Tuesday, November 26, 2013

ISRAEL: "Religious Freedom" a One-Way Street

In advance, I'd like to apologize to my readers for the bad quality of my latest posts. I barely have anytime to throw this one together. Please bear with me, forgive the recent hastiness with which I write, and forgive me where I could have expressed myself better.

On with my post...
Even in Israel, circumcision is being questioned, and there are Jewish parents who are choosing to forgo infant circumcision for their male newborns, in lieu of leaving the choice up to them when they are adults. This does not sit well with rabbinical authorities, however, and it looks like they're trying to make an example out of a dissenting woman.

To make a long story short, a rabbinical court in Israel (rabbinical courts have legal jurisdiction over religious questions, including marriage and divorce, concerning the country's Jewish majority), is forcing a divorced woman to facilitate the performance of a Jewish circumcision for her son.

As part of the divorce process, her ex-husband has asked the rabbinical court to compel her to circumcise her son, who is now 1 year old, and was never circumcised in accordance with Judaism.
A rabbinical court in Netanya this week forced a divorced woman to facilitate the performance of a Jewish circumcision for her son,

Read more at: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/israeli-rabbinical-court-forcing-divorcee-to-circumcise-son/2013/11/07/
A rabbinical court in Netanya this week forced a divorced woman to facilitate the performance of a Jewish circumcision for her son

Read more at: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/israeli-rabbinical-court-forcing-divorcee-to-circumcise-son/2013/11/07/
A rabbinical court in Netanya this week forced a divorced woman to facilitate the performance of a Jewish circumcision for her son

Read more at: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/israeli-rabbinical-court-forcing-divorcee-to-circumcise-son/2013/11/07/

The woman tried to argue that the rabbinical court does not have jurisdiction over her son, but her argument was rejected by the rabbinical judges, and the court is now fining her about $140 a day until she goes through with her child's circumcision, in order to appease her ex-husband's wishes.

The rabbinical judges claim the woman was opposing her son's circumcision as leverage to keep her husband from divorcing her, but this is strange, as, apparently, her husband didn't have a problem with their son not being circumcised until now that they're getting divorced. It would seem, at least to me, that it is quite the opposite; the man wants to use the child as leverage to keep the woman from leaving, if not permanently mark the child in his flesh as a means of retaliation against her for divorcing him.

While the rabbinical judges claim to simply be siding with the father, they have also referred explicitly to the growing debate around ritual male circumcision elsewhere in the world, and voiced their fear of a precedent that could be created if a Jewish Israeli succeeded in keeping her son whole.

Quoth the rabbinical judges:

“We have witnessed for some time now public and legal struggles against the brit milah in many countries in Europe and in the United States. The public in Israel has stood as one man (Really? Are they speaking for all of Israel?) against these trends, seeing them as yet another aspect of displays of anti-Semitism that must be combatted. How will the world react if even here the issue of circumcision is given to the discretion of any person, according to their own beliefs?”

Indeed, how would the world react if "religious freedom" was actually practiced in Israel, by those who expressly demand it in other parts of the world?

Meanwhile, in Sweden...
Meanwhile, in Sweden, a Jewish woman is claiming asylum in her own country, "for the right to live a religious life, to preserve our cultural identity, and to be who we are without fear of persecution." She protests that Jews are losing the right to practice their religious observances, namely kosher meat slaughter and, you guessed it, circumcision.

"This is the self-image—the reality—that Jewish children in Sweden grow up with: being Jewish means being under threat of harm from bad people. This is where we are at.  One by one, our practices are being outlawed. Attacks on us are going unpunished. Politicians, journalists, and intellectuals describe us as barbarians."

I wonder what self-image the child in this case, what "reality," he'll have to grow up with; what threats HE has to live under. While a Jewish practice is being outlawed in Sweden, it is outright being forced in Israel. Is it any wonder that anyone describes Jews as "barbarians?"

"True: we are not being murdered, and we are not being physically driven out. But our religious observances are being interdicted, our persons are being threatened, our safety is being endangered, and—in short—our human rights are being violated."

 Do tell, madam, do tell.

"Why do we put up with it? And why do pundits and politicians assure me that Jews in Sweden are perfectly safe when what they really mean is that we will be safe only so long as we agree to become invisible as Jews and cease to practice Judaism?"

Funny word she uses here... "invisible..." Here, it means a Jew who ceases to practice "Judaism," at least as she defines it, but in Israel, "invisible" means quite the opposite. (A good Israeli Jew is one who complies with all Jewish customs, including the one that says you must cut your children's genitals.)

"EU statutes provide that asylum be granted to persons with “well-founded reasons to fear persecution due to race; nationality; religious or political beliefs; gender; sexual orientation; or affiliation to a particular social group.” Jews in Sweden meet these criteria, and should be eligible for the same protection and support extended to non-natives."

I wonder if the woman in this divorce case meets these criteria and is eligible for this same protection and support... in her own country...

"And so today, November 18, I am legally filing for refugee status and asylum—not in America, not in Israel, but here in Sweden, my own country.
Absurd?  No doubt."

Let's hear what she has to say about this divorced woman in Israel.

To close:
So while in Sweden, a woman "files for asylum" because she demands the right to mutilate her (male) children in the name of "freedom," a religious court in Israel is forcing a woman to go against her own beliefs that her son should be free to make his own choice.

That's funny, because right now Israel's Knesset has sent evangelist MK's to Europe to try to get the Council of Europe to void their latest resolution declaring circumcision the violation of basic human rights that it is, on grounds that it violates "religious freedom."

While in Europe, Israeli officials are demanding "religious freedoms" be respected (nevermind the religious freedoms of the children involved), in Israel, rabbinical courts get to trample on the religious of both citizens AND their children.

Am I missing something?

Who should be filing for asylum here?

Just imagine if an Islamic court were forcing a divorcee to cut their daughter. Isn't Israel supposed to be like, the only democracy in the Middle East?

What would be the public outcry?

What utter shame and hypocrisy.

The very least the rabbinical judges in this case can do is grant this woman the freedom they claim they demand for Jews in other parts of the world.

If you want to help:
A Facebook group has been created dedicated to helping this woman out, to those who are interested.

"We're looking for help with this case, most urgently a way to donate money for the legal fees and the fines this mom is racking up. If we could piggyback on an existing charitable organization that would be great. All ideas are welcome."

UPDATE (11/27/2013):
An interview with Elinor, the mother in this case, can be read here.

Related Articles:

The Jewish Press

The Telegraph



Sunday, November 24, 2013

SACRILEGE: Millionaire Dani Johnson Boasts Grandson's Circumcision

Very recently, money mogul Dani Johnson openly bragged on her Facebook page about her grandson having had his genitals ritually mutilated by a rabbi. (Link may not work as she may have deactivated her post or taken it down.)

Reads the caption with a picture she posted:

"My little grandson Anthem Hosea was circumcised today by a Rabbi. Such an awesome experience to witness. I was blown when Arika told me she and Zac wanted a Rabbi to do the procedure. So deliberately making a covenant with the God of Israel, the Maker of the Heavens and the Earth, the God of Abraham. (Get ready for the hate mail)....I really DONT CARE!!! I know who I am and WHO has blessed me!! I love Him with my WHOLE HEART and I am NOT ashamed of the Gospel of Yeshua Ha Mashiach (Jesus the Messiah)."

She doesn't seem concerned that the experience may not have been so "awesome" for her grandson.

She doesn't seem to actually understand her own faith and the implications of a rabbi performing a Jewish blood rite on her gentile grandson.

She says she's "not ashamed of the gospel," yet she seems to be oblivious to what it actually says. She seems oblivious to the whole meaning of the word "Christian," where Christians are supposed to be saved by the grace of Christ (hence the name CHRISTian) and not by the keeping of Jewish law.

According to Galatians 5:1-5:

"Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith."

So is she going to start eating kosher too? Keeping Shabbat?

Is her grandson going to be raised Jewish?

It's bad enough this woman sounds oblivious to her own faith, I ask, what was the rabbi thinking when he agreed to circumcise a gentile child?

Why didn't he say "No, I only circumcise Jewish babies?" Does this not cheapen the whole significance of what is supposed to be "an holy covenant?"

Or did he intentionally do this for bragging rights?

Galatians 6:13 says:

"For not even those who are circumcised keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh."

This whole thing is despicable. The parents for having gone through with this, the rabbi for doing it, and this ignorant woman for bragging about it on a social network like Facebook.

Don't get me wrong, I have disdain for anyone that mutilates the genitals of a healthy child, but this rabbi, if he is worth his own salt, and others like him, should know better than to be circumcising non-Jewish babies.

Why are they doing this?

If this is such a "cherished tradition," what is the reason for circumcising non-Jewish babies willy-nilly, to whom the circumcision will have no actual significance whatsoever?

What would they think if a Jewish couple took their child to be baptized at a Catholic church?

"I really DONT CARE!!!"
...Johnson says.

Well, she should. (Or maybe she does... why else would she be preempting hate mail?)

This is her grandson she's talking about, not to mention the implications of her own faith, not to mention the implications on his own faith when he is older. 

If she can't even get her own faith straight, how can any of her advice concerning other matters be taken seriously? 

I feel sorry for that child, who has been reduced to just a mere accessory.

I don't know which is more despicable, the fact that it is acceptable to forcibly use a body that is not your own for the expression of your faith, or the fact that people can be so oblivious that they commit actions that go against their own faith, and then publicly BRAG about it.

Others have tried making educational posts on her page with the verses quoted above and more, but apparently she is just deleting them and blocking those who contradict her, self-servingly leaving up only posts that praise and validate her. It's rather sad that there seems to be a hundreds of people who are as oblivious about Christianity as she is. Talk about the blind leading the blind. 

Dani Johnson doesn't seem to be interested in educating herself, just preserving her own religious fantasies and public image of enlightened and informative millionaire.

She is sadly mistaken if she thinks we will remain silent.

"Truth suppressed will find an avenue to be told."
Related Blog Post:
Holistic Circumcision: A Blatant Oxymoron

Related Link:

EUROPE: Israeli MK Lectures PACE on the Medical Virtues of Ritual Circumcision

In the latest plea for the Council of Europe to reject their resolution, MK Meir Sheetrit tries argue that resolution is "medically unjustified." This is certainly a different tune than what Shimon Peres sent to Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjorn Jagland, arguing that infant circumcision is of "great importance" in Jewish and Muslim religious tradition, that it is a "fundamental element and obligation of Jewish tradition" that has been practiced by Jewish communities "for thousands of years."

The fact that Meir Sheetrit is choosing to argue "medical benefits" in lieu of "religious freedom" is interesting to say the least.

Is the argument for "religious freedom" so weak that it has to be propped up by a sudden interest in public health?

I will analyze excerpts of the Jerusalem Post article conveying this news:

"The committee said that circumcision is dangerous because 1.5 percent of children get infected," Sheetrit told The Jerualem Post Wednesday evening, "but infections can be taken care of."

...and completely unconscionable considering that they are caused by a needless operation on healthy, non-consenting children.

"Circumcised males are 60% less susceptible to HIV and it lowers the risk of penile and prostate cancer. Those are fatal diseases, as opposed to a passing infection."

Preventing HIV is not the reason Jews circumcise their children, is it?

Newborns are already at zero risk for sexually transmitted disease. Additionally, circumcision FAILS to prevent HIV, which is why even the most enthusiastic circumcision purporter in Africa cannot overstate the use of condoms enough.

Here is what the American Cancer Society has to say regarding penile cancer:

In the past, circumcision has been suggested as a way to prevent penile cancer. This was based on studies that reported much lower penile cancer rates among circumcised men than among uncircumcised men. But in many of those studies, the protective effect of circumcision was no longer seen after factors like smegma and phimosis were taken into account.

Most public health researchers believe that the risk of penile cancer is low among uncircumcised men without known risk factors living in the United States. Men who wish to lower their risk of penile cancer can do so by avoiding HPV infection and not smoking. Those who aren't circumcised can also lower their risk of penile cancer by practicing good hygiene. Most experts agree that circumcision should not be recommended solely as a way to prevent penile cancer.

80% of American males are circumcised from birth. Yet, according to the ACS, 1 in 6 US men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer. If circumcision is supposed to prevent prostate cancer, I'm afraid it is not very effective.

"Opponents of circumcision raised the claim that the child should have autonomy.

However, there are two other ethical arguments for circumcision.

The first is that of "community and divinity," which fits with freedom of religion arguments, Sheetrit told the committee, citing University of Chicago cultural anthropologist Richard Shweder."

Does this include communities who believe it a religious rite to circumcise their daughters?

"The second is the "best interests standard," cited by Dr. Caroline McGee Jones of the University of Texas Health Science Center, explaining that it is ethical for parents to circumcise their son if they believe it will benefit him and his well-being."

What if parents believe female circumcision will benefit their daughter and her well-being?

It must be asked, what other non-medical procedure are doctors obliged to perform on children at their parents request, because they, the parents, believe it is "beneficial?"

"According to Sheetrit, PACE members from several countries approached him after the meeting to say he changed their mind, but Rupperecht remained unconvinced."


Sure they did.

The fact is that the trend of opinion on routine male circumcision is overwhelmingly negative in industrialized nations. No respected medical board in the world recommends circumcision for infants. All of them, including the AAP in their latest statement, state that the "benefits" are not great enough.

Does MK Meir Sheetrit intend to take an unfounded position against the most respected medical organizations in the west?

Is he seriously suggesting he knows more than the ombudsmen who signed the resolution?

Related Posts: 
COUNCIL OF EUROPE: Non-Medical Circumcision a Human Rights Violation

COUNCIL OF EUROPE: When Israel Says "Jump," Secretary General Says "How High?"

ISRAEL: The Emperor's New Foreskin

Politically Correct Research: When Science, Morals and Political Agendas Collide

Sunday, November 17, 2013

ISRAEL: The Emperor's New Foreskin

The Council of Europe has declared the medically unnecessary circumcision of non-consenting minors to be a human rights violation and the responses have been predictable, from accusations of anti-Semitism by leaders of Jewish groups, to the Israeli president Shimon Peres sending a letter to Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjorn Jagland, asking for his intervention. Knesset Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Committee chairman Yoel Rozvozov has proposed that Jewish circumcision ceremonies be conducted at Israeli embassies.

Perhaps the biggest response to the Council of Europe, however, has been for the Knesset to send an envoy of MKs to Europe, in order to ask their counterparts to sign a new draft resolution written by Israel; the Knesset intends to replace the Council of Europe resolution with their own.

Up until now, Europeans, and perhaps most everyone else, have refrained from questioning circumcision. Even today, leaders and politicians have a tendency to pussyfoot around the issue. The politically correct thing to do is to either join the chorus and sing the praises of the "medical benefits" of circumcision, the only recourse being to simply circumvent the issue and hope it goes away.

In a recent post, one can see that Israel has Europe by the thick and curlies. In the past, any discussion questioning the ethics of forcibly circumcising, healthy, non-consenting minors could be abruptly truncated by having a Jewish person stomp, pout, point their finger and say "anti-Semite." These actions still have a similar effect, as one can clearly see Jagland pandering to Israeli president Shimon Peres, after having received a personal letter directly from him.

All arguments questioning the circumcision of minors, how ever well-reasoned, are trumped by the "anti-Semite" trump card.

How far is this to continue?

When can Europeans, and the world in general, expect to freely discuss the ethics of forcibly circumcising healthy, non-consenting minors?

Or are Europeans and the rest of the world to continue turning a blind eye and refuse to call it the mutilation and basic human rights violation that it is, in order to avoid political assassination?

Saturday, November 9, 2013

THE INDEPENDENT: Barry Curtis Showcases Projection and Cultural Blinders

Journalist for The Independent, Barry Curtis

Opening Rant: It's Not Fair!
Readers must forgive me for the scarcity and quality in my writing in recent months; my current work situation is one such that my employer owns my mind, body and soul, and I don't have time to sit down and write anymore. (It is a miracle I was able to muster the time to sit down and write this post!) I'm trying to better it though, so perhaps not so far off in the near future you will see more of my writing. Until then, I will have to plead with you to please bear with me.

Very recently there have been articles with their authors lashing out at intactivists, making accusations and calling them names. Often, they don't even address our arguments, or just proceed to take down straw man arguments we never made. Ideally, I would like to sit down and take them all on, but currently time just doesn't allow.

It'd be nice to get paid as much as Bill Gates pays journalists and "researchers" to promote circumcision, but unfortunately, blessings aren't always rewarded to the righteous; there are often instances in history where the wrong are strong, and the weak are right, and this is one of them.

It is rather depressing that while circumcision promoters often get paid big by interested medical organizations and/or philanthropist organizations, to the point that circumcision promotion is how they make their living, those of us who strive for the most basic of human rights of the most defenseless members of society have to juggle our activism with a family and a real job.

Why is it that those who fight for basic human rights have to strive and fight a constant battle just to see if we can get heard? Why is it that while circumcision promoters are given all the time in the world on panel discussions and news reports, those who oppose them are pressured to cut their arguments short for time?

Recently, one Mark Joseph Stern was ranting and moaning about how intactivists have "broken the internet" and are "drowning out reasoned discourse,"; nothing could be further from the truth. (I've been meaning to sit down and destroy this idiot piece, but I need time to sit down and pick apart this tightly packed plethora of lies and half-truths. I'll get you yet, my pretty...)

While it's true that intactivists are there at every turn, whenever anyone publishes a circumcision propaganda piece, dominating the discussion in the comments section, the fact is that it's the headlines that matter. The media is not being overwhelmed with the message that circumcision is a gross human rights violation, it is replete with headlines that circumcision "is beneficial," "prevents AIDS," and "special interest Nazi groups are trying to ban circumcision."

Medical literature is not overflowing with factual information regarding male sexual anatomy; there is this drive by a handful of circumcision "researchers" to flood medical literature with how circumcision prevents HIV and other STDs.

Who is editing every single circumcision and circumcision-related article on Wikipedia, but rabid circumcision advocates who make sure only pro-circumcision information is posted? And who make sure anyone trying to add factual, referenced information is banned from editing these articles?

Who is fighting to prevent research that puts circumcision in a negative light from being published, but the University of Sydney's Brian Morris and friends? And his colleague, Joya Banerjee, has the nerve to complain on the same media outlet as Mark Joseph Stern, (SLATE was started by whom?) that intactivists are hampering scientific research by writing petty reviews on pro-circumcision publications on Amazon? (I'll get you too someday, Joya...)

I think it's amazing, the gall with which circumcision propaganda authors have the audacity to, with a straight face, unabashedly point their finger at us, and project onto us the very actions that they themselves are guilty of engaging in.

Yes, "drowning out well-reasoned scientific discourse." SO much "misinformation" being published.

Do tell.

Begin Destruction of Barry Curtis' Article
So on Friday, November 9, Barry Curtis at The Independent published a piece titled Why the decision to circumcise must be left to parents. His ad-hoc argument is already self-evident in the headline itself, as just below it, Curtis reasons: "A ban would force the practice underground, and could lead to more botched jobs."

Strangely, it appears this thought does not cross the minds of those who thought that banning female circumcision was a good idea. I really don't have too much time, so what I will do is simply post parts of his article and respond to them directly.

"They have compared it to removing a kidney, suggesting there is much confusion over this issue in society."

Who has? Mr. Curtis? Who has compared circumcision with removing a kidney? A source please?

I'll say; circumcision advocates compare circumcision to ear piercing and a haircut. Perhaps those are more accurate comparisons, Mr. Curtis?

"Others don’t understand that the foreskin is merely surplus skin and not even really a part of the male organ."

Not even really part of the male organ!

Just what is it then, Mr. Curtis? And why are all male children born with it?

"The fog of confusion in society over the issue means that bans may be occurring without clear debate, leading to bad policy."

And who is conjuring such a "fog of confusion over society over the issue," Mr. Curtis? Who is trying to "set the facts straight?"

The fact of the matter is that there is no "confusion" of the matter, as we will see shortly.

"Furthermore a paranoid American group called The Intactivists, who mis-inform internet debate, (Here it is!!!) argue their sexual performance has been limited by being circumcised, therefore feeding into the powerful victim-orientated politics of today in which it’s fashionable to blame everything on one’s past."

We "misinform," he says. Research actually shows that circumcision removes the most sensitive part of the penis, and reduces sensitivity by a factor of 4. What is Mr. Curtis' rebuttal to that?

But more to the point, as Mr. Curtis doesn't seem to think it isn't "fashionable" to blame everything on one's past and scorns "victim politics," what does he think of women who protest their circumcisions? Perhaps he things they shouldn't "blame their past" and anti-FGM activists are feeding into the "powerful victim oriented politics of today?" 

Oh, but that's "different," I'm sure.

"Surplus skin," Mr. Curtis. Yes, let's talk about "misinforming" while you do this very thing yourself.

"Researching whether circumcision is actually harmful can be a difficult task as different websites say different things."

It's not a "difficult task" no.

Instead of looking for random websites, why doesn't Mr. Curtis encourage his readers to look at what medical organizations have to say on the matter?

"The group Doctors Against Circumcision say that non-medically necessary circumcision can lead to sexual difficulties in later life, low self-esteem, and even death if the operation goes wrong – fuelling fears of groups like the Inactivists. However, I think it’s more important to concentrate on the authoritative studies, that is those which consider all the evidence impartially."

And here, Mr. Curtis is trying to engage in a logical fallacy known as "ad verecundiam," otherwise known as "appealing to authority." What's real sad is that while Mr. Curtis is trying to appeal to authority and wield the cloak of scientific credibility, it doesn't actually work in his favor.

Here is where Mr. Curtis' poor argument breaks down; The fact is that the trend of opinion on routine male circumcision is overwhelmingly negative in industrialized nations. No respected medical board in the world recommends circumcision for infants. All of them, including the AAP in their latest statement, state that the "benefits" are not great enough.

The most respected medical organizations in the world have weighed the current body of evidence regarding infant circumcision and have found it wanting. Mr. Curtis tries to make the task of researching circumcision more "difficult" than it needs to be.

"In that light, it is valuable to note that the American Pediatrics Association, the World Health Organisation, the Centres for Disease Control, and UNAIDS, have all concluded that circumcision, if practiced correctly, does no harm whatsoever, and that there might even be some health benefits."

Earlier, Mr. Curtis was warning about an alleged "fog of confusion." Here we observe it emanate from his very own mouth.

There is no medical organization in the world that recommends the circumcision of infants. The American Academy of Pediatrics tried to, in their most recent statement, get away with the sound-bite that "the benefits of circumcision outweigh the risks," but couldn't conclude their statement with an actual recommendation; they still end up saying, as they did in their last statement, that the "benefits" of circumcision are not great enough to recommend the procedure.

But you will not hear this from Mr. Curtis.

The WHO, CDC and UNAIDS have approved circumcision for consenting ADULT males, in high-risk areas in AFRICA. NOWHERE have they recommended the circumcision of infants to prevent HIV.

Mr. Curtis might have you believe that there is this world campaign underway to promote the circumcision of infants to prevent HIV. There is no world campaign. The most respected medical organizations in the world remain unmoved. Even given the current "research" regarding HIV in Africa, they all cannot bring themselves to recommend infant circumcision. Way to create a "fog of confusion," sir.

"The highest quality studies referenced in the US National Library of Medicine say there is no adverse effect on sexual function, sensitivity, sexual sensation or satisfaction. Given that these are the most respected medical authorities in the world, I think we have to trust their evidence."

Look again; so far, the "evidence" has not been sufficient for any of said respected medical authorities to endorse the circumcision of healthy, non-consenting minors.

"In the rare cases where circumcision is botched, one can argue that the surgeons ought to be better trained."

Forget the competency of the surgeons, as it can also be argued that surgeons performing female circumcision could be "better trained"; shouldn't the question be whether or not circumcision is necessary in a healthy, non-consenting minor to begin with?

"Indeed a ban on the practice would likely push circumcision underground, and increase the risk of bad surgery. Thus a ban, rather than leading to increased safety of babies, would lead to more suffering."

Interesting. These thoughts apparently didn't cross the minds of those behind moves to ban female circumcision. You must inform them, Mr. Curtis. You must inform them soon, to avoid botched female circumcision jobs. Oh those poor, poor girls.

"The classic liberal John Stuart Mill argued that only things that are clearly harmful to someone else can rightly be prohibited by the State."

How clear must the harm be, Mr. Curtis? What is it called when clear harm is outright dismissed by people such as yourself?

"This is why liberal democracies can justify laws against child abuse, rape, murder, etc. But if the most authoritative evidence suggests circumcision is not harmful, the case for a ban has not been made."

The most authoritative evidence has not been enough to convince a single medical organization, not even the AAP, to endorse the circumcision of children.

I'm afraid you have your logic turned upside down; surgery requires a very good, compelling reason. There must be a medical condition present for which there is no alternative, and all other methods of treatment have been tried and failed. You do not perform surgery on a healthy child "just because" you think it's a good idea. Wherever did you get your medical degree, Mr. Curtis?

"Some have argued that even if it is not harmful generally, it is still “abusive” because the body is altered, or “mutilated” they say, and not left to develop as nature intended. But this argument is also wrong. For example parents frequently get their children to wear braces on their teeth, purely for cosmetic reasons."

So now having a foreskin is akin to having crooked teeth? Wouldn't removing a foreskin be more akin to removing the teeth themselves "to facilitate cleaning," etc.? Seriously, couldn't you dig up a more compelling analogy?
"Some claim that circumcision remains abusive however, because the baby has no say. In accordance with Judaism, a baby is circumcised on the eighth day - so clearly it cannot consent. But parents are not being abusive here - they are making decisions which will affect the socialisation of the infant for its betterment as they see it, and ought to be trusted with that decision."

What about parents who made the "decision" to circumcise their infant daughters, as they are in South East Asia and some parts of Africa? Would this "decision" also not affect the socialization of the infant for its betterment, as they see it? Should they be trusted with that decision?

Why the double-standard? Why is it "abuse" for girls, but not for boys? Why does a ban "infringe on a parent's right to make decisions" with boys, but not with girls? Only parents who are thinking about circumcising their sons should be trusted with their "decisions?"

"Of course, when the child grows up and hits adolescence he may resent the decisions his parents made like many adolescents do. That is, however, part and parcel of life."

A girl in Malaysia, a boy in Turkey, both undergoing genital cutting

For the girl? Female genital mutilation, child abuse, and a violation basic human rights.

For the boy? "Part and parcel of life."

"The best people to raise a child are its parents and the immediate community around it because they are the ones who love the baby the most and have a vested interest in its prospering. Arguably the worst people to raise children are those who would do so from afar, like EU bureaucrats."

Yes, so we agree, then, Mr. Curtis, that bans on female genital cutting infringe on these so-called "parental rights?"

Who better to raise a girl than the community where she is born? And who are EU bureaucrats to step in, right?

Oh? This is "different" you say?

"In any case where no harm is caused, parental autonomy must be respected."

Now, all you have to do is deny any harm is being caused, and you're set!

Parents who circumcise their daughters obviously do not believe they are causing "harm" to them either, do they Mr. Curtis.

Such a poorly argued position in a poorly written article. Honestly.

Barry Curtis Responds:
And I take that apart too.

Says Mr. Curtis:

"Blimey, I didn’t realise my article would prompt such hostility - clearly this is a sensitive topic."

What you mean to say, of course, Mr. Curtis, is that you didn't expect for your readers to be informed on the subject. Did you just wake up from a long sleep or something?

"I respect Kaynejack’s comment that at least discusses some evidence rather than the emotional spasms of other posters."

Emotional spasms? You mean like this entire article?

"I think your point that there are problems with 0.2% of circumcisions is probably accurate (the 38% statistic is plucked out of the air though). However *something* going wrong does not mean it is serious harm."

And here we see Barry Curtis engaging in definitional retreat.

So now it's not only "harm," but it needs to be "serious harm."

It must be asked, given that children are not born suffering ailments that necessitate surgery, how is anything above 0 conscionable at all? 0.2% is the figure trolled out by the AAP.* However they have a conflict of interest in doing an actual investigation, and reporting anything higher; the majority of their fellows reap profit from the procedure.

*Note: Someone made the following excellent observation in my comments section:
"Even if 99.8% of circumcisions went ahead without any complication, this would still mean that the United States would have a recognize a complication rate of 0.2%, where 0.2%*1.2 million = 24,000 babies are suffering complications every year. While this number is not even close to the real number, the idea that we can dismiss 24,000 babies suffering complications every year, some of which can be lifelong, disabling, or even lethal, just does not seem proper of a decent person."

It is important to note that even in their last statement, the very AAP admitted that the true risks of circumcision are actually NOT KNOWN, putting into question the gall with which they dare to utter the sound bite "the benefits outweigh the risks." (They ended up not recommending circumcision, because, in their own words "the benefits" were not "great enough.")

"Many of these cases would be down to infection or excessive bleeding, things that can be easily rectified."

Not to mention here are deaths.

If 99.8% of circumcisions go ahead without even those slight hitches, it seems it's a safer procedure than most other operations, so the case for a ban hasn't been made."

Herein lies the problem; how many of those circumcisions were medically necessary?

Again, without medical or clinical justification, how is anything above 0 conscionable?

How many deaths happen as a direct result of circumcision, Mr. Curtis? Do you know? And if so, what is your source?

Without medical or clinical indication, how is it physicians are realizing surgery on healthy, non-consenting minors, let alone be giving parents any kind of "choice" in the matter?

Wouldn't reaping profit from conducting any other non-medical procedure on a healthy, non-consenting minor constitute charlatanism and medical fraud?

Isn't the reasoning "there isn't evidence of harm," or "the harm is minimal" and "therefore cutting a child is OK and shouldn't be banned" backwards logic?

You perform surgery because there is a medical necessity that cannot be addressed in any other way, not because it "doesn't cause [serious] harm."

Bit of trivia: 100% of all circumcision results in permanent disfigurement. I'm afraid not having a foreskin is actually not natural and normal as you'd like your readers to believe.

"We have to bear in mind that circumcision has existed for many thousands of years..."

Ad antiquitam.

So has female circumcision, slavery and the oppression of women, sir.

"...and that 30% of the world’s males get circumcised without any problems." 

Without any problems.

Just how do YOU know?

The AAP tells us that the true incidence of complications is UNKNOWN. But here you are, on The Independent, who are going to tell us exactly how many happen? Are you aware of why there was a judgement handed down in Cologne not too long ago? Was it due to a circumcision that "didn't cause any problems?" Do inform us as to the details of this case. 

Are you aware that there are doctors who make their living fixing circumcision botch jobs?

Of the many million dollar law suits in the US which have resulted in a circumcision clamp manufacturer going out of business?

Do you know what is the rate of death due to circumcision?

No. You do not know.

That is, unless, you actually profess to know more than the AAP, or any other respected medical authority in the world.
"That's a lot of parents whose will you seek to override with a ban."

Ad populum. (Everybody's doing it...)

So tell us, informed sir, how many parents are overridden with a ban on female circumcision?
"There are also risks from having teeth braces, yet we let parents decide for their children to have them."

There is a vast difference between putting braces on teeth to correct their position, and removing those teeth "to facilitate cleaning," "avoid cavities," and whatever arguments of prophylaxis have you in favor of circumcision. I'm afraid it is not a very good analogy.

What are the risks of placing braces on teeth exactly? You've piqued my curiosity. What are the risks of orthodontics?

"Thus I regard the ban as potentially quite tyrannical."

But a ban on all female genital cutting is not "tyrannical" in your eyes because...


"On that note, I would warn people to think of the consequences of a ban. Would EU-appointed social workers be asking children to drop their trousers so they can check for 'abuse' and subsequently take the children into care?"

A direct allusion to Nazi practices during the Holocaust.

Tell us how the female circumcision ban and its enforcement, works, sir.
"This strikes me as way more destructive to families and harmful to the child than simple circumcision."

But you wouldn't have a problem when girls are taken into care?

Seriously, Mr. Curtis, are you not aware of your own cultural blindness and logical nakedness here?

"Other posters have insinuated Judaism and Islam are 'backward' religions, even akin to Satanism!"

Earlier you chided us for making "emotional outbursts," but you'll not be engaging in any of it here. 

Do tell us, what is your view of religions, societies etc. that encourage female genital cutting, or outright make it a requirement?

"This strikes me as completely intolerant and disrespectful of people’s abilities to decide how to live their lives. Shame on you."

Yes. Shame on those who dare place a ban on female circumcision, carving their heads on the holy day of Ashura, child marriage, child labor etc. How disrespectful and completely intolerant of people's abilities to decide how to live their lives. Why, child protective services ought to be abolished, as they do nothing more than meddle in other people's affairs.

"A ban on circumcision, with all the negative consequences for parental autonomy and religious freedom, is millions of times more ethically dubious than permitting it to continue."

But this is not true for female circumcision, right? Yes, throw out "parental autonomy" and "religious freedom" when it comes to customs that YOU disagree with, right?

Yes, all bans with negative consequences for "parental autonomy" and "religious freedom" ought to be lifted, as they are a million times more ethically dubious than permitting the actions they ban to continue.


A father slashes his child's head for the Holy Day of Ashura
Muslim women perform "sunat" (ritual genital cutting) on a girl
Child marriage in India

What ad hoc self-serving non-sense.