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California to Ban Male Circumcision? Measure Aimed At Ballot to Outlaw Male Circumcision

March 6, 2011
plastibell circumcision day 5 postoperative

Image via Wikipedia

All religions have traditions, but I always wonder why we can’t keep what is beautiful and reject what is brutal.

Human rights advocates have long fought against female genital mutilation, and now some of those advocates are pushing to outlaw male circumcision.  Those of you who have read my blog are familiar with the concept that male circumcision removes the most sensitive nerve endings in the penis, a decision made by the parents for religious reasons, usually, and completely outside of the control of the child.

Now a California advocate, Lloyd Schofield is pushing to put a measure banning circumcision out for the California voters as soon as Fall 2011:

Self-described “intactivist” Lloyd Schofield has been collecting signatures for a voter initiative that would criminalize infantcircumcision in the Californian city.

After two months of collecting names, he claims to be more than half way toward getting the 7,168 signatures he needs by late April to put the matter on the November ballot.

Schofield and a growing community of anti-circumcision activists say that infants should not be forced to participate in what is essentially culturally accepted genital mutilation.

They claim that the procedure can cause health risks and diminished sexual function and compare it to the clitoridectomies performed on girls in parts of Africa

“This is a human rights issue,” he said. “What you’re doing is you’re taking an infant and removing the most sensitive part of their body.”.

While this move to place the measure on the ballot has created unlikely bedfellows, namely Muslim and Jewish groups seeking to keep their genital mutilation legal under the guise of practicing religious freedom, claiming that it’s a “religious tradition,” there have been plenty of “religious traditions,” that violate human rights, stoning comes to mind, as does FGM.  Never mind those issues, claim the Jewish and Muslim groups, because these “traditions” go back over 3,000 years, which according to them , makes them somehow more sane:

“This is hurtful and offensive to people in the community who consider this a coveted ritual,” he said.

Abby Porth of the Jewish Community Relations Council charged Schofield with wasting city resources for an inappropriate political stunt that was unlikely to become law.

“This is one of the most fundamental practices to our tradition of over 3,000 years,” she said. “It’s symbolic of our covenant with God.”

Porth said the Jewish community would form a coalition against the initiative with medical professionals and Muslims, who also practice circumcision.

“It’s very similar to those of the Jewish faith,” said Omar Nawaz of the Bay Area-based Zaytuna College, one of the nation’s only Muslim colleges. “It’s a religious tradition and it’s important for us.”

Unfortunately, if that’s your viewpoint, for the religious groups, simply calling something a religious tradition is not enough to protect a practice if it’s found to impinge upon the rights of another person, namely the child.  In the case of any child circumcision, it can definitely be argued that the child can not make the choice about his or her genitalia as an infant, and as male circumcision does remove nerve endings in the penis, may be a human rights violation.  Many men don’t like to think of circumcision as a choice they might have had a say in, nor is the concept of loss of sexual function at a parent’s hand a popular topic, but Schofield is talking about it anyway, and bringing up the point that a man’s penis doesn’t belong to his parents as adults, so why would it as an infant:

“It’s genital mutilation,” Schofield told KCBS-TV

. “It’s a man’s body and…his body doesn’t belong to his culture, his government, his religion or even his parents. It’s his decision.”

For that converse to be true, then parents could ostensibly take any action they see fit to touch, cut or use a child’s genitalia simply because of religious practices.  Time and time again, the law has stated that children may not be sexually fondled for “religious practices,” neither in the case of incest and abuse in the infamous Warren Jefts case, nor in the case of the rape of Elizabeth Smart for “religious reasons.”  So why should the courts allow genital cutting for religious reasons?  Under the Jewish and Muslims’ groups’ arguments, not only does tradition make genital cutting acceptable, but so does calling it a religious practice.  Pretty shaky ground considering that polygamy has yet to be accepted legally, even though it’s a religious practice, as has touching of children’s genitalia, taking pictures of children’s genitalia, and using children’s genitalia as though a parent owns it.

At what age does circumcision stop? At what age does a parent’s “ownership” of a child’s genitalia end, if the religious movements claim to own a child’s genitalia and “mark them as children of God” by cutting that genitalia to leave a permanent scar?

In Sweden, a man has already been prosecuted for circumcision:

A Swedish court has sentenced a man to prison for performing illegal circumcisions, the first-ever conviction under the country’s laws on the circumcision of boys.

A 50-year-old Egyptian citizen was sentenced by Södertorn District Court on Monday to two months in prison for illegally removing the foreskin from small boys.

The man was on trial for having circumcised nine boys without a licence to do so issued by the National Board of Health and Welfare.The case marked the first time that Sweden’s law on circumcising boys had been tested in court since coming into force nine years ago.

He was also convicted for assault for having circumcised a boy from Tierp in eastern Sweden without sufficient anaesthesia and two counts of causing bodily harm involving two brothers from the Stockholm suburb of Botkyrka who suffered tissue damage, pain and loss of circulation from a bandage that was used as a tourniquet.

During the trial, a film was shown to support allegations that the boy from Tierp wasn’t sufficiently anesthetized during the procedure.

In addition to serving time in prison, the man must also pay 14,600 kronor ($2,140) in compensation to a boy from Tierp, as well as 4,600 kronor to the two other boys, the local Arbetarbladet newspaper reported on Tuesday. According to the Swedish law, which came into force in 2001, only people with a special licence issued by the health board can perform circumcisions for non-medical reasons and only on children younger than two months old.

Dctors can also carry out the procedure, including on older children.

At what point though, does a person have a right to not have his or her genitalia injured by their parents? According to multiple Jewish organizations, the genitalia belong to the parents to be used for religious ritual:

The statement defended circumcision on religious grounds, stating, “For thousands of years, Jews around the world have engaged in this important religious ritual, which is of fundamental importance in the Jewish tradition. The organized Jewish community is deeply troubled by this initiative, which would interfere with the rights of parents to make religious decisions for their own families.”

Ah yes, the right of one’s parents to make religious decisions for their families a.k.a. their child’s penis… Aren’t those one in the same?  What?  You mean the foreskin they want to cut isn’t their own, but their child’s?  What?  You mean to say that parents don’t own their children’s genitalia to be cut as they see fit, much like docking a dog’s tale or neutering them?  What? How can this be? It’s part of religion! Notice that when grown adults talk about “freedom to practice religion,” they don’t imply that they give ownership of their genitals and the shape of those or freedom to remove them to their own parents, but they want that right for minors.  Kind of sounds sick when it’s put like that, doesn’t it?

Predictably, Bay Area mohels and others in the Jewish community are not thrilled with the notion of a circumcision ban, in San Francisco or anywhere.

“Of all the terrible things in this world, from homelessness to unemployment to disease, you’re going to focus your attention on this evil business of circumcision?” asked rabbi and mohel Moshe Trager of San Jose. “It doesn’t concern me if non-Jewish people don’t want to be circumcised. That’s totally fine. But don’t take my religious freedom away.”

Abby Michaelson Porth, who serves as associate director of the JCRC, said her organization will team with other religious, ethnic, medical and parental rights groups to fight the measure if it makes it onto the ballot.

“It seeks to prohibit people of faith from practicing their religion,” she said. “It seeks to disrupt the right of parents to chose religious tradition for their children, and it seeks to interrupt an American tradition of freedom of religion from government intrusion.”

Porth then added, “Would the proponents of this seek a ban on the piercing of a Latina child’s ear? Would they ban Catholic and Protestant parents from sending their children to church for religious training on Sunday mornings? Would they have the government intrude upon their spiritual traditions and rituals in their families, and their choices?”

Kimmel, who supports the ban, counters that the rights of children to be free of harm trump parental rights.

“Prince v. Massachusetts said parents’ religious freedom did not extend to harming their children,” Kimmel noted, citing a 1944 Supreme Court case that ruled parental authority is not absolute and can be restricted if doing so is in the best interests of the child.

Isn’t piercing an ear the same thing as cutting a boy’s penis?  What? It’s not? And it may not be a woman’s choice to decide what to do with her son’s penis? You blaspheme! Prat of this may boil down to the fact that some parents want to own children rather than give birth to and raise children to become adults. Would a grown man allow his parents to make circumcision decisions for him as he gets older? And if so, should that be legally protected?  Kimmel is advocating that babies have human rights to, to be able to make the choice about whether or not to cut their genitalia:

At the same time, she found herself drawn to her Jewish roots, and became active with liberal Jewish congregations such as Aquarian Minyan in Berkeley and Kehilla Community Synagogue, now in Piedmont. But she found herself rebuffed, even ostracized, when fellow congregants learned of her “intactivism.”

Kimmel pressed forward, working with groups such as the National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers and Intact America, manning information booths at baby fairs and participating in protests at medical conferences.

Why does she care so much about this issue?

“It’s the amputation part that is unique,” she said. “It isn’t just a flap of skin. It’s very [sexually] important. [Men] will never get back that feeling.”

As for the notion of criminalizing one of Judaism’s central rituals, Kimmel firmly believes it’s time for a change.

“I miss Judaism, but I left because of this issue,” she said. “Ninety-five percent of Jews against circumcision have left. We’re not anti-Semitic. We’re protecting Jewish boys, too. I hope there’s a Judaism that would survive [no circumcision].”

As an alternative to brit milah, Kimmel says Jews in the intactivist movement promote brit shalom, a no-cutting ceremony for 8-day-old Jewish boys.

While Ms. Porth, who is against the ban, agrees that Jewish families should not be forced into circumcision, of course she is against a law against genital mutilation, because that would criminalize the genital ownership issue.

Take a look at the picture above.  How does that in any way, shape or, form relate to parental rights?  According to some in the Jewish religion, which sound sick to me, this is “the right thing to do”:

Meanwhile, mohels like Trager remain unfazed by the proposed ban.

“I am incredibly proud to stand in front of a new Jewish couple who had a baby boy,” he said. “Maybe they are intermarried, with barely a recognition of anything Jewish, but they know they want to have a bris. Somewhere deep inside the Jewish psyche there is this sense that this is the right thing to do.”

God save the boys from “the right thing to do…”  You could be the kind of sick fuck who states that circumcision vis a vis the Jewish religion brought great people into society, so that makes it acceptable:

For thousands of years, brit milah has been at the core of Judaism and the Jewish people. After Abraham undertook the first snip, we have since bequeathed to the world the Torah, the Talmud and the mother religion of most people on the planet.

We have produced a ridiculous number of Nobel Prize winners, musicians, doctors, thinkers and builders. We have given the world Sandy Koufax and Jerry Seinfeld.

If those are the victims of circumcision, I want another.

Never mind that your parents cut your penis, if you contribute enough to this world to make people like Dan Pine happy, we, as a society will forgive any abuse your parents may have meted out. Ah yes, and if you contribute enough to this world, you too, will be greeted in heaven with virgins awaiting their violation… (Way to go you sicko, Dan Pine who also equates genital cutting with playing football as right kids have to participate in “dangerous” activities.  Will your grotesque comparisons never end?)  Dan Pine has never heard of anyone complain of lack of sensation, but I have, and maybe Dan Pine has not heard this because he is an old guy for whom talk about sex is infrequent, as he says about himself.

For Dan Pine, “parental loving” is demonstrated by cutting the tip off the penis:

Life can be scary and dangerous. It can also be the blessing of blessings, and Jews know that. I have no doubt about our commitment to our kids and their welfare. Is circumcision a holdover from an ancient desert civilization? Yes. Is it medically necessary? Probably not.

But the hysterics in the anti-circumcision crowd still miss the point. Loving Jewish parents have always, and will always, circumcise their boys, and no municipal ban will stop it.

Ah, can you think of a more disgusting form of parental love than cutting your baby boy’s penis to leave a scar?  Doesn’t it just make you want to stand up and cheer for the way these parents teach love by scarring the penis? Doesn’t every parent show love by cutting their kids’ bodies and calling it religious tradition?  And shouldn’t that be upheld as religious freedom to cut your kid’s body if you feel like it, or to let other people do it for your own religious reasons?

I tell you, according to the Jewish and Muslim religions, nothing says love like marking your child for life by cutting their penis or vagina.

Not only that, but the people who are still doing it want us to “respect” them. Are they really thinking what they’re asking of us? They’re baby torturers! How can I respect them?

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11 Comments leave one →
  1. alwaysright101 permalink
    April 27, 2011 6:57 am

    I don’t think other people of other religions or no religion should be deciding the fate of what people in the Muslim and Jewish populations due religiously when it comes to something like this. This is clearly a religious act and nothing more. To put this on the same level as human rights violations is childish and makes so called human rights activists look like they have nothing better to do with their time than to attack religions they don’t agree with.

    If it were to be made illegal it should be the decisions of those respective religions because putting it into the hands of people who aren’t part of it means uneducated voters voting based on what people like you are merely claiming and not proving.

    • brokeharvardgrad permalink*
      April 28, 2011 5:53 pm

      It’s generally considered a human rights violation to cut other peoples’ genitals, regardless of their age. It’s called sexual assault.

  2. May 20, 2011 8:41 pm

    While your at it on religious rites, bring stoning back too (left handed people, red heads, anyone different than the norm) that is a religious rite from 3000 years ago too. Too barbaric you say? Hypocrite!

    I’m not Jewish nor Muslim and my penis was mutilated by a hospital doctor as a baby. I don’t recall giving permission to do so, and I definitely wouldn’t have had it done as an adult. Spout it’s about cleanliness and I’ll show you a thousand dirty cut penis’s.

    It’s called hygiene and it’d been in this country for quite a long time, if you’re a dirty pig then it doesn’t matter if your cut or uncut lol.

    • brokeharvardgrad permalink*
      May 24, 2011 5:21 pm

      From a man’s perspective, you are probably able to comment about this in such a way that people would listen to you more readily. I have to say, though, that I have known many men who wish their parents hadn’t cut their penis when they were born. I agree with you that it’s your right to make decisions about your genitals. And for the record, many women agree with you.

  3. Marlene permalink
    May 21, 2011 8:08 pm

    When my oldest son was born, I asked the doctor not to circumcise him even though I am from a Jewish background. The doctor, with my permission made a small slit in the foreskin to loosen it so that it could more easily be cleaned. By the time my son was 4 he had had one yeast infection after another and the remedy was to do the circumcision in the hospital. Circumcision is not only a religious ritual, but can be a health benefit. Further, many gentile boys are circumcised in this country. I have never noticed a man, circumcised or not disliking sex because their penis is not sensitive enough.

    • brokeharvardgrad permalink*
      May 24, 2011 5:19 pm

      Perhaps you should see John’s response regarding whether or not men want to be circumcised by their parents’ decision. Perhaps when the cut was made into the foreskin, it allowed yeast into the skin. Really though, yeast infections require circumcision? I doubt it. It sounds like justification to me. I don’t believe in parents cutting their child’s genitals, period. You couldn’t cut off your clitoris to treat a yeast infection, would you? Most women get yeast infections over the course of their lives, but they don’t consider cutting off parts of the vagina a valid form of
      “treatment.” I have a feeling that “John” would say that cleanliness is cleanliness, cut or not.

    • ou812 permalink
      June 3, 2012 2:02 am

      “I have never noticed a man, circumcised or not disliking sex because their penis is not sensitive enough.” Really? http://blog.shealevy.com/2011/05/17/an-open-letter-to-mohel-michael-henesch/

    • patti permalink
      April 26, 2014 11:17 pm

      Circumcision IS the cutting into the foreskin. Which you asked your doctor NOT to do but did anyway. There by separating the foreskin from the head of the penis when it WAS NOT ready to be separated at that time. It eventually would have separated on its own. Naturally, on its own. That’s what caused those infections. The circumcision itself.

  4. alwaysright101 permalink
    May 28, 2011 10:59 am

    Circumcision is not a human rights violation. Just because you say it is doesn’t make it true. As I said before, let the respective religions decide. It is not for you to decide someone else’s religious practice. Especially since there are no laws being broken or actual human rights violations being committed.

    • brokeharvardgrad permalink*
      June 8, 2011 8:07 pm

      Just because you say it is not a rights violation doesn’t make it so. Every person has the right to be whole, without someone cutting their genitals. If religions advocated cutting a grown man’s penis against his will, would you recognize it as a human right’s violation then?

  5. June 3, 2014 9:53 am

    I was circumcised at birth, like the gentleman above, not for religious reasons but by a lazy, unethical doctor (what happened to “do no harm”?) who regarded it easier than a bit of stretching to treat my phimosis (an overtight foreskin).

    Did it bother me sexually, or in any other way? No. Not until I turned 40, that is. As our skin ages, its ability to self repair and heal diminishes with the years, and the robust glans of my youth, deprived of its natural protection, was not the one I had now. Chafing became such an issue that at one point I couldn’t walk more than a few yards without agony from the friction of clothing against the most sensitive part of my anatomy. Likewise at night, with friction against bedsheets in my sleep, leaving me sore and covered in welts before my day even started.

    Want to know what that feels like, defenders of ‘religious-freedom’? Have someone come around and cut your eyelids off and desiccate your eyeballs before rubbing their surfaces with cotton underwear, towels and bedsheets for 24 hours a day.

    Movement is problematical enough, but imagine what intercourse and masturbation are like for the older circumcised male like me. (Un)Fortunately, I cannot comment on the sexual function I have lost because I have never experienced the sensation that my lost nerves would have provided. This is indeed an issue about ‘freedoms’, and mine were taken away from me by a parent and doctor each as ignorant as the other.

    I am now one of those ‘restoring’ their foreskin through manual stretching exercises, a process that is bringing relief to my life in a slow but steady manner. The keratinisation of my glans has already left my corona and is slowly moving toward the tip. In another year or so, I should be as close to whole as is possible under effectively irreversible circumstances.

    Circumcision is barbarism, pure and simple. The past half-decade has shown us all what indulging ‘religious freedom’ brings in terms of bodily violence against right-thinking non-participants.

    We need to put a stop to it. All of it

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