told you that you were a thug, did not care about the suffering of children, and deserved life in prison without parole, would youi see that as an attack on your person?

  169. 169
    Raging Bee

    …I do not oppose circumcision because it is not obvious to me that it causes significant pain and hardship to those who undergo it.

    I’ve heard people who actually WITNESS infant circumcision, saying that, yes, the baby cries when it’s done, because it’s painful. If the pain caused by circumcision is not obvious to you, it’s probably because you have deliberately chosen to ignore some pretty obvious evidence, testimony and logic.

    (And before you accuse me of being repetitive, kindly tell us how many times (so far) you’ve said you don’t/can’t/won’t see why circumcision is bad.)

  170. 170
    Raging Bee

    Well the point of circumcision is that it brings the child into the people of God, and under His protection now and in the hereafter, which would clearly be in the child’s interest.

    Is there any evidence that God’s protection depends on whether you’re circumcised? (And what if you’re circumcised for non-Jewish reasons? If your agnostic parents got you cut because they thought it would stop you from masturbating, would that put you under God’s protection too?)

    I do not agree myself (I am not a Jew)…

    If you’re going to make special pleadings for the abusive acts of one religion you don’t agree with, why not do the same for all other religions and loony cults? Why are you going to so much trouble (and so much disgraceful dishonesty) to defend a practice you just said you don’t agree with? Are you a right-wing authoritarian defending authoritarianism for authoritarianism’s sake?)

    I just do not think that an action that has no measurable adverse consequences can be described as ‘ill-treatment’.

    If you break a baby’s arm, then fix it up, and the baby grows up with no memory of the incident, then one could easily argue (or at least YOU could argue) that he/she suffered “no measurable adverse consequences.” Does that mean that breaking a baby’s arm cannot be described as “ill-treatment?”

  171. 171
    Gjenganger

    @Raging
    Repetitive discussions are OK – it is only the reperitive insults that get a bit old.

    So, since you asked me: I do not doubt is is painful (and thinking about the details does make me a bit queasy), but I do not know enough about babies and their reactions to rate the experience. If it is comparable to the distress from waiting 10 minutes for yor feed, one could probably let it slide. If it is much more severe than that, that would be a good argument for insisting on an anesthetic. Even our Jewish friends might actually be receptive to that one, provided they could be reassured that it was not the first move in a plot to ban the practice altogether.
    Breaking an arm? Well, you would never allow that practice to start if it was not there already, but that goes for circumcision too. If it could pas the other tests – no important pain at the time, no important risk of long term effects, done under specific, controlled conditions for a purpose that a respected and long-establisehd group consiedered essential, well, one might have to consider it. But here we get to the limit of hypothetical questoins: There is no group that mandates ritual arm-breaking, and considering what is entaiiled that is probably not a coincidence.

  172. 172
    Raging Bee

    …but I do not know enough about babies and their reactions to rate the experience. If it is comparable to the distress from waiting 10 minutes for yor feed, one could probably let it slide. If it is much more severe than that, that would be a good argument for insisting on an anesthetic.

    Do you use such reasoning to excuse breaking a baby’s arm? Lopping off a finger or three? Does ANYONE say that about ANY physically harmful practice other than circumcision? Of course not. Your entire argument is nothing but special pleading for one abusive practice of one religion, to exempt it from basic rules of medical and parenting ethics that clearly would not allow it otherwise. (BTW, I also notice you’re justifying circumcision for Jews, but not for Muslims. Yet another example of the bigotry and hypocricy that underlies your thinking.)

    And if you really think circumcision is an indispensible basic mandate for Jews, then I’d like to remind you of all the parts of the Old Testament that even most Jews don’t take seriously anymore. If most Jews can scrap whole sections of Leviticus because they’re barbaric and obsolete, then they have no excuse not to scrap circumcision for the same reason.

    …no important pain at the time…

    “Important pain?” What the fuck does that mean? Is that anything like “legitimate rape?” If a child’s pain and suffering isn’t “important” to you, then you’re a despicable excuse for a human being, and your opinion is utterly worthless among responaible adults. Take your “intangible benefits” woo and shove it back where it came from.

  173. 173
    Raging Bee

    …but I do not know enough about babies and their reactions to rate the experience.

    And you don’t even have enough basic empathy to make a good inference? That’s fucking ridiculous. I don’t remember being circumcised, but I do remember how far less damaging things, like scrapes, cuts and needles, hurt me in places much less sensitive than my boybits. I also remember how much it hurt to be hit in the balls, even before puberty — and those weren’t permentnely damaging hits. And finally, I remember how my doctor did something to the tip of my penis a couple of years ago that didn’t involve knives or needles at all — and it HURT LIKE HELL! All of these facts, taken together, give me a pretty good ability to rate how painful a circumcision would be. If you can’t even make that sort of inference, it can only be because you don’t care. And that pretty much disqualifies you from talking about any issue involving ethics, conduct, or child welfare.

  174. 174
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    @12, Copyleft

    This is a useful reminder for those deluded folks who hold up Israel as a good example of “democracy.”

    Israel is a good example of a democracy that run by its people for its people because it holds regular free and fair elections where its citizens vote and decide who gets to represent them. This is similar tootherdemocracies such as the USA,UK and my nation of Australia and unlike most of its neighbouring nations eg. Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia.

    The topic of circumcision and a Judicial courts ruling have pretty much next to nothing to do with whether Israel (or anywhere) is democratic or not.

  175. 175
    Mr Supertypo

    ” Which logically means that the two phenomena are so identical that you cannot oppose one without opposing the other. I challenge it by giving an example of what I think is an important and relevant difference. And instead of adressing my point you get all upset because I do not share your outrage. Before insisting that I pay attention to your points, what about paying attention to mine? ”

    You havent said anything significant. Your blablabla about the damage is plain said stupid. And there are actually a link to FGM with MGM, I told you already if you paid attention, something you obyously didnt. The link is to alter (deform) a minors genitalia and a act of violence from a adult towars a minor.
    Your main argument is invalid, because its not up to you to argue what is damaging or not. And with all due respect (actually forget the respect) pedos say the same thing, we are just having sex with children, its not that bad….right? You are using the same invalid argument.

    Violence against a minor is the top reason of my case, the damage level is irrelevant, because the topic in question is the abuse. To perform MGM you need to unconsensually ABUSE the kid. And thats enough to send people in prison or life. So my point is valid, yours….not!

    ” So, do I support child abuse? No, unsurprisingly. I am strongly against ill-treatment of children, I just do not think that an action that has no measurable adverse consequences can be described as ‘ill-treatment’. You can disagree with this on philosophical grounds if you like, just say the word. To what extent circumcision has measurable adverse consequences is a question of fact, not philosohpy, and I will happily listen to any solid evidence you may have. ”

    Yes you do, if you support MGM who is a act of violence toward children, then you per definition support child abuse. Its no different from a thug randomly assaulting a kid on the street. You and whoever support MGM also support child abuse. Im sorry but that’s the truth.

    ” How can you feel anything for the welfare of your children if you circumcise them? Well the point of circumcision is that it brings the child into the people of God, and under His protection now and in the hereafter, which would clearly be in the child’s interest. I do not agree myself (I am not a Jew), and I am sure you do not agree either. but the issue is one of how you judge different costs and benefits, not of whether you care for the child. They are caring, all right, they are just (by your standards) dreadfully misguided. ”

    So in the end you justify the lust to inflict pain to kids with god want it. Ancient superstition is not a justification for child abuse.

    ” Do I ‘feel personally attacked’? Well my feelings are neither here nor there – if I could not put up with irrational insults I would not be debating on an atheist web site. But sticking to facts – if somebody told you that you were a thug, did not care about the suffering of children, and deserved life in prison without parole, would youi see that as an attack on your person? ”

    I dont know, I dont support child abuse, apparently you do…because god want it.

  176. 176
    jmllins

    Lucy, i don’t mean to offend, but you really do need to do the research for the topics you discuss.

    Here are some facts for you-

    1. Male circumcision has never been proven to be effective in either reducing or treating cervical cancer, penile cancer, urinary tract infections, or sexually transmitted diseases including HIV/AIDS in developed countries.

    http://www.cirp.org/library/procedure/vanhowe2004/

    2. About 117 boys die each year in the United States as a result of their circumcision, most from infections or blood loss (remember, this is for an unnecessary procedure, so even 1 death is too many).

    http://www.questia.com/library/journal/1P3-2026622071/lost-boys-an-estimate-of-u-s-circumcision-related

    3. Most physicians do not have their sons circumcised.

    Topp, S. (1978, January). Why not to circumcise your baby boy. Mothering, 6, 69-77

    4. Circumcised doctors are 5 times more likely to recommend circumcision to patients.

    MullerAndries J.. Journal of Men’s Health. October 2010, 7(3): 227-232. doi:10.1016/j.jomh.2010.04.001

    5. Circumcision regularly removes a shocking 3/4 of the penis’ sensitivity through the removal of the ridged band, foreskin “lips,” and most often the entire frenulum.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17378847

    6. As adults, men circumcised in infancy are almost 5 times more likely to be diagnosed with erectile dysfunction (ED).

    http://www.circumcision.org/studies.htm

    7. Circumcised men and boys are 60% more likely to suffer from alexithymia, a psychological trait disorder which causes difficulty in identifying and expressing one’s emotions, which can lead to difficulties in sustaining relationships.

    http://www.biomedsearch.com/article/Alexithymia-circumcision-trauma-preliminary-investigation/271664388.html

    8. 5.1% of boys will have significant complications due to circumcision, and the rate can be as high as 55% for all complications. Meatal stenosis (narrowing of the urinary opening) is found in 20% of circumcised boys.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1936659/

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23905566

    9. The average male will have more health problems from being circumcised than from being left alone.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15534340

    10. Not one medical association in America, or anywhere else in the world, recommends infant circumcision; some even recommend against it. At no time in its 75 years has the American Academy of Pediatrics ever recommended infant circumcision.

    http://www.cirp.org/library/statements/

    Now that we have discovered that male circumcision is wholly unnecessary in the western world (with above statistics) please, by all means tell me why women should have special treatment and not be forced to have their genitals mutilated, but men should.
    I can even point out that female circumcision is just as beneficial to the prevention of diseases/ health problems as male circumcision, according to actual studies.

    So if you’re not sexist, how can you possibly be okay/indifferent to male circumcision?
    How?

  177. 177
    Dani Wells

    I’m a Jewish woman and a radical feminist. The fact that Jews are willing to have this conversation is proof of the dialogue the Jewish people have always had with secular society.

    As Jews were are always very in tune with the society around us. We’re not as insular as being portrayed by this piece. Yes, there are Rabbi’s in Israel who don’t want to have this conversation but they are just one small part.

    Jews like to discuss everything. Don’t put us down for having trouble with this. At least we ARE talking about it.

  178. 178
    Dani Wells

    Oh and Gjenganger was very correct when s/he was talking about the psychological effects of NOT circumcising a boy who is Jewish. The Bris is a focal point of the covenant we have. A young boy who is not circumcised is going to have troubles. He might be ostracized by others. I truly think that the psychological damage to a child can be worse than not having the foreskin.

    You may not understand our traditions and how important this is. For example, men who convert to Judaism have a drop of blood taken from the head of the penis. These men are already circumcised but still must do this ritual.

    To be a Jew means to be part of a tribe, a people.

    If Jewish parents choose not to circumcise their boys it’s their choice but they really do have to consider what that child might go through.

    Either way, it’s going to be a long haul and I honestly don’t expect our covenant to change. For those of you that are comparing this to FGM it’s not even close.

  1. 179
    Tikkuning The Todger | Canadian Atheist

    […] journalist Ally Fogg is aghast that some rabbinical court in Israel ruled that a baby boy had to be circumcised. His piece is well […]

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