Flying by, checking in


Haven’t had any time to blog of late, a bit weighed down  by personal  / family stuff which I will probably explain in due course.

But just to keep you going, a few things that have flitted by my radar over the past week or so.

The brilliant Will Storr has written a quite superb essay for Mosaic on male suicide, which is one of the few pieces I’ve read which really gets under the bonnet of gender effects, what they are and how they work. Essential reading.

I revisited the issue of nagging and the case of Norman and Julie Griffiths (previously discussed here) in a piece for IB Times.

The issue of depression and new fathers has come up again. Not too impressed with some of the media coverage of the new study from Anna Machin, but there’s a straightforward account here . Important to note that it is little more than a tiny pilot study, but it rings true.

But mostly this week I am switching rapidly from fury to despair and back again at the developing news of Heather and Chase Hironimus. Heather was arrested last Wednesday after about three months in hiding and has been in jail ever since. Chase is back with the father who is so desperate to circumcise him. A judge is currently considering a request for an injunction to prevent the operation from being conducted before legal channels have been exhausted. The whole business is horrific and grotesque, and I’m furious at the lack of interest from the media, especially the liberal-left American blogosphere, which appears entirely indifferent. I’m grateful to PZ for picking up on my howls of despair and responding appropriately.

Anything I’ve missed?

Comments

  1. StillGjenganger says

    Haven’t had any time to blog of late, a bit weighed down by personal / family stuff which I will probably explain in due course.

    Sorry to hear that. I had thought you were just grieving for the election result – which would have been more banal but also easier to get over.

  2. StillGjenganger says

    Well, from your own link, Hironimus is a case of the custodial parent wanting to perform a routine medical procedure on claimed medical justification, which two levels of courts have found he has the right to do – and the non-custodial parent kidnapping him to prevent it. I know we disagree on circumcision, but even if you are against it, is interfering in this custody battle really the right way to approach the problem?

  3. says

    That report on the causes of male suicide is seriously ringing true.

    The last 9 months have been pretty hard on me.

    I just wrote the whole sorry story out but it was going on too long.
    The long and the short is that I had total control of my life ripped away by a greedy multimillionaire property speculator, who saw an opportunity to make a few extra quid that don’t expect he even notices. The area of London I live in has become trendy with hipsters and I couldn’t afford the 50% rent hike demanded, so I’ve had to move away from the area I’ve lived in and the support base I’ve built up over 15 years. Yes I am bitter and yes I have every right to be. Barricades anyone?

    So over the Winter I got seriously depressed, rock bottom only getting out of bed to go to work and then getting straight back into bed depressed for days at a time. I usually get SAD from late Nov into early Feb but this was an extra special dose.

    I also shave with a straight razor so I know how easy that could be and really did think about it at times.

    However, although I was depressed and thinking about suicide I was never really suicidal.

    So back to the article, I wonder if that is because Ive never really had any expectation of life. My only male role model was my grandfather and he was so distant as to be a speck on the horizon (and that has definitely caused problems with my own relationships) but also, even though I’m middle aged and single, I don’t see that as a failure. I don’t see being married with kids as a success either, its just another way of being.

  4. H.E. Pennypacker says

    @Gjenganger

    Completely agree.

    I was never taken by one of my parents to live in a domestic violence shelter for three months and told that the other parent wanted to do something very horrible to me but I reckon I would have found it pretty traumatising. I was circumcised and I had no say in the matter. It was not in the last bit traumatising.

  5. polishsalami says

    Maybe the most intriguing incident is your encounter with the subintelligent psychopaths lovable rogues of Pharyngula.
    {‘Welcome To The Jungle’ starts blaring on loudspeakers with the Volume turned up to 11}

  6. says

    Anything I’ve missed?

    Yeah — the part in PZ’s post, which you yourself cited, where several commenters point out how dead wrong you are about alleged American liberal apathy toward this case.

  7. Ally Fogg says

    {‘Welcome To The Jungle’ starts blaring on loudspeakers with the Volume turned up to 11}

    to be honest I felt more like this dude https://s.yimg.com/cd/diminuendo/1.0/original/1b812e97b9c3f70203e8385f0867cbacdc09c9fc.gif

    the part in PZ’s post, which you yourself cited, where several commenters point out how dead wrong you are about alleged American liberal toward this case.

    Must have missed that amidst all the pathetic butthurt liberals whining how it’s all about them, and revealing how many truly repulsive individuals hang around below the line over there.

  8. says

    LOL and OMG!

    I saw the original post and Prof Myers reasonable response but didn’t see the shit storm afterward.

    You went over there criticizing stuff you should have kept your British nose out of because you didn’t know the full facts , and then they got all angry and defensive!

    Christ, its not like you used a gendered slur!

  9. Paul says

    A Men-only law firm for fathers who feel they’re getting a raw deal in the Family Courts is to open in London. Details in the following link.

    Such law firms are already established in North America and i can see them having both postive and negative effects.Predictably some are responding to the London opening by saying that the Family Courts in this country don’t discriminate against fathers and that the welfare of the children always takes top priority.Completely failing ,as per usual,to acknowledge the huge disincentive for fathers to go to the Family Courts to even try and get an improvement in the amount of access mothers are prepared to give.For around 50% of fathers who go to a Family Court end up losing contact with their children altogether and in most cases they’re rendered powerlesss to do anything about it.

    I notice the following article also talks about the need to protect child from abusive fathers but not a word about the need to protect children from mothers who’re either also abusive and/or habitually attracted to men who are bad role models for their children.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/menonly-divorce-law-firm-for-fathers-feeling-let-down-by-family-courts-to-open-in-london-10253669.html

  10. Marduk says

    I’m sorry to hear you are having a tough time. I think for once I can speak for everyone when I say you don’t actually have to explain anything to us.

    Right, back to presenting my back for a good shivving.

    There can be no sense talked about the US dick wars, its too deeply embedded and I’ve come to the conclusion those of us outside can’t comprehend it. Its one of those weird things, like guns or opposing gay marriage that people have violently strong opinions about that they can’t ever really articulate in a way that makes sense to other people who don’t already agree with them. Only when it comes to circumcision, the trick is you really, really can’t guess which way people are going to go, it doesn’t seem like their positions on anything else would ever give you a clue either. Its suis generis. Why aren’t liberals against it? Because lots of them are enthusiastically in favour of it!

    The best explanation I can come up with is the nature of the decision itself. You can attend pacifism rallies wearing your war medals Forest Gump style, you can rock against racism with that jail swastika tattoo removed because you saw the light, whatever. But if you’ve had that done to you and moreso if you done it to someone else, the discussion is over and isn’t going to be reopened. I know of a few guys who weren’t keen but had it done to their kids because their wives had really strong views on it. To me that is incredibly fucked up on many levels, but there isn’t language that could bridge the cultural gulf to even begin to explain why I think that even if I were going to say anything (and of course I wouldn’t in reality).

  11. Paul says

    Ally

    Hope whatever’s going on irl is nothing too serious.And i agree with Marduk that you don’t need to explain anything.

  12. avern says

    God, even when PZ Myers is being reasonable, he’s still horrible. A post about a child who might be forcibly circumcised called “The Dick-Centered Life” with a picture of a banana with the tip of its peel cut off? Seriously?

    Misandry is so prevalent that it informs on a molecular level all of our discourse.

  13. polishsalami says

    revealing how many truly repulsive individuals hang around below the line over there.

    FTB may get its own Mad Max movie after all

  14. says

    PZ Myers is the reason I have ended up here as I’ve followed him since cracker gate.

    And although he isn’t perfect and I’ve found myself disagreeing with him in the past, leading to snark on his comment thread, its never been on any subject that could be described as misandry.

    In fact, its the likes of the slyme pit’s posting on his blog and here, that has convinced me away from thinking that misandry could possibly a thin, to being convinced that it is performance anxiety produced paranoia.

  15. proudmra says

    Of course circumcision is idiotic and barbaric… which doesn’t excuse Heather Hironimus’s actions one bit. It’s funny… when fathers abduct their kids in defiance of court orders, it’s treated as a big deal. When a mother does it, she’s a hero.

    It would be nice to see a ruling that circumcision on a minor is illegal, though.

  16. proudmra says

    The poor, confused radical feminists are now in the awkward position of having to support an anti-circumcision protest… despite having NEVER cared about circumcision before, and actively resenting and opposing any attempts to discuss it!

    So what’s got their begrudging attention focus on it now? The fact that a mother is using the issue to deny custody to a father, which is something else they’re obligated to strongly support! (In the name of “equality,” of course.) Funny stuff.

  17. says

    ProudMra

    circumcision is bad- women are bad because they don’t care about circumcision- this woman wants to stop her son being circumcised by her ex husband-but men are good- this woman is bad.

    nuance isn’t a thing in your world is it?

  18. mildlymagnificent says

    Had a depressing moment reading that piece on male suicide. In that list of precipitating circumstances he didn’t mention PTSD. Which struck home after today reading about the previous day’s evidence in Australia’s Royal Commission into Child Abuse.

    The epicentre of some of the worst known abuse environment(? can’t think of a better word) was/is the catholic diocese of Ballarat in Victoria. One bloke brought along his Year 4 class photo from the 70s. Of the 33 boys in the photo, it appears that 5 have certainly committed suicide and that number may be as high as 12, they are certainly dead. And the more you read the worse it gets.
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-05-19/child-abuse-inquiry-begins-ballarat-hearings/6479902 (This one is horrifying.)
    http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2015/may/19/child-sex-abuse-and-its-legacy-of-suicide-like-an-unseen-cancer-in-ballarat

    And there’s three more weeks of this Ballarat stuff yet to be heard.

  19. mildlymagnificent says

    Sorry, didn’t preview. The horrifying item was the one from the ABC news site.

  20. says

    MM@20
    Ridsdale is serving an eight-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to 30 child sex offences in 2014.
    It is the fourth time he has been jailed after three previous stints in prison for more than 100 other offences”

    What! look I’m no fan of banging people up if there is a chance that they can be rehabilitated but 8 years!? I’d have no problem in throwing away the key on this one.

    Surely that cant be a usual Australian sentence?

  21. Ally Fogg says

    thanks for pointing me to that, MM

    What a horrible but terribly important story.

  22. polishsalami says

    Surely that cant be a usual Australian sentence?

    Notorious gang rapist Bilal Skaf was originally given a 55-year sentence, but that was knocked down to 28 on appeal.
    ————————————————————-
    Lots of ugly stuff from Ballarat so far, extending right up to the Prime Minister’s office. Some of the stories that came out yesterday are straight from a horror movie.

  23. Holms says

    #18 proudmra
    The poor, confused radical feminists are now in the awkward position of having to support an anti-circumcision protest… despite having NEVER cared about circumcision before, and actively resenting and opposing any attempts to discuss it!

    So blatantly false I can only assume you never bothered to check.

  24. Marduk says

    This is ridiculous whatever you think.

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/may/20/goldsmiths-racism-row-divides-students-bahar-mustafa

    They mention 1,500 people signing a petition in support of her but when you read it, its all parody posts of people claiming to be Adolf Hitler of Berlin, Germany whose reason for supporting the petition is because they agree with her ideas about genocide and segregation.

    Meanwhile The Graun somehow overlooked the 15,000 signatures on the one asking for her to be fired.

    They also say “several people” disagreed on Twitter. I’m looking at it now, its about 25 people disagreeing to every backer. I’m going to guess the automated shitposting isn’t a sign of support either.

    Poor journalism isn’t good for anyone.

    This is reopening an old row where I think we reached an impasse but I genuinely don’t think she really did anything wrong. But if people want to pretend not to understand her “top bantz” in just the way she’d stubbornly choose not understand their use of irony or whatever, then its just her tough luck for volunteering for that particular game. I’m more and more convinced that stuff like this is the only way the SJW tendency will learn that constant witch hunts in bad faith aren’t really all that clever after all. I have more genuine sympathy for Liam Byrne.
    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/may/17/david-mitchell-cameron-cynical-art-pretending-not-to-understand-joke

    That said, watching her reading out her statement filled with Tumblr “magic words” and being baffled when they don’t work on people outside the echo chamber she has been living in does have a certain amount of pathos to it. She reminds me of those David Icke people who think they have magic words that make your tax debts go away or whatever. You’d have to have a heart of stone not to feel a twinge for her. To be frank, another reason I feel a bit sad for her is that at 27, she is just a teeny little bit too old for something like this.

  25. StillGjenganger says

    The brilliant Will Storr has written a quite superb essay for Mosaic on male suicide, which is one of the few pieces I’ve read which really gets under the bonnet of gender effects, what they are and how they work..

    Yes, extremely good. Thanks for pointing it out. The one thing you an say is that he gives a complex and many-sided picture of what is a complex problem, so everybody will probably latch on to their favourite piece. I especially noticed his confirmation of the standard stereotypes (men: action and hierarchy; women: connection and environment), and his comment that you cannot change men, at most you can tweak them, so you need to adapt the services to the men, not vice versa. What did you guys select?

  26. mildlymagnificent says

    I especially noticed his confirmation of the standard stereotypes

    Same thing struck me. The language was much more measured and less presumptuous than you often see when people advance this kind of analysis. But it still walks straight into the classic categorisation of what feminists call toxic masculinity. You’d hope that someone talking about psychology would move towards a more nuanced individual-focused position than a broad brush social criticism/ sociological overview usually takes.

    Though I’d also say that when you read this bit (among others) …

    “Now there’s this change in society,” O’Connor replies, “you have to be Mr Metrosexual too. There are all these greater expectations – more opportunities for men to feel like failures.”

    … he’s doing what many people do when talking about the likelihood that men will “feel like failures”. He completely erases the economic, political and industrial stages on which our lives play out as having any direct impact on individuals. And that’s a very big blank spot if you’re looking for a comprehensive picture of the influences on us and our families and our workplaces.

    It’s one thing to say that an individual’s “social perfectionism” is a strong indicator of their propensity to become suicidal and to “succeed” in suicide attempts. Ignoring general economic, social and work life factors which make it more (or less) likely that people with this propensity will be so badly affected by it is quite another.

    Very long essay could have followed here, but we’ll skip that.

  27. Jacob Schmidt says

    despite having NEVER cared about circumcision before

    You don’t pay attention much to feminists, do you?

    Completely failing ,as per usual,to acknowledge the huge disincentive for fathers to go to the Family Courts to even try and get an improvement in the amount of access mothers are prepared to give.For around 50% of fathers who go to a Family Court end up losing contact with their children altogether and in most cases they’re rendered powerlesss to do anything about it.

    Do you have any comprehensive sources on this? Everytime I’ve looked into it, the stats didn’t paint such a clear picture. Generally, fathers who actually fight for custody do rather well; most don’t even try.* I think this is one area where going on about how awful and impossible it is to fight is ultimately detrimental.

    *I am wondering if there is an issue with people just defaulting. As far as I know, in courts that assume joint custody first, joint custody is most common. In courts that assume custody to the primary caregiver first, the primary caregiver (usually the mother) usually gets custody.

  28. StillGjenganger says

    @Mildly 28
    Unlike you I rather like those stereotypes (as you might have guessed). Though you do have a point that the article focuses on psychological aspects and avoids the topic of unemployment etc. Anyway, I should like to read your very long essay, if you ever have the opportunity to fire it off.

  29. Carnation says

    @ Danny Butts

    Sorry to hear your troubles. Might I make a suggestion? I volunteered to do advocacy work for people lacking the necessary skills to take on bureaucracy – it was very rewarding. I also did some mentoring with young males without male role models.

    It seems to me you feel that you missed out on something – you could help someone going through that?

  30. says

    Carnation,

    Um yeah ok.

    It s the kind of thing I enjoy. I’m helping an older guy get a parking ticket rescinded at the moment and guided a Lithuanian ex through the housing benefit system (ok, I didnt enjoy that one but it was satisfying once it was sorted).

    I’m not particularly social media savvy, but I assume you will get in touch through my FB page (which I only really use to log into places)?

  31. Harrow says

    mildlymagnificent 28: I actually didn’t have a problem with him using a broad-brush social criticism, except that that toxic masculinity isn’t nearly sufficient to explain the phenomenon (plus some invocations of toxic masculinity can tip over into victim-blaming, though he avoided that here). The analysis of South Korea made it a lot clearer how larger economic and social pressures contributed directly to spiking male suicide – society told them they were worthless if they weren’t getting wealthy and moving up the corporate hierarchy.

    Feeling like a social failure is absolutely a part of the problem, but too many people think it sort of comes from the ether. When you’re getting constant, hyper-judgmental messages from all corners of society that you’re a useless failure, it’s extremely easy to internalize that. But I agreed 110% with “society has to say, ‘How do we put in services that men will go to? What would be helpful to men when they’re feeling distressed?”

  32. polishsalami says

    avern #13:

    I sense the title and the pic were a pre-emptive peace offering to the baboons, who were always going to go apeshit with the Dear Leader bringing a men’s issues commentator into their ‘safe space’.

  33. says

    From MMs article

    A 50 year old victim commenting on his testimony said

    “[It was] very, very tough indeed, but [I’m] glad it’s over [I’m] going to go and have a beer now.”

    Stoicism or toxic masculinity?

    I’m of an age where I find this attitude admirable, but maybe I’m wrong.

  34. mildlymagnificent says

    I think it’s probably neither in this instance. I’d say it was relief at having got it over and done with.

    Quite a few people lined up as witnesses have said they’re suffering insomnia and (increased or renewed) anxiety or depression in anticipation of giving evidence. The commission’s quite accustomed to having to give witnesses a bit of a break because the whole business is so stressful.

    (Even before they started work they’d lined up stress counselling for commission staff – it’s extremely draining for everyone involved. Which is a bit of a warning to other countries thinking of going down this path. You have to allocate a lot of time, a lot of money and a lot of resources. Once the commission started, the rape crisis centres and similar organisations like Lifeline started getting more calls and more demands on their services.)

  35. avern says

    After week in jail, Florida mom agrees to son’s circumcision:

    http://www.kansascity.com/news/nation-world/article21674916.html

    This is an absolute tragedy and a violation of human rights. You were right, Ally, to decry the indifference amongst leftists regarding this dispute. You know who has shown the appropriate outrage since this trial began? MRAs.

    http://www.reddit.com/r/MensRights/comments/36w041/mom_agrees_to_sons_circumcision_after_yearslong/

    MRAs are the only group that consistently reject this barbaric practice.

  36. avern says

    “I sense the title and the pic were a pre-emptive peace offering to the baboons, who were always going to go apeshit with the Dear Leader bringing a men’s issues commentator into their ‘safe space’.”

    Exactly. Misandry is the “sugar” that helps the equality medicine go down.

  37. Holms says

    MRAs are the only group that consistently reject this barbaric practice.

    YEAH!! Oh and feminists.

  38. Jacob Schmidt says

    After week in jail, Florida mom agrees to son’s circumcision:

    Well that’s distressing, though how the hell any judge recognizes that as agreement is boggling.

    Exactly. Misandry is the “sugar” that helps the equality medicine go down.

    I’m not sure how either of the things you’re complaining about constitute misandry, and I’m pretty sure you’re just complaining because otherwise agreement with a feminist (one who has been pretty consistent on the whole “circumcision is wrong” thing for years) would make him look good.

    “[It was] very, very tough indeed, but [I’m] glad it’s over [I’m] going to go and have a beer now.”
    Stoicism or toxic masculinity?

    It’s not really an either/or thing: one of the issues with enforced masculinity is that it pressure men into being stoic when it really doesn’t serve their interests; when they’d be better off reaching out for help in some way. In cases where men don’t really need help, it’s sort of impossible for stoicism to be an example of toxic masculinity.

    But I agree with MM: it doesn’t really seem like he’s being stoic, self destructively or otherwise. Glad for reprieve and attempting to move forward seems about right.

  39. StillGjenganger says

    Well that’s distressing, though how the hell any judge recognizes that as agreement is boggling.

    On the contrary, he could not do anything else. Society considers circumcision a minor, harmless procedure, well within the power of parents to decide on. You strongly disagree (I do not, as it happens), but you are in a minority on this. Meanwhile we have agreed rules and procedures for deciding custody of children, and for making and enforcing parenting plans when parents are divorced and fighting. It would be a disaster if anyone was free to kidnap their child away from the agreed guardian whenever they felt strongly enough about some issue. The job of the judge is to solve the problem at hand, which is the argument about which parent gets to decide, in accordance with the generally accepted norms, which say that circumcision is a perfectly acceptable procedure. Try to change the rules, by all means, but meanwhile let us deal with urgent cases by applying the rules as they are.

  40. Jacob Schmidt says

    Society considers circumcision a minor, harmless procedure, well within the power of parents to decide on. You strongly disagree (I do not, as it happens), but you are in a minority on this. Meanwhile we have agreed rules and procedures for deciding custody of children, and for making and enforcing parenting plans when parents are divorced and fighting.

    You’ve mis-characterized my opinion on circumcision and seem to be addressing an argument I neither made nor implied.

    I believe you are confused.

  41. StillGjenganger says

    @Jacob 43

    I believe you are confused.

    Would not surprise me. I thought you were saying that circumcision is NOT a harmless procedure that parents have the right to decide on, and that the judge was wrong to recognise the parenting agreement as valid. If you think it is worth it, please clarify what you meant instead.

  42. says

    18 proudmra says
    May 20, 2015 at 4:40 pm
    The poor, confused radical feminists are now in the awkward position of having to support an anti-circumcision protest… despite having NEVER cared about circumcision before, and actively resenting and opposing any attempts to discuss it!
    So what’s got their begrudging attention focus on it now? The fact that a mother is using the issue to deny custody to a father, which is something else they’re obligated to strongly support! (In the name of “equality,” of course.) Funny stuff.

    No it isn’t, and why is she using it to deny custody? It is actually possible for a woman to support our right to penile integrity.

    Usually I’m anti SJW and sympathetic to MRA causes even making some of them my own but you sir seem upset that this father is being denied the right to harm his child because a WOMAN is denying him this right.

    That said I have seen feminists pro circumcision (apparently not having a foreskin makes it harder to rape) and anti circumcision but more pro

    39 Holms says
    MRAs are the only group that consistently reject this barbaric practice.
    YEAH!! Oh and feminists.

    Feminism doesn’t seem to be the defining feature of the anti circumcision opinion though I have no doubt that there are feminists out there who do oppose it but I feel this a little dishonest.

    Hello Mildly Magnificent, I don’t always agree with you but I have found your writing style so disarming that I actually look forward to interacting with you in future, I believe you may actually teach me something one day and I will not find the experience unpleasant.

    Ally, been lurking on your blog for a while, disagree with you on many things but I am so relieved to see someone talking about men’s issues who isn’t a right wing extremist. I don’t have a very high opinion of PZ Meyers mainly over the believe women without question narrative (I don’t afford it to men so why would I afford it to women) but credit to him for weighing in in your defence.

    Keep up the good work

  43. johngreg says

    Danny Butts said:

    In fact, its the likes of the slyme pit’s posting on his blog and here …

    Except, we don’t post on PZ’s blog. And if one of us does somehow succeed in sneaking through, he deletes the comments en masse.

    Pit people are not allowed on Pharyngula. Whenever he can, PZ pre-bans anyone who he even suspects is a Pit person. He has even proudly posted about doing so.

    Whether you like it, or us, or not, is irrelevant, but at least Ally has enough intellectual integrity to allow dissenting opinion and commenters with whom he may disagree to comment on his blog. You may also disagree with freedom of speech and expression, but, happily, Ally, for the most part, does not.

  44. Marduk says

    There isn’t really a feminist view on circumcision, there are feminists that go either way.

    The battle lines are bodily integrity vs. sexual health statistics (that I don’t even begin to buy and I think you’d find the same alleged statistical “benefits” for any kind of mutilation actually, e.g., people without fingers suffer fewer nosebleeds).

    Further complications are added by (a) religious aspects esp. re: Judaism (b) fears of “competition” with FGM (c) in the US at least where its more common, women actually have aesthetic opinions about it that they struggle to keep out of their thought on the subject (a particularly strange and creepy thing to the outsider but there it is, contrast this widespread acceptance that there is nothing wrong with women having strong views on this to the point of having their own sons cut with the hysteria about labial plastic surgery that most men have no particular views on. There is no contest but you’ll never see the former even questioned).

    What I will note is that, and this is far from the only example, arguments about the primacy of “lived experience” can apparently be suspended when that lived experience is a male one. Its remarkable how many feminists believe they know all there is to know about being the owner-operator of a cock and certainly its not worth even considering asking a guy for a bit of an input.

  45. Jacob Schmidt says

    Hello Mildly Magnificent, I don’t always agree with you but I have found your writing style so disarming that I actually look forward to interacting with you in future, I believe you may actually teach me something one day and I will not find the experience unpleasant.

    MM’s ‘nym is a massive understatement.

    I thought you were saying that circumcision is NOT a harmless procedure that parents have the right to decide on, and that the judge was wrong to recognise the parenting agreement as valid. If you think it is worth it, please clarify what you meant instead.

    I think you read “recognize that agreement” instead of “recognize that [i.e. the mother’s acquiescence] as agreement.”

    From the news source Avern linked: “Thirty-one-year-old Heather Hironimus signed paperwork Friday to allow the procedure to go forward and facilitate her release.

    She was under threat of more jail time if she didn’t acquiesce. At best, that’s bribery; at worst that’s coercion (and given how hard she’s fought until now, coercion of an exhausted woman seems like the closest fit). I think it’s silly to legally recognize that as the mother agreeing; whether the judge should have recognized the agreement (i.e. the plan both parents originally agreed to) in the first place is another question.

    On that other question: when the mother originally fought the initial agreement, I do think it was wrong to recognize the agreement as still valid. Parenting agreements are subject to the best interests of the child, and when the procedure has no justification but to satisfy the father’s own preferences, after the father lied about the necessity of the procedure; when the child is reportedly scared of the procedure and doesn’t want it (perhaps rightfully so, as circumcision of young boys isn’t as minor a procedure as circumcision of infant boys); I think one has enough justification to say the procedure is not in the child’s best interest, particularly when the best argument for circumcision is “it usually doesn’t cause permanent damage.”

    Onto to whether parents should be allowed to circumcise even infants: yes, I’m against, for much the same reason as I’m against tattooing the parent’s initials onto their babies genitals.* The statement, “circumcision is NOT a harmless procedure” is something of an oversimplification, as what we’re essentially playing is a numbers game. It’s true that most circumcisions don’t result in medical problems. It’s also true that circumcised men are usually just as satisfied sexually as uncircumcised men. For what it’s worth, men who have experienced both (or so it’s been claimed; I will be tentative until I see the studies, but such a result is intuitive given the function of a foreskin) tend to prefer non-circumcision to circumcision, so the equality in sexual satisfaction might be a “they don’t know what they’re missing” sort of thing; still, the satisfaction is generally equal. The statement “circumcision is a harmless procedure” is one with which I almost agree (or at least I don’t disagree vociferously).

    But the key words here are “most,” “usually,” and “generally.” It’s not a risk free procedure (in fact, I think the risks are substantive, if minor overall), and it has no purpose beyond the satisfaction of the parents. It’s also permanent, and the child has no say in whether it occurs. We don’t allow teenagers to get tattoos, even minor tattoos; we definitely don’t allow parents to get their children tattoos. The risks of getting a tattoo and the permanence of it are sufficient in those cases. The same should be true of circumcision.

    * The common ‘gotcha’ question in response to anti-circumcisions is ‘well, are you against piercing infant’s ears?’

    My answer to that ‘gotcha’ question: In principle, yes. In practice, I won’t get upset about it. I would prefer that we hold ourselves to rigorous standards on issues regarding consent and control over one’s own body, and would prefer that we draw the line firmly with some distance from ‘moral grey areas,’ as I don’t trust humans to consistently pick the right side in a morally ambiguous dilemma. Ear piercings, though, are pretty trivial (there’s no possible loss of function; they look just like un-pierced ears when the earrings are out, etc) , and most people recognize that, so I won’t lecture people when they pierce their kid’s ears (so long as their kid is an infant, or actually wants them pierced).

  46. Jacob Schmidt says

    that I don’t even begin to buy and I think you’d find the same alleged statistical “benefits” for any kind of mutilation actually, e.g., people without fingers suffer fewer nosebleeds

    I don’t think that’s a useful comparison. Adjusting to life without a foreskin is probably way easier than adjusting to life without fingers. If circumcision actually did protect against e.g. AIDS, that would be a pretty viable tradeoff, especially in an area where AIDS is a significant threat to much of the population.

    I mean, it probably doesn’t protect against AIDS, but if it did that would be valuable information and would imply a simple, easy pre-emptive safety measure against a dangerous threat; something that wouldn’t be true of learning that chopping one’s fingers off lessens nosebleeds.

  47. StillGjenganger says

    @Jacob Schmidt

    I think you read “recognize that agreement” instead of “recognize that [i.e. the mother’s acquiescence] as agreement.”

    Correct

    On infant circumcision generally, yours is an eminently fair and reasonable presentation of the issues – even if my conclusion is different from yours. My only quibble is with the point about sexual satisfaction. As it happens I have ‘tried both’ and saw no difference whatsoever. More importantly, it will never be possible to establish a small difference in sexual satisfaction reliably. ‘Cut’ and ‘uncut’ will always be separated by a significant wait, an operation, and a lot of mental issues will be different. A difference would have to be quite significant to establish reliably beyond mental effects and researcher bias (in a very polarised ideological field).

    On the original agreement, the best interests of the child only come into it if you take for granted that circumcision per se is against those interests. If it is a normal, acceptable choice parents make (as society considers it to be), it is a judgement call that it is up to the parents, not the judge, to make. Compare if the dispute was that the father wanted to send the child to boarding school and the mother objected. You would not have the judge make an independent assessment of which school HE thought would be more suitable, just of who had the right to decide.

    As for the judge accepting the mother’s agreement as agreement, well of course he should. At a guess every single plea bargain and settlement of a civil suit are done under duress. If you stick to what people feel like doing, there would never be agreement on anything. Besides, the mother was in prison for trying to sabotage the decision of the court. Her agreement to stop doing so was a condition of letting her out. If that is not good enough, should she have been kept in prison?

  48. StillGjenganger says

    The battle lines are bodily integrity vs. sexual health statistics

    Not really – given that the main reason for circumcision is not the health benefits. The battle lines are the importance of culture and group identity v. health risk, and the question of what parents are or are not allowed to decide on their children’s behalf.

  49. Holms says

    # 45 Christopher Moore
    Feminism doesn’t seem to be the defining feature of the anti circumcision opinion though I have no doubt that there are feminists out there who do oppose it but I feel this a little dishonest.

    I would suggest you are making the mistake of taking the further fringe as the norm. Should I return the favour by assuming these arseholes to be representative of all MRAs? At any rate, the FTB blogs are very much pro bodily autonomy and hence anti-circumcision (except where medically indicated), and they are quite feminist-leaning here.

    ___
    #46 JG
    Except, we don’t post on PZ’s blog. And if one of us does somehow succeed in sneaking through, he deletes the comments en masse.

    Pit people are not allowed on Pharyngula. Whenever he can, PZ pre-bans anyone who he even suspects is a Pit person. He has even proudly posted about doing so.

    Q: If you guys never comment there, how could there be any comments from you guys for him to delete at all?
    A: Because some of you guys do post there, if infrequently.

  50. polishsalami says

    Holms #52:
    Slymepitters are an unpleasant reminder of Myers’ pre-SJW days palling around with people like Pat Condell. ScienceBlogs Myers has to go down the Memory Hole with all the dissenting commentators or his band of sycophantic weirdos will turn on him.

  51. johngreg says

    That’s sophistry Holms, or unnecessary pedantry. My point is clear, and you know it is. You just seem to have so much distaste for me that you feel a sort of visceral need to pounce wherever I appear and try to claim I said something I did not in fact say, even to the point of telling me that I did not in fact mean what I said I meant to say — that’s pure Brony and Hornbeck-stylee that is.

    Just to keep your distemper away, how about this more accurate rewording:

    Almost no Pit people have ever posted on PZ’s blog, and even fewer ever even try now; however, a vanishingly small number of Pit people occasionally try to post there, from time to time, and if one of them does somehow succeed in sneaking through, PZ (or one of his rabid truth police) deletes the comments en masse ASAP.

    The very best example ever of a Pit person posting on Pharyngula was when one of the Pit folk trolled the comments by posting, verbatim and unaltered, comments from PZ himself, which PZ then deleted as being content that was against the rules. Very, very funny stuff that was.

  52. johngreg says

    That’s right, polishsalami: bad PZ before he became pure, i.e., before going clear FTB Stylee.

  53. Marduk says

    @StillGjenganger
    I was talking about what I think they are rhetorically, not what they should be. There is certainly a line of argument that takes the view that “Reduces risks to women, game over, start chopping”. There is also a lot of unhelpful discourse re: FGM which makes out its a competition. As many feminists would have you believe everything is a competition, as if unified views on points of principle isn’t a better thing than minority ownership of an issue.

    Speaking of which, he send, bending the agenda round to an unloved post further up: http://www.politics.co.uk/blogs/2015/05/24/the-left-needs-to-address-the-rise-of-identity-politics

    Thank god someone has finally written it out as calmly and clearly as this:

    “Most depressingly of all, it is a rejection of the power of moral imagination. It turns its back on empathy as a political force. It does not perceive us as people fighting for the rights of others as well as ourselves. In fact, it is a highly capitalistic and right-wing vision of humanity, as self-interested units only capable of improving their own lot.”

  54. lelapaletute says

    Hi Ally – sorry to hear you’ve been dealing with stuff – hope it’s all resolved now and things are good!

    I was interested in the recent story about James Rhodes, and his ex-wife’s attempt to prevent his autobiography coming out via the courts: http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/features/james-rhodes-how-the-pianists-legal-battle-to-stop-the-injunction-of-his-memoirs-showed-him-how-the-law-can-punish-the-innocent-10273617.html

    It seems to me that had he been a woman, the idea that he should not be permitted to talk about his trauma publicly would not even have been countenanced by the legal system. The fact Rhodes’s son was the lynchpin on which the case hung – that it would be too traumatising for him to be made aware of his father’s suffering – seems to speak very directly to an idea of enforced fatherly strength and the societal compulsion for men to model traditional, powerful masculinity to their sons. Or maybe I’m reading too much in, and she just felt the details were too explicit for a child to know? But it certainly seems to me that no-one would question a mother’s right to be open about the abuse she had suffered in the same way. Did anyone else (particularly parents, as I’m not one so lack that perspective) have a view on this?

  55. lelapaletute says

    On the same subject, this quote from the article linked above genuinely made my throat close up and the tears start, thinking about what an unforgivable fucking scourge on society and humanity sexual abuse is, and made me understand exactly WHY it mattered so much to Rhodes to be allowed to publish his book (not that he needs a reason):

    Without my wife Hattie’s support, my brilliant team of lawyers, the overwhelming kindness of close friends and the extraordinary courage of Canongate, I don’t think I would have made it this far. At any stage I could have dropped the book, sold my flat, paid over half a million in legal fees and moved on with the promise that I would never again talk about my past abuse or any aspect of my past and current mental illness. But were I to do that, then they would win. Not just those behind this action. No. Those who rape. The six-foot, 200lb man who for five years pinned me down and half spat, half whispered to me that bad things would happen if I told anyone.

    Well, fuck you. FUCK. YOU.

    I’m going to tell the world. Because you can’t open a newspaper today without yet more vile revelations of the sexual abuse of children on an industrial scale. Because I didn’t do anything wrong. Because there are too many like me who didn’t make it and now can’t talk about it. Because it is not something to be ashamed of. Because, if it took me – with my privilege, famous friends, healthy bank balance, semi-public voice and team of psychiatric experts – over a YEAR to be allowed to speak out; and only then after hearings in the three courts, thousands of emails, 4,000 pages of dense statements and arguments, and hundreds of thousands of pounds, then what kind of chance does someone from Rotherham or Kincora or Rochdale have of ever being heard?

  56. Marduk says

    @lelapaletute

    I don’t think its gendered in the sense its about him. Its only gendered in that a ridiculous injunction was allowed by a bitter ex-wife “think about the children!” that a bitter ex-husband probably wouldn’t have got away with. Its not clear its actually the description of abuse she objected to, rather the stuff about the things he experienced as an adult, particularly his mental health issues.

  57. Holms says

    #53 polishsalami (replying to my #52)
    Slymepitters are an unpleasant reminder of Myers’ pre-SJW days palling around with people like Pat Condell. ScienceBlogs Myers has to go down the Memory Hole with all the dissenting commentators or his band of sycophantic weirdos will turn on him.

    Except those days are not ‘memory-holed’ in the slightest. It is known by most of the commenters over there that he and Brayton split from there primarily because of their different attitudes towards e.g. feminism. This information is not hidden in the slightest, making your Orwellian reference a mischaracterisation.

    ___
    #54 JG
    Almost no Pit people have ever posted on PZ’s blog, and even fewer ever even try now; however, a vanishingly small number of Pit people occasionally try to post there, from time to time, and if one of them does somehow succeed in sneaking through, PZ (or one of his rabid truth police) deletes the comments en masse ASAP.

    Much better without the needless absolute statements. Still, whether we go by this rewording or your original, it remains silly: pit people are not banned merely for being pit people, rather you guys are banned for a long long history of dishonest and hostile argument on a wide range of posts spanning years. Sorry, but you can’t conflate treating you in a manner warranted by your behaviour with free speech.

  58. johngreg says

    Holms said:

    … pit people are not banned merely for being pit people….

    Yes they are, Holms, yes they are.

    PZ has, on several occasions over the last couple of years, quite specifically, unequivocally, and categorically stated that so-and-so is a slymepitter and is therefore now banned, regardless of the comment made by so-and-so, specifically because they are a slymepitter. He has stated in several comment threads that he will even ban his own commentariat and followers if they so much as link to anything said by a slymepitter. If you insist that I am wrong, then that suggests one of two things:

    1. You are far, far less familiar with the general ongoing processes and editorial practices in place on Pharyngula than almost anyone I have encountered on any FTB blog.

    2. You are a liar.

    I find it quite beyond my comprehension to believe that you are truly unaware of the simple basic facts of PZ’s deep and irrational hatred and contempt of anyone from the Pit, and his oft-stated intent to, using his own words, “ban on sight anyone who I suspect is from the slymepit”.

  59. johngreg says

    The Pit is a loose aggregate of slightly less than 1000 people, only about a third of whom are regular commenters/posters, of widely and sometimes wildly varying opinions, ideologies, and politics, who nonetheless feel that SJWs in particular, and Skepchick.org, the A+ forums, and much, though not all, of FTB should be ridiculed and exposed for what most Pit people perceive as mendacity, hypocrisy, and fanatical ideological identity politics, amongst other things.

    As the Pit’s subhead says: “Exposing the stupidity, lies, and hypocrisy of Social Justice Warriors since July 2012.”

    Have a look for your self: _//www.slymepit.com/phpbb/index.php

  60. johngreg says

    Have you spent any time there to peruse even a small portion of the approximately 278,000 posts/comments?

    Or are you just assuming without facts and data??

  61. polishsalami says

    Holms #62:

    There were a multitude of factors behind the creation of FtB, but among them were brand differentiation and money.

    It’s also true that Myers doesn’t seem to get as wound up about Islam as he used to, presumably because his disciples seem to think “Islamophobia” is something that atheists should be worried about. I used the term “Memory Hole” because everybody is supposed to forget that Myers did things like tearing up a K*ran and throwing it in the bin.

    Another factor is the image of atheism in the wider community. The kooky ideas of Steven Pinker, the repulsive and intolerant Jerry Coyne, Richard Dawkins’ Tweets, and a whole heap of other bullshit has lowered the moral and intellectual level of 21st-century atheism. You might expect the “progressive” wing to do better, but PZ Myers is now a laughing stock.

    Instead, the need to create drama clicks to fill Ed Brayton’s Libertarian pockets has turned Myers into a kind of dancing bear, proffering endless ‘takedowns’ and crude attacks to amuse the inmates at his asylum. It’s sad end to a celebrated blogging career; it is, however, entirely of Myers’ own making.

  62. Jacob Schmidt says

    Oh, they’re idiots then.

    Yes.

    Have you spent any time there to peruse even a small portion of the approximately 278,000 posts/comments?

    Yes.

    …pit people are not banned merely for being pit people, rather you guys are banned for a long long history of dishonest and hostile argument on a wide range of posts spanning years.

    This is a distinction without difference, Holms. Pit people are banned qua pit people. The motivation behind that banning really doesn’t matter on this question.

    StillGjenganger

    Suffice to say (for now) I think you are wrong on the law, somewhat wrong (or at least, what you describe is incomplete) on the particulars of the subject, and irrationally attached to tradition and the status quo.

  63. johngreg says

    Ah yes, another powerful, comprehensive, intellectual tour-de-force from J. Schmidt. Are you sure you’re not Avi’s brother?

  64. Jacob Schmidt says

    “Yes” in affirmation of a statement and in answer to a yes/no question is quite sufficient.

  65. Holms says

    #63 JG

    Repeating your assertion does not make it more true. I stand by my rebuttal, and submit a third option: 3. johngreg is ignorant of the reasoning behind the slymepit ban, even though I explained it.

    Interestingly, your quote of PZ saying “ban on sight anyone who I suspect is from the slymepit” does not appear to match any document or comment of PZ’s, and is in fact found only in this thread, stated by …johngreg. And we know you can’t possibly be paraphrasing, because you specified “in his own words” immediately preceding that PZ quote. So, where did he say those words?

    ___
    #68 polishsalami
    It’s also true that Myers doesn’t seem to get as wound up about Islam as he used to, presumably because his disciples seem to think “Islamophobia” is something that atheists should be worried about. I used the term “Memory Hole” because everybody is supposed to forget that Myers did things like tearing up a K*ran and throwing it in the bin.

    You presume incorrectly. It is well known on that blog that Islamophobia is a label thrown around far too readily, often purely as a means of shutting down criticism of muslims. There is also no requirement over there to play nice with Islam (provided it doesn’t get racial), and no requirement to ‘forget’ past criticisms. I’m baffled as to how you came to that impression, but it gets worse:

    Instead, the need to create drama clicks to fill Ed Brayton’s Libertarian pockets has turned Myers into a kind of dancing bear, proffering endless ‘takedowns’ and crude attacks to amuse the inmates at his asylum. It’s sad end to a celebrated blogging career; it is, however, entirely of Myers’ own making.

    WTF?? Brayton isn’t a libertarian, he’s a progressive just as much as PZ. This leads me to believe you barely read either blog.

    ___
    #70 Jacob Schmidt
    This is a distinction without difference, Holms. Pit people are banned qua pit people. The motivation behind that banning really doesn’t matter on this question.

    I disagree, the distinction is highly relevant as it means the ban is not arbitrary, they are not banned purely because ‘omg slymepit’ but is instead based on prior conduct and hence, in my view at least, entirely reasonable.

  66. johngreg says

    Holms, I may have misquoted, woe is me, although I was quite sure he had said exactly that at some time. Mind you, with all the deletions he does of anything and everything, it’s pretty hard to know for sure what he, or anyone, ever did really say or not say. That is of course part of his MO: do not, whatever you do, leave a trail. Anyway, we all make mistakes. In the meantime, here’s some links for you to clarify PZ’s position on Pit bannage (I’ve removed the https stuff in case of auto block for links):

    1. _://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2015/04/08/start-acting-whiter/comment-page-1/#comment-930289
    2. _://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2015/04/11/blockbot-argle-bargle-waaaah-waaaah-waaaaaaaah/comment-page-1/#comment-931689
    3. _://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2013/03/22/adria-richards-did-everything-exactly-right/comment-page-3/#comment-587363
    4. _://web.archive.org/web/20150129013104/http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2012/12/21/an-experiment-why-do-you-despise-feminism/comment-page-1/#comment-518836

    As listed on PZ’s erstwhile bannage list — the long-gone dungeon listings — some Pit people, such as rayshul, have never even posted on Pharyngula at all, but are nonetheless on PZ’s ban list. Mind you, since PZ removed that list, because it didn’t tally with his claims to not actually having such a list, it is rather difficult to prove. As I said, that’s one of the reasons PZ deletes his banned people’s posts/comments, so they cannot prove that they did not in fact do/say what he claimed they did/said.

    This just in: there is an oldish sort of list that does list some Pit people who PZ banned, including some who have nonetheless never posted/commented on his blog: _//pharyngula.wikia.com/wiki/Slimepit. Some of the individuals on that list are not even Pit members.

  67. Carnation says

    @JohnGreg

    Any blog that touts itself as “exposing … Social Justice Warriors” will be frequented by idiots. The only people that deem “Social Justice Warriors” as a malevolence that needs”exposing” are deluded.

    It’s a constant source of amusement to me that those quick to condemn people or collectives as “cultural Marxists” themselves fit the description far more accurately.

  68. Ally Fogg says

    OK folks, here’s the deal…

    I don’t have much time to moderate this blog at the moment but would like to leave this thread open for your discussions, both for your interest and mine.

    However, as we have been over many times in the past, I do not provide this comment section as a back door for people who have grudges against my fellow bloggers here at FTB to slag them off in their own backyard.

    I really have neither time nor emotional energy to devote to worrying about whether you lot are being fair, reasonable and legal or not, therefore any further discussion that goes over such grounds (including attacks on the Slymepit and anyone associated with it) and I won’t fuck about, I’ll just switch off comments until further notice.

    I hope this is clear enough for everyone.

  69. Ally Fogg says

    Jesus Fucking Christ on a bike, how ignorant and obnoxious do you have to be to read the comment from me above and IMMEDIATELY ignore it and continue to spout your shite?

    This ^ ^ ^ ignorant and obnoxious, apparently.

    Anyway, I’ll be generous enough to trust that the rest of you can take the hint, and in the meantime p0lishsalami is instantly banned on grounds of cuntishness of the highest order.

  70. Holms says

    So, about this FIFA stuff… been sorta-known for years, nice to see something actually happen about it. Next stop: getting the guy in charge.

  71. David S says

    And then replacing him with someone better. It looks like the sort of situation where anyone who actually wants the job should be automatically disqualified.

  72. WhineyM. says

    Psst btw, Ally, weird as it might seem, I would add my voice to those expressing sympathy if there any difficult situations at home.
    FWIW, I think even amongst a certain subsection of the online commentariat such as me and QRG for whom trying to take apart your ideas and arguments can seem like a bit of a blood-sport at times, there’s still an underlying liking for you as a personality and admiration for your abilities as a writer. (Just aspect of your politics which can be bluddy infuriating!) 🙂

    Anyway things are looking a bit grim in the world of gender at the moment: the WEP getting tons of unquestioning coverage & can’t believe that Yvette Cooper might even be leader of the Labour party, what a total nightmare that would be!

  73. WhineyM. says

    Oh look, quelle surprise, the new parliament continues where it left off with a brand new Women and Equalities Committee to evaluate injustices in our society. Governments come and governments go, but gender feminism and neo-liberal economics remain a constant. Why is this?

  74. Marduk says

    That is annoying. Why did they have to call it that?

    “Its remit goes well beyond questions of gender balance”

    Its remit does not even include gender balance! Stay tuned for tiresome arguments from TERFs about how its remit doesn’t cover the TS community either.

    In any case, the most important issue in this country, baked into our history, is class but that isn’t on the agenda. Its far more important to work out why Harriet Harman is a victim and dead tramp lying in a ditch is her oppressor. Its like if the US had an equalities committee that had nothing to say about race or native peoples.

  75. Marduk says

    The column makes a reasonable point actually. Its very buffered because the columnist doesn’t want to supply the ammunition and the punchlines in case they get ignored! Some of the people who want to be involved are going to have to step down to let a more diverse group in. If it is the current ‘crew’, its going to very white, very middle class and straight. The consequence would be “political wing of Mumsnet”, “reunion of the St Hilda’s JCR committee of 1992”, “Today it was hockey sticks at dawn as the WEC met to discuss…” etc etc. Question is what politician would ever sacrifice themselves for the greater good like that?

  76. Marduk says

    On off-topic thing that amused me:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3116238/Bonnie-Greer-leaves-post-head-Bronte-Society-following-overhaul-ruling-council.html

    “In suitably dramatic fashion writer Bonnie Greer has quit as President of one of the world’s oldest literary societies amidst an unseemly feud.”

    “The row has been simmering since the sudden departure of executive director Ann Sumner – who wanted to work more closely with the village but lasted only 16 months in the top job.
    Last year’s new Chairman Christine Went quit after only 28 days in protest at a failed coup by The Modernists to appoint committee members with boardroom experience in charity work.”

    “It also recommended healing the growing rift with the local village – and among its own ranks.”

    Haha. Who’d have thought the Bronte Society would be virtually ungovernable owing to its overly passionate and headstrong membership? Probably the same person who’d guess the Austen society are very polite to each other in public but privately indulge in cruel witticisms…as any member of the Sherlock Holmes society would have already deduced.

    Lets just hope nobody comes home to find an angry Bronte Society rival has decided to swindle their brother-in-law, execute their dog and be mean to their heirs (while smouldering dangerously obvs).

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