Circumcision deaths are a legalized non-scandal

Kudos to the Times for reporting on the recent ultra-Orthodox sex abuse scandal. Here’s the NYT‘s latest:

The district attorney, Charles J. Hynes, alleged that the [four] men were part of an effort to protect a prominent member of the Satmar Hasidic community, Nechemya Weberman, who has been accused of 88 counts of sexual misconduct, including oral sex with a child younger than 13 years old.

It’s a travesty if the allegations are true. And yet, a routine violation of children inside the ultra-Orthodox community slides by with zero accountability. In the Daily Beast, Kent Sepkowitz writes, “Circumcision’s Deadly Fault Line: Rationality vs. the Metzitzah B’Peh” (emphasis mine):

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention just reported a fatal transmission of herpes from an infected ritual circumciser, or mohel, to an eight-day-old baby apparently related to a practice performed in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community called metzitzah b’peh.

What, you ask, is metzitzah b’peh? According to the CDC, it refers to the ritual when a mohel “places his mouth directly on the newly circumcised penis and sucks blood away from the circumcision wound (direct orogenital suction).”

The transmission of herpes is thought to occur when the mohel, with or without a visible oral herpes sore (herpes is well-known to be transmissible even in the absence of a visible sore), touches his lips to the infant’s newly cut skin—a golden and tragic opportunity for herpes or any infection to enter the bloodstream. The immune system of the infant is far too immature to handle much of anything and some babies are quickly overwhelmed. In the CDC series, infants in two of 11 cases gathered over the last decade died and others were left with long-term neurologic disabilities.

This is legal, repeat, legal to perform in this country.

Let’s review the relevant legal principles:

- The only body part of a child that may be legally amputated without medical necessity and without the consent of the child is the foreskin of the male;

- The one and only time it is legally permissible to perform oral-genital contact on a non-consenting minor is immediately after amputating a male’s foreskin;

- If anyone were to even prick a drop of blood from a non-consenting female minor’s genitalia (much less amputate part of the genitalia) – or put his/her mouth onto the female minor’s genitalia – they would face felony charges.

The NYT previously reported on the metzitzah b’peh-related deaths two weeks ago:

New York City health officials proposed on Tuesday that Orthodox Jewish parents be required to sign a consent waiver before they can take part in a circumcision ritual that is believed to have led to the deaths of at least two babies in the city over the past decade….

Among the more than 250,000 ultra-Orthodox Jews in the New York area, the ritual remains commonplace. In its study, the C.D.C. estimated that roughly 3,600 newborn boys a year in New York had circumcisions that included the procedure…. Ultra-Orthodox authorities have strongly defended the practice as a religious right. Some rabbis argue that there is not enough evidence to show that the procedure causes infection, while others say the practice is important enough that it should be continued anyway.

Here’s how the New York public health department reacted to the metzitzah b’peh-related deaths:

The city’s health department issued a statement last week strongly urging that direct oral-genital suction not be performed during circumcision.

A statement? Strongly urging? That and $12 will buy you a Manischewitz bottle to drink yourself into oblivion at the next Bris.

Here’s what the Canadian Children’s Rights Council has to say about circumcision:

It is the position of the Canadian Children’s Rights Council that “circumcision” of male or female children is genital mutilation… There is no medical benefit to the routine genital mutilation (circumcision) of any children. Further, all Canadian children, both male and female, should be protected by the criminal laws of Canada with regards to this aggravated assault. Currently, the protection provided by the Criminal Code of Canada includes only genital mutilation (circumcision) of female children.

Not only is metzitzah b’peh a violation, so is forced circumcision of any kind. Should not all unnecessary, harmful amputation of genitalia be illegal regardless of gender? Do not males deserve equal protection?

On the question of religious freedom, Sepkowitz writes:

Perhaps the only thing more intensely held than a person’s religious beliefs is a guy’s thoughts about his [penis]. It is just about all we think about. Given this, how completely and bizarrely ridiculous it is that men, millions and millions of men, that brutal tribe that spends all day thinking about it, worrying about it, protecting it, comparing it, agree to give up their foreskin and even that of their sons to the cold blade. That’s the point though—it is the ultimate leap of faith. The church-and-state issue remains unresolved…

If a consenting adult wishes to give up his foreskin to the cold blade, let him; this is indeed his right. If a consenting adult wishes to allow someone to then suck blood out of the wound, let him; this is also his right.

But the aforementioned adult’s religious rights should end where his child’s body begins. It’s my body, it’s my foreskin, shouldn’t the choice have been mine?

For parents who wish to practice a religious form of welcoming a child into the world without harming him, try Brit Shalom. See more on Jewish opposition to circumcision here and here, and secular opposition here and here.

Posted in American Jewish Community | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

{ 398 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. tokyobk says:

    Most mohels use a glass straw.
    what does this have to do with the Middle East, Israel or Palestine?
    The only connections I can see here are the similar kind made over at Jihad Watch.

    • Shmuel says:

      what does this have to do with the Middle East, Israel or Palestine?

      I agree. I don’t think this is an appropriate venue for this kind of piece. At the very least, I think the photo and caption should be removed.

      • edwin says:

        Israel is based on the notion that Jews, collectively, have rights, but Jews as individuals must give up rights for the greater good of the collective. Circumcision helps to normalize this type of view both in Judaism and Islam, (and currently an attempt to expand it through out all of Africa.) To challenge circumcision is to challenge the notion that the individual must subordinate themselves to the majority. It is to insist that rights belong to the individual, not to the collective.

        I support Palestinian rights as an individual initiative. It is for each individual Palestinian, not for Palestinians as a collective. I am not beholden to the policies of Hamas or any other governmental or quasi-governmental body.

        Circumcision of newborn babies is the identical formulation. An operation is performed for religious or cultural reasons with the individual having no say in it at all. It violates all medical ethics.

        As with any operation there are risks, including death. This is amplified when an operation is performed on a newborn child.

        My impression of the anti-circumcision movement is that the mainstay has been the medical community. Here is a site that may be of interest. link to circumstitions.com

      • Took down the photo, thanks Shmuel.

      • Mooser says:

        “I think the photo and caption should be removed.”

        I can’t help wondering if Shmuel very sensibly suggested that the photo might leave Mondo open to child porn charges, pressed by those who have nothing to be ashamed of!

    • To tokyobk, and others who question why I posted this piece:

      Co-editor Philip Weiss opened the door to critical commentary about the American Jewish community broadly, on topics other than just Israel/Palestine. For example, please see his post about the ultra-Orthodox sex scandal:

      link to mondoweiss.net

      Phil wrote:

      It struck me that night that because of the Catholic church scandal and its sequels, our society is experiencing an awakening. We are uncovering important new terrain of man’s inhumanity to man. The truth is that sexual abuse has gone on everywhere, in countless institutions where children and power intersect. The discovery of these horrors is now widespread and imperative, and it will make society better. That is why I jumped on the Ultra Orthodox story yesterday.

      Couldn’t have said it better. Discovering the horrors of circumcision, and outlawing this shameful and destructive practice, will benefit society.

      Why I’m focusing on the Jewish angle:
      As a Jew, I feel responsible to challenge Jewish practices that are harmful. As I wrote in the article – and as the Canadian Children Right’s Council has stated – circumcision of non-consenting minors is wrong no matter what religious or cultural context. If I was a Muslim, I would be posting this article to a Muslim-originated blog, and I would link it to a video of a Muslim circumcision. But since I am a Jew, I am posting it here, on a site that criticizes aspects of the American Jewish community for the sake of bettering it!

      To all commenters
      As of 2:11AM PST on June 25th, not one of the seven comments thus far has expressed a drop of shock, moral outrage, or indignation at the practice of exposing infant males to death, as documented in my post. Again, the question: why is this obvious scandal such a non-scandal, not only in the American Jewish community and the mainstream media, but for readers of this blog? Are the lives of male babies truly that worthless? Why are the practices cited in this article legalized when performed on male infants, whereas these practices are illegal when performed on female infants? Shouldn’t that change, so that both males and females are protected by the law?

      • As of 2:11AM PST on June 25th, not one of the seven comments thus far has expressed a drop of shock, moral outrage, or indignation at the practice of exposing infant males to death, as documented in my post.

        Speaking as a non-jew and a non-muslim, I am uncomfortable making a comment about a jewish religious practice or a muslim one. That is not to say that I don’t have an opinion.

        The closest analogy that comes to mind would be taking a side on abortion issues. A significant portion of this country believes that it is an issue about the right of a woman to her body. An equally significant portion of this country believe that it is an issue about extinguishing a nascent life. Both sides are passionate, and both sides believe the other is barbarian and what they support is disgusting. I can sympathize with the beliefs of both sides.

        From the perspective of one culture, the practices of another can seem barbaric. I can probably list practices of many cultures in this world that would make me squirm.

        Now, if what you are saying is that this is a jewish conversation about a practice in Judaism, then you have already eliminated me (happily) from the discussion as well as many others on this blog. Then, the lack of response is not surprising.

      • Taxi says:

        I agree with Mathew Taylor – everything grotesque and sadistic and enforced ritualistically upon a person underage or overage in the name of a desert or mountain religion should be exposed for what it is: archaic, bloody and inhumane.

        I mean honestly people, what kinda god is appeased by the offering of hacked off foreskin?!!

        • seafoid says:

          Taxi

          You could bring a Halakhic infraction onto everyone who posts here so stoppit. The spiritual influence is already very weak,.

          link to haaretz.com

          “In February 2011, a rabbinical ruling by top Haredi rabbis forbade volunteering for MDA. “It is forbidden to volunteer for the organization, not even for the purpose of saving lives,” the ruling said. “Volunteering could, God forbid, lead to severe [Halakhic] infractions among the general leadership and the spiritual influence,” the ruling stated. “

        • Taxi says:

          Ok I’ll “stoppit”. God willing, inshallahahaha!

        • Mooser says:

          “I mean honestly people, what kinda god is appeased by the offering of hacked off foreskin?!!”

          He must be one hell of a hard-boiled Diety. You give the Guy your foreskin and He’s merely “appeased”? Wow, that’s tough! I bet it costs an arm and a leg to get into heaven. I hope it’s worth it.

        • German Lefty says:

          @ Taxi:
          I mean honestly people, what kinda god is appeased by the offering of hacked off foreskin?!!
          Right. Also, according to Genesis “God created man in his own image”. So why do religious people destroy this image by physical mutilation? If God wanted men to be without foreskin, he would have made them without foreskin.

      • tokyobk says:

        Matthew,

        It is and has ben a scandal for people who actually know about the subject. Most mohelim use a glass tube.

        Both male and female circumcision are involuntary, its true. Male circumcision on no way impairs the sexual enjoyment of the eventual adult. Many Jews and non Jews are circumcised in hospitals. There seem to be hygiene benefits and lower transmission of disease. Female circumcision, with no health benefit and ofter infections, is done to prevent the woman from having sexual urges and orgasm as an adult, making her easier transferred property. I see that as a huge difference. Perhaps you don’t.

        Finally, sure lets make actual mouth transmission illegal, if that is your “Hamas Charter” litmus test here.

        • edwin says:

          Male circumcision on no way impairs the sexual enjoyment of the eventual adult.

          You are randomly guessing. Imagining that evolution would create a unique structure to the human body and provide it with 50% of the skin of the penis and give it no function is astounding.

          If you want to know the function of the foreskin – you can go here.

          link to circumstitions.com

          There seem to be hygiene benefits and lower transmission of disease. Female circumcision, with no health benefit and ofter infections, is done to prevent the woman from having sexual urges and orgasm as an adult, making her easier transferred property.

          In fact Dr. Kellog and other early doctors used circumcision to prevent masturbation. In this case, anesthesia was not used as the pain of the operation was considered to be a bonus.

          Dr. Hatem al-Haj, PhD, MD, a senior committee member of the Association of Muslim Jurists of America (AMJA), has recently published a 41-page Arabic-language paper titled “Circumcision of Girls: Jurisprudence and Medicine.”

          Modern circumcision of women is more and more being justified by male circumcision, and is sometimes performed with the identical operation as with males – removal of the foreskin.

          The question is would the western universities be willing to conduct impartial studies to look for the possible benefits of female circumcision? And until the westerners had well structured and done studies on the benefits and harms of the removal of the female prepuce (AKA clitoral hood) which is analogous to the male prepuce commonly cut in the widely practiced male circumcision in the west, until they have done that, all of their propaganda about female circumcision is no more than bigotry. Once they have impartially studied the matter, they may then address the issue intelligibly. Then, we may listen to what they have to say, and reserve the right to choose for ourselves what we elect to espouse.

          I believe that the part that needs to be removed in female circumcision is that which corresponds to the foreskin in the male, and that is called “the clitoral hood”. It was noticed that the same harmful smegma that accumulates under the foreskin of male infants does accumulate under the clitoral hood of the female.

          link to circumstitionsnews.blogspot.co.nz

          The health benefits of circumcision are quite debatable with an amazing list of diseases listed that circumcision cures. There is a simple operation that can be performed on baby girls that would solve one of the major diseases that women get. We could remove the breast buds from all baby girls. Is that acceptable?

          Here are some of the diseases circumcision “cures”:

          “spermatorrhoea”
          Masturbation
          syphilis
          paralysis
          epilepsy
          homicidal rage
          diarrhoea
          irritated the nervous system which hampers digestion
          phimosis and hence masturbation
          cancer of the penis
          smegma causes cervical cancer
          aids
          spina bifida

          When you talk of the benefits of circumcision, which diseases are you referring to – or perhaps you have some others to add to the list?

          It is fairly easy to document that the US has a higher rate of circumcision and a higher rate of diseases like aids compared to other western countries in general and Europe in particular. Disease rates for aids for circumcised and uncircumcised males are known for several African countries. The results are all over the place and do not show that circumcision prevents aids.

          Circumcision does siphon money from all other areas of heal care in Africa causing problems for emergency health procedures like caesarians.

        • familypenis says:

          Jewish women typically have not been circumcised although not for the reasons you may think. In his book “Why Aren’t Jewish Women Circumcised?: Gender and Covenant in Judaism” the author Shaye J. D. Cohen concludes that it is because they are not worthy and bespeaks their exclusion and subordination; their secondary place in the rabbinic hierarchy.

          Some Jewish women are circumcised however:
          “The minority Ethiopian Jewish community (Beta Israel) practice FGM in a non-religious ceremony. It may be performed only by a Jewish woman.
          link to en.wikipedia.org

          And female circumcision is still perfectly legal in Israel. Would you speak out against that practice?

        • Mooser says:

          “Male circumcision on no way impairs the sexual enjoyment of the eventual adult”

          Which one? The man or the woman? Of course, if you want to get sticky about it, you could say it has no effect on the male’s enjoyment. Nope, won’t hinder it one bit.

        • Mooser says:

          “Here are some of the diseases circumcision “cures”

          Gee, maybe it does work! I’ve only really caught one of those diseases!

        • Taxi says:

          @ familypenis,
          Best blogger name on the net!

        • Woody Tanaka says:

          “Male circumcision on no way impairs the sexual enjoyment of the eventual adult.”

          It doesn’t eliminate it, but it most certainly reduces it, as thousand upon thousands of the most sensitive nerve ending are hacked away.

        • “Most mohelim use a glass tube. ”

          Still, that doesn’t make this practice more…palatable..

      • Newclench says:

        You conflated circumcision in general with the far less common, ultra orthodox practice. In doing so, you unite everyone who respects or practices circumcision, with a special focus on Jews, thus helping to protect the ultras. At the same time you expose this site to a serious charge of antisemitism. Finally, you come off as sounding like the existence of legal circumcision leads to the death of babies, which comes awful close to saying that primitive Jewish rites kill babies. That’s a blood libel, wholly unjustified by the facts.
        You also make your other work so much easier to dismiss. Expect references to your book to include critics referring to this post and your opposition to Jewish ritual as part of your motives for Palestinian solidarity.
        Gol atzmi if there ever was one. For you and this site.

        • Taxi says:

          Newclench,
          Regarding the hygiene angle: come on now, if you’re a dirty slob you’re gonna stink nasty of bacterias if you’re circumcised or not! The hygiene angle is a really pathetic excuse to trim down someone’s genitals.

        • Mooser says:

          ” Expect references to your book to include critics referring to this post and your opposition to Jewish ritual as part of your motives for Palestinian solidarity.”

          Getting a little crowded down there at the bottom of the barrel, What with MJ and Hophmi.

        • Mooser says:

          “You conflated circumcision in general with the far less common, ultra orthodox practice.”

          That’s right Newclench, some Jews are more equal than others.

        • Sumud says:

          At the same time you expose this site to a serious charge of antisemitism. Finally, you come off as sounding like the existence of legal circumcision leads to the death of babies, which comes awful close to saying that primitive Jewish rites kill babies. That’s a blood libel, wholly unjustified by the facts.

          Stop being ridiculous Newclench.

        • Mooser says:

          “At the same time you expose this site to a serious charge of antisemitism” “Stop being ridiculous Newclench.

          Yeah Sumud, you’re being ridiculous. After all, Newclench knows there will be (“serious”) charges of antisemitism against the site. He intends to make them himself, before the thread is over.

      • American says:

        “not one of the seven comments thus far has expressed a drop of shock, moral outrage, or indignation at the practice of exposing infant males to death, as documented in my post”…Matt

        Well I though I did in saying what parents would expose their baby to non medical people doing this and saying it should be outlawed.
        But if I wasn ‘t strong enough let me say again this should be outlawed, illegal in the US because exposing even one child “unnecessarily” to any chance of death from this, no matter how small, is too much.
        Call it preforming medical procedures without a license or whatever, they should be prohibited from doing this.

      • Hostage says:

        I agree. I don’t think this is an appropriate venue for this kind of piece.

        There’s a been a drop down menu with “US Politics > American Jewish Community” at the top of the page for ages now.

        Heaven knows that I’ve heard enough lectures about where you can, and where you can’t put “the sign of the Convenant” to last me several lifetimes. In Israel, the religious authorities think nothing at all about enforcing rabbinical laws that prevent Jews from even marrying a Gentile woman. The metzitzah b’peh is a bizarre and dangerous custom that should be defined as a case of chilul Hashem at this point in time, no matter what your position happens to be on the subject of circumcision. It’s not a divine commandment by any stretch of the imagination.

        I see no reason why the government here shouldn’t adopt laws that would prohibit anyone from exposing “the sign” to the risk of deadly infection from some diseased old reprobate as part of a non-obligatory rite.

        I obviously don’t buy the argument that parents have boundless discretion to mutilate the genitals of their children based upon religious myths and superstitions either. The Courts here have appointed guardians ad litem in cases involving much less controversial health issues.

    • Mooser says:

      “Most mohels use a glass straw.”

      Which they “sterilise” and re-use?

  2. ToivoS says:

    This story and many similar ones leave me perplexed. I was born in 1945, not Jewish, and had always assumed that every male was circumcised. My mother was a pediatric nurse in our local hospital and one day came home and mentioned that one their male infants had been circumcised. She also mentioned that permission had not been granted by the baby’s father or mother. This was considered a serious problem for the hospital and my mom said she saved them some serious liabilities by convincing the mother to sign a form agreeing to the circumcision after the fact.

    I was about 16 at the time and I made reference to my own circumcision. She told me then that did you not know but you were never circumcised. That was a shock to me. I was then informed for the first time that I was a “natural” — ie I was born without a foreskin. I guess otherwise it would have been cut off.

    Just one little anecdote. But I have always wondered how common circumcision was among non-Jewish males born in the US during that time and also wondered how freakish it is to congenitally lack a foreskin in the first place.

    • Mooser says:

      “I was then informed for the first time that I was a “natural” — ie I was born without a foreskin.”

      If you google that, all you scoffers, you’ll see that it happens more than you might think. Yes, many males are told they were born without a foreskin.

  3. hophmi says:

    I would like to know what this has to do with the Israel-Palestine conflict. This seems like nothing more than an attempt to pillorize a practice that is common to Jews and Muslims for thousands of years. Why is it important for Mondoweiss to be a forum for Matt Taylor to sound off on circumcision? Does this help the cause? Is Matt prepared to criticize male circumcision in the Muslim world, where it occurs hundreds of times the amount it occurs in the Jewish world?

    This is another manifestation of the antisemitism that pervades this site. The anti-circumcision movement is not mainstream. It is a fringe movement, and Matt Taylor seem like the sort of selfish person who would like to force his view on everyone else. He doesn’t exactly seem willing to admit that maybe, just maybe, his deep depression is based on something other than circumcision, and his claim that this is widespread feeling is anecdotal, not borne out by any evidence he has presented. There is no rash of Jewish men falling into deep depression over circumcision. The notion is, frankly, a little silly.

    I can understand Matt’s inclusion here as a member of Young, Jewish, and Proud. Including (yet another) rant against circumcision, especially focusing as Matt does on the people who do a small percentage of them worldwide, while ignoring the long history of antisemitism connected to condemnations of this practice, is wholly gratuitous.

    • ColinWright says:

      I would like to know what this has to do with the Israel-Palestine conflict. This seems like nothing more than an attempt to pillorize a practice that is common to Jews and Muslims for thousands of years. Why is it important for Mondoweiss to be a forum for Matt Taylor to sound off on circumcision? Does this help the cause? Is Matt prepared to criticize male circumcision in the Muslim world, where it occurs hundreds of times the amount it occurs in the Jewish world?

      I’m inclined to agree.

      This is another manifestation of the antisemitism that pervades this site.

      I’ve only been here briefly, but I think the claim that ‘anti-semitism pervades this site’ is absurd. I’ve only caught one or two fleeting examples of it — and this wouldn’t be one of them. Matt’s complaints about circumcision are legitimate — I just don’t see how they’re relevant. What’s next: a rant about how awful kosher hot dogs taste?

      The anti-circumcision movement is not mainstream. It is a fringe movement, and Matt Taylor seem like the sort of selfish person who would like to force his view on everyone else.

      Yeah here as well. I also agree that Matt’s demands are more worrisome than the practice he objects to. I happen to be circumcised, but if I wasn’t I wouldn’t be too worried that someone was going to come along and forcibly lop off my foreskin. On the other hand, some variation on Matt might decide to interfere with my right to peacefully shoot up the countryside with my assault rifle, or catch, kill, and eat fish, or do any of the other things I do that might not be to everyone’s taste.

      He doesn’t exactly seem willing to admit that maybe, just maybe, his deep depression is based on something other than circumcision, and his claim that this is widespread feeling is anecdotal, not borne out by any evidence he has presented. There is no rash of Jewish men falling into deep depression over circumcision. The notion is, frankly, a little silly.

      Taylor’s outrage does seem a tad overdrawn. ‘….agree to give up their foreskin and even that of their sons to the cold blade. That’s the point though—it is the ultimate leap of faith.’

      We are talking about a scrap of skin here, guys. The ‘ultimate leap of faith’? Don’t you have any real problems? Tax notices from the IRS, at least?

      As I mentioned, I’ve been circumcised, and while I mildly wish it hadn’t happened, it’s not exactly been a source of major trauma. That’s life — you don’t get everything your way.

      I can understand Matt’s inclusion here as a member of Young, Jewish, and Proud. Including (yet another) rant against circumcision, especially focusing as Matt does on the people who do a small percentage of them worldwide, while ignoring the long history of antisemitism connected to condemnations of this practice, is wholly gratuitous.

      There you go again. Now objecting to circumcision is ‘anti-semitic.’

      No it’s not. I wouldn’t have written Matt’s article, and if this was my website, I would have seen it as off-topic, but that doesn’t mean the article and the decision to post it are ‘anti-semitic.’ It just means that Taylor, Weiss, and myself are three different people.

      • tokyobk says:

        Its certainly anti-Judaism.

        The Brit is a central part of the faith.

        Perhaps it could be changed to the ceremony Matthew describes but that would be a Judaism most Jews, even reform, would not recognize.

        • Woody Tanaka says:

          “Its certainly anti-Judaism.”

          “The Brit is a central part of the faith.”

          That you choose to adhere to a barbaric practice does not make opposition to that practice “anti-Judaism”; it’s just opposition to the practice. To the contrary, you are trying to use the fact that your ritual infant genital mutilation is RELIGIOUS ritual infant gential mutilation in order to suggest that oppostion to is is somehow based on that religious content. Unless a person objects to Jews doing it, but has no problem with everyone else doing it, then you simply have to face the fact that you choose to include a barbaric practice in your religion.

        • Mooser says:

          ” but that would be a Judaism most Jews, even reform, would not recognize.”

          Why not? You have no idea how realistic the “stage blood” available at theatrical supply houses is. Nobody would miss an iota of the gratification of the real thing.

        • hophmi says:

          “That you choose to adhere to a barbaric practice does not make opposition to that practice “anti-Judaism”; it’s just opposition to the practice. ”

          Hey man, if you want to discuss barbaric practices in this world, I’m game. There are plenty of them, and circumcision of newborns, widely practiced in this country, is not one of them.

          “To the contrary, you are trying to use the fact that your ritual infant genital mutilation is RELIGIOUS ritual infant gential mutilation in order to suggest that oppostion to is is somehow based on that religious content.”

          Historically, opposition has been religion based, and your terming it barbaric and genital mutilation is just your way of orientalizing a practice you don’t understand and that has no relevance to your life.

          “Unless a person objects to Jews doing it, but has no problem with everyone else doing it, then you simply have to face the fact that you choose to include a barbaric practice in your religion.”

          I see only a protest of the Jewish practice here.

        • Woody Tanaka says:

          “Hey man, if you want to discuss barbaric practices in this world, I’m game.”

          Have at it.

          “There are plenty of them, and circumcision of newborns, widely practiced in this country, is not one of them.”

          Yes, it is. On many levels.

          ‘Historically, opposition has been religion based,…”

          So what? We’re in the here and now, not in the past. And if the people in the past based their opposition on religion, then all we can say is that they were right for the wrong reasons.

          “…and your terming it barbaric and genital mutilation is just your way of orientalizing a practice you don’t understand and that has no relevance to your life.”

          False. I call it barbaric and genital mutilation because 1) it’s barbaric and 2) it is a process whereby the genitals are mutilated. And if standing up for the right of infants to be free of non-necessary surgical procedures and upholding thier right to bodily integrity is “orientalizing” then call it whatever you want. It’s still a barbaric gential mutilation. And it absolutely has relevance to my life, because I believe that society has a duty protect its infants from such abuse.

          “I see only a protest of the Jewish practice here.”

          Then you need to read better. I criticized the practice, explicitly without regard to any religious motivation, or when there is none at all.

        • hophmi says:

          “False. I call it barbaric and genital mutilation because 1) it’s barbaric and 2) it is a process whereby the genitals are mutilated.”

          You’re entitled to your opinion.

          “And it absolutely has relevance to my life, because I believe that society has a duty protect its infants from such abuse.”

          The vast majority of people do not agree with your characterization of the practice. Nor do they agree that the importance of “protecting” infants from this practice outweighs the importance of the First Amendment.

        • Woody Tanaka says:

          “The vast majority of people do not agree with your characterization of the practice.”

          And once the vast majority of people didn’t think there was anything wrong with slavery or think that Jews should be treated the same as Christians. Times change.

          “Nor do they agree that the importance of ‘protecting’ infants from this practice outweighs the importance of the First Amendment.”

          The First Amendment protects your right to believe whatever you want. It’s not a license to maim other people, especially defenseless children.

      • Woody Tanaka says:

        “We are talking about a scrap of skin here, guys.”

        Well, eyelids are just “scraps of skin” too. And like eyelids, foreskin serves a very important protective function, and also contains the most sensitive nerve endings and erotogenic tissue.

        But, even beyond that, children are not property. It is child abuse, plain and simple, to subject children to non-medically necessary surgery, and to inflict gential mutilation on them without their consent. It is a barbarism that should be illegal in every civilized nation. We’ve made female gential mutilation illegal in the US, now it’s time to extend the protection to male babies, too.

      • Mooser says:

        “What’s next: a rant about how awful kosher hot dogs taste?”

        Except that a good kosher frank tastes great! Who on earth doesn’t think so? Show me the man!

      • Mooser says:

        “We are talking about a scrap of skin here, guys.”

        There has got, got to be some emoticons made available here. I need something about three times, no, I need ROTFLMSJAO cubed!

        Rolling on the floor laughing my skinny Jewish ass off! Just a scrap of skin!
        Well, yeah, and IT WAS JUST A POUND OF FLESH, too!

    • Mooser says:

      “There is no rash of Jewish men falling into deep depression over circumcision.”

      Nahh, it’s easy to tell you aren’t excersised one bit about it Hophmi. You are, like, as I said, totally cool with it. Why, you skipped over the post without even a glance. (No pun intended)

    • Hostage says:

      I would like to know what this has to do with the Israel-Palestine conflict.

      There’s a been a drop down menu with “US Politics > American Jewish Community” at the top of the page for ages now and they’ve collecting contributions from people who want to use Mondoweiss to discuss these issues.

      • hophmi says:

        This is not a matter of US Politics or of the American Jewish community. This is matter of radical left-wing politics, which often includes stances against religious practice, whether they are actually bothering anyone or not. It would seem, however, logical, to acknowledge that circumcision is widely practiced, and that the Jewish community constitutes a small percentage of that practice worldwide. It would also be logical to note the hypocrisy here of claiming it’s all about the children, when, in fact, it’s all about mocking religion.

        • Hostage says:

          This is not a matter of US Politics or of the American Jewish community.

          You’re such a dumb ass. The New York Times and Huffington Post say its a matter of US Politics that concerns Jews and Muslims. When voters got enough signatures to put it on the ballot in San Francisco, political action groups took the battle to the California Statehouse:
          *Efforts to Ban Circumcision Gain Traction in California
          link to nytimes.com
          *California: Circumcision on Ballot
          link to nytimes.com
          *California Circumcision Ban Bill Signed By Gov. Jerry Brown: Circumcision Bans Will Not Make The Ballot
          link to huffingtonpost.com

        • Woody Tanaka says:

          “religious practice, whether they are actually bothering anyone or not. ”

          Yeah, well that description doesn’t apply here as hacking off part of a baby’s penis certainly bothers the baby…

    • alec says:

      Hopmi,

      We are talking about infanticide here. Grown men with herpes sticking their mouth on your child’s penis and killing him.

      And it’s happening legally in America. No other religion would get away with a practice like this in the United States.

      Not only that not only are the ultra Orthodox not apologising for these deaths, they promise more of the same. Equal opportunity at last. Not only will we kill Palestinian babies, we’ll murder our own too.

  4. Newclench says:

    Wow. So…. now this site is hosting attacks on circumcision? That represents a certain kind of er, broadening of MW’s agenda. Part of me wants to connect attacks on circumcision to traditional anti-Jewish hatred. But never mind that…. Do you really want to pick a fight with a billion Muslims? For what?
    This gives credence to folks who look for evidence showing that MW crosses the line from vigorous advocacy for Palestinian rights and into a bias against Jews as Jews, regardless of their political position.
    But those folks should take note; far more Muslims that Jews will be offended by efforts to condemn circumcision.
    (The baby cocksucking shit of course is crazytown; but wtf has that got to do with Palestine?)

    • For one thing, Muslim boys are circumcized at age 13, when they can object to it and refuse to undergo the procedure. Hardly the same thing as abusing a newborn.

      For another thing, this has to do with the I/P conflict in that Muslims are consistently demonized for practicing female genital mutilation (which, by the way, is far from common to the whole religious group), while Jews get away with male genital mutilation without the media saying a word. It is true that they also don’t say a word about Muslim MGM, but the procedure is accepted because it’s practiced by Jews, and it would be disingenuous to claim otherwise. This confirms the theory that America overtly favors Jews over Muslims, which is very relevant to the conflict.

      On another note, are some people here crazy or what? From a rational point of view it is unfathomable to allow adults to deform a baby’s body, be it by sticking a piece of carved bone through their nose or by painfully removing their foreskin. The fact that it is our disgusting procedure should not blind us to its barbaric nature.

      • hophmi says:

        “Nahh, it’s easy to tell you aren’t excersised one bit about it Hophmi. You are, like, as I said, totally cool with it. Why, you skipped over the post without even a glance. (No pun intended)”

        I’m not, Mooser. Matt’s language is much more overheated than mine.

        I’m exercised about the fact that on a site that claims up and down that it’s about Israel, Palestine, and the politics of the Middle East, several posts have been given over to someone who has militantly argued that Jews who practice circumcision are barbaric. The fact of the matter is that circumcision is a common practice outside and inside the Jewish community, and of the ritual circumcisions performed in this world, Jews perform a tiny fraction of them. A tiny fraction of the circumcisions Jews perform are done using the oral suction method; most Jews do not use it.

        “For one thing, Muslim boys are circumcized at age 13, when they can object to it and refuse to undergo the procedure. Hardly the same thing as abusing a newborn.”

        Please. It’s a requirement of the religion. The idea that Muslim boys can object is missing the point for purposes of this discussion.

        “For another thing, this has to do with the I/P conflict in that Muslims are consistently demonized for practicing female genital mutilation ”

        Not here, they aren’t. When was the last time there was a Mondoweiss post about FGM? And the comparison, as any FGM activist will probably tell you, is totally ridiculous. FGM is far more linked to subjugation of women than circumcision is. The clitorectomy that characterizes more extreme forms of FGM is extraordinarily painful, far more invasive, and very frequently leads to infection. It is also not exclusively a Muslim practice; nor it is practiced by most Muslims. It’s banned in Egypt, for instance.

        “while Jews get away with male genital mutilation without the media saying a word. ”

        Yeah, it’s a big Zionist-media conspiracy, right? Says the idiot commenting on a post that references NY Times articles about Metzizah B’peh.

        “It is true that they also don’t say a word about Muslim MGM, but the procedure is accepted because it’s practiced by Jews, and it would be disingenuous to claim otherwise.”

        Oh please. The procedure is accepted because it’s been practiced for thousands of years, and because most of the people who circumcize their children in the US are not Jewish.

        • Mooser says:

          “because most of the people who circumcize their children in the US are not Jewish.”

          I know Hophmi. It scares me sometimes. But then again, I can’t think of any doctors getting lynched over calomel, can you? Of course, those non-Jews who circumcise for religious reasons have no one but their parents to blame.
          And don’t you go accusing me of being anti-circumcision, Hophmi! As far as I’m concerned, any adult male (or female) who wants the operation is entitled to get it given informed consent, and of course the usual medical provisos. We can’t be having back-room circumcisions. Not sure where I stand on insurance. And I’m sure, Hophmi, when you and the rest explain all the multi-manifold advantages of circumcision, why, guys will be using fake ID to get ‘em! (eliminates “harmful smegma”!)
          And don’t start with that would-you-bring-home-an-untrimmed-steak-from-the-butcher? to defend infant circumcision. Remember Mrs. Sprat!

        • hophmi says:

          “I’m concerned, any adult male (or female) who wants the operation is entitled to get it given informed consent, and of course the usual medical provisos.”

          Again, if this is your position, why not give children consent over everything parents do that influences their lives?

          As I have said before, on matters like these, society balances the interests. There is no meaningful constituency of people calling for a circumcision ban, outside of the far-left. No law exists forcing people to circumcise their children. Banning neonatal circumcision, a widespread practice that is not harmful, will offend the First Amendment and satisfy only a small community of radicals who want to impose their choice on everyone else.

          I’m curious, again, as to how far this philosophy of coercing people to make decisions on behalf of their children, goes for you.

        • Hostage says:

          I’m exercised about the fact that on a site that claims up and down that it’s about Israel, Palestine, and the politics of the Middle East, several posts have been given over to someone who has militantly argued that Jews who practice circumcision are barbaric.

          Hophmi this site has been displaying categories other than Israel-Palestine and the Middle East for quite a while. You’re showing off your illiteracy again.

        • hophmi says:

          The site is focused on the Israel-Palestine conflict. It’s called “The War of Ideas in the Middle East.” There are comparatively few posts outside of that topic.

        • Woody Tanaka says:

          “It’s a requirement of the religion. ”

          Then change the religion. If my religion said that I had to punch a random person in the nose on the 8th day after my child was born, I’m fairly certain that there would be no question that such religious practice would be prosecuted. What you do is far, far worse than that.

        • Woody Tanaka says:

          “Banning neonatal circumcision, a widespread practice that is not harmful,”

          It’s very harmful. It is the permanent amputation of part of the penis. That is harmful in itself.

        • edwin says:

          In Canada there is a religious controversy with Jehovah Witnesses who do not believe in blood transfusions.

          In extreme cases, where a minor needs a blood transfusion to save their life, the Canadian government takes custody of the child, performs the operation, then returns custody of the child.

          If the requirement of the religion is barbaric enough, that right is not recognized.

        • Hostage says:

          The site is focused on the Israel-Palestine conflict.

          Okay Hoppy, “Arabs” have been seen sporting the ancient “sign of the Covenant” in Israel. They have been imprisoned after engaging in consensual sex for pretending to be Jewish. In other cases, they have been shunned or denied entry by card-carrying Israeli kosher meat inspectors and morality patrols:
          *Arab-Israeli Found Guilty of ‘Rape by Deception’ after Pretending to be Jewish link to dailykos.com
          *Israeli school exam warns Jewish girls not to ‘hang around with’ Arabs
          link to mondoweiss.net
          *Israeli efforts to thwart interracial dating are throwback to Mississippi Sen. Bilbo railing against ‘mongrelization of white race’
          link to mondoweiss.net
          *Rabbis’ wives urge Israeli women: Stay away from Arab men & School principal prohibits students from speaking Arabic
          link to mondoweiss.net

          Why are Zionists such pricks about this subject?

        • Mooser says:

          “why not give children consent “

          No, I said of age. When they are of age, they can decide whether or not they want the operation.
          You think parents should have the right to have sex-change operations performed on their children if they come out the wrong sex?

    • eljay says:

      >> Part of me wants to connect attacks on circumcision to traditional anti-Jewish hatred. … (The baby cocksucking shit of course is crazytown … )

      Man, the Zio-supremacists are on a roll today! Here is Newclench, just itching “to connect attacks on circumcision to traditional anti-Jewish hatred” (i.e., to scream “anti-Semitism!”) only moments before he attacks metzitzah b’peh, a circumcision ritual performed in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community.

      Why does he hate Jews so much?!

      Too funny…

      • Mooser says:

        What I like is the way they’re all so cool about it, and stuff. I mean, this gets right into the deepest recesses of your self-image. And they’re all like, ‘yeah, I’m cool with it’
        Don’t you think?

    • Avi_G. says:

      Newclench says:
      June 25, 2012 at 12:09 am

      Do you really want to pick a fight with a billion Muslims? [...]

      But those folks should take note; far more Muslims that Jews will be offended by efforts to condemn circumcision.

      This is nothing new; clenchy is afraid of his own shadow and has a warped understanding of the world around him.

      The Hasbara Buster says:
      June 25, 2012 at 8:21 am

      For one thing, Muslim boys are circumcized at age 13, when they can object to it and refuse to undergo the procedure. Hardly the same thing as abusing a newborn.

      Circumcision in Islam is actually performed within a week or two weeks after birth. In Judaism, it’s the same.

      I’ve never heard or known of the practice being performed on 13-year-olds.

      For another thing, this has to do with the I/P conflict in that Muslims are consistently demonized for practicing female genital mutilation (which, by the way, is far from common to the whole religious group), while Jews get away with male genital mutilation without the media saying a word.

      I agree with your depiction of the different treatment Jews and Moslems get in the U.S..

      As an aside, female circumcision is not practiced in Islam. It is practiced mainly in central Africa and is extremely rare in the Middle East. But Islamophobes being Islamophobes like to conflate a local traditional practice with an entire religion.

      • Sorry — I overgeneralized. My son’s two Muslim friends were circumcized when they turned 13, but after some Googling I see that the timing varies from country to country and from rite to rite.

        • Mooser says:

          . “My son’s two Muslim friends were circumcized when they turned 13″

          Wow, and I thought getting through my haftorah was tough!

      • Mooser says:

        I’ve never heard or known of the practice being performed on 13-year-olds.”

        At thirteen I was as fast a sprinter and as good a climber as I would ever be. No, thirteen doesn’t seem right, except in exceptional cases.

    • alec says:

      The problem is not with circumcision the problem is with allowing oral-genital contact which kills these children.

      And yes barbaric practices and exceptionalism are on Mondoweiss’s beat.

  5. ColinWright says:

    I tend to be strongly inclined to let Muslims do whatever they please so long as it doesn’t involve stoning adultresses to death in my country.

    I’m inclined to extend the same courtesy to ultra-orthodox Jews. They can do whatever they want unless it’s an utter and complete outrage. This falls more into the ‘weird and mildly disgusting category’ and as such, I’d rather see the government keep its snout out.

    • you can take the foreskin, but no sucking the infant penis, especially if this is even *close* to the true statistics-
      “…infants in two of 11 cases gathered over the last decade died and others were left with long-term neurologic disabilities.”

      and i assume those statistics are WAY off. but even if it is 1% of the stated incidence of death or complications….. it should be *illegal*. the kid can get herpes from jdate when he is older, if he should want to.

      the concept of removing the foreskin is clearly debatable, and should be illegal in due time (it will for advanced secular nations). but the rarer tradition of sucking the wound? this is not “child’s play”, this is deadly and extremely dangerous. this should *not* be legal.

    • by the way, i like the irrelevant hyperbolic insertion of a gross generalization on an antiquated islamic practice. in some areas they do partake in these barbaric practices, on an infrequent basis. such nutty edicts are in the jewish and christian texts as well… and i assume some remote christian african tribes dabble in it (but who knows…).

      of course that is not legal here and never would be. there are many remote cultures which partake in similarly barbaric acts…. have no fear, such is not coming here, and will not even be introduced in major urban muslim cities, though pakistan and saudi arabia have an issue with this occasionally.

      islamophobic propagandistic troll.

    • ColinWright-
      You say the practice is ‘weird and mildly disgusting.’ Do you really find the death of baby boys as a result of these practices only weird and mildly disgusting? How do you feel about other forms of child abuse that result in the death of children?
      Currently, it is illegalto do any of the things described in this post to infant females, while it is legal to do these things to a male. You say the government should keep it snout out. Does that mean you think all forms of child abuse should be legalized? Do you think it should be legal to amputate part of a newborn female’s genitalia and then use oral-genital contact to suck the blood out of the wound? Or do you think the status quo should remain: illegal to be done to females, and legal to be done to males? Why in your mind are male babies deserving of this kind of activity whereas females are not? Are females better than males? Does equality not apply when it comes to amputating male genitalia and then exposing them to death?
      What exactly would have to be done to a newborn baby for the act to rise to the level of “utter and complete outrage,” if exposing the baby unnecessarily to death does not qualify?

      • ColinWright says:

        ‘Or do you think the status quo should remain: illegal to be done to females, and legal to be done to males? Why in your mind are male babies deserving of this kind of activity whereas females are not? Are females better than males? Does equality not apply when it comes to amputating male genitalia and then exposing them to death?’

        You’re making the quite unwarranted assumption that I believe in perfect male and female equality. As it happens, I don’t. Maybe when you finish with your orthodox Jews, you’d better look into me. Sniff, sniff…

        • Mooser says:

          “You’re making the quite unwarranted assumption that I believe in perfect male and female equality”

          You tell ‘em Colin. I used to believe in the male-and-female-equal nonsense, until women beat it out of me.

      • tokyobk says:

        Matthew,

        How familiar are you with ex-Muslim literature. Seriously.

        They believe strongly that they can make Islam better if only they can get Muslims to stop doing Islamic things.

        Now, I agree if those Islamic, or Amish, things are significantly dangerous they should be abrogated, just as refusing medical care should be abuse. Mohels giving herpes to babies is obviously a scandel and among people actually involved with this issue, it has been for a while.

        Brit Milah is central to judaism. I think direct mouth contact should probably be made illegal but if you really believe trying to ban it is, your way above quite, criticizing Judaism to improve it, you should also take up a campaign against Kashrut because separating milk and meat is Apartheid.

        The comparison with female circumcision could not be more strained for reasons cited above.

        And, if you are really interested In this issue as a Jew, is MW the place you would post it?

        Its pile on and its totally inappropriate, unless MW is indeed an ex-Jew site, then we can all pile on together about what a rotten faith we were born into which can only be fixed by erasing it,

        • Mooser says:

          “what a rotten faith we were born into which can only be fixed by erasing it”

          Know just how you feel, tokyobk. Once you take away infant male circumcision, we got nothin. What good all our devotion, all our learning, and all that dahvaning if you can’t tear the prepuce off a male infant once in a while. These bastards want to tear the very heart out of our faith!
          Man o manischewitz, you guys doth protest way, way, way too much.

          But I understand, really I do, tokyobk. I’m sure if some anti-Semites can restrict circumcision to males at the age of medical consent, you’d be at the hospital (or wherever, back room of a candy store, the schul, whatever) on the consent birthday and proudly say for the benefit of everyone in the room, nope, no Novocaine for me. I’ve got the best anesthetic of all, Ziocaine!

      • hophmi says:

        “Do you really find the death of baby boys as a result of these practices only weird and mildly disgusting?”

        You’re using a fringe practice to tar something that is practiced among most Jews. This is an old game. Newborns die from all kinds of things. There is no need to restraint people from practicing their faith, which includes the vast majority of Jews who do not circumcise this way, because two babies died from an infection in ten years.

        “How do you feel about other forms of child abuse that result in the death of children?”

        Your language is offensive and ridiculous. No one in the mainstream regards circumcision as child abuse. You use these terms because most of you say is completely unsupported by any mainstream evidence.

        “Currently, it is illegalto do any of the things described in this post to infant females, while it is legal to do these things to a male.”

        Once again, the comparison is just nonsense. FGM is illegal because, for the most part, it is far, far more invasive, painful, and dangerous. There is no rash of boys with circumcision-related injuries or complications; most studies show extraordinarily low complication rates, and mostly the complication is excessive bleeding. There is also strong evidence that male circumcision significantly reduces the rate of HIV in high-risk populations, enough that the WHO recommended it for that purpose and it is thought to be a cost-effective HIV-protection method in Africa. Studies also suggest that neo-natal circumcision reduces the risk of penile cancer. So the idea that there is no evidence to support the health-benefits of circumcision is a lie, and comparing it to FGM is really somewhat ignorant and unfair to the real and demonstrated problems FGM poses for women. There are many obvious reasons why FGM is treated differently from male circumcision, but to the militant activist who ignores those reasons, I suppose none of it matters.

        • Woody Tanaka says:

          “There is no need to restraint people from practicing their faith… because two babies died from an infection in ten years.”

          What a monstrous attitude. Exactly how many babies have to die unnecessarily, hoppy, for you to reconsider whether to permit these barbaric practices to be inflicted on them? 5? 10? 15? 100? 1,000? Is there a number? Exactly how many babies?

          “FGM is illegal because, for the most part, it is far, far more invasive, painful, and dangerous”

          Interestingly, it is illegal to ritually pin prick a baby’s clitoral hood, but it is permissible to ritually amputate a baby’s foreskin. The first of these is the correct policy. The second is a disgrace.

          “There is also strong evidence that male circumcision significantly reduces the rate of HIV in high-risk populations”

          And that minimal protection is swamped by the protection offered by simply wearing a condom. But if this protection is so awesomely awesome, then there should be nothing standing in the way of any adult male who wishes to undergo the process to do so. It is when it this child abuse is inflicted on helpless babies that it is a problem.

          “Studies also suggest that neo-natal circumcision reduces the risk of penile cancer”

          Actually the studies are not conclusive and this cancer is thankfully very rare in any event. But this isn’t about cancer and you know it. You could prevent 1/2 million deaths of women per year by simply removing the breast tissue of all 8-day-old girls. I don’t see you proposing that, because the disease issue is a smoke screen. It’s not about disease and these lives don’t matter at all to you. Hell, you’ve already said that you’re okay with sacrificing two little babies to preserve this practice.

        • hophmi says:

          “:What a monstrous attitude. Exactly how many babies have to die unnecessarily, hoppy, for you to reconsider whether to permit these barbaric practices to be inflicted on them? 5? 10? 15? 100? 1,000? Is there a number? Exactly how many babies?”

          Should we ban surgery because people die from that too? How about antibiotics?

          Personally, I would have no problem if we banned Metzizah B’peh tomorrow. I’m not entirely sure, as Matt says, that the practice could actually withstand legal scrutiny if tested.

          But banning circumcision outright would violate my First Amendment rights and my rights under every major human rights treaty there is as an undue restriction on my religious practice.

          “Interestingly, it is illegal to ritually pin prick a baby’s clitoral hood, but it is permissible to ritually amputate a baby’s foreskin. The first of these is the correct policy. The second is a disgrace.”

          Oh please. We are not talking about pricking a clitoral hood here.

          “And that minimal protection is swamped by the protection offered by simply wearing a condom.”

          Which many people in Africa and elsewhere don’t do, and what expertise do you have to conclude that it’s minimal? The number suggest that the risk of HIV infection is halved.

          “You could prevent 1/2 million deaths of women per year by simply removing the breast tissue of all 8-day-old girls. I don’t see you proposing that, because the disease issue is a smoke screen. It’s not about disease and these lives don’t matter at all to you. Hell, you’ve already said that you’re okay with sacrificing two little babies to preserve this practice.”

          I did not say that. I said that I didn’t view Metzizah B’peh, which is not common, as grounds to ban all circumcision.

          Frankly, it’s a straight First Amendment issue, and the courts are on my side, as is the vast majority of the general public.

        • Woody Tanaka says:

          “Should we ban surgery because people die from that too? How about antibiotics?”

          Are you crazy? Both surgery and antibiotics have legitimate purposes. There is nothing legitimate about hacking off part of a baby’s body to be a token of some superstition.

          “But banning circumcision outright would violate my First Amendment rights and my rights under every major human rights treaty there is as an undue restriction on my religious practice.”

          No it wouldn’t. You have the right to believe whatever you want. You don’t have the right to maim another person because your god wants a blood offering.

          ”Oh please. We are not talking about pricking a clitoral hood here.”

          And with regard with male genital mutilation, we are talking about something far, far worse. And pricking a clitoral hood is illegal, but hacking away half of a baby boy’s penis is legal.

          “The number suggest that the risk of HIV infection is halved.”

          And, again, if the numbers are so great, then by all means, make it available to all adult men who choose for themselves to undergo the procedure and stop maiming babies.

          “I did not say that. I said that I didn’t view Metzizah B’peh, which is not common, as grounds to ban all circumcision.”

          But you cannot deny that there are children do get infections, suffer life long ailments and even die from circumcisions without the Metzizah B’peh. How many of children are you willing to have die in order to protect your “right”? 2? 10? 50? 100? (Even risking 1 is too much.)

          “Frankly, it’s a straight First Amendment issue, and the courts are on my side, as is the vast majority of the general public.”

          And at one point it was a straight constitutional issue that no black person had any rights that a white man was bound to respect. Times change.

    • Mooser says:

      “This falls more into the ‘weird and mildly disgusting category”

      It most certainly does, if they did it to themselves, when they were above the age of medical consent.
      You just can’t seem to grasp the non-consent part.

    • Hostage says:

      This falls more into the ‘weird and mildly disgusting category’ and as such, I’d rather see the government keep its snout out.

      You can’t even practice denturism in most of the country or sell people standard sizes of soft contact lenses without a prescription from a healthcare provider. Let’s be honest, nothing prevents the government from regulating anyone who does minor surgery, prohibiting unprotected contact, and making practitioners post a hefty bond or carry minimum levels of liability insurance.

  6. American says:

    I can see why Matt put this up……this “ritual” circumcision is barbaric and unsafe.
    These circumcisers or whatever they aren’t medical people and aren’t doing this in a hospital and sterile or sanitary setting.
    Who in their right mind would let this be done to a “baby” this way?
    It should be outlawed, it’s primitive.
    If someone wants their child circumcised let them go to a surgeon.
    Doesn’t the law go after people who try that genital mutilation stuff on females? I think they do.

  7. Djinn says:

    Circumcision performed on infants whether male of female is amputation without medical neccesity or consent. I cant see why it isnt considered child abuse. The addition of unsanitary practices makes it even more of an assault. I can see some reason in the argument that criminalizing it before changing the minds of those who continue to practice it would drive it underground and likely be more unsafe, though I don’t see that as a convincing argument especially when it’s not applied to all sorts of religious/cultural practices that we criminalize.

    That said, unless MW changes it tagline, I don’t see it as relevant to the site, what it has to do with the war of ideas in the middle east, is a little opaque.

  8. Urgh! The older I get, the more I dislike all religion, and especially the ‘ultra true believers’ What a revolting practice and what a horrible scandal. It makes me feel queasy. Urgh!

  9. NickJOCW says:

    Whether parents should be allowed to mutilate their children for religious reasons in the US is one thing, but surely they cannot be allowed to kill them. Those responsible should be charged with second degree murder and if the parents encouraged it I don’t see a difference between that and hiring a hitman. It’s not just Jews, I saw a documentary about an African tribe where this is done at puberty and the young men frequently die though whether the witch doctor actually sucks the mutilated member the presenter didn’t say.

  10. tokyobk says:

    The caps are mine to emphasize that this is not a new issue, that the highest authorities of orthodox Judasim sanction using a tube for health reasons, and finally that this is an issue being dealt with within Judaism and has been a controversy for a while, so the idea that posting about it as breaking news from the dark caverns of secret yiddishkeit on MW is an effort towards improving the religion rings as hollow as the idea that bombing Iraq is feminist appearing in a neocon journal.

    link to rabbis.org

    “There has been a longstanding debate in the halachic responsa literature of the PAST SEVERAL HUNDRED YEARS regarding the optimal way to fulfill the precept of suctioning. There are halachic authorities who mandate that only suction created via direct contact of the mouth to the wound adequately satisfies this requirement. Other halachic authorities, however, fully permit performing oral suctioning through a tube even as an ideal method of implementation of this precept. 

    A well-trained mohel, adhering to the scientific principles of sterile technique and antisepsis, essentially reduces the infectious risk of circumcision to the point where it is close to zero. Performing oral suction via a sterile tube does not pose any increased risk. “

    • Mooser says:

      “that the highest authorities of orthodox Judasim “

      Ah! The “highest authourities” of Orthodox Judaism. Well it isn’t what I want to do when I’m getting to be a highest authourity, but to each his own.

    • Mooser says:

      “A well-trained mohel, adhering to the scientific principles of sterile technique and antisepsis”

      Yeah, as long as they’re not drunk. And gosh darn it, who needs all that “sterile technique” when Leviticus can show you how to purify almost anything!

    • Hostage says:

      The caps are mine to emphasize that this is not a new issue, that the highest authorities of orthodox Judasim sanction using a tube for health reasons, and finally that this is an issue being dealt with within Judaism and has been a controversy for a while, so the idea that posting about it as breaking news from the dark caverns of secret yiddishkeit on MW is an effort towards improving the religion rings as hollow as the idea that bombing Iraq is feminist appearing in a neocon journal.

      The highest authorities in Orthodox Judaism still teach many portions of the Talmud where statements made by the Sages have been disproven by modern science.

      People have been tattooing others for millennia, but we still have public health laws in every state that regulate the procedures employed and require necessary evidence of legal consent, insurance, & etc.

      Nothing you’ve said convinces me that a constitutional prohibition shouldn’t be adopted against this and other forms of involuntary religious mutilation.

  11. eljay says:

    I think it’s funny as hell that the Zio-supremacists, true to their hypocritical form, are incensed that an issue is being raised which – regardless of its truly astounding primitiveness and gruesomeness – has no direct bearing on the I-P conflict.

    • Newclench says:

      Ah yes, the Zio-supremacists like MJ Rosenberg, below….

      • eljay says:

        >> Ah yes, the Zio-supremacists like MJ Rosenberg, below….

        Two problems with your statement:
        1. I posted my comment at 8:20 a.m., and he posted his comment at 10:33 a.m. I know you think very highly of me, but I really cannot see into the future.
        2. Unlike you – a proven Zio-supremacist – not every person who points out that a certain issue may be “off-topic” for this site is a Zio-supremacist.

        • Newclench says:

          Can you show any statement I’ve ever made agreeing with Zionist ideology? We can use link to en.wikipedia.org as a reference point. More baseless smears. How appropriate for a thread attacking Jews for performing circumcision.

        • eljay says:

          >> Can you show any statement I’ve ever made agreeing with Zionist ideology?

          I took a quick look through your archives and it appears that I have mistaken you for someone else. I apologize for my error.

          If I could, I would delete the inappropriate remark – in my comment of June 25, 2012 at 11:21 am – which accuses you of being a Zio-supremacist.

        • eljay says:

          >> If I could, I would delete the inappropriate remark – in my comment of June 25, 2012 at 11:21 am – which accuses you of being a Zio-supremacist.

          Ooops, just noticed that I referred to you as a Zio in my post of June 25, 2012 at 8:35 am. If I could, I’d delete that one, too. Sorry ’bout that! :-)

        • Hostage says:

          How appropriate for a thread attacking Jews for performing circumcision.

          Why should Jewish ignorance, myths, and superstitions be sacrosanct when they are causing preventable deaths and neurological problems?

      • Mooser says:

        “Ah yes, the Zio-supremacists like MJ Rosenberg, below….”

        Has Mr. Roseberg ever discribed himself as an anti-Zionist? Called for the destruction of the Zionist regime? Ever written anything which wasn’t based on a sincere desire to help Israel acheive peace and stability and legality?
        Newclench, if you think Rosenberg writes under false pretenses, come out and say so. Don’t be a punk.

  12. Woody Tanaka says:

    Although there is no direct bearing on the Palestinian issue, I think Matthew’s explanation as to why it is here is fine. Anyone who does not agree with Phil’s broad mandate is certainly free to leave.

    That being said, I oppose the barbarism of infant gential mutilation, regardless of gender, regardless of whether the excuse by the parents who inflict this child abuse on their children is “religious” or “ritual” or whatever. There is simply no excuse for non-medically necessary circumcision. None. It should be made illegal in all cases of non-medical necessity, with no religious exception whatsoever. If anyone wants, as an adult, to undergo the process, they should be permitted to do so, but doing it to a child is child abuse.

  13. mjrosenberg says:

    The anti-circumcision movement is ugly, and suffused with anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. This does not belong here.

    • Kathleen says:

      “The anti-circumcision movement is ugly” What? Links? What is wrong with wanting to bring attention to this? Little boys dying as a direct consequence of a religious ceremony? I also really support Matthew’s question about would we, the government etc react differently if this had to do with females “Not only is metzitzah b’peh a violation, so is forced circumcision of any kind. Should not all unnecessary, harmful amputation of genitalia be illegal regardless of gender? Do not males deserve equal protection?”

      • hophmi says:

        Big surprise, Kathleen is against allowing Jews to practice their religion.

        • Hostage says:

          Big surprise, Kathleen is against allowing Jews to practice their religion.

          No she’s against anyone mutilating an infant’s genitals, not just practioners of the Jewish religion.

          Our Congress has prohibited the Mormons and everyone else from practicing polygamy. The Courts have upheld such bans explaining that

          “Under the Free Exercise Clause, a law that burdens religious practice need not be justified by a compelling governmental interest if it is neutral and of general applicability.”

          – Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye, Inc. v. Hialeah – 508 U.S. 520 (1993)

        • Woody Tanaka says:

          “Big surprise, Kathleen is against allowing Jews to practice their religion.”

          Your rights end where others’ rights begin.

        • Kathleen says:

          Do you have religious practices? Really?

    • Donald says:

      I don’t think it belongs here, but it belongs somewhere. I don’t have enough knowledge to have an opinion, but taken at face value certainly people have a right to question age old traditional practices that involve taking a knife to a baby.

      As for anti-Jewish or anti-Muslim, isn’t it a pretty common practice with Christians too? Which is not to say that people opposed to it might be bigots in some cases, but bigots have a way of popping into areas of legitimate concern and using them for their own purposes. That doesn’t mean the issue shouldn’t be discussed. Though I do think it looks a little odd coming up in a blog mostly devoted to Israel’s crimes against Palestinians.

      • Hostage says:

        I don’t think it belongs here, but it belongs somewhere.

        Then by all means, let’s delete the US Politics > Jewish Communities section from the main menu.

        • Donald says:

          Well, that’s a fair point . I always thought of this place as being about Israel/Palestine and the US connection, which in turn involves the Lobby, but whatever.

    • Woody Tanaka says:

      “The anti-circumcision movement is ugly, and suffused with anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. This does not belong here.”

      Circumcision is an ugly practice, inflicted on innocent children. That some people have included it in their religious beliefs is unfortunate, but that no more makes opposition to the procedure necessarily anti-semitic or Islamophobic, than it would be bigoted against a particular religion, to be opposed to that religion’s mandated practice that infants be ritually scarified or branded. Being opposed to a practice is not being opposed to a religion nor bigoted against a people.

      Once your belief system affects other people (especially infants who are not given the opportunity to consent to unnecessary surgery and amputation of their body parts) then it really is offensive to try to protect those acts from criticism by covering in the blanket of religion and claiming that people who oppose the practice on non-consenting children are bigots. THAT is what does not belong here.

      • Mooser says:

        “The anti-circumcision movement is ugly”

        You bet! There’s pictures of uncircumcised male organs at the sight. Yecch! Who would want to look like that when they could look like God intended? Actually, if you get right down to it, the foreskin is a congenital deformity!

    • eljay says:

      >> The anti-circumcision movement is ugly, and suffused with anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.

      I’d say it’s suffused with anti-barbarism, given that the slicing of skin from an infant’s penis – coupled with the sucking of blood off said penis – is a pretty freakin’ barbaric practice.

    • Mooser says:

      “The anti-circumcision movement is ugly, and suffused with anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. This does not belong here.”

      Don’t worry, the foreskin-replacement movement is beautiful, and suffused with ecumenicism. Sort of makes up for it.

    • Taxi says:

      MJ you’re sounding like the Dersh now.

      Aztecs sacrificed their virgins to please their pagan gods. A desert dude called Abraham established his covenant with his god by offering him the foreskin of his newborn. It’s all bloodletting – I see no difference in the ‘thinking’ between the two.

      Must we ALL LOVE EVERYTHING about Abrahamic rituals lest we be called antisemites? Really now!

      • Mooser says:

        I give MJRosenberg lot’s of credit! I get a sense he typed that comment with one hand clapped tightly over his crotch. I can tell you, that’s not easy to do.

        • Mooser says:

          And I’m not sure, but I thought I heard his head hitting the bottom of the barrel.
          Wait a minute, I’m so amazingly stupid. Here we have, staring us in the face, the very issue which can bring these two great peoples together, and reverse a hundred years of enmity. Unite, Jews and Muslims, come together and defend your right to circumcise! Could any slight quibble over land and money be as important as this?

          Wow, Phil really blew it this time! If only he had approached this from a different angle, the seeds of peace in this generation would have been within his grasp, to fertilise a great dream! But no, he went all Onan on us.

        • Taxi says:

          One hand cupping crutch is EXACTLY the image I got too.

        • Mooser says:

          “One hand cupping crutch is EXACTLY the image I got too.”

          There’s no mistaking the sound of a sweaty palm landing on corduroy.

    • Talkback says:

      I find it very ugly, that my genitals were mutilated without my approval, even if they weren’t sucked.

      • Mooser says:

        “I find it very ugly, that my genitals were mutilated without my approval, even if they weren’t sucked.”

        Sometimes I feel that way, but then I remind myself that they didn’t put me on an ice floe and float me out of their misery, nor did my Mom sneak up the stairs and pour a bottle of laudanum down my infant throat. And don’t think she wasn’t tempted, I’m sure. So they hacked me up a little, big deal. My God, I gotta wonder how much sex-related trouble I would have gotten into if they left me intact. Maybe they did me a favor. But they didn’t kill me, and a guy’s gotta be appreciative of small favors. So I’m sure it worked out for the best, altho others may disagree.

    • American says:

      “The anti-circumcision movement is ugly, and suffused with anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. “….MJ

      No it’s not . Doesn’t look like it’s against circumcision so much as how it’s done. I don’t know where the ‘movement’ against this is, but I imagine it’s within the some of Jewish and Islamic communities themselves. Circumcision does have some minor health benefits and plenty of christians are circumcised, but in a appropiate medical setting, not in a religious ritual.

      • chocopie says:

        It’s cruel even within a medical setting. No anesthesia is used. Parents are not allowed to stay with the infant or witness the procedure. It’s done in a secretive way and the baby isn’t returned to the parents until after it has been calmed and has stopped crying.

        Since there’s no medical justification for it, it shouldn’t be done in a medical setting.

    • German Lefty says:

      @ mjrosenberg:
      The anti-circumcision movement is ugly, and suffused with anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.
      No, it’s not! The contrary is the case. If I hated Jews or Muslims, then I would certainly be in favour of cutting off their skin against their will! Supporting or respecting other people’s right to physical integrity has absolutely nothing to do with hatred. It’s empathy and solidarity with the victims of mayhem. Making irreversible, medically unnecessary changes to a person’s body without this person’s approval is a human rights violation. Human rights violators belong behind bars, regardless of whether their motives were religious or not.

      • hophmi says:

        “It’s empathy and solidarity with the victims of mayhem. ”

        I AM NOT A VICTIM. That’s the problem with this form of activism. Most men do not consider themselves victims of circumcision.

        “Making irreversible, medically unnecessary changes to a person’s body without this person’s approval is a human rights violation.

        It is NOT a human rights violation. Nowhere in the human rights canon is there a suggestion that circumcision is a human rights violation.

        It would be considered a human rights violation if Jews were not permitted to circumcise.

        • German Lefty says:

          @ hophmi:
          I AM NOT A VICTIM. That’s the problem with this form of activism. Most men do not consider themselves victims of circumcision.

          Sigh. Just because you don’t FEEL like a victim, doesn’t mean that you AREN’T a victim. You probably don’t feel like a victim, because you gave SUBSEQUENT consent to your circumcision. However, you still are a victim, for the simple reason that you didn’t give PRIOR informed consent to your circumcision.

          Here’s what I found on the subject of subsequent consent via Google Books:
          “Suppose A violently forces his attentions on B without her consent, and she then prefers rape charges against him. But between the time of A’s indictment for the crime, and the scheduled date of his trial, he is visited constantly by B who gradually falls in love with him, and in the nick of time drops charges against him, leading to his release. ‘If I had known him then as well as I know him now,’ she says, ‘I would surely have consented.’ For practical reasons A cannot be convicted of rape without B’s testimony, but the question is, morally speaking, did he in fact rape her? Perhaps both A and B would be disposed to reply that her ‘subsequent consent’ should be treated as retroactive, thus providing him with the same defense that her actual consent at the time would have provided.
          A less paradoxical account of this bizarre adventure would avoid altogether the strange notion of consensual retroactivity. A did impose sexual intercourse on B without her consent; therefore he was a rapist without excuse. All B’s change of mind, months later, can do morally is to forgive him for his wrong, withdraw her grievance, and restore the moral equilibrium. Now A has no further duty of compensation to her, no further need for apology, contrition, atonement. But B’s forgiveness cannot change history, or magically recreate the past. Her forgiveness now has a point only because there is something to forgive, namely the rape that did take place in the past, present emotions notwithstanding.
          There is very little that can be done, despite the ingenious efforts of some philosophers, to extract coherence from the strange notion of ‘subsequent consent.’ Most of the work assigned this concept can be handled adequately by the notion of dispositional consent. If a person is in no position to give his voluntary consent to our intervention in his behalf, we may have to guess (more typically, make confident inferences) what he would say if he were capable of voluntary choice. Then if our ascription of that disposition after the fact should turn out to be mistaken, we may still feel justified in intervening since we did the best we could, in good faith, to honor the other’s autonomy. The ‘subsequent consent theory,’ on the contrary, holds that when we intervene we are ‘betting’ our moral capital on the other’s subsequent consent, and if it is not forthcoming, then it follows that we were not justified, and that we violated the other’s right of autonomy. If we win the bet, on this view, that is only because, by an act of subsequent consent, the other ‘makes it true’ that we acted with his actual consent at the earlier time.”

        • German Lefty says:

          @hophmi:
          Nowhere in the human rights canon is there a suggestion that circumcision is a human rights violation.
          Female circumcision without the female’s consent is a human rights violation. Men and women are equal before the law. That’s why the same logic must be applied to male circumcision.

          It would be considered a human rights violation if Jews were not permitted to circumcise.
          Here you conveniently conflate “circumcision with consent” and “circumcision without consent”. Circumcision without consent is a human rights violation, regardless of whether it’s done for religious reasons or not. Religious people are NOT above the law. Religious people – just like non-religious people – have to respect other people’s right to physical integrity. Period. Expecting religious people to abide by the same laws as non-religious people does NOT constitute religious persecution.

        • Hostage says:

          Nowhere in the human rights canon is there a suggestion that circumcision is a human rights violation.

          In fact western states and NGOs queued-up in the UN treaty bodies and took turns explaining that female circumcision, in any form, was a human rights violation, e.g.
          *UN Human Rights Council session on Female Genital Mutilation: Geneva, 1 June 2011 link to womenlobby.org
          * Minority rights Group: Female Genital Mutilation a new approach link to minorityrights.org
          *Victorian Equal Opportunity & Human Rights Commission Female Genital Mutilation Human Rights link to humanrightscommission.vic.gov.au

          As usual, you’re just arguing that moral relativism should be employed to allow Jews to retain their ancient racist and religious customs as a privileged group that is immune from normal considerations.

        • Woody Tanaka says:

          “It would be considered a human rights violation if Jews were not permitted to circumcise.”

          You really are a twisted, twisted person. Really. It’s not a human rights violation to hold someone down without their consent and cut off part of their body to appease YOUR god’s bloodlust, but it is a human rights violation to the mutilator to prevent the mutilation on the baby??? Hitchens was right: Religion poisons everything.

        • Woody Tanaka says:

          “As usual, you’re just arguing that moral relativism should be employed to allow Jews to retain their ancient racist and religious customs as a privileged group that is immune from normal considerations.”

          That’s exactly it, Hostage. You nailed it.

        • hophmi says:

          You know damn well I’m talking about circumcision, not FGM. They are not the same thing and do not receive the same treatment in human rights law.

          “As usual, you’re just arguing that moral relativism should be employed to allow Jews to retain their ancient racist and religious customs as a privileged group that is immune from normal considerations.”

          Another sign that you’re simply an antisemite, Hostage. There is nothing racist about circumcision, and it is not exclusively a Jewish issue; most practitioners are not Jewish.

          There is no moral relativism here. There is merely an acknowledgement that MALE circumcision is a widely-practiced religious requirement, and that as a matter of international human rights and American First Amendment law, Jews and Muslims and those who do it for secular reasons have the right to practice it. You can employ all of the slippery slope arguments you want, just as the anti-gay marriage crowd does when they suggest that once we legalize gay marriage, legalizing beastiality is right around the corner. You can also choose to ignore the ramifications of government restricting religious practice no one clamoring to change, involving itself in parental decision making, and so on.

          Cutting off a foreskin is not especially invasive, does not generally cause complications, arguably is beneficial, and is not opposed by any meaningful constituency of people outside of the anti-religious crowd. There is no popular sentiment against it. And no, citing the campaign in San Francisco does not change any of that.

          By all means, go out and try and pass a law or get a Constitutional Amendment. As I said before, good luck.

        • hophmi says:

          “Female circumcision without the female’s consent is a human rights violation. Men and women are equal before the law. ”

          Sorry, but this is nonsense. It does not follow that because the extreme practice of FGM, which is more invasive, much more painful, and a demonstrably significant health hazard, and closely linked to the subjugation of women, is a violation of human rights, that male circumcision must be because men and women are equal under the law. FGM is a particular problem. These practices are treated differently because they are different.

          “Here you conveniently conflate “circumcision with consent” and “circumcision without consent”.”

          No, I simply note that neonatal circumcision is part of Jewish religious practice, and the right to practice freely include the right to circumcise baby boys.

          “Circumcision without consent is a human rights violation”

          Please show me where in human rights law it says that male circumcision without consent is a human rights violation.

          “Religious people are NOT above the law. ”

          No, we’re not. Neonatal male circumcision isn’t illegal as a matter of American law or as a matter of human rights law.

          “Religious people – just like non-religious people – have to respect other people’s right to physical integrity.”

          Are you against allowing people to get their daughter’s ears pierced before the age of consent?

          “Expecting religious people to abide by the same laws as non-religious people does NOT constitute religious persecution.”

          We do. Neonatal male circumcision is not illegal. The campaign to make it so is largely an antireligious one.

        • Hostage says:

          You know damn well I’m talking about circumcision, not FGM. They are not the same thing and do not receive the same treatment in human rights law.

          I know damn well that you are a big mouthed know-nothing jerk and that there’s no basis in human rights law for objecting to the one, but not other, non-consensual and unnecessary surgical procedure.

          There is merely an acknowledgement that MALE circumcision is a widely-practiced religious requirement, and that as a matter of international human rights and American First Amendment law,

          I think there are valid equal protection and due process objections, as well as international human rights objections, that can all be argued to prohibit non-consensual male ceremonial circumcision in exactly the same way that female ceremonial circumcisions were outlawed. The fact that you don’t think one religious practice is protected by the 1st Amendment, while the other one is protected, just so happens to be a perfect example of moral relativism.

        • hophmi says:

          “I know damn well that you are a big mouthed know-nothing jerk and that there’s no basis in human rights law for objecting to the one, but not other, non-consensual and unnecessary surgical procedure. ”

          I know damn well when I challenge you enough, you resort to insults, like usual.

          Human rights law protects freedom of religion. A ban on male circumcision would likely offend Article 18 of the UDHR and ICCPR for starters. You simply insist on operating under the unwarranted assumption that FGM and male circumcision are the same thing, and thus should be treated the same way. That’s a valid as an intellectual argument, not a legal one. There is a conflict. The conflict would likely be resolved in favor of the freedom to worship, not the right to be free from circumcision. Thus, a ban on neonatal male circumcision, given its widespread practice, deep importance to Jews and Muslims, acceptance in most societies, and lack of meaningful opposition, is likely to be a human rights violation because of the religious restriction it would entail.

          “I think there are valid equal protection and due process objections, as well as international human rights objections, that can all be argued to prohibit non-consensual male ceremonial circumcision in exactly the same way that female ceremonial circumcisions were outlawed. The fact that you don’t think one religious practice is protected by the 1st Amendment, while the other one is protected, just so happens to be a perfect example of moral relativism.”

          I disagree. Moral relativism is the idea that you can apply different moral standards to different societies. An example of moral relativism would be suggesting that FGM should be legal in Sudan and not in the United States because the morals of the Sudanese differ from our own.

          I’m arguing that male circumcision should be legal everywhere because of its importance as a religious practice, its widespread acceptance and legality, and the lack of significant organized opposition. In light of these countervailing values, and the reality that there are great deal of things that we do to our children that are legal, not-consented to by them, and potentially much more harmful, I find the argument that there is an overriding interest in protecting the physical integrity of the baby unavailing.

          Your argument relies an the absurd assumption that male circumcision is the same thing as FGM, which is a little like arguing that stubbing your toe is the same thing breaking your hand. Both are injuries, but that about where the similarity ends.

        • German Lefty says:

          @ hophmi:
          Human rights law protects freedom of religion.
          Exactly. That’s why it must be forbidden to force a religion (esp. an irreversible religious ceremony) on an defenceless, non-consenting baby.

          A ban on male circumcision would likely offend Article 18 of the UDHR and ICCPR for starters.
          Again, you refer to male circumcision in general and don’t make the necessary distinction between male circumcision with and without consent.

          Your argument relies an the absurd assumption that male circumcision is the same thing as FGM, which is a little like arguing that stubbing your toe is the same thing breaking your hand. Both are injuries, but that about where the similarity ends.
          Again, circumcision of both male and female minors consists of cutting off a person’s body parts without this person’s consent. What exactly and how much of it you cut off doesn’t change the fact that it’s irreversible and happens without consent. And that’s why it should be illegal. Different example: Stealing € 1,000 is not as terrible as stealing € 10,000. However, it’s both stealing and therefore illegal. How much you steal just influences the degree of your punishment, but you receive some sort of punishment in both cases. Circumcision must be dealt with in the same way. “Stealing” a clitoris is certainly more severe than “stealing” a foreskin, but it’s both “stealing” and must therefore be illegal.

        • German Lefty says:

          @ hophmi:
          “Religious people are NOT above the law. ”
          No, we’re not. Neonatal male circumcision isn’t illegal as a matter of American law or as a matter of human rights law.

          The law says that people have a right to physical integrity. Circumcision of a non-consenting minor violates this law.

          Are you against allowing people to get their daughter’s ears pierced before the age of consent?
          What’s the age of consent in such a case? I think that the daughter must be old enough to decide this herself. Besides, piercing a body part is not the same as cutting off a body part.

          Neonatal male circumcision is not illegal. The campaign to make it so is largely an antireligious one.
          Non-consensual male circumcision must be illegal in religious as well as in non-religious cases, because it violates a person’s right to physical integrity. Most intactivists are probably secular. However, secular is not the same as antireligious. If intactivists were antireligious, they would certainly oppose consensual male circumcision, too.

        • hophmi says:

          “That’s why it must be forbidden to force a religion (esp. an irreversible religious ceremony) on an defenceless, non-consenting baby.”

          C’mon. It is the right of parents to raise their children as they see fit, including with regard to educating them in their religion. Circumcision does not force a religion on anyone; as has been argued here, the vast majority of circumcisions in the US are not religious in nature.

          “Again, you refer to male circumcision in general and don’t make the necessary distinction between male circumcision with and without consent.”

          We’re obviously talking about neonatal circumcision. That’s what the whole discussion is about.

          “Again, circumcision of both male and female minors consists of cutting off a person’s body parts without this person’s consent. What exactly and how much of it you cut off doesn’t change the fact that it’s irreversible and happens without consent. ”

          If you consider the foreskin a body part. Look, as I said, I get your intellectual argument. But as I’ve said a number of times, FGM was not banned because of body integrity issues. It was banned because of the reality of what FGM is. If FGM were a prick of blood from the clitoris, it likely would not be banned today. So the facts matter in terms of whether we choose to insert government between parent and child.

          “Different example: Stealing € 1,000 is not as terrible as stealing € 10,000. However, it’s both stealing and therefore illegal. ”

          An interesting example, except that no one would call stealing a time-honor religious or secular practice, no one suggests that stealing should be legal, stealing does not have arguable medical benefits, and it has a clear victim. If most of society thought stealing should be legal, it probably would be legal (all jokes aside).

        • hophmi says:

          “The law says that people have a right to physical integrity. Circumcision of a non-consenting minor violates this law.”

          Please point out which law says this and where it has been applied to ban neonatal male circumcision.

          “What’s the age of consent in such a case? I think that the daughter must be old enough to decide this herself. Besides, piercing a body part is not the same as cutting off a body part.”

          On the contrary. It is considered a form of body modification and it frequently causes infection; ear piercing has a much higher rate of infection than circumcision does.

          Most girls are too young to meaningfully consent to ear piercing.

          This poll, while unscientific, shows that many parents evidently pierce their daughter’s ears when they are babies.

          link to babycenter.com

          It seems that most girls get their ears pierced as children.

          “Non-consensual male circumcision must be illegal in religious as well as in non-religious cases, because it violates a person’s right to physical integrity.

          But it isn’t, because the “right to physical integrity” is not necessarily a right taken to mean a circumcision ban.

        • Hostage says:

          I know damn well when I challenge you enough, you resort to insults, like usual.

          I cited Employment Division, Department of Human Resources of Oregon v. Smith, 494 U.S. 872 (1990), which has been reaffirmed in subsequent cases, like Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye, Inc. v. Hialeah – 508 U.S. 520 (1993). The Court said “Under the Free Exercise Clause, a law that burdens religious practice need not be justified by a compelling governmental interest if it is neutral and of general applicability.”

          The state statutes here in the US against female circumcision simply prohibited acts of physical violence against women and girls. Nothing prohibits states from adopting similar statutes to prohibit acts of physical violence against boys or men. Most FGM statutes in the U.S. were enacted between 1996 and 1999. As of October 2000, no court cases involving any of those new statutes had been reported as published court decisions. See Center for Reproductive Rights, Legislation on Female Genital
          Mutilation in the United States, link to reproductiverights.org

        • Woody Tanaka says:

          “C’mon. It is the right of parents to raise their children as they see fit, including with regard to educating them in their religion.”

          Yes, teach them whatever religious nonsense you want. Just don’t hack parts of their bodies off. Would you support the right of a parent to brand the forehead of an 8-day old baby with a religious symbol or is only the Jews’ form of religious bodily mutilation that you think you should be able to inflict on newborns?

          “If you consider the foreskin a body part. ”

          LMAO. What the hell else is it, a price tag??

          You’re pretty brainwashed when you can’t even admit that the body part that you’re hacking off of your son is actually a body part. I guess that’s one way to deal with the reality of the child abuse you’re committing.

        • hophmi says:

          “Nothing prohibits states from adopting similar statutes to prohibit acts of physical violence against boys or men. ”

          Sure, it could happen. I wouldn’t hold my breath.

        • lysias says:

          Congress meant to overturn the Smith case when it passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in 1993. RFRA states that the “Government shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability.”[2] The law provided an exception if two conditions are both met. First, if the burden is necessary for the “furtherance of a compelling government interest.”[2] Under strict scrutiny, a government interest is compelling when it is more than routine and does more than simply improve government efficiency. A compelling interest relates directly with core constitutional issues.[3] The second condition is that the rule must be the least restrictive way in which to further the government interest. The law, in conjunction with President Bill Clinton’s Executive Order in 1996, provided more security for sacred sites for Native American religious rites.[2]

          The Supreme Court declared RFRA unconstitutional as it applies to state and local governments and legislation in City of Boerne v. Flores, 521 U.S. 507 (1997). However, RFRA still is a valid limitation on federal legislation.

        • hophmi says:

          “You’re pretty brainwashed when you can’t even admit that the body part that you’re hacking off of your son is actually a body part. I guess that’s one way to deal with the reality of the child abuse you’re committing.”

          No, I just don’t consider a piece of skin a body part. It’s a foreskin. Calling it a body part is a bit much.

          “Would you support the right of a parent to brand the forehead of an 8-day old baby with a religious symbol or is only the Jews’ form of religious bodily mutilation that you think you should be able to inflict on newborns?”

          Heh, heh. That’s not a bad idea. Let’s see them assimilate with a Star of David tattooed to their forehead. LOL, gay Jewish parents could do the star in rainbow colors. Are you sure this is not already a trend in San Francisco?

          No, I’m not for branding, but again, I don’t have to argue against every possible scenario you come up with to support the principle that I have the right to an established practice that few people are actually against.

        • Woody Tanaka says:

          “No, I just don’t consider a piece of skin a body part. It’s a foreskin. Calling it a body part is a bit much.”

          And it’s not just a piece of skin. It’s a complex organ, part skin and part mucus membrane, filled with nerve endings and erotogenic tissue. It’s as much a body part as the external portion of the nose, or the lips or ears are. But I guess pretending that you’re not removing a body part is better for you than admitting that you’re a child abuser and mutilator.

          “Heh, heh. That’s not a bad idea.”

          Yeah, you laughing it up over the thought of torturing babies. Why am I not surprised.

        • Mooser says:

          “No, I just don’t consider a piece of skin a body part. It’s a foreskin. Calling it a body part is a bit much.”

          Because unless it’s called the if-you-cut-this-off-you-will-die-skin it’s not important? What you call it makes a difference in what it does?
          Whatever you call it, you can’t call it your’s unless you believe people are property… oh sorry Hophmi, I forgot it was you.

        • Hostage says:

          C’mon. It is the right of parents to raise their children as they see fit, including with regard to educating them in their religion. Circumcision does not force a religion on anyone; as has been argued here, the vast majority of circumcisions in the US are not religious in nature.

          The Supreme Court decision in Prince v. Massachusetts – 321 U.S. 158 (1944) cleared the way for adopting statutes that would prohibit metzitzah b’peh or circumcision:

          But the family itself is not beyond regulation in the public interest, as against a claim of religious liberty. Reynolds v. United States, 98 U. S. 145; Davis v. Beason, 133 U. S. 333. And neither rights of religion nor rights of parenthood are beyond limitation. Acting to guard the general interest in youth’s wellbeing, the state, as parens patriae, may restrict the parent’s control by requiring school attendance, [Footnote 9] regulating or prohibiting the child’s labor [Footnote 10] and in many other ways. [Footnote 11] Its authority is not nullified merely because the parent grounds his claim to control the child’s course of conduct on religion or conscience. Thus, he cannot claim freedom from compulsory vaccination for the child more than for himself on religious grounds. [Footnote 12] The right to practice religion freely does not include liberty to expose the community or the child to communicable disease or the latter to ill health or death. People v. Pierson, 176 N.Y. 201, 68 N.E. 243. [Footnote 13] The catalogue need not be lengthened. It is sufficient to show what indeed appellant hardly disputes, that the state has a wide range of power for limiting parental freedom and authority in things affecting the child’s welfare, and that this includes, to some extent, matters of conscience and religious conviction.

          –http://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/321/158/case.html

        • Hostage says:

          Congress meant to overturn the Smith case when it passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in 1993. RFRA states that the “Government shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability.”

          Yes I’m familiar with the statute. Congressman Henry Hyde made a number of television appearances trying to explain what the law could, and could not do. It can’t alter the application of the 14th amendment equal protection clause to states. The statutes that protect infants from female circumcision are based on a state interest to prevent physical violence or assault. It’s hard to see how male infants can be denied equal protection from similar acts of physical violence or assault.

          In Prince v. Massachusetts – 321 U.S. 158 (1944), the Supreme Court upheld a state statute and affirmed that: “The right to practice religion freely does not include liberty to expose the community or the child to communicable disease or the latter to ill health or death. People v. Pierson, 176 N.Y. 201, 68 N.E. 243.
          link to supreme.justia.com

          So there is no doubt that the state, acting as parens patriae, has the authority to put a stop to the transmission of herpes through the ritual of metzitzah b’peh.

        • hophmi says:

          I think a properly-drafted law banning Metzizah B’peh might survive scrutiny because of the health issues and the reality of what Metzizah B’Peh is. A law banning circumcision outright probably would not.

          No one is arguing that there are no limits on how parents can raise children. But again, a ban on neonatal male circumcision (which is very unlikely to be enacted at any state level to begin with) is unlikely to survive compelling interest scrutiny because it’s simply not a public health issue and is not, in the opinion of most people, an assault.

        • hophmi says:

          “What you call it makes a difference in what it does?”

          Oh, does terminology not matter?

          “Whatever you call it, you can’t call it your’s unless you believe people are property”

          Uh-huh.

        • Taxi says:

          The skin is the largest body organ.

        • Hostage says:

          I think a properly-drafted law banning Metzizah B’peh might survive scrutiny because of the health issues and the reality of what Metzizah B’Peh is. A law banning circumcision outright probably would not.

          Hophmi, I think that existing statutes and precedents on assault and battery and FGM could be used to stop either practice.

    • edwin says:

      The anti-circumcision movement is ugly, and suffused with anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. This does not belong here.

      We’re here! We’re Intactivists! It’s a human rights issue! Get used to it!

  14. Kathleen says:

    “What, you ask, is metzitzah b’peh? According to the CDC, it refers to the ritual when a mohel “places his mouth directly on the newly circumcised penis and sucks blood away from the circumcision wound (direct orogenital suction).”

    Had no idea.

  15. Kathleen says:

    “If a consenting adult wishes to give up his foreskin to the cold blade, let him; this is indeed his right. If a consenting adult wishes to allow someone to then suck blood out of the wound, let him; this is also his right.”

    Bingo.

    At the very least one would think the Rabbi would have to be checked for Herpes or any other disease

    • Mooser says:

      “If a consenting adult wishes to give up his foreskin to the cold blade”

      The blade is held against the mohel’s sterile gloved hand to warm it to near body temperature. What do you think we are, barbarians?

  16. Les says:

    What does the British playright, Dr. David Miller have to say about this? If it is taboo, to discuss it here, does that make it also taboo to discuss arranged marriages for American Hasidic Jewish women versus when it is done by Muslims or wigs versus head scarves?

  17. Dan Crowther says:

    Whoa. Thats some wild sht.

    I dont understand what MJ Rosenberg above is saying, there is a “movement” against this? And its anti-semitic and islamophobic? Why? I hope his reason for saying this is not because some simply dont accept a religious justification for fellating a baby – modern society does have its limits. What happens when animal sacrifice comes back – if the third temple is built- will it be anti-semitic to criticize that?

    Ive been to a briss – it was terrible, a bunch of people in my neighbors house, watching this kid get cut while his mother cried. Im not gonna get all “this is child abuse” ( except for the sucking, thats gotta go, thats just too much) when it comes to circumcision, because its so wide spread, but to just flat call being against circumcision in general “anti-semitic” is probably uncalled for.

    • Mooser says:

      “What happens when animal sacrifice comes back”

      Shhh! Do you want me to lose the only way I can get that dog to listen to me? I keep telling her it’s still around.

    • German Lefty says:

      @ Dan Crowther:
      Ive been to a briss – it was terrible, a bunch of people in my neighbors house, watching this kid get cut while his mother cried.

      Why did the mother cry?

      This article reminds me of an episode of “Queer as Folk” in which Brian stops his son’s circumsion.
      Lindsay: “Why does it matter to you if Gus is circumcised?”
      Brian: “It matters that he’s been in this world less than a week and already there are people who won’t accept him for the way he is. Who’d even mutilate him rather than let him be the way he is. The way he was born. Well, I’m not gonna let that happen.”
      Watch the clip here: link to youtube.com

      • Dan Crowther says:

        @ Dan Crowther:
        Ive been to a briss – it was terrible, a bunch of people in my neighbors house, watching this kid get cut while his mother cried.

        Why did the mother cry?
        ————————

        For the obvious reasons, she was watching her newborn under extreme duress and in pain, I can only imagine. I’ll put it this way – if mothers had a say way back when, no chance this happens.

        • German Lefty says:

          @ Dan Crowther:
          she was watching her newborn under extreme duress and in pain, I can only imagine. I’ll put it this way – if mothers had a say way back when, no chance this happens.

          I thought that perhaps she cried for joy. If she didn’t approve of the circumcision, then why on earth didn’t she stop it? If my husband wanted to do this to my child, I would take my child and run away. Better yet, I discuss parenting with my boyfriend BEFORE I even consider starting a family with him. And if there were some major differences of opinion, then it’s time to say good bye.

        • Dan Crowther says:

          They were observant Jews, so their son was circumcised. They also moved to Israel a year or so later…….

        • hophmi says:

          “If my husband wanted to do this to my child, I would take my child and run away. ”

          And that’s your right. No one is stopping you.

    • hophmi says:

      I’ve been to a bris as well. No one thought it was terrible. Like most people, you walk in with preconceived notions.

      Again, no one forced you to go and no one is forcing you to adopt the practice.

      • German Lefty says:

        @hophmi:
        Again, no one forced you to go and no one is forcing you to adopt the practice.
        That’s not the point. The baby boy was forced to be there and to undergo the procedure. That’s the reprehensible thing here.

        • hophmi says:

          “That’s not the point. The baby boy was forced to be there and to undergo the procedure. That’s the reprehensible thing here.”

          Do you oppose abortion, out of curiosity?

      • Hophmi-
        Wow, you said it all:

        I’ve been to a bris as well. No one thought it was terrible.

        Watch the video of the bris circumcision that’s linked to in the post above, and tell me: what does the baby think?
        Oh, wait: for you, the baby is no one.
        What about the men in this thread who have said we object to our circumcisions — are we also no ones?

        • hophmi says:

          “Watch the video of the bris circumcision that’s linked to in the post above, and tell me: what does the baby think?”

          Probably a version of what it thinks when it gets diaper rash or when it scrapes its knee. It’s not the world’s most pleasant experience.

          “Oh, wait: for you, the baby is no one.”

          I guess you don’t support abortion either. I can do without the unbearable self-righteousness. As I said, you’re free to practice as YOU SEE FIT. Just don’t force others to do the same.

          Anyway, I never said the baby is no one. I have asked over and over again where you plan to draw the line on parental practices. There are clearly parental practices that children do not or cannot consent to that are far more harmful than circumcision is. Society, at least American society, balances these practices against the First Amendment. There is no constituency calling for a circumcision ban outside of a few atheists in San Francisco, and they are not the mainstream. It also strains credulity that this is about physical integrity. If it’s about physical integrity, physical abuse, physical anything, the same people would oppose therapeutic abortion at a minimum, and ear-piercing for girls before they turn 18 for that matter. It’s not about physical integrity. It’s about religion.

          “What about the men in this thread who have said we object to our circumcisions — are we also no ones?”

          No, you’re not no one. You’re mostly people in search of a problem you don’t have because you’d like to make a silly stand against religion. If it wasn’t circumcision, it would be something else, like kosher slaughter. If it wasn’t that, it would be Hebrew school education.

          Mostly, you are ridiculously selfish. With all of the real problems in this world, with all of things to be upset about, you’re focusing on your dick, and you not only expect people to give a shit, you expect them to keep others from practicing their faith because you’re neurotic about missing your foreskin (as if you expect anybody to believe that the real basis of your neurosis or anyone else’s). Your band of secular lefties don’t know how to be adults about the practice, so they post sensationalistic pictures, cite nonsense statistics, use the most offensive language imaginable to describe a practice important to billions of people the world over, a practice that the vast majority of men have no trouble with whatsoever. Poor you. Get over yourself.

        • Hostage says:

          I guess you don’t support abortion either.

          Nobody is prescribing abortion eight days after the male infant is born. I certainly would not support a non-consensual abortion, which would be more analogous to what we are discussing here, e.g. China forced-abortion woman suffering state harassment, lawyer says link to guardian.co.uk

          I don’t see anything that would prevent the state from treating routine circumcision as simple assault and prohibiting the procedure in line with Employment Division, Department of Human Resources of Oregon v. Smith, 494 U.S. 872 (1990) link to law.cornell.edu

        • hophmi says:

          “Nobody is prescribing abortion eight days after the male infant is born. ”

          People are according the child with a right to autonomy. How can you justify abortion under that standard? The prenatal child is a human being after a point.

          “I don’t see anything that would prevent the state from treating routine circumcision as simple assault”

          Again, if most of society saw it your way, you might have a point. But the Free Exercise clause and the compelling interest test are high bars, and it’s doubtful they’d be overcome.

        • German Lefty says:

          @ hophmi:
          People are according the child with a right to autonomy. How can you justify abortion under that standard? The prenatal child is a human being after a point.
          A fetus is not a person. It’s merely a body part of the pregnant woman. A woman can do with her own body whatever she wants.

        • hophmi says:

          “A fetus is not a person. It’s merely a body part of the pregnant woman. A woman can do with her own body whatever she wants.”

          Body part?

          link to rightvoices.com

          Sorry to gross you out, but even pro-choice doctors would not refer to a fetus as the body part of the pregnant woman, and the fetus argument lasts only as long as the baby is not viable as an independent human being.

        • German Lefty says:

          @ hophmi:
          A fetus is a body part of the woman, because it’s inside of the woman and firmly connected to the rest of the woman’s body with the umbilical cord. As soon as it pops out (alive) or the umbilical cord is cut, it’s an individual person with own rights.

        • Hostage says:

          Again, if most of society saw it your way, you might have a point.

          #HasbaraFail. At the most, it would only take 5 Justices.

        • hophmi says:

          LOL. #pallywood fail.

          It would first take an actual law on the books. Slow down.

          Good luck getting five justices on this court to ban circumcision.

        • hophmi says:

          “A fetus is a body part of the woman, because it’s inside of the woman and firmly connected to the rest of the woman’s body with the umbilical cord. As soon as it pops out (alive) or the umbilical cord is cut, it’s an individual person with own rights.”

          OK, whatever. I have never heard a fetus described as a body part. You’re against cutting off a foreskin, but you have no trouble killing a human being that would without question be viable without its mother. You get around this cognitive dissonance by calling that life a body part.

        • German Lefty says:

          @ hophmi:
          If a fetus were considered a person, then what would happen if a pregnant woman had a miscarriage? She would be charged with homicide. Do you seriously approve of that?

        • Hostage says:

          It would first take an actual law on the books. Slow down.

          There already are assault and battery statutes in every state. In Employment Division, Department of Human Resources of Oregon v. Smith, 494 U.S. 872 (1990), and Prince v. Massachusetts – 321 U.S. 158 (1944) the Court was simply upholding the constitutionality of existing state statutes against a free exercise claims – including claims of parental religious rights.

          Good luck getting five justices on this court to ban circumcision.

          All it takes is five Justices reaffirming the Court’s existing decisions.

  18. Mooser says:

    Oh, circumcision isn’t such a big deal. When I was born, I had a bunch of extra pieces, unwanted accesories, and parts delivered with the wrong finish. Everybody knows that evolution tends toward a tremendous ineffeciency and duplication. And who, I ask you, is better qualified to determine which pieces are necessary, and which redundant or even harmful than man hisself? Man is the measure of man, and trimming ourselves into perfection is simply the ultimate in self-determination.
    Whoops, but I guess we’re not talking about modifying ourselves, we’re talking about doing it to unconsenting infants. Well the answer to that is very simple: What the hell does a couple-day-old baby know about anything? Besides, if they object, they should speak up like a man and say so!
    But, besides all those objective reasons, there’s a subjective angle, one hard to explain. Look, there he is, your little son, a blank canvas. How can we be expected resist the impulse to mark them as our own? It’s just a natural disgust with the idea that maybe, humans are perfect just as God and nature made them. That leads to a diturbing feeling that maybe our children aren’t really our property, just something in our care for a while. What the hell kind of a deal is that? That’s only for animals, for the beasts! No, man is higher than that, and can perfect himself!

    • Mooser says:

      Of course, opposed to our perfectly natural impulse to take a knife to our kids, there must have been a fear of infection in those Bible days, since they had only schmaltz, Neo-Sporin, Bactine and Be-bop not having been invented then. Seems to me that if those patriarchs were willing to slice away at their first-born sons, they were expecting a tangible result, and I can’t help but think, given the area of excisement, that it was related to sexual function. Gosh, if only I could somehow derive a synthesis of the attitude toward the sex act held by those long-ago peoples, and what they were expecting when they shaved the schvantz. They certainly weren’t trying to prevent their children from having children, so they probably were looking for an effect on the act of begetting the little beggars. Gosh, I wonder what it could be? Maybe they thought that tended toward redundancy and repitition, and wanted to make it, well, more efficient.
      Better not think too hard about it, maybe I don’t want to know.

      • Mooser says:

        Yeah, I’m stumped, I’ve looked at everything I could about the attitude of those peoples toward the sex act, marriage, procreation, privacy and function of the parts removed and the aftereffects of the “operation” all that kind stuff, and I still can’t figure out what result they were expecting from circumcision. Maybe they missed with me and I got a lobotomy instead, but I can’t figure it out.
        Ah, but what desert nights the Ten Tribes must have experienced, so sensuous, time for long, leisurely copulation (marital, of course) under a brilliant canopy of stars.

        • W.Jones says:

          I heard some of the OT rules were developed to promote health. I think it may be used to reduce STDs, but I am not sure how effective it is in that. As long as it is used as an OT religious ritual, the cutting seems OK to me, although I am not sure about the other ultra-orthodox practices involved (like in the picture).

          In any case, I would say about 80% of US males have it done. Alot of the criticisms made in this article (consent, pain, risks) apply to what is performed as a typical matter of business at US hospitals.

          The US is unusual in this regard- most other countries do not perform it as a hospital thing after birth. It also reduces sexual performance.

          The topic is an issue for Americans in general, and I think if it isn’t being used as a religious ritual, then it is normally better to keep it, along with your tonsils and appendix.

        • Mooser says:

          “I heard some of the OT rules were developed to promote health. I think it may be used to reduce STDs, but I am not sure how effective it is in that”

          Just amazing who much they knew about the germ theory back then, huh? Amazingly they had the same construction on disease as us! I mean that they cut the area of the body concerned with sexual function in order to some way effect sexual function in a way they thought would be advantageous in some way (whether religious or practical or both) comes in a distant second over disease prevention, huh? Wonder where I got such a crazy idea. I don’t now, maybe I got it mixed up with cutting of the hand of a thief, or something.

        • seafoid says:

          I thought it was all about branding. They probably took it from some other religion the way they borrowed liberally from Zoroastrianism, as Islam borrowed copiously from Christianity and Judaism.

          The health benefits are obviously made up. There was no Adam either and the world is older than 5764 years.

        • Taxi says:

          Mooser,
          I can tell you’re thoroughly enjoying this pantless subject.

        • Mooser says:

          “It also reduces sexual performance.”

          How dare you say that! You should be banned immediately! Don’t you know Nature or maybe Satan (I’m sure God didn’t do it) put the foreskin there to inhibit sexual performance. C’mon, you know all about evolution! What other possible use could it have? Thank God there is a sex-enhancing operation like circumcision available. Oy cause if there was anything those Bible people were hot on, it was good sex! Hey, you wander the desert for forty years, you get ideas, don’t you know.

        • Mooser says:

          “I can tell you’re thoroughly enjoying this pantless subject.”

          I don’t know how you are circumstanced in regard to this, but what the hell else am I gonna do? When I think of how many kids have been killed by medicine and religion, or hurt much worse than some sexual perfomance degradation, the fact that I escaped with my life is good enough for me. Sure, they circumcised me, like a whole lot of other kids, but I was before the age of the medicated child (I at least had the privilege of medicating myself, when and how I wanted!) , and my parents never made me go to Israel, even for a week.

        • Taxi says:

          Mooser dear Mooser, let me ask you this question: you ever read wikipidea’s collected definitions of a ‘shaggy dog story’?
          link to en.wikipedia.org

          I think you’ll dig the shag and sheer of it.

          But back to the more serious issue at hand: what on earth was Abraham thinking when he first offered a slice of you know what to god as commitment to his covenant? Whattheheckbegoingonthere?

        • ColinWright says:

          A lot of cultures mutilate their genitalia. You should read about what the Aborigines of Australia do.

          Then there were the ‘Flathead Indians’ of North America. Their foreheads really were flat: a board was tied to the skull during infancy.

          African tribes with women with extended necks…tattooing…it’s all about group identification and rites of passage and things.

          To make an issue out of it when it’s something others are doing and it really is statistically rather harmless and it’s a scrap of skin is absurd.

        • ColinWright says:

          Possibly. Oh well. If not for that, my perfectly respectable but by no means stellar sexual record would have been so much better.

          Somehow I doubt it. Anyway, how the devil would one get a valid sample to determine this? All possible pools are going to be contaminated by the other preferences and attitudes that the people who decided on circumcision also imparted to the child.

          Gee…you mean I might have had a better sex life if I hadn’t been circumcised? Hmm…possibly. Not much to do about it now, though. Oh well.

          My thoughts kind of peter (!) out at that point.

          This is NOT a big deal. Anyone who thinks it is definitely using it as a hitching post for something else.

        • Woody Tanaka says:

          “This is NOT a big deal. Anyone who thinks it is definitely using it as a hitching post for something else.”

          Colin, if you don’t think that cutting flesh off of babies for no reason is, itself, not enough of a reason to care, that’s your opinion. But don’t go implying that those of us who do care about these babies are doing so for any other reason than that.

  19. Light says:

    As others have written, this topic is not relevant to discussing the Israel/Palestine conflict. The article promotes misguided ideas about religious practices to the point of being anti-Semitic.

    • Woody Tanaka says:

      “The article promotes misguided ideas about religious practices”

      Exactly what ideas and exactly how are they misguided?

      • Light says:

        Woody, I am not opposed to discussing the pros and cons of circumcision in the right forum. Matthews article begins with a legitimate case of child sex abuse in an Orthodox community but then implies that rabbis and mohels performing circumcisions are really engaging in oral sex with minors.

        • Woody Tanaka says:

          Fair enough, Light. If someone were to believe that that is what they were doing, that would be misguided.

        • Mooser says:

          “but then implies that rabbis and mohels performing circumcisions are really engaging in oral sex with minors.”

          Excuse me for being dense, but having read that accusation, I missed the part in which you indicated which word, sentence, or paragraph performs that function of implication? Would you mind posting it again?

  20. Les says:

    Anyone who witnessed a rabbi sucking up the blood of a male infant during the circumcision ritual, goes a long way toward helping us to understand the origins of the belief by anti-Semites of yore that Jews practiced blood sacrifice, though not, as they believed, on Christians, but on fellow Jews, all the more chilling because it was done in a religious setting.

  21. mjrosenberg says:

    I want to elaborate a bit on why I am so offended by this piece. Those of us who struggle to make the case for peace and justice in the Middle East labor under the lobby-generated lie that we are anti-Israel or, as stupid as this is, anti-Semitic.

    In fact, it is the fear of being labelled anti-Semitic that prevents many non-Jews from even speaking out on the subject. As a friend, a nominal Christian put it to me: “They can call you anti-Semitic and you can laugh. But how would you feel if African-Americans labelled you racist, that would hurt. Well, that is what being called anti-Jewish feels like to me. And that is why I’ll leave this issue to you.”

    That is why I emphasize whenever I can that my attacks on the lobby are not about Jews, that the overwhelming majority of Jews are progressive and that the AIPAC crowd is a powerful but unrepresentative minority of Jews. That is also why I, and others, like to cite Israelis who share our position.

    An article like this, on a website dedicated to Middle East issues, suggests that there may be an anti-Jewish bias at play. Although male circumcision is practiced by infinitely more Muslims than Jews, it is identified most strongly with Jews. It is also, for Jews, the most universally accepted Jewish practice.

    To suddenly engage on this issue on a Middle East site is to undermine all of us who fight so hard to demonstrate that being pro-Palestinian does not make us anti-Jewish. For Jews (and Muslims) attacking male circumcision appears like religious bigotry. Right or wrong, the perception of anti-Semitism is created and to what end: to rail against a practice that is infinitely less dangerous than riding a bicycle.

    This issue does not belong here. It is especially offensive when the issue we are addressing — the Israeli-Arab conflict — is a struggle between two people who have this practice in common. Lay it aside.

    Even if circumcision was dangerous, discussion of its merits or dangers would still belong somewhere else. We have important work to do. This certainly isn’t part of it.

    • Woody Tanaka says:

      I think that the problem here is that you did to us exactly what the lobby does in general concerning Israel: ducked the issues by raising the anti-semitism card. (Cf, e.g.: “The Palestinian-rights movement is ugly, and suffused with anti-Semitism.” Do you think that the lobby would be comfortable with making that statement?)

      If you believe that the subject is not a good match for the theme of the site, that’s one thing. But your statement implies, if not flat-out states, that the only reason one is opposed to circumcision is because of bigotry against Jews and Muslims. And that is nonsense.

      And I have been riding bicycles my entire life and have never — not once — lost a body part as a result. I must be doing something wrong… (And that is actually beside the point because the lack of consent of the person getting the foreskin amputated is the primary concern, not the danger involved in doing so.)

    • MJ – I’d like to respond to your criticisms….

      You rightly bring up the concern that those of us who make the case for peace and justice in the Middle East are frequently smeared as being anti-Semitic. I know it’s happened to both of us many times over.

      So why do you do the same to me? In your previous comment, you said:

      The anti-circumcision movement is ugly, and suffused with anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.

      This clearly implies that my post is anti-Semitic. Can you point to anything specific in my post as being anti-Semitic?

      As you make clear in your comment above, being inappropriately smeared as anti-Semitic sucks.

      I previously addressed your concern (and others’ concerns) that this post is off-topic. See this comment I wrote:
      link to mondoweiss.net

      To my understanding, Phil’s mandate for this site is that it broadly engages with issues of concern to the American Jewish community, not only Israel/Palestine, for the purpose of bettering the community. If you have a bone to pick with that mandate, you should address it to Phil and Adam. However, my article fulfills Phil’s mandate by criticizing a harmful practice for the sake of making our community better.

      Your most revealing comment:

      Right or wrong, the perception of anti-Semitism is created and to what end: to rail against a practice that is infinitely less dangerous than riding a bicycle.

      How can you possibly make a statement like that in the face of the evidence?

      When I ride a bicycle, part of my body is not amputated against my will and without my consent.

      Have you watched the video that’s linked to in this article? Does it look like the infant baby is riding a bicycle?

      Are the deaths of infants irrelevant to you?

      Should not baby boys receive the same legal protections that baby girls enjoy in the United States?

      • Philip Weiss says:

        Matthew, I know you’re no anti-Semite, and one reason I’ve been drawn to your work is because of your proud brave actions as a Jew criticizing Israel. Also I am willing to believe you may be prophetic here, you and I both love unconventional argument; but in light of the comments, notably MJ’s, I dont think we’ll post on this issue again. It really isn’t our issue, we cant expend political capital on something that is off the I/P topic to this degree. And religious people find it highly offensive. Yes I know, religion is problematic. I agree with you entirely. Don’t get me started on Christianity and Islam. But again, it’s just not our area, I personally don’t have an opinion here (apart from strong opposition to the mouth practice you describe) let alone a child; and as the number/fury of comments here demonstrates, we are spending a ton of emotion and psychic energy and political capital putting out a fire in Naples when we are trying to rebuild Jerusalem. And I know you’re trying to rebuild Jerusalem, too, which is why I’m open to your views. But the point is that there are places for everything, and I now agree with MJ, I don’t think this is our place.

        • Phil,

          I understand entirely. I get that taking on Israel/Palestine is a huge task, and circumcision may be just too much for the basket to carry.

          My one tweak for you to keep in mind going forward, and where you might hear from me in the future, is if you start criticizing certain forms of sexual abuse of children within the Jewish community as you did previously, it’s hard for me to hear that without *also* daylighting circ. I’d been meaning to write this piece since May when I saw your posts about the ultra-Orthodox sex abuse scandal.

          So, if you want your site’s mandate to include criticism of sexual abuse of children within the Jewish world, then I believe this has to be part of it. Only talking about one form of child abuse and not another is a way of perpetuating the myth that abuse A is not okay but abuse B is okay/not to be questioned/morally righteous.

          Just food for thought for you.

          Maybe this won’t be relevant again, but, I wanted you to know my position.

          Thanks for the generous words re: prophetic.

          Let’s get back to rebuilding Jerusalem.

        • Philip Weiss says:

          Thanks Matthew for gracious response.
          As to my hypocrisy re child abuse, I think I’m more conventional intellectually here than you are. So: I have watched the news on Catholic Church, Penn State, and those corrupted institutions w respect to child abuse, and seized on that within Jewish life, the Orthodox coverup. In that case, something widely deemed to be a crime is being covered up. In this case something you and many others (including Mooser, whose judgments though anonymous I find interesting) deem to be a crime is not considered a crime by society and it is not covered up.
          You are trying to change that social definition. So I think that’s more ambitious than my writing on child abuse…
          Phil

        • Mooser says:

          (including Mooser, whose judgments though anonymous I find interesting)

          Exactly, Phil. If you knew who I was, you wouldn’t even give them a glance, let alone consider them interesting. Although I would hardly call them “judgements”. I’ve been told I lack that capacity.

        • Shmuel says:

          Thanks, Phil (for the edit as well). I think there is another aspect to addressing this topic here, and that is the accusation of self-hatred often thrown at anti-Zionist Jews. Like it or not, circumcision is a powerful symbol of Jewish identification, and opposition to the rite by Jews is widely-perceived as a rejection of Jewish identity itself.

          My dad (a very traditional, Yiddish-speaking Jew) never used the term “self hatred”, but often spoke of Jews who wanted “to sew it back on”. Or, in the immortal words of Howard Jacobson (whose Finkler Question is full of references to circumcision): “Did Finkler’s Jewish shame extend to his Jewish dick?”.

          I don’t doubt Matt’s sincerity, but this post just makes everything else you try to do here all the more difficult.

        • But Phil, I think you’ve ignored the key argument we’ve been making. If female genital mutilation is demonized but circumcision “is not considered a crime by society,” that’s bigotry, plain and simple. The American society, and the West in general, is monstruously bigoted against any barbaric practice not Christian or Jewish, and that is part of the I/P conflict, because Muslims are depicted as primitive, and Jews as sophisticated and, thus, more deserving of the land.

          It is part of a general worldview. Thus, primitive Muslims wear headscarves; primitive African women go around bare-breasted; only we Westerners wear the exact amount of clothing needed to be civilized. My sense in my years reading Mondoweiss is that this site fights such views.

          One last thing — your argument that society does not object the clearly abusive practice of circumcision, and criticizing it won’t win us any friends, reminds me strongly of Finkelstein’s argument that society does not accept BDS or the 1ss and so it’s not convenient to propound them.

        • eljay says:

          >> The American society, and the West in general, is monstruously bigoted against any barbaric practice not Christian or Jewish … Muslims are depicted as primitive, and Jews as sophisticated and, thus, more deserving of the land.

          Although this site is not the place to do it, perhaps it’s time to get the message out to American society, and the West in general, that some Jews suck the blood off male infants’ freshly-sliced penises.

          Wow. That really doesn’t sound like something anyone living in the 21st Century should be doing…

        • Phil — Thank you as well. I appreciate you seeing the ambition.
          You say you are more conventional intellectually. Within the Jewish world, on Israel/Palestine, you are relatively unconventional to the point of being radical, and your intellectual barbs are fired by moral outrage and a passionate stand for equality.
          I’m asking you and others like you to come over to my side of the pool on a similar issue. Come on in man, the water’s fine over here were there’s equality between baby boys and baby girls.
          I want you to critically think about this: what would you say if someone strapped down a newborn girl and sliced off part of her genitalia? Would you be outraged? Would you say this is worthy of legal accountability? Well the law agrees with that response, it’s illegal.
          So what do you think about the fact that ONLY a part of a baby boy’s genitals may be legally amputated without his consent but a girl’s may not be? Doesn’t equality apply?
          Here’s another way to look at it. When the social justice protests happened in Israel last year, didn’t you (as I did) find it kind of ridiculous that there was this widespread outrage about apartment rental prices, which was primarily a concern of Israeli Jews, but nothing, to my recollection, about house demolitions, which primarily affects Palestinians and Bedouins?
          So reading you criticize the ultra-Orthodox sex abuse scandal is similar for me, how can someone get indignant about the one thing when there’s this other thing going on that’s at least as harmful and probably more harmful in broad daylight? And at least there are laws against the first form of abuse but it’s perfectly legal to do the other form of abuse?
          For me circumcision is an emperor wears no clothes campaign, not meaning those who circumcise are emperors, but meaning it’s something many people are unable/unwilling to see and criticize whereas a vocal and growing minority is speaking up and trying to change it and the majority is resistant to that voice and experiencing cognitive dissonance. (Really? The emperor wears no clothes? Screw you, you must be anti-emperor/self-hating!)

          The cognitive dissonance of the majority, I believe, is tied up in all sorts of identity issues, and confronting unacknowledged personal injury is unsettling, disturbing, and hard for most.

        • Mooser says:

          “I don’t doubt Matt’s sincerity, but this post just makes everything else you try to do here all the more difficult.”

          Oh yes, Phil will find out if he can have his cake, and eat it too, before it’s over. Seems determined to. Just don’t be too sure it can’t be done, Shmuel. He might just pull it off, and God bless him if he can! I know I sure as hell couldn’t, (but of course that doesn’t make it any different from a lot of other things) All the blather about how “eternal” Judaism is tends to obscure the fact that the Jewish-social (and political) nexxus can change much faster and more flexibly then might appear possible to us. I tend to think it must, or Judaism could not have dealt with the exigencies of its tumultuous existence or get as far flung as it has. Which is not to say that a perfectly reasoned and worded rejoinder couldn’t be “Yeah? And what the hell do you know about it?” It would, I admit, leave me non-plussed standing here in my plus fours.

        • hophmi says:

          “So what do you think about the fact that ONLY a part of a baby boy’s genitals may be legally amputated without his consent but a girl’s may not be? Doesn’t equality apply?”

          No, because they are not the same practice in any way, shape, or form, and you continue to suggest that they are.

          “Here’s another way to look at it. When the social justice protests happened in Israel last year, didn’t you (as I did) find it kind of ridiculous that there was this widespread outrage about apartment rental prices, which was primarily a concern of Israeli Jews, but nothing, to my recollection, about house demolitions, which primarily affects Palestinians and Bedouins?”

          No, because people will generally protest about the things directly important to them that affect them on day-to-day basis. If Palestinians and Bedouins protested, they would likely focus, as they do, on home demolitions.

          Moreover, if most people in this country wanted to ban circumcision, there would be a greater chance of it being banned. But, really, it’s mostly a matter of allowing people to raise their children as they see fit. Today, Matt, you are free to make that decision for your own children, one of many you will make without their consent, and I am free to make it for mine, just as I am free to decide where to live, where to send my children to school, what to feed them, and so on. All things that will influence their lives much more than circumcision will, and all things I can do without their agreeing to it. We could ban a lot of things people do to their children that are harmful if we wanted to; we could put parents in jail for feeding children junk food, we could ban people from telling their children about G-d (I know how a number of people here would love to live in that world), we could force people to live in areas predesigned to make sure people of different races mix in order to ward off racial prejudice. Do you want to live in that kind of society? I don’t.

          “So reading you criticize the ultra-Orthodox sex abuse scandal is similar for me, how can someone get indignant about the one thing when there’s this other thing going on that’s at least as harmful and probably more harmful in broad daylight?”

          Because, frankly, once again, the comparison is ridiculous. The sex abuse scandal in the ultra-orthodox community involves the sexual abuse of children, and in some cases, communal coercion not to report it to police. There are dozens of cases (although, truth be told, experts in the field seem to believe the incidence of child abuse in the orthodox Jewish community is no higher, and maybe lower, than the rest of society). The criminality of coercing someone not to report abuse is crystal clear, as is the act of sexually abusing a child itself.

          To suggest that Metzizah B’peh, a not-widely-used practice that has resulted in possibly a couple of deaths over a decade, is widely-condemned in much of the Jewish community, and is not, in fact, illegal, is a problem of the same magnitude is frankly odd logic. Are you honestly going to suggest here that circumcision is as damaging to a child as molestation or rape is?

          “The cognitive dissonance of the majority, I believe, is tied up in all sorts of identity issues, and confronting unacknowledged personal injury is unsettling, disturbing, and hard for most.”

          Sorry Matt, but it’s nothing more than your conjecture based on what is clearly a very personal issue for you. For most Jews who choose to circumcise their children, it’s not a big deal. It’s a beautiful age-old ceremony of welcoming a baby boy into the faith, and the evidence seems to suggest most Jewish men do OK in life and don’t regard their circumcision as a major psychological hurdle to overcome.

          As I said before, you have the right not to circumcise your children, and I respect that. It’s a pity you don’t respect others who make a different choice.

        • Mooser says:

          “Like it or not, circumcision is a powerful symbol of Jewish identification”

          Which ought to be imposed without consent on an infant? Oh, never mind, I see, having the deed done on your kid is the “powerful symbol of Jewish identification”. Oh my, that’s just jolly. What compassion, what regard for the kid.

        • German Lefty says:

          @ Philip Weiss:

          I totally agree with The Hasbara Buster and Matthew Taylor.

          “but in light of the comments, notably MJ’s, I dont think we’ll post on this issue again. It really isn’t our issue, we cant expend political capital on something that is off the I/P topic to this degree. And religious people find it highly offensive.”
          Yeah, right! Let’s not offend anyone by pointing out a crime. You totally sound like a typical US politician, “I don’t want to piss off my supporters and don’t want to expend political capital on the I/P topic. That’s why I’ll focus on the economy and remain silent about Zionist crimes.”
          Isn’t this site about exposing injustice and doublethink by Jews/Americans/Israelis and about presenting alternative, progressive viewpoints? Ethnic nationalism in the USA is totally wrong. Ethnic nationalism in Israel is totally great. Non-consensual circumcision of girls is totally wrong. Non-consensual circumcision of boys is totally great. Just like you want the world to know that the crimes committed by “the Jewish state” don’t happen in your name, Mr Taylor wants the world to know that the crime of genital mutilation that is committed by “the Jewish community” doesn’t happen in his name.
          Both anti-Zionists and intactivists face false allegations of anti-Semitism. Their perfectly rational arguments are simply dismissed as Jew-hatred, because many people aren’t able or willing to distinguish between “the Jewish state” and Jewish people resp. between religious rituals and religious people. This article about circumcision totally belongs on this website.

          In this case something you and many others deem to be a crime is not considered a crime by society [...]. You are trying to change that social definition.
          This might be true for the USA, but not for Western Europe. From Wikipedia:
          “Finnish Medical Association opposes circumcision of infants for non-medical reasons, arguing that circumcision does not bring about any medical benefits and it may risk the health of the infant as well as his right to physical integrity, because he is not able to make the decision himself. The association emphasizes that according to Finnish constitution, the parents’ freedom of religion and conscience does not produce the right to violate other people’s (children’s) right to physical integrity.
          In the Netherlands, the Royal Dutch Medical Association (KNMG) stated in 2010 that non-therapeutic male circumcision ‘conflicts with the child’s right to autonomy and physical integrity.’ They called on doctors to inform caregivers seeking the intervention of the (in their assessment) medical and psychological risks and lack of convincing medical benefits. They stated that there are as good reasons for legal prohibition of male circumcision as exist for female genital mutilation (FGM).”
          Mr Taylor’s article wouldn’t create outrage over here.

        • Woody Tanaka says:

          “It’s a beautiful age-old ceremony of welcoming a baby boy into the faith”

          You have a twisted idea about what “beauty” is if you think slicing off parts of an inncent baby constitutes beauty.

        • hophmi says:

          Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and once again, Woody, you are free not to circumcise your children and also free not to attend the ceremonies of those who choose to.

        • edwin says:

          Within the context of Judaism, circumcision implies that Judaism is an obligation not a choice.

        • edwin says:

          I am willing to bet that you aren’t willing to take the same stand with regard to homosexuality – another topic that breaks down some of the Jewish/Muslim barriers.

          I personally don’t have an opinion here

          Well do you believe in freedom of religion? Is it ok to brand baby boys as Jewish? Do you believe that it is wrong to remove the foreskin from baby girls? Do you believe that women should have the right to control their own bodies? Do you believe that men should have the right to control their own bodies? What do you think about performing amputations without anesthetic? Are you willing to give it a go?

          You should have an opinion here – in the same way that those who do not have an opinion on whether a Jewish state, or for that matter an Islamic state, or a white state is a good or bad thing.

          No – you are probably right that in the short run – or even perhaps the medium run – this isn’t going to help the IP issue, though ultimately it is the same issue – the right of every individual to run their own life. The right that one’s religion, ethnicity, and one’s body are private and not the business of the state.

          As an aside, it is interesting that some of those who have been at the forefront of the anti-circumcision movement have been Jews. In 1843 reform rabbis questioned the need for circumcision. 1869 Approval by 13 Reform Jewish Rabbis who met in Philadelphia that: “… birth, and not circumcision, is the initiation into the Jewish religion.” 1885 At the National Rabbinical Convention of the Reformed Hebrew Church in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, Dr Kohler of New York, “denounced the rite of circumcision as a relic of barbarism.”

        • Shmuel says:

          Which ought to be imposed without consent on an infant? … Oh my, that’s just jolly. What compassion, what regard for the kid.

          Still trying for that world record in jumping to conclusions I see.

        • Danaa says:

          Shmuel: “I don’t doubt Matt’s sincerity, but this post just makes everything else you try to do here all the more difficult”

          Sort of sounds like the Atzmon battles, doesn’t it?

          By the time we are done tip-toeing around all the obstacles to Jewish sensibilities’ we’ll all turn into ballerinas. That could be quite a legacy for Phil to leave behind…

          PS I am curious to know what you think of that growing circumcision opposition movement in Israel (OK, not much of a movement yet, but a start…). I found that article fascinating (and as I said, was kind of surprised it’s happening.

        • Shmuel says:

          Sort of sounds like the Atzmon battles, doesn’t it?

          In a sense, but I wouldn’t compare Matt to our old friend GA.

          By the time we are done tip-toeing around all the obstacles to Jewish sensibilities’ we’ll all turn into ballerinas.

          Do you really think that Phil and Adam tip-toe around Jewish sensibilities? What’s wrong with trying to focus and choose your battles?

          PS I am curious to know what you think of that growing circumcision opposition movement in Israel

          Nice try :-) If you really want to know, feel free to write to me privately. Phil and Adam have the address.

        • ColinWright says:

          If it wasn’t for this thread, I would think this was kind of obvious.

        • ColinWright says:

          ‘But Phil, I think you’ve ignored the key argument we’ve been making. If female genital mutilation is demonized but circumcision “is not considered a crime by society,” that’s bigotry, plain and simple. ‘

          No it’s not. First, female genital mutilation can be extremely extensive. Circumcision involves removing a bit of skin that is of dubious utility in the first place. You don’t miss it: I was barely aware I was circumcised until some point in adulthood. Then it was ‘oh — say, give me some more of those chips.’ Some of those female genital mutilation practices are a complete horror.

          Second, there is no reason all practices have to be identical for men and women. I see no valid reason why the sexes can’t be differentiated. They certainly ARE: gender is literally the first thing you notice about a person, and everything from hair length to footwear is designed to accentuate the difference.

          This is human society. It’s how people are. Men and women are different; we divide each other by that factor before all others. There’s no ipso facto reason they should be treated identically in all things. Indeed, boys show an astonishing insistence on being boys, and girls show a remarkable tendency to be girls.

          The whole ‘they are perfectly equal thing’ is so laughable. When our son appeared, it was like night and day — in everything — compared to our daughter. I live near Berkeley, so of course I’m swimming against the tide when I point this out. Tellingly, parents that do have both a male and a female child hesitate before arguing with me. The only ones who charge cheerfully into the fray are those WHO HAVEN’T SEEN FOR THEMSELVES.

        • Woody Tanaka says:

          “…once again, Woody, you are free not to circumcise your children and also free not to attend the ceremonies of those who choose to.”

          But the issue isn’t what I am free to do or not do, but the rights of babies not to be ritually mutilated.

        • Woody Tanaka says:

          “First, female genital mutilation can be extremely extensive. Circumcision involves removing a bit of skin that is of dubious utility in the first place. You don’t miss it: I was barely aware I was circumcised until some point in adulthood. Then it was ‘oh — say, give me some more of those chips.’ Some of those female genital mutilation practices are a complete horror.”

          The preclusion of female genital mutilation in the US includes things like pricking the clitoral hood with a needle to produce a drop of blood. That is illegal and yet is far, far, far, far less horrific than male genital mutilation.

          And the foreskin is hardly of “dubious utility.” That statement is medically gibberish.

        • talknic says:

          hophmi June 25, 2012 at 7:00 pm

          “you are free not to circumcise your children and also free not to attend the ceremonies of those who choose to”

          Let’s talk about the freedom of children from being mutilated by those “who choose to” mutilate children.

        • hophmi says:

          “Let’s talk about the freedom of children from being mutilated by those “who choose to” mutilate children.”

          I agree. Let’s disallow ear piercing until girls are 18.

        • Woody Tanaka says:

          “I agree. Let’s disallow ear piercing until girls are 18.”

          If we include this in a law which makes illegal your male genital mutilation, deal.

        • Mooser says:

          Well as I said, before I read this thread, I never you could stab somebody in the back with an izmel. But I’ve now seen it done, and with such alacrity! Et tu Rosenberg?
          I hope they get whatever they think they’re going to get as a reward for doing it.

      • hophmi says:

        This is not a matter of US Politics or of the American Jewish community. This is matter of radical left-wing politics, which often includes stances against religious practice, whether they are actually bothering anyone or not. It would seem, however, logical, to acknowledge that circumcision is widely practiced, and that the Jewish community constitutes a small percentage of that practice worldwide. It would also be logical to note the hypocrisy here of claiming it’s all about the children, when, in fact, it’s all about mocking religion.

        It also strains credulity to suggest that it’s appropriate to discuss it here because it’s an issue in the American Jewish community. It is not. It is first of all not exclusive to the American Jewish community or to the Jewish community at all. Most practitioners of circumcision are not Jewish. It is second of all not generally an issue of controversy. There is no sect of Judaism that endorses the banning of circumcision, and there is no history within the faith of Jews endorsing a ban on circumcision. MJ Rosenberg rightly says that posts like this suggest to people that the pro-Palestinian movement is antisemitic. I think MJ has it backward. This post confirms what has been confirmed many times – that a strain of antisemitism is endemic to the pro-Palestinian community. I’ve seen it too many times – people clapping when Lenni Brenner told a crowd of New Yorkers at the launch for Alex Cockburn’s The Politics of Antisemitism that assimilation was quickly reducing the number of Jews in the world. Conspiracy theories that seek to blame organized Jewry for the War with Iraq. The comment section here replete withsites to Holocaust denial websites, books blaming Jews for the Holocaust, claims about Jewish financial and media power – the list goes on and on.

        • talknic says:

          hophmi June 26, 2012 at 7:45 am

          “This is matter of radical left-wing politics”

          Babies have right wing politics, there fore they want to be mutilated? No one on the left supports circumcision? Only the right believe in mutilating children? It’s RIGHT to be cruel to children because of your religion? I’m not sure what you’re trying to say.

        • hophmi says:

          “It’s RIGHT to be cruel to children because of your religion? I’m not sure what you’re trying to say.”

          Obviously, most people, in America at least, do not believe it’s cruel.

          The campaign to ban circumcision is a radical left-wing one, consistent with other attempts to legislate or litigate religious practices they deem offensive out of existence.

      • Kathleen says:

        Surely did not get the anti semite claim. Odd

        “Are the deaths of infants irrelevant to you?

        Should not baby boys receive the same legal protections that baby girls enjoy in the United States?”

        Important. So important. Along with the questions around the pain, the need, the legal protections. Little boys have died.

        • hophmi says:

          “Should not baby boys receive the same legal protections that baby girls enjoy in the United States?””

          They do. You can’t practice FGM on a boy either. And I don’t mean to be facetious. But your argument relies on the unwarranted assumption that FGM and male circumcision are the same thing and they simply are not.

          “Important. So important. Along with the questions around the pain, the need, the legal protections. Little boys have died.”

          Not important. Not so important. Little boys have died from lots and lots of things, and the vast majority of circumcisions are not performed using Metzizah B’peh. You’re partial-birth-abortioning this issue.

        • Woody Tanaka says:

          “They do. You can’t practice FGM on a boy either. And I don’t mean to be facetious.”

          Yes, you are.

          “But your argument relies on the unwarranted assumption that FGM and male circumcision are the same thing and they simply are not. ”

          No, male genital mutilation is far, far worse than some forms of female genital mutilation which are illegal. But cut the crap, hoppy. The truth is that the only reason you see a difference is because your religion mandates that you see one. If your silly book said, “chop off your daughter’s clitoral hood, but protect your son’s foreskin” you would sing the opposite tune about how horrible male genital mutilation is and how innocuous female genital mutilation is.

          “Not important. Not so important. Little boys have died from lots and lots of things, and the vast majority of circumcisions are not performed using Metzizah B’peh.”

          Yeah, a few dead babies here or there. Who cares? What’s a few dead babies so long as we can follow some ancient fairytale… And the babies who die and suffer other conditions include those who are not subjected to the metzizah b’peh.

        • hophmi says:

          “Yes, you are. ”

          No, I’m not. We don’t allow a practice that is as invasive and extreme as FGM on girls or boys. If circumcision consisted of removing 1/3 of or the entire the penis and refashioning a hole for urination and ejaculation, as some forms of FGM do the clitoris, I am sure it would be illegal.

          “No, male genital mutilation is far, far worse than some forms of female genital mutilation which are illegal. ”

          The fact of the matter is that the overwhelming majority (85%) of FGM involves complete removal of the clitoris. That’s part of the reason it is treated differently; the most extreme forms of the practice are by far the most common. The anatomical equivalent would be something like cutting off the entire penis. The less extreme forms, like symbolic pricking of the clitoris to draw blood, were never all that common. And that’s part of the point. If FGM were simply a symbolic pricking the clitoris, and not removal altogether, along with pain that brings, the highly increased risk of infection, and the linkage between it and the subjugation of women, is there really anyone here who thinks it would be called FGM and would be subject to a worldwide campaign? The facts matter, and there are enough of them to support a ban on FGM, and not enough to support a ban on male circumcision.

          en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Female_genital_mutilation (read the introduction)

        • Woody Tanaka says:

          “No, I’m not. We don’t allow a practice that is as invasive and extreme as FGM on girls or boys. If circumcision consisted of removing 1/3 of or the entire the penis and refashioning a hole for urination and ejaculation, as some forms of FGM do the clitoris, I am sure it would be illegal. ”

          The point is that there are forms of female genital mutilation which are much, much less invasive than male genital mutilation that you favor, but which are still illegal. Indeed, the anatomical parallel to male genital mutilation in females is the removal of the clitoral hood, which is about halfway along the spectrum of seriousness.

          But the point is that all of these are illegal, because they all violate the autonomy of the child. We’ve protected girls from the ravages of cultural and religious barbarism, now it’s time to protect the boys.

          “If FGM were simply a symbolic pricking the clitoris, and not removal altogether, along with pain that brings, the highly increased risk of infection, and the linkage between it and the subjugation of women, is there really anyone here who thinks it would be called FGM and would be subject to a worldwide campaign? ”

          Yes, it would because it is still the denial of personal autonomy of children for no reason. It would still be defended by barbaric fanatics, like you, but I would trust that it would be illegal in the same, as one day male genital mutilation will be. You’ll just have to change your religious beliefs.

        • hophmi says:

          “The point is that there are forms of female genital mutilation which are much, much less invasive than male genital mutilation that you favor, but which are still illegal. Indeed, the anatomical parallel to male genital mutilation in females is the removal of the clitoral hood, which is about halfway along the spectrum of seriousness. ”

          Yes, they are, and I’m sure the reason is because overall, the practice is removal of the clitoris, not the less extreme forms.

          “But the point is that all of these are illegal, because they all violate the autonomy of the child. We’ve protected girls from the ravages of cultural and religious barbarism, now it’s time to protect the boys.”

          Sorry, but that’s not the reality. FGM is illegal because of what the practice actually entails, not because it violates the autonomy of the child. And you know that. There are many, many practices that “violate the automony of the child.”

          “We’ve protected girls from the ravages of cultural and religious barbarism, now it’s time to protect the boys.”

          Eh, not exactly. You protected them from an extreme practice that was extraordinarily painful, extraordinarily unsafe, and was getting them sick.

          “It would still be defended by barbaric fanatics, like you”

          Right, and I’m sure you’re keen to ban soda too, which will cause infinitely more deaths than circumcision will, and is a habit kids pick up from their parents. No? You’re barbaric.

        • Woody Tanaka says:

          “Yes, they are, and I’m sure the reason is because overall, the practice is removal of the clitoris, not the less extreme forms.”

          But, again, even the forms which are less extreme than the barbaric procedure you perform are illegal. Why? Because it’s child abuse.

          “Sorry, but that’s not the reality. FGM is illegal because of what the practice actually entails, not because it violates the autonomy of the child.”

          False. It’s illegal because it is a barbaric practice, just like male genital mutilation is.

          “There are many, many practices that ‘violate the automony of the child.’”

          Yes, and the ones which result in the removal of a body part are illegal, except for hacking away at baby boys. And one day it will be illegal, too.

          “Right, and I’m sure you’re keen to ban soda too, which will cause infinitely more deaths than circumcision will, and is a habit kids pick up from their parents.”

          Yes, I do favor banning soda for children. But the difference is that parents don’t hold strap their kids down and shove soda down their throat and it doesn’t result in them losing body parts.

          “You’re barbaric.”

          HA! You’re the one supporting child abuse; offering up your own children to be hacked apart as a blood sacrifice to your god or as a token of some nonsense or whatever your theological excuse is. That’s barbaric.

        • hophmi says:

          “But, again, even the forms which are less extreme than the barbaric procedure you perform are illegal. Why? Because it’s child abuse.”

          Is it really a mystery? If 85% of the time, a practice is extraordinarily invasive and unsafe, you’re probably going to ban all manifestations of the practice.

          And the less extreme forms are, not, in fact, banned everywhere. There is no ban, for instance, in Indonesia, a country of 200 million people, where FGM is overwhelmingly non-invasive. I doubt you’re going to find many prosecutions for pricking the clitoris even in places where it’s against the law.

          “Yes, and the ones which result in the removal of a body part are illegal, except for hacking away at baby boys. And one day it will be illegal, too. ”

          If you call the foreskin a body part. It’s a bit of the stretch (no pun intended).

          “Yes, I do favor banning soda for children. But the difference is that parents don’t hold strap their kids down and shove soda down their throat and it doesn’t result in them losing body parts.”

          I’m not sure what strapping down has to do with it. All the more reason to ban it, because it’s so easy to become addicted to sugary drinks. Anyone who has or knows someone who has lost a limb to diabetes would disagree with your assertion that drinking soda does not lead to losing body parts.

          “HA! You’re the one supporting child abuse; offering up your own children to be hacked apart as a blood sacrifice to your god or as a token of some nonsense or whatever your theological excuse is. That’s barbaric.”

          I’ll give you consistency on the soda ban. How far are you willing to take your coercive outlook? Lollipops? Ice cream?

        • Hostage says:

          No, I’m not. We don’t allow a practice that is as invasive and extreme as FGM on girls or boys. If circumcision consisted of . . .

          Hophmi your line of argumentation is moot. If you performed the identical circumcision procedure on a non-consenting adult, you could be charged with criminal assault under existing statutes in every State of the Union. There is no reason that states can’t extend those same legal protections to minors, and quite a few good reasons why they should.

        • hophmi says:

          “If you performed the identical circumcision procedure on a non-consenting adult, you could be charged with criminal assault under existing statutes in every State of the Union. There is no reason that states can’t extend those same legal protections to minors, and quite a few good reasons why they should.”

          Your line of reasoning is faulty. If you spanked an adult male, you would be prosecuted. If you spank a minor, you’re protected. If you tried to feed emulsified peaches to an adult male by sticking a spoon in his mouth, you’d be in trouble with the law. Not so with a one-year-old. If you tried to pull the pants off of an adult male and wipe his ass without his permission, again, you might have a problem. Not so with a baby.

          OK, that’s enough weirdness.

        • Woody Tanaka says:

          “Your line of reasoning is faulty.”

          No, your line of reasoning is faulty. Simply because the law permits parents to do certain things to their children, such as spank them, feed them, and wipe their ass, doesn’t mean that you can do anything you want with your children, such as kill them or brand them. And one day, the evil of male genital mutilation will be outlawed too.

        • eljay says:

          >> OK, that’s enough weirdness.

          You’re right. Let’s get back to defending the importance in the 21 Century of slicing skin off a male infant’s penis, and then sucking the blood off it.

        • Hostage says:

          Your line of reasoning is faulty. If you spanked an adult male, you would be prosecuted. If you spank a minor, you’re protected. . . . . OK, that’s enough weirdness.

          No your line of reasoning is faulty. State laws generally say that abuse does not include reasonable physical discipline administered by a parent or guardian. A parent would not be allowed to use a surgical scalpel to administer physical discipline under any existing state law. FYI, about a dozen states have outlawed spanking in public schools. New Jersey and Iowa have specifically outlawed corporal punishment in both private and public schools. So an adult certainly can be prosecuted for spanking a child.

          As for weirdness, the state, acting as parens patriae, has the authority to put a stop to the transmission of herpes through the ritual of metzitzah b’peh.

          The Supreme Court affirmed in Prince v. Massachusetts – 321 U.S. 158 (1944) that: “the family itself is not beyond regulation in the public interest, as against a claim of religious liberty. Reynolds v. United States, 98 U. S. 145; Davis v. Beason, 133 U. S. 333. And neither rights of religion nor rights of parenthood are beyond limitation . . . The right to practice religion freely does not include liberty to expose the community or the child to communicable disease or the latter to ill health or death. People v. Pierson, 176 N.Y. 201, 68 N.E. 243.” — link to supreme.justia.com

        • hophmi says:

          I haven’t defended Metzizah B’Peh. I oppose that particular practice, which constitutes a small percentage of circumcisions in the Jewish community. I do defend the right of Jews and Muslims and everyone else to practice medically safe neonatal male circumcision.

        • eljay says:

          >> hophmi: I haven’t defended Metzizah B’Peh. I oppose that particular practice …

          Really? But, according to hophmi: I see only a protest of the Jewish practice here.

          Why does he hate Jews so much?!

    • Mooser says:

      “I want to elaborate a bit on why I am so offended by this piece.”

      One little snip and it need offend you no longer, sir. Just open your fly and think of Israel!

    • American says:

      Well I don’t have a dog in the circumcision battle, both our boys were circumcised at the hospital. All I am saying is if circumcision is a religious thing for Jews they should have it done the ‘safest way possible’ for a baby—by a doctor, in the appropriate setting…if they want to “make it religious” they can celebrate it ‘afterward’ with some ritual. FGS…people don’t slice off their dogs balls if they want them neutered, which they could, it’s not that difficult…they take them to a vet for pain abatement and infection prevention. Shouldn’t be hard to grasp a baby needs the same precautions..

      • hophmi says:

        Indeed, we neuter our pets. Is Matt against that? Pets can’t consent to their neutering, and there are definitely some places where people believe it’s cruel and painful. Who are we to control the pet population?

        • ColinWright says:

          Well, that argument fails on the point that people aren’t animals.

          We eat some animals too. Would it follow that we could eat infants as well?

          Even if not racist, sexist, or ageist, we are still speciest. What’s sauce for the animal goose just isn’t sauce for the human gander. I’m a shameless elitist on this point. The dog does not get to get onto the bed, and baby sheep are delicious.

    • I definitely agree with MJ’s points about the possibility of imputing antisemitism onto this site. Without agreeing or disagreeing with anything else said above, I just want to express my shock and disappointment to see this much Islamophobia on Mondoweiss. I think it’s totally legit if Matthew wants to question the place of the circumcision ritual in modern Judaism and I hope he has space to do that somewhere. Maybe there is a space devoted to progressive Judaism that would be appropriate. If there are Muslims who want to question their ritual, I hope they get to as well in a forum for themselves.

      But this comment thread has become a receptacle for myths about Muslims and women, the Muslim world, and what is and isn’t permissible in Islam. This is the one Jewish site I felt comfortable would commit to an anti-Islamophobia discourse. I felt like people here at least understood the gravity of the situation American Muslims are faced with. The stuff written above is troubling, as it’s clear even progressive Jews have a long way to go in educating themselves beyond media stereotypes.

      Also, as a Jew, I was pretty offended by the image attached to this article when it appeared this morning. I also think comparisons to sexual abuse are completely unwarranted. Say what you want about the child having the right to decide what to do with his body for himself, but this is not about some perverted sexual gratification. The people involved are complying with their religious and spiritual beliefs. Whether or not you think the ritual is barbaric, it is not fellatio, and the suggestion is despicable. I mean, doesn’t it occur to you that this invokes blood libel and the antisemitic theory that rabbis are permitted to molest children? To me, this is deeply problematic…I also saw that anti-circumcision cartoon last year, which to me nutshells MJ’s points. There is a lot of hostility towards minority religions in that movement…I find it offensive. That’s my two cents.

      • Danaa says:

        Rachel – face it – there’s a lot of opposition growing to routine circumcision in the US and the practice is slowly but surely decreasing rapidly. What’s still done in hospital settings is declining as people get more educated about the subject and as the medical profession gets fully on board with this procedure being neither beneficial nor medically necessary in any way. So if health is not a reason 9and even if it was) there’s no other reason for people to do what to those who are not religious is a mutilation. Personally I hope to see the practice of circumcision eliminated in hospitals altogether in the very near future. To that end continued discussion and dissemination of information to the population about the lack of medical indicators for this is absolutely essential.

        That leaves the issue of religious practice. There I am less certain. I think this is where continued education and re-evaluation of ancient religious rulings is called for. Many practices and religious rituals change over time, as new facts come to light and as preferences change. Even in Israel (see my link below) there is a steady increase in the number of secular people who question the need and the appropriateness of the custom.

        Personally I don’t rush to call customs barbaric though I may not condone them. That goes for voodoo rituals and for circumcision rituals. Perhaps, in due course people who do things for religious reasons can replace the full custom of foreskin removal with something symbolic. If they don’t move in that direction then it is highly likely that within a decade we’ll have distinct markers for Jewish and Muslim males that will be at variance with those of the general population. That’s how it already is in Europe and Asia, but in the US I see potential problems, given the many mixed marriages.

        In any case, i see nothing anti-semitic in questioning certain Jewish customs. I used to refuse to eat Kosher meat on account of animal welfare (not an issue now since i’ve gone mostly vegetarian – for the same reason). traditions and customs can and do change, and airing the differences of opinions is constructive, IMO.

        • Cliff says:

          Danaa, don’t waste your breath on Ruth/Rachel.

          She is a settler troll from the old days (mocking the dead Gazan children before she ‘lost’ her pw and changed her name to Rachel).

          Check her oldest posts to see how vulgar and infantile she was. Apparently she’s some cranky old Zionist with too much time on her hands!

        • Danaa says:

          Thanks for the tip, Cliff. I thought she may have been a new poster. Darn – they get me every time!

          Well, no comment is wasted, regardless who it is addressed to, is it?

      • German Lefty says:

        @ Rachel Roberts:

        Also, as a Jew, I was pretty offended by the image attached to this article when it appeared this morning. I also think comparisons to sexual abuse are completely unwarranted.

        If you think that sucking the genitals of a non-consenting minor doesn’t constitute sexual abuse, then why were you so offended by the photo that was originally attached to the article?

        • edwin says:

          I think that if a non-consenting woman was held down and the hood of her clitoris was removed without her permission, it would be considered, among other things, rape. So, yes, removing the hood of the penis on a new born baby boy is also rape. The issue of sucking the blood is graphic and obscene, but of minor importance to the entire issue.

        • Taxi says:

          “The issue of sucking the blood is graphic and obscene, but of minor importance to the entire issue.”

          Of “minor importance”??????????

          It’s mortifyingly unthinkable!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

          Good grief man!

        • hophmi says:

          “Of “minor importance”??????????”

          Yes, it’s of minor importance because it is not how circumcision is practiced in 99% of cases. It doesn’t represent what circumcision is any more than that picture of the dead baby the Republicans were passing around during the partial birth abortion debate represents what abortion is.

        • edwin says:

          I made a response to the entire article which deals with this issue in more detail. It appears to have disappeared into the ether.

          Briefly, I do not make a moral distinction between how we mutilate our children. To claim that we are morally superior because we mutilate our children in a doctor’s office seems to me to be a false sense of superiority.

          Personally, I would have thought that hacking off bits of your male children’s sex organs was mortifyingly unthinkable no matter how it was done – including in a doctor’s office.

        • Taxi says:

          Taxi: “Of “minor importance”??????????”
          Hophmi: “Yes, it’s of minor importance”…. blablah cuz it only happens to a FEW infants.

          I rest my case!

        • Hostage says:

          Personally, I would have thought that hacking off bits of your male children’s sex organs was mortifyingly unthinkable no matter how it was done – including in a doctor’s office.

          I agree. The constitutional principles that the Supreme Court applied in Employment Division, Department of Human Resources of Oregon v. Smith (No. 88-1213) 307 Or. 68, 763 P.2d 146 is: that it is illegal to prohibit an act on religious grounds, but that a general prohibition which applies to everyone does not offend the free exercise clause.
          link to law.cornell.edu

        • hophmi says:

          “I rest my case!”

          And you lose. Because arguing that circumcision should be banned because a tiny minority practice Metzizah B’peh is identical to arguing that abortions should be banned because a tiny minority practice partial birth abortion.

        • hophmi says:

          “I agree. The constitutional principles that the Supreme Court applied in Employment Division, Department of Human Resources of Oregon v. Smith (No. 88-1213) 307 Or. 68, 763 P.2d 146 is: that it is illegal to prohibit an act on religious grounds, but that a general prohibition which applies to everyone does not offend the free exercise clause.”

          It’s a little more complicated than that; I’m not sure you could show that a ban would be generally applicable in the way that, say, a ban on peyote is generally applicable here. It’s more than drafting language.

        • Woody Tanaka says:

          “It’s a little more complicated than that; I’m not sure you could show that a ban would be generally applicable in the way that, say, a ban on peyote is generally applicable here.”

          Sure you can. The vast majority of circumcisions done in the US are not done for religious reasons. It’s exactly the same argument as a ban on peyote in that regard. Any impact on religious practice (if, indeed, assaulting your baby in this fashion can be described as a religious practice and not what it is: child abuse) would be incidental, at best.

          Because you have a very pronounced and very pathetic victim complex, you fail to see that the vast majority of circumcisions that we seek to avoid are not related to religion at all, and the same exact arguments would exist if there was no religious ritualized genital mutilation of baby boys at all.

        • Hostage says:

          It’s a little more complicated than that; I’m not sure you could show that a ban would be generally applicable in the way that, say, a ban on peyote is generally applicable here. It’s more than drafting language.

          For the last time. Female Genital Mutilation statutes in the US treat the act as simple assault. If you circumcised a non-consenting man it would be an offense punishable under existing criminal assault statutes. Nothing prevents the state from extending that legal protection to minors and infants. The right of a parent to use physical violence against a child is not governed by religion under existing state laws.

        • hophmi says:

          “For the last time. ”

          You can keep saying it until you’re blue in the face, and it won’t change the weakness of your argument.

          “Female Genital Mutilation statutes in the US treat the act as simple assault. ”

          And for the last time, FGM is not neonatal male circumcision. It’s FGM.

          “If you circumcised a non-consenting man it would be an offense punishable under existing criminal assault statutes.”

          And again, there are a lot of things that you can’t do to a non-consenting adult that you can do to a child, including, of course, medical procedures, for which parents act a proxy for the child.

          So we’ve established that parents can do lots of things to a child without his consent. We’ve established that parents have the right to make medical decisions for their children.

          So why is FGM illegal? It’s because the vast majority of FGM involves a full clitorectomy, because FGM has a high incidence of complication, because FGM is extraordinarily painful, and probably because FGM is inherently linked to the subjugation of women in the societies where it is practiced.

          All good reasons. None based on the concept that circumcision per se constitutes an assault. All are based on the fact that FGM is horrible in a way that neonatal male circumcision simply is not.

          “The right of a parent to use physical violence against a child is not governed by religion under existing state laws.”

          And for the last time, the vast majority of our society does not consider neonatal male circumcision violence. You do, and you are entitled to your opinion, and to promote that opinion to others.

        • Hostage says:

          And again, there are a lot of things that you can’t do to a non-consenting adult that you can do to a child, including, of course, medical procedures, for which parents act a proxy for the child.

          That’s still a moot argument. Neonatal circumcision has no medical benefits for infants of either gender and it could be treated as assault and battery under existing state statutes.

          So we’ve established that parents can do lots of things to a child without his consent. We’ve established that parents have the right to make medical decisions for their children.

          We’ve actually established that in Prince v. Massachusetts – 321 U.S. 158 (1944) ; Reynolds v. United States, 98 U. S. 145; and Davis v. Beason, 133 U. S. 333 the Supreme Court ruled that neither rights of religion nor rights of parenthood are beyond limitation. It held that the family itself is not beyond regulation in the public interest, against a claim of religious liberty exactly like the one you keep making.

  22. eeejay says:

    This post is was upsetting to read, embarrassing, and antisemitic. Matthew, you deal with your castration complex elsewhere.

    • eejay — what precisely is antisemitic about daylighting and criticizing a ritualized practice that results in the death of infants?

      • hophmi says:

        Some infants die from taking antibiotics. In fact, there are people who believe giving children antibiotics makes them less immune to disease in later life. Should we ban them for children?

        Children die from riding bikes. Should we ban them?

        Children die from taking baths. They can drown. Should we ban them?

        Children die from eating peanuts. Should all children be banned from eating peanuts?

        This can go on and on.

        Let’s respect a religious practice instead of creating a new class of victims and a new reason to offend the First Amendment.

        • Cliff says:

          LOL

          Hey hophmi, more dinosaurs died at once millions of years ago – than Jews during the Holocaust, why are you so upset about your ‘people’s’ singular tragedy?

          Hey hophmi, more people die from TVs falling on them as they reach over to fix their non-existent VCR(since its a dead tech) than from rockets on S’Derot.

          Hey hophmi, more people die each year from blah blah than from Palestinian suicide terrorism in its sum total.

          Hey hophmi, more people in X country suffer from Y affliction than Israelis from dealing with the occasional Palestinian militancy in the form of a stray pop rocket chipping someone’s porch.

          Etc etc

          Think of new material **** for brains.

        • Woody Tanaka says:

          And none of the things you point to, hoppy, are as devoid of actual content as cutting off part of a baby’s penis to mark a token of a covenant in a ancient religious myth.

          If we gave our kids antibiotics not because of their medical effects but because some boogieman required it, then, yes, they should be banned.

          If bicycles did not do anything and provided no enjoyment and exercise, but it was done because some ghost in a spook story demanded it, then yes, they should be banned.

          If bathing did not have a positive hygienic effect and we forced them on children because we were commanded by a demon in an ancient superstition, then, yes, it should banned.

          If eating peanuts didn’t provide nutrition, but we forced them down our kids throats because it was demanded by a sprite or a wood nymph in a fairy tale, then, yes, it should be banned.

          “Let’s respect a religious practice instead of creating a new class of victims and a new reason to offend the First Amendment.”

          And if my “religious practice” required me to punch a random person in the face once every year would you “respect” that? Or is it only when you hack off parts of defenseless babies that it becomes okay?

        • talknic says:

          hophmi June 26, 2012 at 1:07 am

          “This can go on and on”

          Yes there’s no preventing accidents and unknowns.

          Circumcision is deliberate

          “Let’s respect a religious practice instead of creating a new class of victims and a new reason to offend the First Amendment”

          I don’t believe chopping bits off children is covered by the First

          BTW the victims are the CHILDREN , not the people mutilating them

      • ColinWright says:

        Swimming pools also result in the deaths of infants — quite a few. The little suckers fall in when nobody’s looking.

        Should we fill in all swimming pools?

    • Mooser says:

      “Matthew, you deal with your castration complex elsewhere.”

      Uh, look, “eeejay” I haven’t seen you here before (likeee heeell I haveeen’t!) but you might want to consider a little phenomenon called “projection” before you write comments like that.
      Oh, sorry, my mistake. I hadn’t realised you had more insight into what’s going on in Mathew Taylor’s mind than you do in your own. Won’t happen again.

    • Mooser says:

      Say “eee”jay, I wonder if you can tell me, should Jewish atheists get circumcised?

  23. Sumud says:

    Storm in a teacup – and I mean the silly comments about this article being anti-semitic, not the article Matthew wrote.

    In Australia up until about 20-30 years ago circumcision was the normal practice (regardless of faith) and over a period of a decade or two it has became commonly accepted that circumcision is unnecessary. As I understand it most male babies aren’t circumcised now but it still does occur and it is a decision for the parents.

    I’d never heard of the practice of ‘metzitzah b’peh’ until today and it hasn’t changed my opinion of jews at all – so for all those panting about anti-semitism and even blood libel: just relax, not everybody is as stupid, gullible and narrow-minded as you might think.

    All religions have outdated rituals and practices that might have made sense once upon a time, and this sounds like one of those.

  24. American says:

    Well, I think you’re wrong to agree with MJ that’s the subject is anti semitic…in fact I think that is absurd..that’s not how I took it at all. Condemning the practice of some Muslims or Africans mutilation of females genitalia isn’t being anti Islam or anti African either, it’s objecting to the practice on human and medical safety grounds, criticizing a specific primitive practice. People’s babies aren’t chattel, they don’t get to operate on or mulitate them in any way they see fit regardless of their religion.
    Although I do agree that all this is not really pertinent to the topic of Israel-Palestine and wanders off the reservation.

    • hophmi says:

      That’s because FGM is not a per se Muslim practice the way circumcision is in Judaism, and also because there is no constituency within the Jewish community calling for an end to the practice. And again, circumcision and FGM are simply not the same thing or comparable.

      • German Lefty says:

        @ hophmi:
        circumcision and FGM are simply not the same thing or comparable.
        Oh, please!
        FGM (done on minors) = cutting off parts of a person’s genitals without this person’s consent
        circumcision (done on minors) = cutting off parts of a person’s genitals without this person’s consent
        They are totally the same.
        Children are human beings with human rights, and not brainless, heartless puppets that you can do to whatever you want. Every person (regardless of age or gender) has a human right to physical integrity. The person who is affected by the circumcision must be the one who decides about the circumcision. Is this so hard to understand?

        • Woody Tanaka says:

          German Lefty,

          hoppy’s consideration isn’t based on the sex of the victim, but of the religion of the perpetrator. If his religious book had demanded female genital mutilation instead of male genital mutilation, he would be here supporting clitoralectomy.

      • Woody Tanaka says:

        “That’s because FGM is not a per se Muslim practice the way circumcision is in Judaism,”

        And even if it were, so what? Just because something is called “religious” doesn’t give it a pass from normal consideration or banning if it is harmful. If your religion required you to murder someone, tough luck.

        “…and also because there is no constituency within the Jewish community calling for an end to the practice.”

        Also irrelevant. Even if every Jew favored the practice, it should still be banned in all but medically necessary cases.

  25. David Samel says:

    I’m a little late to this debate, but I was not offended by the post at all. Nor was I surprised to see it on MW. Yes it is mostly “off topic” (although the Hasbara Buster makes some good points on why it is relevant to larger context issues that bear directly on I/P) but we see occasional “off topic” posts here, none of which have generated the kind of controversy this one has.

    I think Matt did an excellent job defending himself in the comments, but I do see some unanswered questions in the post itself. Obviously, this depraved suction practice is the focus of the post, but Matt makes general anti-circumcision points as well. Many US circumcisions are performed non-religiously in hospitals, and they are offered to newborns (or their parents) as an option. Why? Is there a medical reason? A dermatologist I know (Jewish but not very observant) insists that there is. In any event, Matt does not adequately distinguish between the general practice and this small minority which seems especially barbaric. And one technical legal correction: Matt talks twice about the consent of the child or non-consenting child. There is no such thing. Generally speaking, children do not have the competence to consent until they reach a certain age.

    Both Matt and HB make a good case that it is difficult to analytically distinguish between female and male genital mutilation. One is routine and the other verboten for obvious cultural bias reasons. Of course, fgm is more severe than mgm, but that does not explain it all. They are both mutilation, and amputating a finger for no reason would never be considered acceptable because it is not an entire arm.

    Thirty years ago, gay marriage was not even on the radar. Vegetarians were considered kooks. Some times we wake up and question things that were taken for granted for a very long time. I don’t think male circumcision should be immune from inquiry. Imagine if it were not a Jewish/Muslim tradition, and if it were only practiced by Scientologists.

    • hophmi says:

      “Thirty years ago, gay marriage was not even on the radar. Vegetarians were considered kooks. Some times we wake up and question things that were taken for granted for a very long time.”

      That’s a bad comparison. At the end of the day, gay marriage does not RESTRICTS anyone from practicing their faith or from being heterosexual. Vegetarianism does not RESTRICT people from eating meat. Banning circumcision would offend the First Amendment. You’re creating a class of victims where they do not exist.

      Your argument that because both circumcision and FGM are mutilation they should be treated the same is sort of the converse of the oft-made argument that legalizing homosexuality would lead to legalization of bigamy and beastiality. Circumcision isn’t amputating a finger, and it isn’t amputating a clitoris. It is widely practiced, and there is no big movement against it.

      I still have not heard a rejoinder to why a ban on circumcision because children cannot consent should not be grounds for a ban on other, much more harmful practices of child-rearing that children cannot consent to either.

      • Dutch says:

        “I still have not heard a rejoinder to why a ban on circumcision because children cannot consent should not be grounds for a ban on other, much more harmful practices of child-rearing that children cannot consent to either.”

        I think you should report these ‘much more harmful practices’ right away, so we can start addressing them. Are all of them related to religion?

      • German Lefty says:

        @ hophmi:
        I still have not heard a rejoinder to why a ban on circumcision because children cannot consent should not be grounds for a ban on other, much more harmful practices of child-rearing that children cannot consent to either.
        The difference between circumcision and child-rearing is that circumcision is irreversible. For example, if your parents brainwashed you as a child, then at least there’s a chance that you get your sanity back later in life. However, if your parents circumcised you, then there’s no way to ever get your foreskin back.

      • Woody Tanaka says:

        “You’re creating a class of victims where they do not exist. ”

        No, you’re protecting a class of current victims: the maimed children.

        “Circumcision isn’t amputating a finger, and it isn’t amputating a clitoris. ”

        No, it’s amputating a foreskin.

      • I still have not heard a rejoinder to why a ban on circumcision because children cannot consent should not be grounds for a ban on other, much more harmful practices of child-rearing that children cannot consent to either.

        When my parents chose to raise me in Spanish, not in English or French which they also spoke fluently, they made a decision that may have hurt me.

        When they sent me to a secular school, not to any of the religious schools in the neighborhood which were far better, they also made a decision that may have hurt me.

        When they fed me mostly beef, not fish or soybeans, they made a 3rd decision that may have hurt me.

        What do these decisions have in common? They’re unavoidable choices. All people must speak a language, get an education and eat food. So I can’t blame my parents for making those decisions even if they were wrong.

        However, having a religion is not essential or even necessary for leading a meaningful life — 93% of Nobel laureates are atheists. And if joining one particular religion involves mutilation, that choice should be left to the interested or uninterested person, not to their parents.

        • hophmi says:

          “93% of Nobel laureates are atheists.”

          I doubt you can substantiate that claim.

          “”However, having a religion is not essential or even necessary for leading a meaningful life —”

          Says you. Not everyone agrees with your formulation of what is necessary for leading a meaningful life. Riding a bike is certainly not essential, and certainly much more dangerous than circumcision. But the vast majority of parents teach kids to do it and kids are not at an age where they can meaningfully consent.

          Many, many would say that teaching children the ethical and moral framework that constitutes religion is without question essential for leading a meaningful life, and that includes the ritual aspect of the faith.

          Again, you are free to disagree, but thankfully, not free to force others to practice as you do.

          ” And if joining one particular religion involves mutilation, that choice should be left to the interested or uninterested person, not to their parents.”

        • Mooser says:

          ““93% of Nobel laureates are atheists.”

          If true, completely irrelevant! The question is, what percentage are intact?

        • I doubt you can substantiate that claim.

          You may want to check this article.

          But atheism is not the province of intelligent people only. It is, arguably, the belief system the human mind drifts towards if not coerced or brainwashed. My two teenage kids got no religious training whatsoever and are both staunch atheists, and as far as I know this is the case with an overwhelming percentage of those not exposed to religious doctrine.

    • Dutch says:

      I think this topic is surely relevant to the MW-scope, as a fine example of the discours/argumentation in the wider I/P-topic.

      Shopping around is not a good idea when it comes to human rights or international law. Historical, traditional or religious ‘rights’ are fine up to the point of smashing into the rights that we’ve declared universal within modern society. Full stop. If you mess around with that principle, you’ll end up in discussions like the one above and in the need to tactically avoid the topic.

      Exceptionalism is not an option. Ask the boys at their 18th birthday if they want to be circumcized. That’s their basic right. And as a parent it’s your holy duty to defend that right with all you have, even/especially if you tend to do otherwise. Does that hurt? Sure. Does that matter? Not at all. We have no choice.

      Sumud and David Samel point at radical changes that have taken place in a relative short period of time. All of these started with debate, with people addressing the issue whenever and wherever possible. So, well done Matt.

      • hophmi says:

        Not all change is good. Some change, like this, constitutes religious oppression.

        • German Lefty says:

          @hophmi:
          Some change, like this, constitutes religious oppression.
          How is outlawing circumcision of non-consenting minors religious oppression? The opposite is true. When parents force a religion upon their children, they violate their children’s religious freedom. People have a right to choose their own religion.

        • talknic says:

          hophmi June 26, 2012 at 1:02 am

          “Some change, like this, constitutes religious oppression”

          Circumcising babies before they can choose for themselves, constitutes both religious oppression and physical oppression over a defenseless human.

        • Woody Tanaka says:

          “Some change, like this, constitutes religious oppression.”

          Oh well. Change your religious beliefs. Stop mutilating your children. That would be a great change.

        • Dutch says:

          Hophmi. The point with human rights is that these are non-negotiable. We can’t go out, telling our kids that we believe(d) that repsecting their rights is the ‘wrong kind of change’.

          This isn’t about oppression but about real freedom. This is about conflicting rights, of which all of us, including you and me, have agreed that human rights go first. Always. Everywhere. For all people alike. That’s why I wrote: We have no choice.

          A final point. By adapting to the ever changing circumstances religions survive. Once they dig in, declaring their values superior over basic rights, well — you don’t need me for the conclusion.

        • hophmi says:

          “The point with human rights is that these are non-negotiable. ”

          Exactly. And those human rights include my right to practice my religion, and practicing my religion includes male circumcision. There is thus every reason to believe that male circumcision is protected by international human rights treaties.

          “This is about conflicting rights, of which all of us, including you and me, have agreed that human rights go first. ”

          At least you admit that there is a conflict here. There is every reason for government to stay out of it. If there is an overwhelming popular sentiment against a practice, and overwhelming health risk, government would have reason to step in. Neither is true here. The argument presented here is merely an anti-religious one.

        • Mooser says:

          “Not all change is good. Some change, like this, constitutes religious oppression.”

          And you are just the guy we should go to for a determination on that, Hophmi.

        • Hophmi – It would be oppression if we banned consenting adults from choosing to be circumcised.

          However, it is oppression when children are circumcised, because children cannot consent. I and other men object to our circumcisions.

          We were oppressed by a knife, amputation, unnecessary surgery. Do our opinions and rights matter to you?

          Or is the only person who matters the one who holds the knife and performs the amputation?

        • hophmi says:

          “However, it is oppression when children are circumcised, because children cannot consent. I and other men object to our circumcisions.”

          I am sorry you feel that way, but I can’t bring myself to particularly care, not when you seek to ban the practice for everybody else. Get reversal surgery if it’s that important to you.

          “We were oppressed by a knife, amputation, unnecessary surgery. Do our opinions and rights matter to you?”

          Not particularly. Only the fact that you have the right to express your opinion matters to me. You are, once again, perfectly free not to circumcise your children.

          I don’t see the societal need to recognize a right not to be circumcised any more than I see a need to recognize a right not to be educated. I’m not that attached to the concept of having a foreskin.

          “Or is the only person who matters the one who holds the knife and performs the amputation?”

          My religion and my faith, and my ability to practice it and convey it to my children is what matters to me. That overrides any parochial interest a small activist group may have in banning the practice of circumcision just as it overrides the interest a group may have in banning shechita, teaching kids to lay tefillin, going to the mikveh, or teaching kids to marry other Jews.

        • Dutch says:

          Hophmi — if you believe that your religious rights have more value than the human rights of others, including your kids, you’re simply out of the debate. It’s not true. Full stop.

          “At least you admit …”
          No reason for me to ‘admit’ anything, as you’ve made perfectly clear that you’re in the middle of this conflict. Solve it, I suggest. This is between you and the law — no more, no less.

        • Hostage says:

          Exactly. And those human rights include my right to practice my religion

          No they don’t. You need to read the submissions and closing observations of the CERD panel Country reports on India and the so-called “Untouchables”.
          link to www2.ohchr.org

          South Africans used to base their policies of apartheid on religious and biblical teachings too. Cannibalism wasn’t even justified by dire necessity or moral relativism in Regina v Dudley and Stephens [1884] 14 QBD 273 DC.

          Can you explain why our Supreme Court has never extended 1st Amendment protections to overturn existing Congressional prohibitions against polygamy? It doesn’t matter to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service what a Native American thinks the 1st Amendment says, if they are not an enrolled member of a federally recognized tribe, they simply cannot obtain bald or golden eagle carcasses, parts, and feathers for use in any religious ceremony.

          The Supreme Court has ruled that “Under the Free Exercise Clause, a law that burdens religious practice need not be justified by a compelling governmental interest if it is neutral and of general applicability. Employment Div., Dept. of Human Resources of Ore. v. Smith, 494 U. S. 872. It’s hard to see how banning all non-consensual circumcisions would violate that test or the free exercise clause.

        • Woody Tanaka says:

          “The argument presented here is merely an anti-religious one.”

          Nope. But you have demonstrated that Judaism is no less capable of promoting evil than any other religion.

        • German Lefty says:

          @ Dutch:
          By adapting to the ever changing circumstances religions survive. Once they dig in, declaring their values superior over basic rights, well — you don’t need me for the conclusion.
          Exactly right. It’s the same with the institution of marriage. Without marriage equality, marriage will soon be considered outdated and die out. Modernising a tradition is how you keep this tradition alive. This means that by pushing Jews to give up this barbaric ritual called circumcision we actually do Judaism a favour.

        • hophmi says:

          “It’s hard to see how banning all non-consensual circumcisions would violate that test or the free exercise clause.”

          Because the effect would amount to a de facto ban on religious practice for millions of people, the government interest in protecting boys from unnecessary surgery would not be seen as overriding given the available facts, and it would be susceptible to exactly the argument I’ve made about where government draws the line between legislating the right of parents to raise children as they see fit, the right of doctors to practice medicine as they see fit, and government right to intervene in those decisions.

          The bigamy decision in Reynolds v. US, 98 U.S. (8 Otto.) 145 (1878), again, differs in many ways. In the first place, there is little societal support for bigamy, and it had not been legal since the days of King James I. Circumcision has been legal for a long time. Societal mores do matter, which is why I say that if the outcry against male circumcision were bigger, and say, 60 or 70 percent of the country agreed that it should be illegal, you would have a stronger case and a stronger argument that a ban did not offend the Free Exercise Clause. If there was clear medical evidence that circumcision caused frequent infections and infant deaths, rather than a dearth of such evidence (indeed, complications are exceedingly rare, and it is arguably beneficial), you might have a compelling interest argument.

          I believe a circumcision ban would have trouble surviving a free exercise challenge under current case law. In Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye v. City of Hialeah, 1993, the Supreme Court struck down an ordinance banning ritual slaughter because it was not generally applicable and didn’t meet the compelling interest test.

          Because the effect of a circumcision ban would so disproportionately fall on Jews and Muslims, I think it would likely be seen as offending the Free Exercise clause. In the absence of evidence showing that it is extremely risky and harmful, showing a compelling governmental interest in banning it would also be unlikely.

        • hophmi says:

          “No reason for me to ‘admit’ anything, as you’ve made perfectly clear that you’re in the middle of this conflict. Solve it, I suggest. This is between you and the law — no more, no less.”

          Law’s on my side Dutch, not yours. You’re the one who wants to change the law, not me.

          “if you believe that your religious rights have more value than the human rights of others, including your kids, you’re simply out of the debate. ”

          Again, Dutch, this argument is unavailing, because there is a conflict of interests here, and right now, the conflict is resolved in my favor. Prevailing human rights law likely protects my right to circumcise my kid as a valid exercise of my religious practice over my kid’s right not to be. American law certainly does.

        • Hostage says:

          Get reversal surgery if it’s that important to you.

          There’s an example of magical thinking and superstition. When we perfect the surgery to restore severed and amputated nerves that will be a great benefit to quadriplegics too. Unfortunately no such procedure exists today.

        • hophmi says:

          Not true. It’s a procedure. link to en.wikipedia.org

        • Mooser says:

          “and convey it to my children”

          ROTFLMSJAO3!!!! ‘ Come here, my son my son, let me convey to you the Jewish religion…..’

          Okay, he’s completely nuts. Now, now Hophmi, you wouldn’t try to teach a baby Haftorah would you? No, you wait until he’s old enough to at least repeat the language, and hopefully understand it. Well that’s all we’re asking you to do, simply wait until the child is old enough to understand and most of all appreciate the significance and benefits of what he’s doing, and having the pride in making his own decision. I’m just so sure they’ll be standing in line to make the cut. But I would do it before he gets his driver’s liscence, or hide the keys to the car that day.

        • Hostage says:

          Because the effect would amount to a de facto ban on religious practice for millions of people, the government interest in protecting boys from unnecessary surgery would not be seen as overriding given the available facts, and it would be susceptible to exactly the argument I’ve made about where government draws the line between legislating the right of parents to raise children as they see fit, the right of doctors to practice medicine as they see fit, and government right to intervene in those decisions.

          Once again Hophmi, if you performed the very same procedure on a non-consenting adult, you would be charged with criminal assault. The Courts don’t allow parents boundless discretion to use other forms of physical violence on their children for religious reasons. You can tap dance all you’d like, but you’re avoiding the common element of physical violence that was addressed in the various female circumcision statutes.

        • Dutch says:

          “Law’s on my side Dutch, not yours.”

          Hophmi — It’s simply not true. You consider your own interpretation more valuable than the universal validity of human rights. That’s all. It’s like Caterpillar telling me they are within the (in that case Israeli) law while abusing human rights.

          I doubt if American law supports you in this, but it is irrelevant anyway. The Dutch constitution specifically deals with international law (Art. 90), but even if it didn’t that would not harm it’s universal validity in the Netherlands.

          A final remark. You keep talking about your rights, but this isn’t about your rights. This is about the rights of our kids, and we are supposed to be defending those, even if our nation’s laws leave room for the opposite.

        • Hostage says:

          When we perfect the surgery to restore severed and amputated nerves . . . Not true. It’s a procedure. link to en.wikipedia.org

          The article does not say that the damage to the nerves is reversed.

        • hophmi says:

          “You can tap dance all you’d like, but you’re avoiding the common element of physical violence that was addressed in the various female circumcision statutes.”

          You’re ignoring the practical difference between FGM and neonatal male circumcision that is the reason FGM is illegal and neonatal male circumcision is not. Again, a stubbed toe and broken arm are both injuries, but they’re not the same thing.

    • edwin says:

      Is there a medical reason? A dermatologist I know (Jewish but not very observant) insists that there is.

      There has been a concerted effort to find some reason to engage in circumcision. So far the results have not been very convincing. There are three studies that indicate a stunning 60% decrease in adult African males who have been circumcised over males who have not been circumcised. The flaws in the study are many. Immediately, the results make no sense when looking at aids rates in the US vs Europe/Canada and the circumcision rates in the US vs Europe/Canada. The US has the highest rate of circumcision, and the highest rate of aids and other sexual transmitted diseases.

      When looking at rates of aids in African countries, there is no coloration between circumcision and aids rates.

      A number of countries are considering outlawing circumcision, or severely limiting its use, starting with the UK who (i believe in the 50′s), after a study of circumcision decided that it was not something that should be routinely done.

      There are doctors and nurses that flatly refuse to engage in routine circumcision. Indeed, it is the medical community that has been driving this issue.

      The idea that FGM is worse than MGM is incomplete. The worst examples of FGM are indeed worse than MGM, but the worst examples of MGM are worse than some examples of FGM. MGM can, and does, lead to death.

      Health benefits of MGM, while illusionary, are completely a side issue. First of all, newborn babies do not engage in sex. Secondarily, we do not remove healthy tissue from baby girls to prevent breast cancer.

      February 20, 2002.

      TO: Members of the College

      FROM: Registrar [College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan]

      RE: Caution Against Routine Circumcision of Newborn Male Infants

      The practice of medicine is increasingly becoming evidence based. There is a strong and growing consensus that medical intervention should be based upon sound evidence of expected benefit that outweighs the potential risk of any such intervention.

      Where there is little evidence of expected benefit from a surgical procedure, but well recognized risk of surgical complications that may cause harm, it would generally be considered imprudent if not improper for a surgeon to perform such a surgical procedure.

      Notwithstanding these fundamental principles, 27.6% of newborn males were circumcised in this province in 2000-2001, in spite of the fact that the Canadian Paediatric Society (CPS) has for two and a half decades explicitly cautioned against routine circumcision of newborn male infants.

      Since August 1996, infant circumcision has not been a publicly insured service in Saskatchewan. The decision to de-insure the service was based partly on the lack of valid medical indications for the procedure.

      Even though citizens must now personally pay for this service, the incidence of routine male circumcision has dropped only moderately over the past five years.

      The relatively high rate of newborn male circumcision in Saskatchewan stands in very sharp contrast to that in some other regions of the country. For example, in Nova Scotia the rate has dropped to 1.5%, while in Newfoundland/Labrador it has dropped to 0.6%.

      Such high infant circumcision rates in Saskatchewan in the face of an explicit caution from the CPS is of great concern to the College of Physicians and Surgeons, and ought to be a concern to all physicians who perform the procedure.

      Is it possible that so many Saskatchewan physicians are totally unaware of the position of the CPS, and the research evidence that supports that position?

      If physicians are unaware [sic] of the evidence against routine newborn circumcision, why do they continue to practice in a manner that ignores this evidence?

      In my dialogue with Saskatchewan physicians about this issue, I’ve encountered many who claim to be “neutral” in their opinion about routine circumcision, but perform the procedure strictly on the basis of parental preference.

      On the surface, that approach might seem commendable as it seems sensitive and responsive to parental values. However, it begs the question as to whether the parents are appropriately informed about the benefits and risk of this procedure. Even more importantly, it begs the question as to whether physicians are providing accurate and adequate information to parents that is likely to yield a truly informed decision on their part.

      Informed consent to any surgical procedure relies on an assumption that the decision maker possesses full and accurate information about both the benefits and risks of the procedure. The onus is cast upon the surgeon, who might perform the procedure, to ensure that such information is not only conveyed to the decision maker, but is understood by the decision maker.

      It is difficult to identify any other domain of medicine in which physicians would feel comfortable playing such a passive role in a decision pathway culminating in surgery. It is also difficult to identify any other domain of medicine in which practice patterns stand in such stark contrast to research evidence.

      When the Council of the College of Physicians and Surgeons reviewed this issue at its last meeting, it directed the Registrar to initiate an effective educational strategy to raise professional and public awareness of this issue. The first step in that strategy is this memo, which is directed to all members of the College who perform circumcisions, or are likely in a position to influence parental decision making on this issue.

      These are my recommendations to you:

      (1) First, be sure that you are fully and accurately informed about the research literature on this subject, which serves as the basis for the CPS position against routine circumcision of newborn male infants.

      You can obtain a copy of the CPS Position Paper, and a succinct summary of the relevant research evidence by logging on to the CPS website at http://www.cps.ca.

      If you are not able to access this information from the CPS website, please give Ms. Jo-Anne Wolan a call at the College. We will be pleased to send you a written copy of the CPS position paper.

      (2) In any dialogue you have with patients about potential circumcision of their newborn male infants, be sure that you accurately and effectively convey the message that this is not a recommended procedure.

      (3) If parents remain adamant in their preference that circumcision be performed, notwithstanding their awareness of the research on the subject, remember that you are under no obligation to perform any surgical procedure for which there are not valid medical indications. You can, and should, respectfully decline to perform the procedure just as you respectfully decline to carry out other requested medical acts that you regard to be inappropriate.

      (4) If the parental request for infant male circumcision is based exclusively upon religious beliefs and values, and you are inclined to act in deference to those religious beliefs and values, you would be prudent to require parental signature of a consent document which clearly stipulates that the circumcision in question is not medically indicated and is being performed in accordance with parental religious practices.

      In such cases, physician would be prudent to consult with and seek advice from the Canadian Medical Protective Association before proceeding.

      • Mooser says:

        “Is there a medical reason? A dermatologist I know (Jewish but not very observant) insists that there is.”

        Off coss! Circumcision prevents teenage acne and associated teen-age angst, and ameliorates the heartbreak of psoriasis. 4 out of 5 Jewish dermatologists who chew gum say so.

  26. Danaa says:

    Apologies if this article was linked already but here it is, from Haaretz, on the beginning of the circumcision battles there:

    link to haaretz.com

    It’s long but has some really good points made by a number of thinking people on the cons – and some of the pros of circumcision. I found the comment from the young Russian who chose to get circumcised as a teen “to better fit in”, only to regret it later – especially enlightening. Israel is indeed one place where there are quite a few people who know about “before” and “after” because so many non-Jewish people came in recent years (mostly the Soviet Union). I found the passionate arguments made very well reasoned and was pleasantly surprised to see the enlightened views expressed both cogently and non-hysterically by men and women on this new battlefront. Mind you, this nascent movement in israel is confined to the seculars. I did not look through comments (not worth the trouble these days at Haaretz) so don’t know whether or how people weighted in on religious grounds.

    The point is – as David Samel says – there’s time for everything. Just because something wasn’t questioned before doesn’t mean it never can be. And circumcision is an ancient custom for which question time has perhaps come.

    The other person I’d like to mention is Dr. Dean Edell. He no longer holds his [extremely popular] radio show but he was a very passionate, thought provoking advocate for keeping boys intact. I believe it was him who first got my attention to this issue, and I believe that his advocacy – often using his very knowledgeable medical background – has done a lot to get people to pay attention.

    Finally, one more comment on a related thought (again, going back to David’s points) – maybe this debate ushers in a new movement – male liberation (no, david didn’t say that but I am jumping the gun a bit). Sorry, guys, I am not a male and can’t lead it for you. But perhaps in my next incarnation (assuming I return as human….)?

    • hophmi says:

      And once again, there are no victims here. There is no constituency of males asking to be liberated, and there is no basis for a movement.

      This is exactly the type of coercive lefty overreach that makes people hate the left.

      • Danaa says:

        hophmi, read the article, then go get yourself a little sense of humor.

      • talknic says:

        hophmi June 26, 2012 at 1:00 am

        “there are no victims here”

        Babies having a part of their (Go-d given) anatomy removed in the name of religion, for dubious medical reasons and for the cosmetic preferences of their parents, aren’t victims?

        “There is no constituency of males asking to be liberated”

        There IS a constituency of parents, doctors, hospitals and now district attorney, Charles J. Hynes

        “and there is no basis for a movement”

        But there IS a movement

        “This is exactly the type of coercive lefty overreach that makes people hate the left”

        UH? Since when has circumcision been the reserve of the right?

        Ziocaine fries brains. You don’t need it..

  27. talknic says:

    Here we go again:

    FACT : Circumcised men can still contract and pass on STDs/AIDs

    FACT : STDs/AIDs clinics recommend condoms even if one is circumcised because believing circumcision lowers the risk, is DANGEROUS!!!

    FACT : In circumcision clinics in Africa, the patient leaves with big pack of CONDOMS and the information they’ve been given on STDs/AIDs

    FACT : Men circumcised as babies don’t actually know if it is more or less pleasurable or whether it has prevented them from contracting STDs/AIDs

    Chinese, Hindu, South American peoples and a host of others are never mentioned in the pro-circumcision debate.

    • Mooser says:

      “Men circumcised as babies don’t actually know if it is more or less pleasurable”
      Oh, please. It’s the brain which determines how much pleasure you feel. Any guy with a brain who is willing to open his eyes can see the facts. You could probably still eat if your lips were gone, but how much do you think you would enjoy your food with your mouth and tongue dried out, and covered with scar tissue?
      But yeah, those Bible guys cut a piece of the penis, well, just because, not because they were expecting a tangible result connected with that part of the body. No, they thought it would purify them spiritually!!

  28. Mooser says:

    I thought about this thread last night (well, what else can you do in bed?) and I realised I really should give a shout-out and a big “thank-you” to MJRosenberg, mostly, and a couple others. You see, they answered a question about Jewish tradition I’ve been wondering about for a long time!
    Yes, I always wondered: What do they do with the izmel when there isn’t a baby to be circumcised? Well as I said, MJ supplied the answer:

    When the izmel isn’t being used for circumcision, it makes a great shiv to stab your friends in the back.

  29. Mooser says:

    Okay, I went and Googled a bunch of stuff, and looked at some ancient books in my library, and I think I have the answer. When the ancient Hebrews cut pieces off their son’s penis, they were not expecting any effect on their sexual behavior! No none at all. And yet, it was still sort of a “branding operation”. You see, back in the Torah days it was believed that if you cut the foreskin (Oy, how stainless-steel sharp and autoclave-sterile the knives must have been!) the body compenseated by making the nose bigger, thus identifying the male as a Jew!
    It never, ever occurred to them that cutting on a penis would have any effect on sex.

  30. Les says:

    For what it’s worth, today’s (June 26) Newsday reported on this with an infant with a DEADLY form of herpes now at Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital after having had metzitzah b’peh performed on him last week in Orange County. The story included mention that 11 boys in New York City got the disease the same way from 2000 to 2011, two of whom died and two others suffered brain damage.

  31. Kris says:

    Religious circumcision is an extreme form of hazing, sort of like fraternity hazing, but in this case, the “pledge” is the baby’s mother, who submits to the genital mutilation of her infant while her every instinct is screaming at her to protect her baby. It is a given in social psychology that hazing effectively promotes commitment to an “in-group,” and that the cognitive dissonance experienced by the “pledge” will usually be resolved in favor of discounting the pain/humiliation experienced, and valuing the “in-group” even more highly.

    The Academy of American Pediatrics does not recommend routine circumcision, because the potential medical benefits are not enough to outweigh the risks to the baby. Circumcision rates have been dropping in the U.S. over the past decade as parents have become more informed about the risks, though some religious groups (including Jews and Muslims) cling to the practice.

    But religious freedom, as so many have pointed out, does not permit harm to other people, no matter how much value that abuse may have to the religious group. That is why polygamy, child-beating, and refusal of critical medical care for children, are not allowed.

    Just as we no longer believe we should stone our disobedient children to death (Deuteronomy 21:18-21), it is past time to outlaw the practice of infant genital mutilation, no matter how effective that practice is in promoting group identity. Jews and Muslims could “mark” their baby boys with indelible ink, instead, and let the boys give informed consent to this medically unnecessary surgery when they are adults.

    • hophmi says:

      This is what the American Academy of Pediatrics says:

      “In cases such as the decision to perform a circumcision in the neonatal period when there are potential benefits and risks and the procedure is not essential to the child’s current well-being, it should be the parents who determine what is in the best interest of the child. In the pluralistic society of the United States in which parents are afforded wide authority for determining what constitutes appropriate child-rearing and child welfare, it is legitimate for the parents to take into account cultural, religious, and ethnic traditions, in addition to medical factors, when making this choice.”

      link to pediatrics.aappublications.org

      • edwin says:

        At one time similar views were held about female circumcision as well. The world is changing, and as usual, the US is behind the rest of the world.

        I do not know of any other form of surgery where it is left to the parents to make the decision. This is not standard medical practice – and violates medical ethics.

        AMSTERDAM – The Royal Dutch Medical Association on Thursday suggested a possible ban on elective circumcisions for young boys, saying they were medically unnecessary and violated children’s rights.

        The 161-year-old organization, which represents more than 46,000 doctors and students, called the procedure “a violation of the integrity of the body.”

        The group, known by its Dutch initials KNMG, proposed a dialogue between doctors and religious groups on the issue.

        Most non-therapeutic circumcisions in the Netherlands are performed on religious grounds. In the capital of Amsterdam, parents seeking circumcisions for elective reasons are often referred to a small clinic in a heavily Muslim neighborhood.

        “KNMG sees good reasons for a legal ban on non-therapeutic circumcisions, but fears that this will lead to the operation going underground,” it said in a statement.

        In a column on the KNMG’s website, chairman Arie Nieuwenhuijzen Kruseman said some 80 percent of the group’s members agreed circumcision should be discouraged.

        According to a 2007 World Health Organization report, some 30 percent of men worldwide are circumcised.

        (Reporting by Ben Berkowitz, editing by Paul Casciato)

        KNMG homepage (Dutch) (English translation)

        Conclusion

        There is no convincing evidence that circumcision is useful or necessary in terms of prevention or hygiene. Partly in the light of the complications which can arise during or after circumcision, circumcision is not justifiable except on medical/therapeutic grounds. Insofar as there are medical benefits, such as a possibly reduced risk of HIV infection, it is reasonable to put off circumcision until the age at which such a risk is relevant and the boy himself can decide about the intervention, or can opt for any available alternatives.
        Contrary to what is often thought, circumcision entails the risk of medical and psychological complications. The most common complications are bleeding, infections, meatus stenosis (narrowing of the urethra) and panic attacks. Partial or complete penis amputations as a result of complications following circumcisions have also been reported, as have psychological problems as a result of the circumcision.
        Non-therapeutic circumcision of male minors is contrary to the rule that minors may only be exposed to medical treatments if illness or abnormalities are present, or if it can be convincingly demonstrated that the medical intervention is in the interest of the child, as in the case of vaccinations.
        Non-therapeutic circumcision of male minors conflicts with the child’s right to autonomy and physical integrity.
        The KNMG calls on (referring) doctors to explicitly inform parents/carers who are considering non-therapeutic circumcision for male minors of the risk of complications and the lack of convincing medical benefits. The fact that this is a medically non-essential intervention with a real risk of complications makes the quality of this advice particularly important. The doctor must then record the informed consent in the medical file.
        The KNMG respects the deep religious, symbolic and cultural feelings that surround the practice of nontherapeutic circumcision. The KNMG calls for a dialogue between doctors’ organisations, experts and the religious groups concerned in order to put the issue of non-therapeutic circumcision of male minors on the agenda and ultimately restrict it as much as possible.
        There are good reasons for a legal prohibition of non-therapeutic circumcision of male minors, as exists for female genital mutilation. However, the KNMG fears that a legal prohibition would result in the intervention being performed by non-medically qualified individuals in circumstances in which the quality of the intervention could not be sufficiently guaranteed. This could lead to more serious complications than is currently the case.

        This viewpoint by the KNMG is jointly endorsed by the following scientific associations:

        The Netherlands Society of General Practitioners
        The Netherlands Society of Youth Healthcare Physicians
        The Netherlands Association of Paediatric Surgeons
        The Netherlands Association of Plastic Surgeons
        The Netherlands Association for Paediatric Medicine
        The Netherlands Urology Association
        The Netherlands Surgeons’ Association

        link to circumstitions.com

      • Kris says:

        Hophmi, I think that’s what I said: The AAP does not recommend circumcision.

    • Mooser says:

      “pledge” is the baby’s mother, who submits to the genital mutilation of her infant while her every instinct is screaming at her to protect her baby”

      I see. So these patriarchs were willing to go cutting on their first-born son’s body in order to affect the mother? So they weren’t looking for a certain effect, one which they valued highly enough to risk the child’s life for on the child itself?

      Now, I ask you, why would somebody do that to a male child? Obviously they weren’t trying to keep it from procreating, certainly not that, so what were they trying to do? What effect on a man’s sexual behavior were they looking for?

      Hard to believe they were coming in there and going ‘I know what, let’s put a knife to my first-born-son’s penis just to give his Mom a jolt. We’ll see what she’s made of!’

      What a life! Nobody will tell me what “diddy-wah-diddy” means and nobody will tell me what circumcision is intended to do to the child who is circumcised. Yeah, it probably get his mom excersised, but hard to believe that’s all its intended to do.

      • Kris says:

        Maybe I didn’t express my idea well enough, Mooser. I was trying to offer a possible reason why genital mutilation continues to be valued by some religious groups today, despite the recognition that the risks of this procedure are not outweighed by any medical benefits to the baby.

        Social psychologists have demonstrated the value of hazing practices in achieving group cohesion and identification, and a mother submitting her baby to genital mutilation could be seen as analogous to a “pledge” who is submitting to pain/humiliation in order to become part of a fraternity. We all know that the patriarchs thought that G*d required genital mutilation, but the patriarchs thought lots of things that we recognize today as harmful or useless. We no longer think it is a good idea to stone sinners, for example. Yet many of us cling to the practice of circumcision, even the many Jews who call themselves “non-religious.” Why? Maybe the practice persists because it is an effective way of promoting group cohesion. Why else would a “non-religious” Jew do such a thing?

        On the other hand, some people actually believe that G*d requires circumcision of baby boys. Just as some people still sincerely believe that G*d requires racial segregation and approves of massacres and slavery.

        Times change, and religious belief, however sincere, does not make inflicting damage on someone else acceptable. Today, you can have yourself circumcised, tattooed, dyed, or altered by all kinds of elective surgery, whatever you want to do to your own body. But the idea that a parent has the right to impose medically unnecessary, potentially risky surgery on a baby is no longer a given.

        • ColinWright says:

          This leaves aside the fact that the risks are so minimal as to be non-existent. All the horror stories I’m aware of involve either really weird variations or gross incompetence. Compared to circumcision, getting your tonsils taken out is an almost suicidal risk.

          More to the point, no one is asking that you get circumcised, or that you circumcise your children. You’re perfectly free to decide it’s harmful and useless. I’d even agree with you that it’s certainly useless, although the risk is so slight I’d no more consider it than I’d fret about our family dog turning on me and rending me limb from limb.

          All you are being asked to do is to permit others to exercise their beliefs in what is really a rather trivial way.

        • ColinWright says:

          “On the other hand, some people actually believe that G*d requires circumcision of baby boys. Just as some people still sincerely believe that G*d requires racial segregation and approves of massacres and slavery. “

          That’s essentially a spurious argument. You’re making a completely false equation between circumcision (of all things) and racial segregation, massacres, and slavery.

          One might as well argue for a ban on all government on the grounds that government has caused not only irritating taxes but also racial segregation, massacres, and slavery.

          I may well feel that my child should be circumcised (I don’t, but let’s assume I did). How does it follow that I am going to advocate racial segregation, massacres, and slavery?

        • alec says:

          Colin,

          Medical circumcision looks relatively harmless. Halachic circumcision with herpes-ridden older men (rabbis?) sucking on infant cocks does not. Eleven cases of transmission, two deaths, several cases of mental retardation, life long herpes victims in the rest of the cases.

          That is the issue, not circumcision.

        • Kris says:

          My point is that no matter what people’s religious beliefs may be, today we rejecting the idea that religious practices that harm other people can be allowed. In supporting the genital mutilation of babies, you are supporting the infliction of genuine risk and harm on a person who is given no choice in the matter.

          Whether or not you think the risks to the baby are trivial, or the loss to the adult male is negligible, the parents of a baby do not own him, and should not have the “right” to subject him to medically unnecessary mutilation and risks.

          The point about racial segregation, massacres, and slavery is that even though there are people who sincerely believe that G*d approves of these practices, we nevertheless do not allow these believers to inflict their beliefs on other people. It follows that we now are realizing that parents shouldn’t have the right to circumcise their infants, no matter how sincerely they may believe that genital mutilation pleases G*d.

      • ColinWright says:

        It probably got started as a rite to mark someone as a member of the tribe. See Flathead Indians.

        Doesn’t matter. Some people think they should do it, it’s almost certain to be harmless, and it would cause a lot more misery to try to stop it than it would to just permit it, so permit it.

        …which brings up a point. Have all the anti-circumcision crusaders considered just how much alienation, resentment of state authority, and suspicion of racist motives their proposed ban would cause?

        And for what? Could there be any goal more trivial?

  32. Taxi says:

    TODAY’S NEWS: Religious circumcision of kids a crime – German court

    link to rt.com

    Reddit has some 1329 comments on this subject today:
    link to reddit.com

  33. lysias says:

    German court outlaws religious circumcision:

    The regional court in Cologne, western Germany, ruled that the “fundamental right of the child to bodily integrity outweighed the fundamental rights of the parents”, a judgement that is expected to set a legal precedent.

    “The religious freedom of the parents and their right to educate their child would not be unacceptably compromised, if they were obliged to wait until the child could himself decide to be circumcised,” the court added.

    The case was brought against a doctor in Cologne who had circumcised a four-year-old Muslim boy on his parents’ wishes.

    A few days after the operation, his parents took him to hospital as he was bleeding heavily. Prosecutors then charged the doctor with grievous bodily harm.

    The doctor was acquitted by a lower court that judged he had acted within the law as the parents had given their consent.

    On appeal, the regional court also acquitted the doctor but for different reasons.

    The regional court upheld the original charge of grievous bodily harm but also ruled that the doctor was innocent as there was too much confusion on the legal situation around circumcision.

    The court came down firmly against parents’ right to have the ritual performed on young children.

    “The body of the child is irreparably and permanently changed by a circumcision,” the court said. “This change contravenes the interests of the child to decide later on his religious beliefs.”

    The decision caused outrage in Germany’s Jewish community.

    Looks like it can no longer be said in at least one jurisdiction that the current law is on the side of allowing circumcision.

    • German Lefty says:

      Thanks a lot for the link, lysias. May I add that this court decision makes me a little proud of my country…

      “The body of the child is irreparably and permanently changed by a circumcision,” the court said. “This change contravenes the interests of the child to decide later on his religious beliefs.”
      Exactly what I was trying to explain.

      • Dutch says:

        I’m proud of you guys … well done.

        • German Lefty says:

          I’m proud of you guys … well done.
          Wow, praise from the Netherlands, the most progressive country in the world! Thanks a lot.

        • ColinWright says:

          The Netherlands and Germany agree a further extension of state power is advisable.

          That’s really a revelation.

        • Dutch says:

          Yeah, right. We try not to use our state power to fight wars, but to actually try and improve life. And you know what? Most people are very happy with that. I certainly feel I am living in a free and social country; your notion of a ‘totalitarian state’ (below) is literally an ocean apart from our reality.

        • German Lefty says:

          The Netherlands and Germany agree a further extension of state power is advisable.
          This has nothing to do with extending state power. By outlawing non-consensual circumcision, the state merely carries out its already assigned duties as human rights protector.

      • hophmi says:

        “This change contravenes the interests of the child to decide later on his religious beliefs.”

        How? Granted, the physical act of circumcision is irreversible. But how does it prejudice a child’s choice of religion any more than any other childhood event does? Especially when many people do not circumcise for religious reasons.

        • German Lefty says:

          @ hophmi:
          But how does it prejudice a child’s choice of religion any more than any other childhood event does?
          The thing is that people like you argue that FORBIDDING parents to mutilate their children’s genitals would be a violation of religious freedom. The court says that the opposite is true: ALLOWING parents to mutilate their children’s genitals is a violation of religious freedom.
          First, you claim that genital mutilation is important to you because it’s a religious ritual. Now, you suddenly claim that genital mutilation has nothing to do with practising religion. Would you make up your mind, please?

        • talknic says:

          hophmi June 26, 2012 at 3:45 pm

          //“This change contravenes the interests of the child to decide later on his religious beliefs.”//

          “How? Granted, the physical act of circumcision is irreversible. But how does it prejudice a child’s choice of religion ..”

          The choice as a religious Jew, to believe his own circumcision is or is not necessary.

        • ColinWright says:

          One could also argue that it’s a matter of deciding whether it is the state or the parent who should decide how a child should be reared.

          As always, it’s a matter of degree — and when the degree becomes a matter of the state forbidding the parent from authorizing the removal of a scrap of his child’s skin in fulfillment of his religious beliefs, the state has gone too far from any perspective except a decidedly totalitarian one.

          No one is talking about my right to stone my adulterous daughter to death here. We’re talking about a scrap of skin.

        • ColinWright says:

          One could also argue that it contravenes the rights of the parents to decide upon their child’s religious beliefs.

          I think the advocacy of this law betrays a profoundly totalitarian view of state power. The state — to the extent that it’s necessary at all — is there to prevent total chaos and to make sure that there’s clean water and decent sewage.

          It doesn’t need to concern itself with the minutiae of people’s lives, and shouldn’t. It’s lousy at that job anyway.

        • ColinWright says:

          Yeah. I happen to have been circumcised.

          It’s never occurred to me to take up Judaism or Islam on that account.

        • Koshiro says:

          No one is talking about my right to stone my adulterous daughter to death here. We’re talking about a scrap of skin.

          What we are talking about is objectively a bodily injury (Körperverletzung) in legal terms. To allow such an injury in the case of medical procedures requires the consent of the patient. An infant cannot give consent, but the parents can do so. However, the ability of parents to act in the stead of their children is limited: The law clearly states that parents are obliged to act in the best interest of the child. Medically unnecessary procedures involving the permanent removal of body parts are not deemed to be in the best interest of the child.

        • Koshiro says:

          The state — to the extent that it’s necessary at all — is there to prevent total chaos and to make sure that there’s clean water and decent sewage.

          You may think so, but the German state (and in fact quite a lot of other countries) is built on different ideas.

        • German Lefty says:

          One could also argue that it contravenes the rights of the parents to decide upon their child’s religious beliefs.
          That’s the point. Parents do not have (or must not have) the right to decide about their children’s religious beliefs. Freedom of religion means that each INDIVIDUAL has the right to choose their OWN religion. Children are individuals, too.

          It doesn’t need to concern itself with the minutiae of people’s lives, and shouldn’t. It’s lousy at that job anyway.
          Just out of curiosity, which party do you vote for?

        • Hostage says:

          Yeah. I happen to have been circumcised.

          It’s never occurred to me to take up Judaism or Islam on that account.

          Circumcision alone, in the absence of the brit milah ceremony, does not fulfill the requirements of the mitzvah. In the case of a Jew who was circumcised outside of a brit milah, or an already-circumcised convert, the mohel draws a symbolic drop of blood from the penis. link to en.wikipedia.org

        • Hostage says:

          and when the degree becomes a matter of the state forbidding the parent from authorizing the removal of a scrap of his child’s skin in fulfillment of his religious beliefs, the state has gone too far from any perspective except a decidedly totalitarian one.

          That’s either hyperbole or you have a very unorthodox definition of totalitarianism.

          If you believe that the physiological function of urogenital mucosae and thousands of erogenous nerves is only that of an extraneous flap of skin, I’d argue that you’re in no position to provide “informed consent” to their permanent surgical removal on behalf of another individual.

          There’s no legally entrenched “democratic right” to mutilate a healthy organ, and impair its normal course of development and function based upon a familial connection to a “religious objector”. If there’s a state or federal statute which entrenches that right, no one at Mondoweiss has mentioned it yet.

          193 countries are parties to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Even if you assert a right to “freely exercise” and fulfill a belief at the expense of another person, you’ve not provided us with any rationale why that right would automatically supersede the generally recognized right to freedom from violence and abuse and equal treatment regardless of gender, race, or cultural background that every person enjoys in a civilized democratic society.

        • Hostage says:

          What we are talking about is objectively a bodily injury (Körperverletzung) in legal terms. . . . . The law clearly states that parents are obliged to act in the best interest of the child. Medically unnecessary procedures involving the permanent removal of body parts are not deemed to be in the best interest of the child.

          Exactly. See Dwyer, James G., The Children We Abandon: Religious Exemptions to Child Welfare and Education Law as Denials of Equal Protection to Children of Religious Objectors (1996). North Carolina Law Review, Vol. 74, No. 5, 1996; William & Mary Law School Research Paper No. 09-220. Available at SSRN: link to ssrn.com

    • German Lefty says:

      The “Times of Israel” reports on the court decision, too:
      link to timesofisrael.com
      Check out the comments. I especially like this one:
      “And here comes the crying wolf of anti-semitism ridiculousness. ROFL, THIS LAW IS PROTECTING MALE JEWS TOO, It would be Anti-Semitic to allow this sexual assault to be inflicted only on Jewish boys.”

    • German Lefty says:

      The “Times of Israel” also report on this:
      Norwegian gov’t coalition partner seeking to outlaw circumcision
      ‘Fortunately, circumcision is already illegal in females. The time has come for boys to receive the same legal protection,’ says spokesperson for Norway’s Centre Party
      link to timesofisrael.com
      You see, hophmi, it’s not just the radical lefties, but the centrists, too.

      A follow-up article on the German court decision:
      Outraged German Jews slam court for prohibiting circumcision
      Community president says ruling marks ‘unprecedented and dramatic interference,’ calls on Bundestag to ensure religious freedom
      link to timesofisrael.com

      • Dutch says:

        From the latter article:

        “As opposed to many politicians, the court was not deterred by fears of being criticized for anti-Semitism or hostility toward religion,” University of Passau jurist Holm Putzke told the FTD. “This decision could not only influence future jurisdiction, it could also lead the relevant religions to change their attitude with respect to the fundamental nature of children’s rights.”

        Legal experts told the German newspaper they assume that other courts in Germany could rule along similar lines in further cases and that the question of religiously motivated circumcisions will end up in the country’s Supreme Court.

        Here you go. And the SC-judges will focus on one point: who’se rights are we discussing here anyway? Their conclusion: Children’s human rights, that are being abused for the sake of their parents’ religious rights. I predict that the German Supreme Court will defend the children and outlaw circumcision.

        • lysias says:

          Anybody know what court the article is referring to as the German Supreme Court? Would it be the Verfassungsgericht (the constitutional court) or the Bundesgerichtshof (generally the highest court for nonconstitutional matters)?

      • ColinWright says:

        The Europeans banning circumcision is practically a gimme.

        First, they’re big fans of the notion that the government should regulate, and regulate, and regulate until everything is just right. And if it turns out not to be just right, why, just regulate some more.

        Second, they’ve got a lot more Muslims than Jews. And they hate their Muslims. And this is a way of getting at them good without admitting what you’re doing.

  34. Mooser says:

    “This change contravenes the interests of the child to decide later on his religious beliefs.”

    Oh, is that all it does? Oh well, maybe they were just trying to be tasteful, and avoid the whole debate over why on earth one might cut off part of a penis. I’m sure those ancient Israelites had something spiritual in mind. Cause there’s nothing those ten tribes prized more highly than good sex!

    • German Lefty says:

      Mooser, please read the article before you start grumbling:
      “The regional court in Cologne, western Germany, ruled that the ‘fundamental right of the child to bodily integrity outweighed the fundamental rights of the parents‘, a judgement that is expected to set a legal precedent.”

  35. hophmi says:

    “You see, hophmi, it’s not just the radical lefties, but the centrists, too.”

    Who cares; it’s Norway and there are about 7 people there.

    • Woody Tanaka says:

      “Who cares; it’s Norway and there are about 7 people there.”

      LMAO. Says the fan of the Levantine abomination of desolation, which profanes Palestine. Give me 2 Norways and destroy the israeli state and the world would be a much better place.

    • lysias says:

      Who cares; it’s Norway and there are about 7 people there.

      Population of Norway: 5 million.

      Population of Israel: 8 million.

      Does that mean Israel doesn’t matter either?

  36. Danaa says:

    I’ll go out on a [thin] limb and predict that the growing movement towards outlawing circumcision will bring about a great historical rapproachment between religious Jews and Muslims the world over. Maybe not religious too. Could be we may yet witness a realignment of the long-promised clash of civilizations!

    You know what they say – what starts in Norway doesn’t stay in Norway.

  37. ColinWright says:

    From al Jazeera:

    “Circumcising young boys on religious grounds amounts to grievous bodily harm, a German court has ruled.

    The regional court in Cologne, western Germany, ruled on Tuesday that the “fundamental right of the child to bodily integrity outweighed the fundamental rights of the parents”, a judgement that is expected to set a legal precedent.

    “The religious freedom of the parents and their right to educate their child would not be unacceptably compromised, if they were obliged to wait until the child could himself decide to be circumcised,” the court said.

    The case was brought against a doctor in Cologne who circumcised a four-year-old Muslim boy on his parents’ wishes…

    …The decision caused outrage in Germany’s Jewish community…

    The poor Germans. It will hardly improve matters if they explain that they only meant to target Muslims.

    Personally, I neither expect the millennium any time soon nor want to see the government try to get us there. This ‘problem’ would be nicely solved if it was recognized that it’s all none of the state’s business.

    • German Lefty says:

      @ Colin:

      The poor Germans. It will hardly improve matters if they explain that they only meant to target Muslims.
      What’s your problem with Germans? This court decision doesn’t specifically target Muslims (or Jews). It targets parents who want to exploit the defencelessness of their children and violate their human right to physical integrity.

      This ‘problem’ would be nicely solved if it was recognized that it’s all none of the state’s business.
      You must be kidding. It’s the duty or responsibility of the state to take care of its citizens and to protect each citizen’s rights. Whenever the state sees the rights of citizens violated, it needs to intervene in order to prevent injustice. Otherwise, we wouldn’t need a state at all and could just have anarchy or the law of the jungle. Then we wouldn’t be any better than the animal kingdom.
      Seriously, why do so many people from the USA prefer living in a lazy, neglectful state that doesn’t give a shit about its citizens and their rights? That even commits own human rights violations and murders its citizens by lethal injection?

  38. Sibiriak says:

    “Should not all unnecessary, harmful amputation of genitalia be illegal regardless of gender? ”

    In my view, the question of harm is central here. If circumcision can be performed with minimal harm, then the right to freely practice religion prevails. If not, the individual rights of the child prevail. Has a compelling case been made for the harmfulness of circumcision, properly performed?

    • ColinWright says:

      “Has a compelling case been made for the harmfulness of circumcision, properly performed?”

      I believe it’s merely unnecessary and medically pointless, and since any surgical procedure involves risks, from a purely medical point of view, it’s an irrational act.

      It’s a bit like saying that purely as a matter of safety, one shouldn’t go swimming at the beach. There might be sharks.

    • German Lefty says:

      @Sibiriak:
      If circumcision can be performed with minimal harm, then the right to freely practice religion prevails.
      Even minimal harm is still too much harm, esp. when the procedure is irreversible. Your right to freely practise your own religion ends where another person’s body begins. If my imaginary friend told me to punch you in the face, should I be allowed to do so in the name of religious freedom? Of course, not.

      • Sibiriak says:

        @GermanLefty:

        I have to disagree. If the harm done by circumcision is negligible, then I see no adequate justification for the non-negligible harms involved in an extension of state power and restriction on the freedom of religious practice (a positive good).

        A punch in the face can cause serious harm, so that analogy does not hold.

        • Woody Tanaka says:

          “If the harm done by circumcision is negligible”

          It’s not negligible. It is the permanent and irreversible removal of an important, functional portion of the anatomy.

          “…freedom of religious practice (a positive good).”

          Arguable. Absent common-sense limitations, it can be a clear bad.

          “A punch in the face can cause serious harm”

          And in most every case it causes less harm than circumcision. But if it makes you feel better, change it to a light slap on the face. The analogy still holds.

        • German Lefty says:

          @ Sibiriak:
          I see no adequate justification for the non-negligible harms involved in an extension of state power and restriction on the freedom of religious practice (a positive good).
          You totally pervert the facts. Cutting off a person’s body part without this person’s consent constitutes bodily harm, irreversible bodily harm. Again, it’s harm because (1) it happens without consent and (2) it’s irreversible.
          You are free to practise your religion. However, you are NOT free to force your religion (or an irreversible religious ritual) on other people, including your children.
          Also, how is religious practice a positive good? Religious people used the bible to justify slavery. Religious people use their religion to deny LGBT people equal rights. Religious people use the bible to justify their opposition to condom use. They are responsible for all the AIDS deaths in Africa. As Steven Weinberg said, “Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.”

        • Sibiriak says:

          I’m certainly open to the idea that circumcision could be harmful, as you assert. Is this the scientific consensus? My main point was simply that harm needed to be proven in order to justify a restriction on religious freedom, imo.

        • Woody Tanaka says:

          “I’m certainly open to the idea that circumcision could be harmful, as you assert. Is this the scientific consensus?”

          Yes, it is the scientific consensus that circumcision is the permanent amputation of a natural and proper part of the male anatomy constituting sensitive tissue containing thousands of nerve endings, erotogenic tissue and muscus membranes which have roles in the functioning of the male genitalia. It is also scientific consensus that it entails risks up to and including death.

          The only dispute is a non-scientific one of whether the law should permit people to inflict that procedure on innocent, non-consenting babies when it serves no purpose and is not medically warranted.

        • Sibiriak says:

          “Yes, it is the scientific consensus that circumcision is the permanent amputation of a natural and proper part of the male anatomy…”

          Yes, but what harm does that “amputation” cause?

          “It is also scientific consensus that it entails risks up to and including death.”

          Exactly how risky is the procedure, if done properly?

        • hophmi says:

          “It is also scientific consensus that it entails risks up to and including death. ”

          It is also scientific consensus that any sort of surgery entails risks up to and including death.

          It is also scientific consensus that getting into a car entails risks up to and including death.

          It is scientific consensus that most activities entail risk up to and including death.

          It is also scientific consensus that the number of deaths caused by circumcision is statistically insignificant, and Metzizah B’peh aside, the number of deaths caused by circumcision in recent memory as practiced by the vast majority of people appears to be zero.

          It is scientific consensus that the actual risks associated with neonatal male circumcision are, in fact, negligible.

          It is legal consensus in the United States that neonatal male circumcision does not, in fact, constitute a criminal act, and a ban would offend the First Amendment.

        • hophmi says:

          “You totally pervert the facts. Cutting off a person’s body part without this person’s consent constitutes bodily harm, irreversible bodily harm.”

          A foreskin is not a body part. It’s a piece of skin. You pervert the facts by calling it a body part.

          “Again, it’s harm because (1) it happens without consent and (2) it’s irreversible.”

          Many things happen to a child without consent, and plenty of those things are irreversible. It’s not harm for those reasons.

          “You are free to practise your religion. However, you are NOT free to force your religion (or an irreversible religious ritual) on other people, including your children.”

          Actually, that’s nonsense. You damn well can force religious ritual on children, and people do it every day.

          “Also, how is religious practice a positive good?”

          How is ideological practice of any kind a positive good?

          “Religious people use their religion to deny LGBT people equal rights. ”

          Communist people used ideology to justify the murder of millions upon millions of people.

          Fascists did the same.

          “They are responsible for all the AIDS deaths in Africa. ”

          Oh PLEASE.

          “Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.”

          Blah, blah, blah. Everybody, religious and secular, does bad things in their lives. It has nothing to do with religion.

          Religion is like any other ideology. It can be a source of good or it can be a source of bad. For people who believe in the ethical and moral framework of Judaism and use it as an impetus to give charitably, treat others with respect, and be good people, it’s a positive. The same with Islam – for people who use it for good works, it’s good. For people who use it to justify terrorism, it’s bad.

        • Woody Tanaka says:

          “Yes, but what harm does that “amputation” cause?”

          The amputation is harm per se. Further, it eliminates all of the functions which the organ provides in terms of protection and stimulation.

          “Exactly how risky is the procedure, if done properly?”

          It depends on the particular risk. Many do the amputation without any anasthetic, so in that case, there is a 100% risk of pain. As for risk of other complications, it can range up to 50%. 1 in every half million result in death. 1 in every million results in loss of penis.

        • edwin says:

          Exactly how risky is the procedure, if done properly?

          We don’t know because proper statistics are not kept. That includes records listing cause of death. It has been common to list cause of death as something else other than circumcision. We do know some general information – such as the risks of general anesthesia and local anesthesia, for example. We know that people occasionally die from these – no matter how qualified the people providing them.

          Since the foreskin is the most sensitive portion of the penis (and comprises 40% of the surface area) we know that complications occur in 100% of all circumcisions.

          Of course you can cut the risk of anesthesia by eliminating it – changing circumcision to torture.

          Here is one set of statistics:

          Immediate complications 5.26%-16.17%
          Late complications 5.25%-11.76%
          Adhesions 10.52%-29.41%

          link to circumstitions.com

          THYMOS: Journal of Boyhood Studies, Vol. 4, No. 1, Spring 2010, 78-90

          LOST BOYS: AN ESTIMATE OF U.S. CIRCUMCISION-RELATED INFANT DEATHS

          - Dan Bollinger

          Abstract: Baby boys can and do succumb as a result of having their foreskin removed. Circumcision-related mortality rates are not known with certainty; this study estimates the scale of this problem. This study finds that approximately 117 neonatal circumcision-related deaths (9.01/100,000) occur annually in the United States, about 1.3% of male neonatal deaths from all causes. Because infant circumcision is elective, all of these deaths are avoidable. This study also identifies reasons why accurate data on these deaths are not available, some of the obstacles to preventing these deaths, and some solutions to overcome them.

          link to circumstitions.com

        • German Lefty says:

          @ Sibiriak:
          what harm does that “amputation” cause?
          The removal of a healthy body part without the person’s consent – that’s enough to classify it as harm. Also, as Woody said, the foreskin plays a role in the functioning of the male genitalia.
          If you think that fiddling around with another person’s body without this person’s consent is totally fine, then you must also approve of sexual assault.

        • Hostage says:

          Yes, but what harm does that “amputation” cause?

          That’s tautological. He just gave you a description of irreparable harm and impairment to the physiological function and development of a healthy organ.

          For decades the legal and medical establishments argued about the possible harms and benefits of performing unnecessary prefrontal lobotomies. In the overwhelming majority of cases those procedures were performed without the individual’s informed consent. Nowadays we err on the side of caution and individual human rights and that’s what should happen in this instance too.

        • Kris says:

          You could look at the statement of the American Association of Pediatrics. link to patiented.aap.org They do not recommend routine circumcision.

          You could look at the information provided by Doctors Opposing Circumcision, here: link to doctorsopposingcircumcision.org

          You could watch Mark D. Reiss, M.D., Executive Vice-President of Doctors Opposing Circumcision, discuss the effects of circumcision upon the developing brain and the risks and complications of infant circumcision:

          The risks of circumcision include bleeding, infection, meatal stenosis (scarring of the hole the urine comes out of), damage to the urethra, cosmetic and functional issues, amputation, and death.

  39. Sibiriak says:

    “…it’s harm because (1) it happens without consent and (2) it’s irreversible.”

    Lack of consent and irreversibility by themselves do not constitute harm. Something good can also be done without consent and be irreversible.

    I’m not religious myself, but neither do I see religion as a unique source of evil.

    • German Lefty says:

      Lack of consent and irreversibility by themselves do not constitute harm. Something good can also be done without consent and be irreversible.
      Oh, really? On someone else’s body? Such as?

      I’m not religious myself, but neither do I see religion as a unique source of evil.
      Nobody claimed that religion is a unique source of evil. You were the one who made the generalisation that religion is a positive good and completely ignored all the negative impacts of religion.

      • Sibiriak says:

        I didn’t say religion was a positive good. I said the freedom of religious practice was a positive good. It’s a widely recognized human right. Of course, that right can be limited when it comes into conflict with other human rights.

        Regarding the allegation that religion was a unique evil, I was referring to statement you quoted: “But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.” That seems to me to impute a unique evil power to religion–a notion I disagree with.

  40. hophmi says:

    “Oh, really? On someone else’s body? Such as?”

    Such as literally every medical procedure that is performed on a child that is consented to by a parent on their behalf.