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Discussion point: circumcision

Circumcision ruling: European bureaucrats are effectively banning Jewish boys, argues Brendan O’Neill, quoting the Jerusalem Post and unintentionally supported in his argument by the creepy quote from the Council of Europe in which it calls for “debate” and in the same breath announces what the result of said debate is to be. And this was put forward by a German rapporteur. I am not usually one for endless digs at modern Germans for evil done before most of them were born, but, Frau Rupperecht, do you have any idea of what that must look like to some of the Jerusalem Post’s older readers?

And yet – irreversible modification of a child’s body without the child’s consent. Gulp.

And yet again – parents irreversibly modify their children’s bodies by surgery all the time.

We have discussed this several times before, acrimoniously. Any new thoughts? Any constructive reformulations of old thoughts?

I have a question for medically knowledgeable readers. I gather that a far higher proportion – 79% in 2002 – of men in the US are circumcised than in the UK, yet the number uncircumcised is also huge. There must therefore be scope for large scale comparisons of outcomes. Have these been done? Does male circumcision make much difference?

147 comments to Discussion point: circumcision

  • Johnathan Pearce

    My general take is that parental changes to their children’s bodies should be done for medical grounds. That is it. And there is the whole issue of female circumcision.

  • Jim

    Yes, we can hardly on the one hand denounce Muslims for wanting to circumcise their girls for ‘traditional’ reasons if with the other we support the right of Jews to circumcise their boys for ‘traditional’ reasons.

    I’m afraid that Jewish ritual circumcision is going to be another victim of the introduction of Islam to the West – with its arrival and its more barbaric forms of circumcision (the physical long term effects of female circumcision being considerably greater than that for male circumcision) there could no longer be a sort of unwritten exception to the rule for Jewish circumcision. If you can’t slice and dice little girls genitals, you can’t do likewise to little boys. End of story.

  • dfwmtx

    I forget; while there’s some studies proving male circumcision has some health benefits (keeping the junk clean, less chance of catching STIs under the skin fold, etc), I’m not aware of any studies showing health benefit from female circumcision.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    Johnathan, I gather that in America circumcision usually is done on medical grounds – the vast majority of those circumcised are neither Jewish nor Muslim. It’s rather a generalised, statistical, precautionary sense of “medical grounds”, though.

    So far as I can see the big difference between male and female circumcision is that male circumcision does not seem to make much difference to the lives of those who had it done to them. (Though I appreciate that it is difficult to judge the counterfactual.) Most females who have been “circumcised” report that they have little or no pleasure in sex. The briefest observation of American culture will demonstrate that the circumcised majority of American men clearly do experience sexual pleasure.

    Has anyone ever attempted to survey whether circumcised males statistically have different experiences of sex to uncircumcised males? I’ve never even heard of such a belief in popular culture, but that could be my parochialism. The reason I am focussing on the US is that in Africa, say, the circumcised are much more likely to be Muslim and the uncircumcised Christian or Animist, whereas the two groups in America are not generally differentiated by religion.

  • Jonathan:

    My general take is that parental changes to their children’s bodies should be done for medical grounds.

    That is your general take – just as you or I or anyone else may also have a general take on parental changes to their children’s minds (AKA ‘education’). But that is not the question – rather, the question is: should the state have a say in such matters? I think not. And yes, it includes female circumcision or any other physical/mental modification parents may choose to inflict on their children. Note also that the state is not the same as society (not you, you know that better than I do – but others who may be new here).

  • Jaded Voluntaryist

    Male circumcision also does not destroy the normal ability to achieve orgasm. It’s not the same thing at all. It’s not harmful and may even have benefits. Female circumcision on the other hand is indisputably an act of mutilation that can and does result in death, and is designed to destroy a girl’s ability to ever experience normal sexulity because of a barbaric culture’s squeamishness regarding female pleasure. That’s evil.

    It’s unfair to draw an equivalence between them. I would be loath to interfere in a parent’s right to make the choice for male circumcision.

    You don’t have to like it, but please don’t try to ban it.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    Jim, as my reply to Jonathan said, I think we can differentiate between the two cases because it does seem that compared to female circumcision, male circumcision matters much less in its effects, if at all. A difference in degree rather than kind can still be a huge difference.

    Laws often enforce arbitrary cut off points that are difficult to justify, such as minimum ages to drink alcohol or different retirement ages for men and women, but we get by.

    (Ah. “Cut off points.” I truly did not plan that. I suppose it is inevitable that this debate is going to be full of that sort of double meaning.)

  • Mr Ed

    What if the subject of the operation declares, at the age of majority, if s/he retrospectively consents to the deed, and if not, those responsible (those putting the then child forward and the doers) face prosecution for grievious bodily harm? (The likely offence in England and Wales, or wounding).

  • Comparing male circumcision and female “circumcision” is not comparing like-with-like.

    To compare the two, the male procedure would have to involve removing the entire glans. Frankly removal of foreskin is a bit more dramatic than piecing a girl’s ears for earrings, but it pales by comparison to what is done to women.

    Female “circumcision” is nothing of the sort and is more correctly called clitoridectomy, which is analogous to a male penectomy. Indeed judicial penectomy would be a suitable punishment for any man who aids and abets the clitoridectomy of a child. True female ‘circumcision’ would involves removal or reduction of the clitoral hood, i.e. a clitoral hoodectomy, which by comparison to the muslim practice is a trivial alteration.

    And whilst I agree in principle male circumcision is “a bad idea”, I also think it is sufficiently non-life changing that this is certainly an area of life the state should stay the hell out of… the same cannot be said for clitoridectomy or penectomy.

  • Ed: what if the offspring sets out to blackmail their parents for inheritance, or just to get back at them from not hugging them enough/too much?

  • I think most forms of female circumcision are far worse. Nevertheless, i can’t easily justify male circumcision on libertarian grounds.

  • Rich Rostrom

    1) This is an obsessive issue for some men. I think they may be homosexuals with foreskin fetishes.

    2) Doesn’t this ban apply to Moslems as well?

    3) FGM is not a Moslem religious requirement. It’s far from universal, even in very traditional Moslem societies (30% in Saudi Arabia IIRC). Whereas male circumcision is 99.9%.

    However FGM is widespread in traditional African societies, including many non-Moslems.

  • The point made here several times about male circumcision being without harm is both subjective and debatable as circumcisions generally take place before sexual maturity, usually in infancy unless deemed necessary for medical reasons.

    Ignoring religious traditions, there are genuine medical benefits to male circumcision:

    – Reduces the risk of developing a urinary tract infection (UTI), such as a bladder infection.

    – Reduces the risk of getting some types of sexually transmitted infections such as HIV.

    – Reduces the risk of developing cancer of the penis.

    However as a downside an uncircumcised penis is more sensitive than a circumcised penis, meaning that circumcised men may experience less pleasure during sex.

    Given that most of the health benefits are related to sexual activity, surely this should be a choice for the child only when he is capable of making such a choice, for example at age 16 or 18.

    The state would prosecute a parent for cutting off a finger or toe, so why do we allow the removal of a foreskin except for the dubious exception of religious tradition.

    It’s barbaric in exactly the same way as female circumcision.

    This is 2013 for Gagarins sake!

  • Mr Ed

    Alisa: Then one might say that the parents have had a bad ‘un.

    Perhaps the resentment at mutilation might have clouded judgment.

    I suppose that my scenario might tend to penalise risk-taking behaviour. Is it wise or right to make irrevocable decisions for another?

    But what if the son simply says ‘I want my foreskin back’, that of itself might be a form of pressure towards parental guilt.

  • Jacob

    Speaking of “parental changes to their children’s minds” – what about parents drugging children with ritalin? Is that ok ?

    I heard a story about normal US children in summer camp. Each one was taking maybe three or four pills several times a day. I think this is totally crazy – still – I’m against the state banning such madness.

    We must be very, very cautious when interfering in a parent-child relationship. I’m MORE afraid of the state exercising power over children, than the parents.

    About male circumcision – since it’s harmless, the State should stay out of it.

  • But what if the son simply says ‘I want my foreskin back’, that of itself might be a form of pressure towards parental guilt.

    Apparently this reaction and indeed that exact line is common. There can be both physical and psychological harm done when a parent disfigures a child without their consent and against their protests.

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

  • Nick (nice-guy) Gray

    Interestingly enough, future surgery could restore all organs or parts cut out as babies. Stem cells seem able to reproduce any part. So I see a thriving trade of Europeans going to America, and having their children circumcised, and coming back, and then the grown-up children having remedial surgery under welfare! Be a surgeon, my child of either gender. It’s a guaranteed growth industry!

  • Ace Dacre

    Nevertheless, i can’t easily justify male circumcision on libertarian grounds.

    But it’s easy to justify the state minding its own damn business on libertarian grounds for exactly the reasons Perry De Havilland lays out in a comment above.

  • Dom

    Just as a point of reference, here’s me in my uncut glory.

    click

  • CharlieL

    I have 5 boys. The first one was circumcised at birth. We were not consulted. It was considered to be “normal process”.

    My wife insisted the second not be circumcised, and he was not. At the age of 8, he developed phimosis ( foreskin so tight it could not be drawn back for effective cleaning ), and a resultant infection, and so ended up getting circumcised anyway.

    Because of the difficulty my wife had keeping him clean as an infant, she allowed the ob/gyn to do the deed on the final three.

    Now, this is admittedly an individual case, and most uncircumcised males never run into this issue. But in the US circumcision is pretty much a routine procedure at birth, apparently for reasons of hygiene. Whether or not that is valid, I cannot say, it’s just been that way here since at least 1900.

    I suspect that Catholics ( who do not seem to be routinely circumcised ) and Jews ( upon whom the procedure is done in a religious ritual ) make sure to let the attending physician know not to do it.

    As far as the sexual pleasure is concerned, I suspect it is not all that focused on the glans, but more on the tension and release of tension experienced during buildup and climax.

  • Tedd

    (Ah. “Cut off points.” I truly did not plan that. I suppose it is inevitable that this debate is going to be full of that sort of double meaning.)

    Yes, I’m sure yours will be just the tip.

  • John Mann

    Not an easy one.

    My own gut feeling is that the question is whether or not what parents do to a child is a medical / surgical procedure, or whether it constitutes violence – i.e. an assault.

    In terms of law, I would leave it at that, and leave it to the courts make up their minds on a case by case basis.

    Suppose, for example, a parent was to seize a kitchen knife and cut off the left hand of his/her five year old child, I would take the view that it was probably a violent assault, and that this would be considered a criminal offense.

    On the other hand, if parents employed a surgeon to amputate the perfectly healthy left hand of their five year old child – and that this was done for ideological reasons, rather than for what most of us would consider to be sound medical reasons, we would have a different situation. Their action would strike me as bizarre and immoral – but I would take the view that it was probably surgery, and that the state had no right to intervene.

    However, I would also take the view that in this latter case, it was within the bounds of possibility that the parents actually were assaulting their child, and I would envisage that there would be a strong possibility that the case would come to court – and that once in court, the case would be considered on its merits – and that the main issues would be the motivation of the parents, and the extent to which they actually were concerned for the welfare of the child.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    I guess it comes down to the fact that State interference with such matters is normally worse than the supposed problem at hand. Provable harm has to be the test here.

    I remember that debate on this blog with that character Gabriel (who was so rude about various issues that he was eventually banned. A pity – he was intelligent but his rudeness and general dishonesty on some issues was intolerable). What I think still does trouble some people is that the operation, when done for overtly religious doctrinal reasons, is, unless medical technology advances sufficiently, irreversible. It means that a person is marked by their parents’ religion for life. 99% of men who have this operation probably don’t care, and it might just be an issue of principle. With the female circumcision operation, however, the level of harm and consequence is several orders of magnitude greater, from what I have read. And it seems to me that it is legitimate for libertarians, however understandably wary of the State, to ask whether there are grounds for preventing what amounts to a physical assault with enduring and possibly irreversible consequences.

  • @CharlieL:

    There has been a concern within the medical profession that there is an overdiagnosis of phimosis in boys (especially in the US) and that this overdiagnosis is caused by a lack of understanding in penile development and an overabundance of caution by doctors.

    Research in the UK suggests the 2/3rds of operations for phimosis in the Mersey NHS region were medically unnecessary.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2499015/pdf/annrcse01558-0005.pdf

  • Jason

    If I may make a couple of anthropological observations: Female circumcision cannot be argued to be a strictly Muslim practice in the same sense that male circumcision can certainly said to be prescribed by Judaism. There is a correlation, but it is problematic in that far from all Muslims have their daughters circumcised; and that the practice extends beyond Muslim communities in Africa.

    A second observation – not unrelated – is that, contrary to some Marxist feminist explanations, the decision to circumcise an infant girl is often enforced exclusively by older female relatives.

  • CharlieL

    @John Galt, in this case it was real. the foreskin could not be withdrawn, indeed the glans could not even be held in an attempt to withdraw the foreskin while the organ was in a state of “shrinkage”. The area behind the glans could not be properly cleaned and got infected.

    My wife and I had both attempted to maintain normal functionality by manipulation during the child’s first 5 or so years, but it either got away from us or was not meant to be.

    As I stated, this was one individual case and has no bearing on the general tenor of this conversation, but consider: how many cases of phimosis and infection in an ancient society would have occurred before that society would have decided that circumcision was a good thing, perhaps concurrent with a rite of passage into manhood.

  • I’m not going to get into this fight again, having said one hell of a lot last time and having nothing further to add. I will say, though, that I recently got a new member of staff who googled me to see who his new boss was, and he had heard about it. He was a libertarian who occasionally reads this site and who had been told by a friend, “Don’t, whatever, you do, go anywhere near the Samizdata circumcision fight. You’ll lose days of your life.”

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    Nice picture Dom, but I think you do need to get it cut. Your fringe is looking a little shaggy.

  • “Don’t, whatever, you do, go anywhere near the Samizdata circumcision fight. You’ll lose days of your life.”

    It is actually a fairly good test of ones libertarian character as it includes:
    – State intervention
    – Religious dogma from different faiths
    – Medical dogma (Europe vs. USA)
    – Different measures of harm for male vs female circ.
    – Rights of parent over the child (consent)
    – Rights of the state over the parent (law)

    Given that each commenter will have differing views on all of the above, the likelihood of consensus is pretty low, let alone unanimity.

    Anarcho-libertarians might demand ‘no state’, but insist that parents be prevented from circumcising their children, presumably by the power of Gaia?

  • “However as a downside an uncircumcised penis is more sensitive than a circumcised penis, meaning that circumcised men may experience less pleasure during sex.”

    I think it was David Friedman who pointed out that this does not really work as an argument. For the major limiting factor over how long any act of sex takes, or at least one involving a penis, is how long is it going to be before that penis jumps for joy from the sheer excitement of it all? Thus a less sensitive penis would, inter alia, experience the excitement for a longer period of time. Meaning, cumulatively, the same or perhaps greater pleasure over that time.

  • Fair enough Tim and for the benefit of the ladies (and to a lesser extent the pride and pleasure of the man), but the height of the pleasure and its duration are not necessarily equal or fungible.

    Study suggests circumcised men feel less sexual pleasure, less intense orgasms

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    John Galt,

    You summarise the issues very well.

    UPDATE: I’ve just seen the Belgian survey you posted. Thank you, that was the sort of information I was seeking. However I did not find it very convincing because it is a self-selected sample on an issue related to sex, a subject upon which human beings are notoriously prone to deception and self-deception. Nonetheless, it is another piece of the puzzle.

  • You are welcome Natalie. Going back to you original question, looking at the geography of circumcision penetration (fnarr fnarr), rates are high in Muslim countries and Israel where there are religious reasons for circumcision, as well as non-Muslim parts of Africa for cultural reasons.

    The rest of the world has fairly low rates of circumcision with the exception of the USA, which I’ve always subscribed to prevailing medical dogma rather than anything else.

    Circumcision by Country

    Even in the US, circumcision rates are declining:

    Circumcision Rate in the U.S. Declines as Attitudes Change

    From 1979 to 2010, the rate of newborn circumcision declined to 58 percent from 65 percent, according to a report today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The rate was the highest in 1981, with 65 percent of male infants circumcised, and lowest in 2007, at 55 percent, the CDC said.

  • In addition circumcision has a risk reducing effect on AIDS, which may further express the high rates across parts of Africa.

    Why Circumcision Lowers Risk of HIV

  • Further to the Belgian study, the high prevalence of circumcision in South Korea (~90%) has some interesting lessons in relation to reduction in sexual pleasure (some, but not much) and a non-religious perspective.

    Extraordinarily high rates of male circumcision in South Korea: history and underlying causes.

  • Tedd

    John Galt:

    From my perspective, only the first and the final two items on your list are in any way related to libertarianism, so disagreement on the other items is to be expected even among people whose perspectives on libertarianism are identical. Outside of the context of state intervention, religious dogma is not a political issue at all, nor is medical dogma. And, as others have pointed out, the faux issue of male v. female rates of “circumcision” is an equivocation, and therefore also not a political issue (since it’s not an issue of any kind).

    John Mann:

    I agree with you regarding the courts. I’m often surprised that the role of civil courts doesn’t come up more in discussions about, or premised on, libertarianism. From my perspective it is the correct response to a lot of criticisms of libertarianism. (And I mean civil court in the most generic sense possible, since I know that many flavours of libertarianism don’t support government-formed courts).

  • I here what you are saying, but there are libertarian aspects to religious dogma as anyone who has lived (as I do) in a Muslim country knows full well, even where the state is nominally secular. Were there no libertarian issues with respect of the Magdalene Laundries?

    Equally medical dogma can be as frighteningly powerful as the state when it comes to those who do not conform to the norm and find themselves imprisoned because of it.

    Circumcision may be a small part of these dogmas and meaningless in comparison to the wider problems facing libertarians, but it touches on freedoms which are at the very heart of libertarianism.

    CharlieL @ October 4, 2013 at 1:00 am

    “I have 5 boys. The first one was circumcised at birth. We were not consulted. It was considered to be “normal process”. My wife insisted the second not be circumcised, and he was not.”

    You may not find that practice offensive or relevant to being a libertarian but I do.

  • CharlieL

    And I agree; we should have at least been asked for our wishes.

    After number two was born, the bill included a $25 charge for circumcision. When I took the child in for his first visit, I made the point that the bill was incorrect. The receptionist said she could not understand how that could be. When I started to remove the child’s diaper, she backed off and corrected the bill. Oh, the joys of fatherhood. So many good memories = = but I digress. That’s how prevalent the practice was in that area at the time (1975).

  • John Galt: a nominally secular government is by definition not secular other than, er, in name – which takes us back to religious dogma being a non-issue.

    Equally medical dogma can be as frighteningly powerful as the state when it comes to those who do not conform to the norm and find themselves imprisoned because of it.

    Does the Indonesian medical establishment operate its own police and prisons?

  • Yup, Alisa – you’ve just described Malaysia, which my family and I call home. Secular in name only.

    My reference to imprisonment was in relation to Western psychiatric treatment, especially the imprisonment and chemical cosh approach which is grossly over prescribed.

    Another aspect is the “Liverpool Pathway” by which an unknown number of thousands of vulnerable elderly UK NHS patients have been euthanized on a dogmatic basis regardless of their personal needs or the wishes of their families.

    I could go on…

  • Paul Marks

    In California the same P.C. people who wish to ban circumcision, support the right of (for example) a lesbian couple to have “sex change” stuff performed on a young boy they have adopted (he is “spiritually” a girl you see – he wants his penis cut off…. especially after the chemicals they have been feeding him…).

    So it is entirely a medical concern with no changes being done to the bodies of young children – and not anti-Semitism (honest Gov).

    As for me – I am sure my life would have been vastly better if only I had a useless flap of skin at the end of my penis for dirt to get trapped in.

    The reason for my troubles in life has been because I lack this flap of skin.

    I must find someone to sue about it….

  • bobby b

    In the U.S., the main predictor for whether a child will be circumcised is whether or not the child’s father was circumcised. There may be talk about health benefits, or future sexuality benefits, but mostly, everyone wants their children to look like themselves.

    And, off-topic a bit, I cannot imagine that that first conversation on the subject between a recent father who is a devotee of some new religion and his god could have gone smoothly.

    Burning bush: “I am your god, and as a mark of your devotion to me, here is what I want you to do to your newborn son. (Whisper, whisper, whisper.)”

    New Father: “You want me to do WHAT?!”

    BB: “(Whisper, whisper, whisper.)”

    NF: “Cut off his WHAT?! And that will show his love for you?! Are you crazy?!”

    BB: “I have made you a father of many nations. I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you. I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. The whole land of Canaan, where you now reside as a foreigner, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.”

    NF: “And, for all of those things, we just have to trim off the end of his . . . ?”

    BB: “Yep.”

    NF: “Damn. Okay.”

  • Circumcision alters sex dramatically. Hundreds of thousands of men are enduring a tedious process of non-surgical foreskin restoration to undo some of the sexual damage.

    Only the OWNER of the genitals is in a position to decide which parts are needed or superfluous.

  • Circumcision alters sex dramatically.

    A rather overgeneralised statement as in the majority of cases, no, it does no such thing and frankly claims to the contrary are absurd. So “circumcision can in some cases alter sex dramatically” would be far more accurate.

    I think circumcision is a bad idea in most cases but please, lets keep this in perspective.

  • John Galt: sorry, I seemed to recall that you live in Indonesia – having not been to either country, I wonder how far off the mark I was…

    I generally understood your point about imprisonment – but my point was that neither religious nor medical establishment do not have any real power without the backing of government (where ‘government’ means ‘people with the biggest guns’).

  • Bobby B: I rather suspect that circumcision originates in some sort of a local tribal custom, having been originally performed as an answer to health and hygiene concerns as mentioned above. It has often been the case where such customs later assumed religious status, for all kinds of reasons and purposes.

  • I generally understood your point about imprisonment – but my point was that neither religious nor medical establishment do not have any real power without the backing of government (where ‘government’ means ‘people with the biggest guns’).

    Yes, but although the doctors are empowered by the state, they are often independent agents of it. It’s a bit like the old Nuremberg Defence of “I was only following orders”. Decisions to section someone are taken by a collective of doctors themselves and usually enforced by medical orderlies and nurses. The state merely supports their actions with a very broad degree of latitude and rubber stamps them when necessary.

    Look at how far the Secret Court of Protection (a libertarian nightmare) has gone to protect the social/medical oligarchy and silence their dissenters and those who would shine light in the dark places of this world.

  • Pete

    In the US it is probably popular due to big pharma wishing to sell more pots of hand cream to teenage boys, we’ll they always seem to grab one in those awful films like American Pie. You don’t need it if you are intact.

    Was there not a belief it reduces teenager fiddling with themselves, so uptight patents thought that will do?

    I’ve also heard in the UK it was more of a class thing, high Anglican, Royal Family etc.

    As a Brit I never grew up living under the fear of c@ck rott. We had no classes on this alongside learning to brush our teeth properly ( with the little tablet that died your mouth red).

    Medical necessity must be a tiny proportion for limitless boys.

    If one doesn’t object to non medically necessary cutting, what about a nce toddler tattoo? They can always remove it when older?

  • Pete

    Limitless = little, apologies for all the typos

  • Look at how far the Secret Court of Protection (a libertarian nightmare) has gone to protect the social/medical oligarchy and silence their dissenters and those who would shine light in the dark places of this world.

    ‘Protect’ is the key word here, JG – this is where ultimately the guns come into play. As to ‘independent agents of the government’, that is an oxymoron – seeing as such agents are very much dependent on the government protection.

  • JohnW

    Should the friends of liberty supports laws to prohibit the mutilation of the genitals of children?

    Umm…yes.

    Should the friends of liberty supports laws to prohibit the mutilation of the genitals of consenting adults?

    No.

  • In the U.S., the main predictor for whether a child will be circumcised is whether or not the child’s father was circumcised. There may be talk about health benefits, or future sexuality benefits, but mostly, everyone wants their children to look like themselves.

    I’ve heard this before, even heard people actually say that. Which leads me to believe that the annual Father-Son Cock Similarity Contest is a big event in the American social calendar.

  • Tedd

    John Galt:

    You glossed over my important qualification: “Outside of the context of state intervention, religious dogma is not a political issue at all, nor is medical dogma.” Examples such as Magdalene asylums are state intervention if practiced or endorsed by the state (private such acts are covered by criminal law). So religious dogma and medical dogma have no political dimension outside of the context of state intervetion, and are therefore not a subject of libertarianism.

    Having said that, I would agree that libertarianism is compatible with personal (i.e., non-political) philosophies that might have a problem with certain religious dogmas or medical dogmas. Compatible with, but not restricted to. For example, it seems to me that the Amish in the United States are effectively libertarians in that all they ask for from the political system is to be left alone. But their personal philosophies are starkly different from those of many self-identified libertarians. I do not see any contradiction there.

  • Indeed, Tedd. People keep missing this important point: a libertarian society does not require its members to be ideological libertarians – all it requires is for them to abide by libertarian rules in their interactions with other members of that society.

  • I would happily move to a state which acknowledged my right to live by purely libertarian principles of non-initiation of violence, but it appears there aren’t any.

    @Tim Newman:

    “Which leads me to believe that the annual Father-Son Cock Similarity Contest is a big event in the American social calendar.”

    Very funny…

  • JohnW

    I would guess that the origin of circumcision lies in tribal blood rituals – i.e. menstruation envy, plus an element of hostility to sexual pleasure – I still hear the anti-masturbation argument from proponents of female circumcision today.

    I must point out that the hygiene argument is complete nonsense and certainly not a reason to mutilate young baby boys. By the same argument you could say cutting off people’s finger-tips is more hygienic because they can no longer get dirty finger nails. That argument is a complete and total rationalisation for a barbaric tradition. The foreskin is one of the most sensitive parts of the male anatomy with the same basic make up as the sensitive area of the finger-tip. If removing finger-tips is more hygienic then I say lets do it to women and men alike! Let’s have an end to those dirty finger-tips once and for all!

    Would you honestly feel sane to stand up in front of someone and say ‘yes, scientific research shows that if you have your finger-tips cut off in a hospital, in the long run – after everything has healed and any infection has been brought under control…the benefits of not having finger nails to get dirt caught under, makes for a much more hygienic person! This is in the exact same form and it is totally wrong.

    Perpetuating and giving support to such idiotic ‘reports’ serves only one purpose, to allow the irrational action to continue.
    You don’t say, well Hitler had some great ideas of choreography.

    You say he was evil. Period.

    And the claim that it’s safer in the West just takes the biscuit! I’m sure that many of the experiments done by Hitler’s surgeons on the disabled, gypsies, gays, elderly and infirm were done with considerable skill. But what on earth does that have to do with the issue? Mutilation of a boy’s genitals when he has no means of consent is absolutely wrong.

    MUTILATION OF CHILDREN IS NOT IMPROVED BY BEING DONE SKILFULLY.

    I’m reminded of those dog breeders who cut off the tails of their dogs and trim their ears to the culturally accepted shape. That’s barbaric – and that’s just a dog!

    Shaking a baby and giving it a regular big hard slapping is less damaging than this unnecessary surgery. Bruises at least will heal. The neurological and skin damage done to a boy will not. His penis will remain considerably less sensitive and be less able to take wear and tear. His ability to enjoy sex will be considerably lessened for all the previous reasons.

    Don’t defend these practices. Don’t say, ‘well to me it just looks ok’. Don’t repeat their narrow rationalisations – UNLESS YOU WANT TO FURTHER THEIR IRRATIONAL CAUSES.”

    It is child abuse and I agree with Leonard Peikoff.

    I think people should inform themselves about this practise.

    And the horrific consequences.

  • Dave Walker

    Reductio ad absurdum: if most US circumcisions are performed “for medical reasons” – presumably as an attempt to mitigate the lad developing one or more of various conditions listed above by Mr Galt – why aren’t *all* newborns in medically-advanced countries given tonsillectomies and appendectomies as a matter of routine?

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    And the claim that it’s safer in the West just takes the biscuit! I’m sure that many of the experiments done by Hitler’s surgeons on the disabled, gypsies, gays, elderly and infirm were done with considerable skill. But what on earth does that have to do with the issue?

    Yes, what does it? We were talking about circumcision. There is a way that Hitler comes into the issue, but this was not it.

    My putting this forward as a discussion point reflected real uncertainty, but you have reminded me of one of the arguments in favour of making no law against circumcision. It is this: we don’t live in a constructed society with the best possible rule set, we live on the planet Earth, with a particular history, some of it irrational, some of it evil. On this planet banning circumcision in your country means orthodox Jews have to get out of it in the long term. Whatever else it means, it also means that. There’s your Hitler reference.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    Dave Walker,
    Newborns are given various vaccinations. Not popular with everyone.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    JohnW,

    MUTILATION OF CHILDREN IS NOT IMPROVED BY BEING DONE SKILFULLY.

    Yes it is. Even if one grants “mutilation” to be the correct word, which of course not all do, mutilation of children is much improved if done skilfully. The harm done by the procedure, if any, is lessened by it being done skilfully.

  • JohnW

    On this planet banning circumcision in your country means orthodox Jews have to get out of it in the long term.

    No it does not – it means they must wait until they are 18.

    Jewish groups are in the forefront of the campaign against this horror.

    Seriously, have you seen those pictures – the accounts are horrific.

    Yes it is. Even if one grants “mutilation” to be the correct word, which of course not all do, mutilation of children is much improved if done skilfully. The harm done by the procedure, if any, is lessened by it being done skilfully.

    There is no other word for it – not if words are to have meaning.

    Do not think for one moment that totally unecessary mutilations are mitigated by the skill of so-called experts using the best procedures in the most medically advanced country on Earth.

  • Tedd

    Alisa:

    …a libertarian society does not require its members to be ideological libertarians…

    Yes, I’m gobsmacked when I encounter people who don’t understand that. In fact, I half believe they’re pulling my leg.

  • Tedd, I know – same here. People think of ideologies as contents of a box, where the box is the mechanics of practical implementation of a particular ideology. From that POV, the box can be similar to all ideologies, while the contents of the box may vary. This could not be farther from truth, of course, since both statism and libertarianism concern precisely those practical implementations of any ideology whatsoever. There is no box, and principles are meaningless if not applied in practice.

  • Trofim

    I’m a working class bloke, born 1947 in Worcestershire.
    I was circumcised shortly after my birth, so I’m told, on the kitchen table by our GP, our kitchen table being a board on top of the bath, since the kitchen became a bathroom once every few weeks. As for consequences, I can’t say I’m aware of any. Not having experience of (1) being uncircumcised or (2) being another person, I can’t say whether it has had any effect on my sexual experience or performance. From what I have heard and read, my experience does not seem to be radically different in any way from others. I’m not aware of feeling any deficiency. I have been told by more than one woman, that circumcised members are more aesthetically pleasing and cleaner. In my NHS career I saw a couple of examples of phimosis reduction in A & E: operator applies topical anaesthetic, takes head of penis in gloved hand and squeezes, and squeezes and squeezes till desired result is obtained. Not pleasant for patient, from what I remember, despite local anaesthetic.
    Personally, I can’t think what all the fuss is about. I read some twaddle recently about how circumcision has a deleterious effect on personality type, something to do with the limbic system. So a sizeable proportion of the human race has a deformed personality, in correlation with religious affiliation. When I was done, it was just sort of routine round our way, recommended by doctors.

  • The Fyrdman

    I think a more apt comparison for male circumcision would be tattoing of babies in locations rarely exposed. Both are permanent physical changes made without the consent of the child that have no deleterious effects on the childs health, no social effect without getting naked. If you want to to make the arguments for health benefit, let’s say the tattoo is just a list of medical details, so there may also be some benefits here for your health.

    Now this is purely hypothetical, I don’t know of cultures or individuals that have tattooed their children. But if male circumcision is acceptable on the grounds that it does little damage and may have health benefits, that tattoing your blood type on the inner thigh is little different. As such, if you tolerate the availability of one, then you logically would have to tolerate the other.

    Personally, I don’t see the rights of the parent extending to minor mutilation of their kids but it’s so far off my list of priorities it barely registers.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    JohnW,
    Seriously, have you seen those pictures – the accounts are horrific.

    I have, but while I am sorry to read about any deaths and injuries, I didn’t think they were strongly relevant. The fact that circumcision has risks has to be put in the scales against the benefits, fair enough. But given the enormous baseline for circumcisions in the US or other developed countries (and developed countries are the only ones to even consider banning circumcision), the number that go wrong is small.

    In debates about gun control I often see gun control advocates bring up the number of children killed in the US by accidents with guns. Again, I am sorry to read about them, but they are not strongly relevant. The numbers so killed appear large until you compare them to the enormous baseline. Opponents of gun control (like me) often respond to the child gun deaths argument by pointing out that much larger numbers of children are killed in swimming pools, and say “if stopping child deaths is your objective, campaign to ban swimming pools.”

    This question of priorities is loosely related to what The Fyrdman said. Like him, my tentative position is to agree that “I don’t see the rights of the parent extending to minor mutilation of their kids but it’s so far off my list of priorities it barely registers”

    However, I would also add something like this: We allow parents to do to their children something that is nearly always not perceived by them as harm (even though it does violate their right to bodily integrity) because the only practical alternative is to allow the state to do the parents something that will definitely be perceived by many of them as major harm (forbidding them from carrying out their sacred duty and, in the eyes of the parents, harming the children). It will also set a new level of permissible intervention by the state into families.

    It also cannot be left out of the equation that circumcision is commonplace. A third of the men in the world are circumcised. This fact lessens the harm. To make the medical tattoo a better analogy (it is already quite good) one would also have to specify that such a tattoo was commonplace.

    If you give the state an inch, it takes a mile. Particularly if, as in this case, it might be a way of harassing or expelling unpopular groups (Jews for some, Muslims for others) without explicitly admitting doing so.

    I take quite seriously the threat that if you grant the state the power to forbid circumcision the next step will be to grant the state the power to demand (for medical reasons) some other modification. The state already goes quite far in that direction regarding vaccinations. Before you ask, I am entirely convinced that the vaccinations commonly done in the UK or the US are all safe and beneficial, but I find myself having a sneaking sympathy with the anti-vaccine nutters because I can envisage that this might not always be so. Doctors do sometimes get it wrong en masse.

    I wouldn’t put it it beyond the realms of possibility that a future government might put forward excellent reasons for mandatory contraceptive implants, or some sort of chemical suppressant of aggression or hyperactivity or sexual desire, or a benignly intended but eventually harmful treatment to improve intelligence. Or a tracking device – think of the lives it would save! Or something that ensures you will be spared the misery of a long old age – think of the planet! All these are mad conspiracy theories now. We keep them that way by not opening the door.

    (This has become a general comment, not solely addressed to JohnW or The Fyrdman.)

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    One more comment, advances in medical technology will bring us new dilemmas. We will have the possibility of (a) parents and (b) the state making types of modification to their children’s bodies as yet undreamed of.

    On the other hand, advances in medical technology may make the process of circumcision relatively easy to reverse for those who wish to. It can be done now, but not easily.

    I am sure we shall find something else to argue about.

  • Richard Thomas

    This is always a bit of a tricky discussion and I think a lot of it comes down to “Fox with no tail” rationalizations, both on the side who are circumcised and (possibly to a lesser extent but I may be biased) those who are uncut. Nobody wants to believe that their genitals are “wrong” so will latch on to whatever data supports their “rightness”. That FGM is often enforced by women seems to support this. It’s many foxes with no tails removing the tails of young foxes.

    When it comes down to it though, in my mind, there is very little in the way of positives or negatives to male circumcision and the differences it makes are small in any case. As such, the default should be to leave intact. It’s an operation that can always be carried out later when the recipient is fully cognizant of the ramifications.

    All I know for sure is that you’re not coming near mine with a knife and if any son of mine was cut by the hospital, that would have been a malpractice lawsuit. (That is not directed at the poster earlier who’s child was cut without permission. I was aware of the circumcision fetish when I arrived in the States and was prepared to make it abundantly clear that it was not to happen. It has turned out not to be an issue however.)

  • John W

    Natalie,
    Circumcision is not something that may lead to injury – it IS an injury, it IS a harm in every case.
    In every case the penis will suffer keratinisation and a significant loss of sensitivity and in EVERY case the condition will worsen with age – it is not a process that can “go right.”

    I do not care what the statistics say – this is a matter of individual rights and personal autonomy – like the right to bear arms.

    Should we, in our society, have the legal right not to be sexually mutilated by others?

    Circumcision is an ancient, barbaric practice which has survived to the present day solely due to ignorance and conformity with tradition.

    BTW, I do understand your concerns with regard granting yet more and new powers to the state, especially in our current political climate which is often hostile to liberty, but to argue for the sanctity of individual autonomy and the individual “self” is never a handicap to the cause of freedom.

    To be silent is.

    Those who pander to customs and superstitions of barbarians are no friends of barbarians nor mankind.

  • John W: so just to be clear, how would we go about enforcing your position on this matter?

  • John W

    I would make it a crime.
    If the crime were perpetrated against a British-born child I would prosecute the same way as I would for any other act of mutilation against a child.

  • I see. You do realize that this would drive the practice underground, yes?

  • I would make it a crime.

    Thus further empowering the state to interfere between the parent and the child.

    I’m not saying this is an absolute wrong as the state already interferes in much deeper ways (state child abduction, the banning of reasonable chastisement and enforced state education being worse), but its still another turn on the screw.

    Surely there must be a libertarian alternative to bansturbation? I admit I cannot see one though.

  • You do realize that this would drive the practice underground, yes?

    I agree. It’s a bit like the UK authorities banning selection on the basis of gender. Net result couples looking for a boy simply go where the rules don’t apply.

    So in the 3rd trimester Mrs. Cohen gets on a flight to Tel Aviv, young Moshe is born a Sabra Jew and gets the snip there and then. Mazal tov!

    So unless you are going to start prosecuting people like Mrs. Cohen on her return, which would really piss off the Israelis, what can you genuinely do?

  • John W

    Natalie,

    I wouldn’t put it it beyond the realms of possibility that a future government might put forward excellent reasons for mandatory contraceptive implants, or some sort of chemical suppressant of aggression or hyperactivity or sexual desire, or a benignly intended but eventually harmful treatment to improve intelligence. Or a tracking device – think of the lives it would save! Or something that ensures you will be spared the misery of a long old age – think of the planet! All these are mad conspiracy theories now. We keep them that way by not opening the door.

    You are correct – they will use any old excuse and they will say that whatever we do.

    But the best defence against all that is to assert the individual’s right to be left alone – we should argue for individual sovereignty and self-ownership, and the sanctity of the individual both in mind and body. We should promote the importance of consent and personal choice. And we should state that the pursuit of happiness is the purpose of the individual not the state.

    We should not tolerate slavery and the notion that people are owned by the state or their parents or the primitive customs of their parents’ religion.

    BTW the same arguments should be use to defend intersex children too – they are also suffering even more catastrophic harms thanks to ‘the experts.’

  • John W

    Alisa,


    I see. You do realize that this would drive the practice underground, yes?

    Yes, the same happened with the castration of small boys but castration did eventually stop.

    I repeat an “above ground” mutilation is not harmless. It is a harmful, damaging mutilation.

    All the rationalisations about circumcision we see above “it’s healthier,” “it looks better,” it prevents disease” “it never did me any harm,” are well-known rationalisations and myths.

  • Alisa

    What castration, John?

  • John W

    Richard,
    It’s not a fox’s tail sort thing, both Leonard Peikoff and Howard Stern and many other victims have spoken out against this serious crime.

    People need to educate themselves – “there is very little in the way of positives or negatives to male circumcision and the differences it makes are small in any case” is simply not true.

    And as for those who says let’s not involve the government – the government is already involved! – that is how it spread in the US. Government and its friends are in it up to their necks – there is even a lucrative trade in foreskins which are worth many thousands of dollars.

    Seriously, check out the the history – it is a libertarian’s worst nightmare.

  • John W

    Alisa,
    What castration, John?

    People have always done crazy stuff to children.

    In “The Man Who Laughs” Victor Hugo records how children would be grown in earthenware vessels so their bodies would take the form of teapots and flower vases – the genitals, in particular, seem to be the focus of weird mutilations worldwide – cutting, stretching, twisting, binding – you name it.

    In the West, the castration of boy-singers continued until the late 19th. c. until it was finally made illegal.

  • CharlieL

    John W: Rather the parents have control over their children than the state.

    I am not pro nor con on the issue. Just keep the government through the law out of it.

    As for children suing their parents, well, they can have at it. I’m reasonably sure there have been cases brought, but the percentage probably must be carried out to six decimal places before reaching the first non-zero digit.

  • John W

    CharlieL

    Rather the parents have control over their children than the state.

    That is a false alternative.

    It was the government that took the US incidence of circumcision from 0.001% in 1860 to 91% in 1970!

    And it is the government which is profiting by licencing the trade in baby parts.

    But I would not support children suing their parents – that would be taking the law too far.

  • Trofim

    John W. I hope you saw my post above. “Serious crime”!!!??? You’ve got to joking. Tell me what I am supposed to be suffering or have suffered from.

  • John W

    If someone tried to sexually mutilate the genitals of a grown man without his consent I venture the sadist would be risking a lot more than the loss of his liberty.

  • Mr Ed

    Alisa, I think that John W is referring to castrati.

  • Yes Ed, I figured that by now – we are in strange territory indeed…

  • Paul Marks

    Alisa – you still do not understand…..

    Circumcision is the evil ceremony by which the Rothschilds (the demons who control the world) give dark magical powers to their minions.

    As an evil minion of the Rothschilds I can testify that this is true.

  • Nick (nice-guy) Gray

    Natalie, I said the same thing, but get no credit!! Boo Hoo!!

  • Paul, I think that the implied connection may be a bit hyperbolic. The way I see it, some people just happen to feel particularly strongly about certain things, which often may seem strange to the rest of us:-)

  • Paul Marks

    Alisa they feel strongly about a lot of things – but selectively so.

    For example, in much of Europe there is move to de facto ban kosher killing of animals – but Islamic bleeding of animals is fine.

    For Mr Cohen to have his circumcised is an outrage – for Mr Hussain to do so is fine.

    They are not really going to try and exterminate more than two million Muslims in Britain and many millions more in the rest of Europe – for the Muslims would certainly not accept a ban on circumcision whilst any of them remained alive.

    It is the same in California – no one is really going to prevent Muslims circumcising their sons. Jews are a different matter.

  • they feel strongly about a lot of things – but selectively so

    I know – but while some do, others don’t.

  • John W,

    Your attempt to dodge this issue is unconvincing.

    > Natalie: On this planet banning circumcision in your country means orthodox Jews have to get out of it in the long term.

    > John W: No it does not – it means they must wait until they are 18.

    Let’s be clear about this: “they must wait until they are 18″ is another way of saying “they must stop being Orthodox Jews”. I don’t care whether you believe that Orthodox Jews’ beliefs and practices are a vital part of their religion. They do.

    If you want to expel practising Jews from the country, at least have the honesty to admit it.

    I’ll repeat what I said here years ago. Most people either get rid of the Jews because they want rid of them or they don’t because they don’t. It takes a Libertarian to get rid of them by accident.

  • Paul Marks

    Yes Alisa I am not being fair – some of them (not all) would take on the Muslims as well.

    Of course there is the other side of my heritage (most likely the dominate side to judge by my physical appearance – after all there a awful lot of people who look like me in Waterford….) “fairness is for friends not for foes” – anything is legitimate for foes (“smile and hit” or “when they are on the floor – kick them in the head” or – well on and on).

    But that is not good – and I should make an effort (there is no agency without effort) to be fair.

  • Paul Marks

    Of course there is a good side to a chaotic tradition.

    There can never be a “final solution” style genocide.

    “We must herd X group of people to such and such a place for orderly extermination”.

    “No I want to kill NOW”.

    “But if you start killing now X group will scatter and many of them will escape”.

    “I know that – but I want to kill NOW”.

    Think cats – but very big cats, who are not worried about the rain.

  • […] boys and girls over at Samizdata are discussing circumcision.  The issue of male circumcision always generates a heated debate in libertarian circles, between […]

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    Sorry Nick – Great minds think alike. Although your great mind had a subtler and more interesting think than mine.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    Squander Two – speaking of great minds, I dare not look it up in the Great Thread of Dissension, but I rather think you made the same analogy to tattoos that Pete and The Fyrdman did here.

    I am a little too busy to contribute anything substantial to this thread today, but one day I might try to look at the circumcision debate using the idea of the “Schelling Point”, which I first came across in David Friedman’s essay A Positive Account of Property Rights. Is the Schelling point in this debate bodily integrity, or is the present state of law and custom as to what bodily modifications parents are allowed to make on their children. Not that discussion of Schelling points would settle the matter, of course. However it is interesting because it involves, indeed centres on, the question of how others will behave.

    Anyone, feel free to beat me to it if that idea is one you wish to develop.

    PS Thank you John Galt for the very interesting and varied set of links to factual information you provided.

  • John W

    Alisa,
    Paul, I think that the implied connection may be a bit hyperbolic.

    That is because you are mis-conceptualizing the issue. You are treating circumcision as a minor affair that makes no great difference either way, like having a tattoo or a vaccination, and you persist in the mistaken belief that male circumcision is somehow different to female circumcision and other forms of genital mutilation inflicted according to custom and tradition.

    Tradition is no excuse – it merely compounds the error.

    Circumcision is to quote a famous jewish philosopher “truly monstrous, it is evil.”

  • Paul Marks

    To compare male circumcision to female “circumcision” (a very serious thing) is nuts.

    A women does not have a penis (I seem to talking to John Ruskin here – let me also break to you the terrible news that women are mammals and, therefore, DO have body hair), as a women has no penis they, therefore, have no flap of skin at the end of the penis that can trap dirt – women, therefore, do not need to have this (non-existent) bit of skin at the end of their (non-existent) penis removed.

    As the SS man says to the American POWs back in the days when Hollywood made decent films…..

    “If you will not us which of you are Jews – there is an easy way to find out…..”

    To which the American commander replies…

    “No there is not – we are Americans we are circumcised, you mean Germans are not? Yuk – and I thought Germans were supposed to be a clean people ……”

    Male circumcision is indeed a similar thing to vaccination.

    If circumcision can only be done at age 18 – then parents should not be allowed to have their children vaccinated till age 18 either.

  • John W

    Squander Two,

    Let’s be clear about this: “they must wait until they are 18″ is another way of saying “they must stop being Orthodox Jews”. I don’t care whether you believe that Orthodox Jews’ beliefs and practices are a vital part of their religion. They do.

    They could choose to leave, they could choose not to have children, or they could choose not engage in sadistic sexual mutilation-rituals against defenseless children.

  • John W

    Paul Marks,

    To compare male circumcision to female “circumcision” (a very serious thing) is nuts.

    You are mistaken.

  • …and you persist in the mistaken belief that male circumcision is somehow different to female circumcision and other forms of genital mutilation inflicted according to custom and tradition.

    I’m sorry but this is preposterous. I do not think circumcision is ‘A Good Thing’ but to compare male circumcision (removal of foreskin) with the absurdly mis-named female “circumcision” (removal of the clittoris) is just crazy. They are materially different to each other and the female version is of several orders of magnitude more life changing and intrusive. You can only compare what is incorrectly and disingenuously described as female “circumcision” to the amputation of the male penis, a penectomy.

    A ‘true’ female circumcision is a clittoral hoodectomy.

  • @Natalie Solent (Essex):

    PS Thank you John Galt for the very interesting and varied set of links to factual information you provided.

    You are welcome Natalie (as always), however I feel that the thread has devolved from the quantitative and objective to the qualitative and subjective.

    Anyone seriously suggesting that legislation should be used which has the unforeseen circumstance of forcing Jews out of the West (yet again, for the umpteenth time) needs to seriously examine their perspective.

    Equally, the view that such laws will never be passed because of the politically correct love-fest between bureaucrats and Muslims is also mistaken, it would only take a relatively short period of depression and hyperinflation to create another bout of nationalism in which neither Jews nor Muslims would be safe.

    Is the popular bash-a-banker attitude so different from the attitude of the 1920’s and 1930’s.

    As mentioned before I have no answer to this is that does not throw up more issues such as further state interference, religious intolerance or restrictions on parental freedom.

  • John W,

    > They could choose to leave, they could choose not to have children

    You’re using the word “choose” here in exactly the same context as “If we start prosecuting and imprisoning all skateboarders, they may choose to cease skateboarding.” You want to expel practising Jews from the EU, but you don’t want the nasty stain on your personality that would come from doing it yourself. No, you want them to voluntarily expel themselves in order to comply with your preferred legal structure. If you’re going to do it, admit it.

    Incidentally, let’s also stop this “Oh, but look! I’ve found a Jew who agrees with me, so I can’t be antisemitic” nonsense. There is a world of different between Jews arguing about Jewry and Judaism (which is what we do) and states introducing laws to outlaw Jewry and/or Judaism. Furthermore, we can also find examples of Jews who think that chicken batteries are morally equivalent to Auschwitz and Jews who helped round up their fellow Jews for extermination. We cannot automatically rule out anything any Jew ever says or does from being antisemitic. It frequently is.

    Natalie,

    > Squander Two – speaking of great minds …

    [blush]

    > … I dare not look it up in the Great Thread of Dissension, but I rather think you made the same analogy to tattoos that Pete and The Fyrdman did here.

    Well, I went a bit further, as some people at the time were using the example of facial tattoos. My point was that this example only has the ability to shock because it’s not real. If a particular human community all had facial tattoos from an early age, it would simply be a normal part of humanity and we would accept it. We would also, in these secular times, recognise that such a tattoo indicated the tribe someone had been born into, not their current beliefs.

    This is the point that Dawkins and his ilk can’t get their heads around: religions are not just belief systems; they are also groups of people.

    And, what the hell, I’ll just reiterate that other point from years back, since I’m the only one to make it round here. Parenthood, if done properly, routinely involves doing things to your children, without their consent, that would be illegal if you were to do it to an adult. If you don’t, you’re a crap parent. Changing a nappy involves what would only be described as “sexual assault” if done to an adult. Giving antibiotics to a baby generally involves two adults holding the little bastard down and forcing the stuff down their throat against their struggles. A cot is specifically designed to prevent escape. My child’s location is not their choice. All illegal if done to an adult. All absurd if you try to apply the same rationale to children.

  • John W

    I’m sorry but this is preposterous. I do not think circumcision is ‘A Good Thing’ but to compare male circumcision (removal of foreskin) with the absurdly mis-named female “circumcision” (removal of the clittoris) is just crazy. They are materially different to each other and the female version is of several orders of magnitude more life changing and intrusive. You can only compare what is incorrectly and disingenuously described as female “circumcision” to the amputation of the male penis, a penectomy.
    A ‘true’ female circumcision is a clittoral hoodectomy.

    In other words, some ways of mutilating the genitals of young children are more acceptable that others.

    I disagree.

    You cannot advance the notion of the sovereign individual while denying the integrity of individual mind and the individual body.
    The individual is the very standard of moral evaluation and the integrity of the individual body is an essential characteristic of that.

    If circumcision is not a clear and obvious instance of a rights violation I do not know what is.

  • Paul, your instincts turned out to be better than mine, and not for the first time either. Sigh.

  • Paul Marks

    Alisa I am male – and there is a grain of truth in the old line (sexist though it is) about men being tuned into darkness and death (hence the way men shake their heads sadly when a women says “there is good in him – I know there is”, we know the evil is going to prove to be far more important and that the woman who trusts in the good in an evil man is going to wind up dead). On the other hand (and men often forget this) women can sometimes see the chances for life(for new growth) where all we see is ashes and dried blood. Our answer to evil men is always the same….. (and it is not “reform them”). I will never produce life – nor restore life that has gone on the wrong path.

    In my case I have looked into the void a very long time (many years – and I used to look into it far more actively than I do now).

    This is not a good thing – for if someone looks into the void too much, it looks back into you.

    In many ways I am hollow. I do not just look into the void – it is within me now.

  • > You cannot advance the notion of the sovereign individual

    … while discussing infants.

  • From the Jerusalem Post piece:

    Practices covered by the resolution include female genital mutilation, the circumcision of young boys for religious reasons, early childhood medical interventions in the case of intersexual children, corporal punishment, and the submission to or coercion of children into piercings, tattoos or plastic surgery.

    Intersexual children are pretty unlucky. They get born with varied enough sexual characteristics that it’s not clear or obvious whether they’re male or female. Standard practice is for doctors to make a judgement call based on which characteristics seem to be more prevalent and which surgery is more feasible, then make them one or the other. By insisting that the surgery cannot go ahead until the child can give informed consent, they’re condemning them to a childhood of misery and bullying.

  • circumcision of young boys for religious reasons

    [Emphasis mine].

  • Dreamer

    “And yet again – parents irreversibly modify their children’s bodies by surgery all the time”

    Well, there is a difference between a medically necessary surgery (one intervention to save the life of the person or correct things that need to be corrected such as broken bones, and an elective surgery that does not treat a disease or condition. There are some circumcisions that are medically necessary, but they are few and often can wait until adulthood. But since the operation does not treat a disease or condition in most of the cases, then why is there any urgency to perform it before the person can make a decision based on his personal preferences?

    “There must therefore be scope for large scale comparisons of outcomes.”

    No such study of adult satisfaction with the circumcision status has ever been done. In fact, many adult males are not even aware of their own circumcision status, with many finding out in a locker room or similar situation. American medicine books don’t normally show genitals with foreskin. The closest thing to a study you will find is the Global Survey of Circumcision Harm (http://www.circumcisionharm.org) , where about a thousand men or so had the chance to explain the harms caused by their circumcision, but this is in nature a biased study as it doesn’t attempt to find numbers for those who feel unharmed. Yet, the one important thing is this highlights the situation and adult complications that some men have to live with, such as skin bridges, lacerations of the glans, buried penis, denuded shaft, unsightly scars, missing frenulum and other such issues that are normally hidden under the pants of otherwise normal looking guys.

  • Did I really say “I’m not going to get into this fight again”? Gosh, I did, didn’t I? What a deluded moron.

  • John W

    You’re using the word “choose” here in exactly the same context as “If we start prosecuting and imprisoning all skateboarders, they may choose to cease skateboarding.” You want to expel practising Jews from the EU, but you don’t want the nasty stain on your personality that would come from doing it yourself. No, you want them to voluntarily expel themselves in order to comply with your preferred legal structure. If you’re going to do it, admit it.

    That’s the second time you have implied that I am consumed by a secret diabolical motive.

    All I seek is the recognition that individual’s have rights but there is no such thing as the right to sexually mutilate young children.

    Incidentally, let’s also stop this “Oh, but look! I’ve found a Jew who agrees with me, so I can’t be antisemitic” nonsense. There is a world of different between Jews arguing about Jewry and Judaism (which is what we do) and states introducing laws to outlaw Jewry and/or Judaism. Furthermore, we can also find examples of Jews who think that chicken batteries are morally equivalent to Auschwitz and Jews who helped round up their fellow Jews for extermination. We cannot automatically rule out anything any Jew ever says or does from being antisemitic. It frequently is.

    Now you are attributing a secret diabolical motive to Howard Stern and Leonard and every other Objectivist philosopher. You seem to think that everyone who disagrees with you must be a closet Jew-hater.

    And, what the hell, I’ll just reiterate that other point from years back, since I’m the only one to make it round here. Parenthood, if done properly, routinely involves doing things to your children, without their consent, that would be illegal if you were to do it to an adult. If you don’t, you’re a crap parent. Changing a nappy involves what would only be described as “sexual assault” if done to an adult. Giving antibiotics to a baby generally involves two adults holding the little bastard down and forcing the stuff down their throat against their struggles. A cot is specifically designed to prevent escape. My child’s location is not their choice. All illegal if done to an adult. All absurd if you try to apply the same rationale to children.

    None of the above involves inflicting a permanent injury on a defenseless child.

  • John W

    Intersexual children are pretty unlucky. They get born with varied enough sexual characteristics that it’s not clear or obvious whether they’re male or female. Standard practice is for doctors to make a judgement call based on which characteristics seem to be more prevalent and which surgery is more feasible, then make them one or the other.

    Which is monstrous because some intersex girls are born with more pronounced male characteristics, and some intersex boys are born with more pronounced female characteristics.
    If some well-meaning surgeon concludes that because the genitals are more conveniently arranged for a conversion to a female type he will surgically remove the root of the penis – the very part that a boy would require for later penis reconstruction.
    How on Earth could anyone consider such extreme and irreversible mutilation be anything other than utterly insane?


    By insisting that the surgery cannot go ahead until the child can give informed consent, they’re condemning them to a childhood of misery and bullying.

    Are you for real???

    That is pure, social metaphysics.

  • In other words, some ways of mutilating the genitals of young children are more acceptable that others.

    I disagree.

    Yet it is manifestly true. So how about ear piercings? The extent to which a person is ‘modified’ clearly matters. Obviously cutting off someone’s head is always unacceptable whereas ear piercing are so trivial they are not unacceptable (even though in a few cases ear piercings have lead to serious health issues).

    You cannot advance the notion of the sovereign individual while denying the integrity of individual mind and the individual body.

    When it comes to a child, sorry, that is only true to some extent. The issue of immunisation also comes to mind.

  • John W

    Perry,
    When it comes to a child, sorry, that is only true to some extent. The issue of immunisation also comes to mind.

    It’s a totally different purpose.

    Children are not immunized for the sake of a tribal or a religious purpose.

    Children are mutilated because they are considered to be the mere property of the tribe or the religion and it continues because the dead wood are simply too lazy and passive to raise objections.

    Circumcision is a principle entirely at odds with the notion of individuality and the sanctity of the individual’s conscience.

  • > That’s the second time you have implied that I am consumed by a secret diabolical motive.

    No, I am claiming that you are refusing to acknowledge the necessary inevitable consequences of your preferred actions. “Oh, I’m not really discriminating against Jews — they could always just stop being Jewish. No harm done.” If only your motive were diabolical. Oh, God, no, it’s far worse than that: you have society’s best interests at heart. You want to improve humanity. Fuck.

    > You seem to think that everyone who disagrees with you must be a closet Jew-hater.

    No, I think that everyone who wants to see the enactment of legislation that bans Jewry either hates Jews or considers them acceptable collateral damage in the creation of their brave new world. And, honestly, I care about results, so I couldn’t care less which of those two camps you fall into. You want to ban Jews.

  • > None of the above involves inflicting a permanent injury on a defenseless child.

    OK, so how about having to amputate a two-year-old’s leg to stop gangrene? You’d wait sixteen years and then ask them, would you?

  • Trofim

    For Christ’s sake it’s a bit of bloody skin which is about as useful as the appendix. I think John W is just jealous that some of us have got sleek self-cleansing todgers! He’s got what in what in psychiatry is known as “overvalued ideas”, as opposed to full-blown delusions. But, on second thoughts, I’m not so sure.

  • Mr Ed

    Trofim. To suggest as a defence to inflicting bodily injury that in your subjective view the excised skin is comparatively useless and to cite unscientific notions from psychiatry in defence of an act seems to me to be a weak argument.

    I would not seek to claim any right to remove your appendix without your consent.

  • John W

    Squander Two
    No, I am claiming that you are refusing to acknowledge the necessary inevitable consequences of your preferred actions. “Oh, I’m not really discriminating against Jews — they could always just stop being Jewish. No harm done.” If only your motive were diabolical. Oh, God, no, it’s far worse than that: you have society’s best interests at heart. You want to improve humanity. Fuck.

    I emphatically do not have society’s best interests at heart. All I seek is the prohibition of child mutilation by sadistic lunatics.

    No, I think that everyone who wants to see the enactment of legislation that bans Jewry either hates Jews or considers them acceptable collateral damage in the creation of their brave new world. And, honestly, I care about results, so I couldn’t care less which of those two camps you fall into. You want to ban Jews.

    Who wants to ban Jews?? How does banning the circumcision of children involve ‘banning Jews?’

    Do you somehow consider an uncircumcised Jewish child to be the Spawn of Satan?

  • John W

    OK, so how about having to amputate a two-year-old’s leg to stop gangrene? You’d wait sixteen years and then ask them, would you?

    Yeah, that’s right! An uncircumcised penis is just like a leg with gangrene – it will inevitably turn septic and – sooner or later – will kill its possessor! Let me guess – there will be some sort of avenging angel doing God’s Holy Work in the night. OOOOooooooooo…..

  • Mr Ed

    I fail to see why in a free society, the law (which is not the government) ought to take cognisance of religion at all. No religion requires anyone to do anything, people choose to act or not act, and may justify their taxis on the basis of some supernatural ‘Sky Fairy’ or ‘Deity’, and the instructions or injunctions pertinent to their faith in the same, for which the evidence for the existence is a bare assertion.

    Surely of one is planning to inflict irreversible surgical intervention on a minor, the basis for any such act should be established in law as justifiable by necessity.

    Of course, even in the present day, some will seek to persecute those who adhere to a faith, or those of an ethnicity associated with it, and will resort to pretexts in order to do so.

  • John W

    Trofim,

    For Christ’s sake it’s a bit of bloody skin which is about as useful as the appendix. I think John W is just jealous that some of us have got sleek self-cleansing todgers! He’s got what in what in psychiatry is known as “overvalued ideas”, as opposed to full-blown delusions. But, on second thoughts, I’m not so sure.

    It seems you as know little about the appendix as you do about the foreskin.

    Ignorance for some is bliss, I gather, but it remains a fact that in the US alone there are more deaths from circumcision than for cancer of the penis.

    Circumcision, I repeat, is a sick, and sadistic practise for which there is no excuse whatsoever.

  • I fail to see why in a free society, the law (which is not the government) ought to take cognisance of religion at all.

    Firstly, I fundamentally disagree with your contention that the law is not the government because statute laws (as opposed to common laws) arise solely out of government/the state.

    Secondly the Jewish faith has been around in its current form for at least 2,500 years and probably closer to 5,000 years in all of that time Abrahamic law from the Torah and its later interpretation and augmentation in the Talmud has lead to a faith which exists by reference to it and extension from it.

    For us Jonnie-come-latelly’s to outlaw, pretty much the defining characteristic of male Judaism is the height of intolerance.

    However, religious aspects aside, I believe that medical circumcision for non-medical reasons should be stopped, but again since this is declining anyway suspect this can be achieved by providing better information to parents, children and doctors so they can make informed concent.

  • Paul Marks

    “corporal punishment”?

    What – a mother is not allowed to tan a naughty boy’s backside now?

    It is time the state (and the whole P.C. class) were given a beating themselves – although I suppose everyone around here knows that.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Julie stay out of this, do you hear me!

    *Sigh*….

    Squander Two wrote (among other things),

    Giving antibiotics to a baby generally involves two adults holding the little bastard down and forcing the stuff down their throat against their struggles. A cot is specifically designed to prevent escape. My child’s location is not their choice. All illegal if done to an adult. All absurd if you try to apply the same rationale to children.

    John W objected on Oct. 9 at 4:01 p.m.:

    None of the above involves inflicting a permanent injury on a defenseless child.

    Perhaps, but there are lots of scenarios where a parent might “mutilate” or have surgery performed on a child without its consent, in the belief that without said “mutilation” or “surgery” there is substantial physical, or even psychological, risk of some sort to the child. Whether the belief is correct or not is beside the point if we are trying to argue the Absolutes of Rights-theory.

    [Query: Is it even legitimate to try to be talking about “absolutes” (as in John W’s position) here? Moral principles are important only in application, at which point they can rub up against each other; for example, if it were not so, we could actually have frictionless planes and perpetual motion machines. To make it crystal clear: Although we can figure out a theory of the frictionless plane, any time we have to discuss what to do to achieve X, we’re going to have to take other principles into consideration, since frictionless planes simply are not on the menu in this reality. Yet we also have to draw lines in the sand: For such-and-such a purpose, we won’t do noticeable harm by pretending we do have such a plane. So a further cause for argument: where to draw the line. This is the problem that comes up all the time when trying to apply theories of ethics or morality to real life. Which is what this circumcision discussion is about.]

    In any case, let us consider just one real-world example: The smallpox vaccination, which was quite common among American children in the first half of the twentieth century. My mother had had it as a child, and always bore the resulting cicatrix–a large, domed, darkened, puffy scar on her left upper-arm–as a result. Given the horrors of smallpox at the time (19-teens), were my grandparents at fault?

    [By the time I came along, smallpox was relatively rare in America and since the vaccination also carried risks, my parents chose not to have us kids vaccinated. DPT, yes; smallpox, no. (By the way, in today’s climate some people argue that not to have your kid vaccinated against X is child abuse, or neglect. Wah! Sue Mommy and Daddy!)]

    I agree with Perry’s point that there’s a huge difference between removal of the male foreskin and removal of the more sensitive parts of the female clitoris.

    I also hold that the decision whether or not to circumcise the male child is rightfully left with the parents. Whatever position any given third party may take on what’s the right thing to do, he may press his case to the parents by rational argument.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Still trying to clarify…. In the “Query” paragraph above, what I’m trying to get at is that, just as “basic principles” in physics can require us to accept some of their implications without fretting about them when we have to apply them to a project in the real world, so the “basic principles” (whatever we think they are) of morality can have certain implications which we will also have to accept in the real world.

    Yrs Trly’s “Two Basic Principles for Living”:

    1. Life is an engineering discipline — there are always trade-offs.

    2. Everything has a downside.

  • > How does banning the circumcision of children involve ‘banning Jews?’

    And there’s the problem.

    Again: Most people either get rid of the Jews because they want rid of them or they don’t because they don’t. It takes a Libertarian to get rid of them by accident. I would add to that, however, that the accident is not excusable as such if the Libertarian had the consequences of their actions explained to them in advance.

  • Julie,

    > John W objected on Oct. 9 at 4:01 p.m.:
    > None of the above involves inflicting a permanent injury on a defenseless child.

    Yes, and he was entirely missing the point. Firstly, I wasn’t making a point about injury, I was making a point about the nature of parenthood and the inherent uselessness of trying to apply libertarian principles of consent to children.

    Secondly, why elevate physical effect to this hallowed status over psychological? A lot of what we parents do to our children has a permanent effect on their psyche, and not all of it good, no matter how much we might want it to be. Kidnapping an adult is illegal and immoral regardless of how nicely you treat them while you’re doing it, because it is the restraint of freedom itself that is traumatic. Hey, if you kidnap an adult and look after them so well their health actually improves, you’re still breaking the law. Sexual assault, similarly, doesn’t have to be physically harmful, and is still quite rightly illegal when it’s not. If we apply these same — absolutely correct — moral principles to parents restraining their children and changing their nappies, we get utter, utter bollocks.

  • Incidentally,

    > All I seek is the prohibition of child mutilation by sadistic lunatics.

    The word “sadistic” means something. What you’re saying here is that rabbis enjoy the removal of foreskins, that they get some sort of (possibly sexual) kick out of inflicting pain on infants. That’s a hell of an accusation, with a good long antisemitic history. Issue 2 of Foreskin Man portrays rabbis in exactly the way you describe: sadistic lunatics. You will note how, even though the cartoon’s contemporary and American, it all looks rather 1930s-German.

  • Paul Marks

    Oh dear old “Foreskin Man” – based in California I believe. The State where a “sex change” treatment (chemicals and operations) for a little boy is fine – but circumcision? Oh dear me no. One must not remove the bit of skin at the end of the penis – but it is O.K. to remove the whole penis (after drugging the boy into insanity).

    Nor does there seem to be much mention of Muslims in the Californian campaign – even though there are plenty of Muslims in California these days (and even in high tax Minn – Muslims from the Twin Cities go off to fight in Somalia and Kenya).

    Why no attack on Muslims in “Foreskin Man”?

    Is it because the German government was in alliance with the force of Islam in the 1930s and early 1940s?

    With the Grand Mufti even asking to be shown round the extermination camps (his friends being only to happy to show him the fun of killing Jews) – something that Hitler himself did not actually want to see.

  • John W

    Julie,
    In any case, let us consider just one real-world example: The smallpox vaccination, which was quite common among American children in the first half of the twentieth century. My mother had had it as a child, and always bore the resulting cicatrix–a large, domed, darkened, puffy scar on her left upper-arm–as a result. Given the horrors of smallpox at the time (19-teens), were my grandparents at fault?

    Surgical scars are the incidental results of rational medical procedures conducted for the purpose of saving and enhancing life, viewed from the standard of the individual concerned, where the individual’s interests are considered to be of paramount importance.
    Circumcision scars are the deliberate result of non-therapeutic procedures invented by certifiable lunatics for the purpose limiting or destroying sexual pleasure or as tokens and symbols of religious or tribal enslavement contrary to the individual’s standards and interests.

    They a polar opposites.


    I agree with Perry’s point that there’s a huge difference between removal of the male foreskin and removal of the more sensitive parts of the female clitoris.

    You are mistaken.

    You are merely repeating the mutilators’ rationalisations -‘Oh THEIR FEMALE mutilations are horrible and nothing like our NICE MALE mutilations.’

    That is simply false.

    Let us assume that – as Perry describes – female circumcision involves the removal of the glans clitoris. Again, I emphasize that that is a myth promoted by mutilators to mitigate their crimes and avoid public censure.

    It is a deliberate fabrication intended to mislead the uninformed.

    But let us assume for the sake of argument that that myth is true.

    According to wiki the glans clitoris includes 8000 nerve endings. This is more per square millimeter than the penis but the penis is a much larger structure.

    A typical western medical MALE circumcision is not as some here have claimed just a snipping of loose skin.
    In an infant the foreskin is firmly and tightly fused along the entire length of the glans penis and removal of the foreskin is necessarily an invasive surgical operation that results in the loss of approximately 1/2 of the total surface area of the penis and between 50 and 80% or more of its erogenous sexual nerves including those of the frenum and the frenular band – the primary erogenous zone of the male body.

    In reality this means the destruction of between 10,000 and 20,000 specialized erotogenic nerve endings of various types, each of them sensitive to the the slightest variations in pressure, tension and temperature. In addition, it involves the destruction of literally thousands of coiled fine-touch Meissner’s corpuscles – ultra sensitive receptors found in the finger tips.

    That is what happens when the mutilation “goes right.”

    When it doesn’t go right – as happens in tens of thousands of instances in the US each year – it results in horrific life-long physical and mental trauma.

    The damage does not stop there, alas.

    With age the circumcised penis becomes increasing keratinised, frequently resulting in little or no sexual sensitivity whatsoever.

    editors note: text unbolded.

  • What’s next – BOLD AND ALL CAPS?…

  • Paul Marks

    Italics are nicer – but hard to use on some systems.

    I should remember to try harder to use italics – they are indeed better than either bold or all caps.

    Still I love the idea that having no foreskin means (eventually) “little or no sexual sensitivity whatsoever”.

    That appears to be a massive misunderstanding of what male sexuality actually is.

  • John W

    Squander Two,

    The word “sadistic” means something. What you’re saying here is that rabbis enjoy the removal of foreskins, that they get some sort of (possibly sexual) kick out of inflicting pain on infants. That’s a hell of an accusation, with a good long antisemitic history. Issue 2 of Foreskin Man portrays rabbis in exactly the way you describe: sadistic lunatics. You will note how, even though the cartoon’s contemporary and American, it all looks rather 1930s-German.

    Yes, in the absence of arguments to the contrary I do think sadist is the appropriate term to use.

    You do realise that the vast majority of circumcisions conducted in the US involve people other than Jews?

    I do appreciate your concerns with regard to Jew-hatred and there are certainly grounds for suspicion on this emotive issue but to assume that everyone who opposes circumcision must therefore be a closet Jew-hater is simply false.

  • John W

    Still I love the idea that having no foreskin means (eventually) “little or no sexual sensitivity whatsoever”.
    That appears to be a massive misunderstanding of what male sexuality actually is.

    I did not say always but it frequently does and more and more men are finally finding the courage to speak out about their trauma.

    editors note: link removed from comment as it was hopelessly broken and undecipherable.

  • Paul Marks

    What has “sensitivity” got to do with male (as opposed to female) sexuality?

    Male sexuality is more to do with a release of tension.

  • Mr Ed

    I see that we are only touching on the tip of this topic.

  • Let us assume that – as Perry describes – female circumcision involves the removal of the glans clitoris. Again, I emphasize that that is a myth promoted by mutilators to mitigate their crimes and avoid public censure. It is a deliberate fabrication intended to mislead the uninformed.

    The only reason I know anything whatsoever about clitoral hoodectomies is I know an American woman (atheist libertarian of Scottish-Swedish decent, not Muslim, in her mid 20’s at the time) who had one done to enhance sensation as her clitoral hood was very over-large. And it had the desired effect. She had it done by a perfectly reputable doctor in major urban hospital too.

    With age the circumcised penis becomes increasing keratinised, frequently resulting in little or no sexual sensitivity whatsoever.

    Not in my considerable experience.

  • Mr. Ed, I think you are the thread winner ;-)

  • Julie near Chicago

    Perry — Second that!

  • John,

    > Yes, in the absence of arguments to the contrary I do think sadist is the appropriate term to use.

    Well, with regard to rabbis, then, you are propagating an age-old antisemitic blood libel. As I said earlier, who gives a damn whether you hate Jews? Your preferred effect on society is indistinguishable from that of those who do.

    Leaving Jews aside for one moment, I find it difficult to reconcile your insistence that procedures must only take place for sound medical reasons with the fact that those medical judgements must necessarily be made by doctors, who you now claim are sadistic lunatics who circumcise babies for fun. So who’s going to make the medical judgements instead of them? You?

    Anyway, I’m sure most readers have figured out what kind of person you are by now, so I’ll stop pointing it out. Bye.

  • John W

    The only reason I know anything whatsoever about clitoral hoodectomies is I know an American woman (atheist libertarian of Scottish-Swedish decent, not Muslim, in her mid 20′s at the time) who had one done to enhance sensation as her clitoral hood was very over-large. And it had the desired effect. She had it done by a perfectly reputable doctor in major urban hospital too.

    The clitoris as a whole is a structure roughly the same size as the male penis, and the configuration of female anatomy is somewhat varied. In some, the hood of the glans clitoris sometimes provides insufficient protection from abrasion during sexual intercourse. In others, the glans clitoris is deeply set and cannot be accessed.
    So, in reality, what what is actually meant by the term ‘female circumcision’ is also varied – in some it could involve less invasive cutting than male circumcision.


    With age the circumcised penis becomes increasing keratinised, frequently resulting in little or no sexual sensitivity whatsoever.

    Not in my considerable experience.

    I am relieved to hear that but the experience of others suggests they have not been so fortunate.

  • John W

    Squander Two,

    Well, with regard to rabbis, then, you are propagating an age-old antisemitic blood libel. As I said earlier, who gives a damn whether you hate Jews? Your preferred effect on society is indistinguishable from that of those who do.

    I am sure that, in some cases, a feeling of power does play a role in the mutilator. Ignorance concerning the function a nature of a foreskin also seems alarmingly, widespread.

    Leaving Jews aside for one moment, I find it difficult to reconcile your insistence that procedures must only take place for sound medical reasons with the fact that those medical judgements must necessarily be made by doctors, who you now claim are sadistic lunatics who circumcise babies for fun. So who’s going to make the medical judgements instead of them? You?

    Nice try, but routine circumcision involves the suspension of medical judgment – it requires the deliberate evasion of well-known facts.

    Anyway, I’m sure most readers have figured out what kind of person you are by now, so I’ll stop pointing it out. Bye.

    You wouldn’t happen to be Jewish by any chance? – only I detect a pattern.

    Maybe, in your case, Sean Gabb has hit the nail on the head.

  • So, in reality, what what is actually meant by the term ‘female circumcision’ is also varied – in some it could involve less invasive cutting than male circumcision.

    Yeah no kidding. I have been pointing out that repeatedly when you keep stating there is no difference.

  • Paul Marks

    Someone who is against M. Kelly (at least that came up on the comment that appeared in my inbox) and in favour of the person in Kent.

    Well I think I now know all I need to know about you John W.