June 27, 2012

German court says a boy's right to physical integrity trumps his parents' religious interest in having him circumcised.

Jewish and Muslim groups are reportedly outraged.

276 comments:

1 – 200 of 276   Newer›   Newest»
ricpic said...

It is in the interest of the state that its citizenry be atomized and that atomized "integrity" trumps traditions that compete with the state as sources of allegiance.

BarryD said...

What if the religion required "female circumcision"?

What about removing the kid's thumbs?

Feet?

Left leg?

Where do you draw the line?

What level of coercion can hide behind "religion" and call itself "freedom"?

Paddy O said...

"Where do you draw the line?"

Foreskins.

AllieOop said...

Female circumcision isn't comparable to removing a small piece of loose skin. Far more destructive.

Scott M said...

I wonder if the same German would feel that an unborn's right to life trumps the whims of the mother. I wonder at what point German law starts considering the baby's rights to trump the parents'. Given when circumcision is normally performed, that would appear to be a very small window.

Pogo said...

The US CDC on
on Male Circumcision and Risk for HIV Transmission and Other Health Conditions

"A systematic review and meta-analysis that focused on male circumcision and heterosexual transmission of HIV in Africa ...A substantial protective effect of male circumcision on risk for HIV infection was noted, along with a reduced risk for genital ulcer disease. ...the relative risk for HIV infection was 44% lower in circumcised men. The strongest association was seen in men at high risk, such as patients at sexually transmitted disease (STD) clinics, for whom the adjusted relative risk was 71% lower for circumcised men.

...one large prospective cohort study in this group showed a significant protective effect: the odds of infection were 42% lower for circumcised men. The remaining 19 studies were conducted in populations at high risk. These studies found a consistent, substantial protective effect, which increased with adjustment for confounding. Four of these were cohort studies: all demonstrated a protective effect, with two being statistically significant.

Lack of male circumcision has also been associated with sexually transmitted genital ulcer disease and chlamydia, infant urinary tract infections, penile cancer, and cervical cancer in female partners of uncircumcised men.

Transmission of [HPV] is also associated with lack of male circumcision.
"

Pogo said...

Germany outlaws Jews.
Again!

Aridog said...

Hah. Now those guys can wait until they're past puberty when they decide to get circumcised. Uh, one problem is that it is notably painful in adulthood, while not even memorable as an infant.

When I was recovering in an Evac Hospital long ago, those of us in the ambulatory ward were supposed to help each other ... and that included "helping" the guys who decided on circumcision at the same time another wound was treated.

It's pretty funny seeing a grown man standing at a urninal trying oh so hard to find his dainty bit in betwixt folds of gauze...then asking for help.

Even funnier when said patients awoke with a chubby in the morning, with ensuing pain.

Yeah, right, make everyone wait until adult hood. Hell of an idea.

BarryD said...

"Female circumcision isn't comparable to removing a small piece of loose skin. Far more destructive."

Oh, I have no argument with that.

I am asking where the line IS.

While I can see this decision going either way, I can't really find a good reason why the German court should allow it, any more than why they shouldn't.

So what level of coercion can hide behind religion, and still be called "okay"? Where does the "religious freedom" of one individual stop, and the rights of the next individual begin?

Why does religion warrant special treatment?

BarryD said...

"wait until adult hood"

ROTFLMAO

X said...

If you're not happy with your parents having the right to make this decision, feel free to pay for your own upbringing including pain and suffering you caused during birth.

Patrick said...

Female circumcision isn't comparable to removing a small piece of loose skin. Far more destructive.

You are correct, and it's not even close. Calling it "female circumcision" is a horrible euphemism that is unfair to its victims. It's not circumcision, it's female genital mutilation.

BarryD said...

"Female genital mutilation" isn't even strong enough language to describe this horror.

Nevertheless, where IS the line? What can people do to other people, because of "religion"? What can't they?

It seems that nobody has a clue, yet everyone has a strong opinion.

Why? On what basis?

DADvocate said...

One of my proudest moments was when the doctor came to circumcise my day old son. They use some sort of ring to put around the penis when performing the circumcision. The doctor had to go back to her office and get a larger ring.

Under this ruling, I could have been denied this proud moment.

Hagar said...

Germans tend to be quite literal minded where logic is concerned.

Gabriel Hanna said...

Imagine that a new religion, like Wicca or Scientology, required that infants have a notch cut out of the fleshy part of their left earlobe at eight days.

Most right-thinking people would find that appalling and want it illegal, even though there is no significant loss of function from cutting a chunk out of an earlobe, and in fact body-piercing enthusiasts do something that is not much different.

Circumcision is only respectable because it is ancient.

Germany, however, does not put much stock in religious freedom as Americans understand it. And abortion laws there are far stricter than in the US too.

Aridog said...

Did I miss something? Who says it is just Jews and Muslims who request circumcision? Who says it is purely a "religious" observance? Nonsense. I'm none of the above and I'm damn glad my Irish descended parents decided to have me done as a infant. For the reasons I noted previously. I've seen the alternative. Ouch.

AllieOop said...

The line is blurry, shades of gray again.

Coketown said...

They should perform the circumcision in utero, before the baby has any rights. Can't imagine getting a rabbi in there, but they've really left us with no other choice.

But let's wait until the case goes to Germany's not-quite-nineteen-but-superior-to-nine fifteen member Supreme Court before passing judgement. Being so close to nineteen might allow them to rule more fairly.

AllieOop said...

As a nurse, I can say that cleaning an uncircumcised penis was one of the things that made me gag.

Sorry that was graphic.

Pogo said...

"Circumcision is only respectable because it is ancient."

Bullshit. Non-circumcised males have greater health risks, as do their sexual partners, as detailed in my post above.

AJ Lynch said...

OT but maybe worth a post.

A baby chimp was killed yesterday and the zoo let the baby's mother spend the night with the baby chimp's corpse. The news story reported this as very normal and appropriate and not weird.

That contrasts with how they viewed the Santorums when they took their dead baby home for a last visit with the entire family. night.

ricpic said...

Circumcision seals the covenant between God and the Jewish people. It is a commandment.

Of course this means nothing to Barry D of the idiot where is the line question. As his liberated paganism means nothing to Jews.

jimbino said...

One of the worst things about infant circumcision is that it is performed by the superstitious and religious on an atheist baby. Any kid at 8 days of age is an atheist!

Palladian said...

Good riddance to a barbaric practice.

Rabel said...

Allie,

You sort of set yourself up with the "gag" comment.

Pogo said...

"Good riddance to a barbaric practice."

Palladian, both the CDC and WHO say you are terribly wrong.

WHO: "There is compelling evidence that male circumcision reduces the risk of heterosexually acquired HIV infection in men by approximately 60%."

AllieOop said...

You know what Rabel, I realized that a minute after I posted it. I should've been more specific in the method of cleansing I suppose. Soap and water, using a wash rag, held in my hand.

Ew, the thought.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Pogo:Bullshit. Non-circumcised males have greater health risks, as do their sexual partners, as detailed in my post above.

Not true at all, or New Zealand would be rampant with infected dicks. The studies are all about Africans who don't wash their genitals after sex.

The "medical" justifications for circumcision are self-serving rationalizations for what is, for most Americans, a fad, and for a few, a religious obligation. If you cut your earlobe off you won't have to worry about keeping it clean or getting it infected either. But that's not an ancient practice of respectable religions, so it's easier to spot the fallacy.

Rabel said...

Not making the obvious joke exausted my daily supply of self-control.

Scott M said...

. But that's not an ancient practice of respectable religions, so it's easier to spot the fallacy.

That's not why it's easier to spot. I don't have button-fly hats that let my ears out when I need to "go".

Come to think of it. Why don't I have any button-fly hats. Must ponder that...

Hagar said...

I expect there is a German law that when read literally prohibits circumcising babies, and the judge, being German, just did not understand that he was not supposed to read the law literally in this case.

Gabriel Hanna said...

Before people go making up opinions and assigning them to me, let me clarify. I'm not opposed to people circumcising their children. I was circumcised and don't know the difference. My wife and I elected not to circumcise our son because the practice is unheard of in my wife's home country and we didn't want to try to explain to his grandparents why part of his little wiener is missing. But I don't have strong feelings about it. However, I do think it is important to see it for what it is-a cosmetic surgery, which for most Americans is a fad and for a few is a religious obligation. And tolerance for it would not be extended to new religions or other cosmetic surgeries by most of us.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Scott M: I don't have button-fly hats that let my ears out when I need to "go".

Fine. Scientologists are now required to put a TC + LRH in a tiny heart on their kids right buttock at the age of eight days, where no one can see it.

And the basis of your objection will now be... it's not an ancient and respected practice of a mainstream faith.

Pogo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Revenant said...

Personally, I agree with the court.

If there isn't a legitimate medical reason for doing so, you shouldn't go around snipping parts off of people who can't give their consent.

Pogo said...

Gabriel Hanna said: "Not true at all, or New Zealand..."

Your data are far from convincing.

AllieOop said...

Gabriel Hanna, your earlobe isn't housed in your warm dark crotch with ejaculate and urine coming out of the ear canal, think about it.

Pogo said...

" do think it is important to see it for what it is-a cosmetic surgery, which for most Americans is a fad and for a few is a religious obligation."

Your ability to ignore medical data is amazing.

Pogo said...

Allie, I wouldn't be so sure about that.

AllieOop said...

Pogo, ew, I'm grossing myself out.

I personally would love to hear from women on which version of the penis they prefer.

Gabriel Hanna said...

Pogo: Explain then why the health benefits of circumcision are not apparent in Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, where circumcision is much rarer.

You can't, because there is no benefit to it in developed nations with hygiene, public sanitation, and medical care. That's why you are relying on WHO, and not on CDC. Because WHO is talking about Africa.

Even if this were true, will you change your mind if in later years some health detriment is discovered? No, because it is an ancient practice of a respectable religion and notching earlobes and heart tattoos are not.

Moose said...

So now what happens if the child needs surgery?

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Alley Oop: Then explain why Europe, New Zealand, and Australia seem not to be overrun with dick rot.

Pogo said...

"Explain then why the health benefits of circumcision are not apparent in Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, where circumcision is much rarer."

You've made that claim, so back it up with data.

Gabriel Hanna said...

Statement of the American Academy of Pediatrics:
Existing scientific evidence demonstrates potential medical benefits of newborn male circumcision; however, these data are not sufficient to recommend routine neonatal circumcision. In circumstances in which there are potential benefits and risks, yet the procedure is not essential to the child's current well-being, parents should determine what is in the best interest of the child. To make an informed choice, parents of all male infants should be given accurate and unbiased information and be provided the opportunity to discuss this decision. If a decision for circumcision is made, procedural analgesia should be provided.

Evidence-based medicine, Pogo and Alley Oop. Not rationalizations.

Again, let me reiterate, I do not think circumcision is BAD. Just pointless, unless it's religious or fashionable.

BarryD said...

"So now what happens if the child needs surgery?"

As determined by the best available medical diagnoses, opinions and technology?

Or as determined by what his parents once read that a burning bush told some dude a few thousand years ago?

There is a difference, and you don't have to be Richard Dawkins to think there is.

AllieOop said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hagar said...

I might suspect that even in Africa the correlation is with better hygiene being practised by people belonging to groups that practice circumcision, rather than the circumcision itself.

That also goes for Allie Oop's comments. Alzheimer patients do have problems taking care of themselves.

Jim S. said...

jimbino said...
One of the worst things about infant circumcision is that it is performed by the superstitious and religious on an atheist baby. Any kid at 8 days of age is an atheist!

6/27/12 1:06 PM


You tried this line of argument on another thread. Have you found any evidence or reason for this assertion?

Pogo said...

The Scientific American, CDC and WHO say the Pediatricians are wrong:

"The bottom line: circumcision protects heterosexual men from HIV acquisition via sexual intercourse with the greatest benefits accruing in developing nations that are hardest hit by the epidemic.

...Microscopic examination of the foreskin yielded important clues for unraveling the benefits of circumcision. Normally, the skin provides a thick protective barrier stemming from keratin—a tough structural protein also found in hair and fingernails. But on the inner surface of the foreskin, the keratin layer is much thinner, resembling the inner lining of the mouth or eyelid more than the palm of the hand.

In uncircumcised men Langerhans cells—immune cells that are primary targets for HIV transmission—"are more richly concentrated near the surface of the foreskin," says Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in Bethesda, Md. Without the keratin barrier, HIV can easily access these cells in the foreskin. Following infection, Langerhans cells not only serve as reservoirs for replicating virus, but also transport the virus to nearby lymph nodes where HIV spreads to other immune cells.

In fact, the foreskin's anatomical function actually amplifies the risks. In uncircumcised men the foreskin covers and protects the tip of the penis, paradoxically making the skin there more delicate and prone to microscopic abrasions. These tiny injuries promote inflammation, Fauci says, allowing the virus to come into closer contact with target immune cells. The moist environment that forms under the foreskin also enhances the growth of microbes on the penis's tip, Fauci adds, further stimulating immune responses near the skin's surface.
"

Pogo said...

Point is, Gabriel, the data are at worst in equipoise, at best in favor of the practice, and wholly unable to say it is "worthless" at all. Your pediatricians do not say that either.

In that respect you are completely and utterly wrong.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Pogo: Royal Australasian College of Physicians statement on circumcision:

Canadian Pediatric Society: There is inadequate information to recommend circumcision as a public health measure to prevent HIV transmission and reduce the incidence of penile cancer. Such an even balance exists overall for the evidence of the benefits and harms of circumcision and as such, evidence does not support recommending circumcision routinely in newborns. The position of the CPS is unchanged from that taken in 1982. The final recommendation was that circumcision of newborns should not be routinely performed.

British Medical Association: The medical evidence about the health impact of male infant circumcision
remains equivocal. Circumcision for medical purposes, where medical research has shown other techniques to be at least as effective and less invasive would be unethical
and inappropriate.

If you don't live in Africa, there's no medical benefit to circumcision that's not balanced by risks.

BarryD said...

"Have you found any evidence or reason for this assertion?"

One cannot prove a negative. The burden of proof is on someone who asserts that an infant believes in a god or gods. Is there any evidence of this?

Scott M said...

If there isn't a legitimate medical reason for doing so, you shouldn't go around snipping parts off of people who can't give their consent.

How far back in the lives of someone who can't consent to extend this protection?

Shanna said...

Why does religion warrant special treatment?

It's not just about religion anymore, since many, many non-jewish parents have their children circumsized for all the reasons Pogo outlined. It's a public health issue.

I agree that it's strange if you think about it, and I can't think of anything similar. Baby ear piercings, maybe? Although those grow back in. (not the same of course)

edutcher said...

Josef Stalin could not be reached for comment.

jimbino said...

One of the worst things about infant circumcision is that it is performed by the superstitious and religious on an atheist baby. Any kid at 8 days of age is an atheist!

As jimbino has the mind of an 8 day old, who better to say?

damikesc said...

One cannot prove a negative. The burden of proof is on someone who asserts that an infant believes in a god or gods. Is there any evidence of this?

jim made the claim. Why is it the job of others to prove his claim?

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Pogo: Gabriel, the data are at worst in equipoise, at best in favor of the practice, and wholly unable to say it is "worthless" at all.

Who are you quoting when you say "worthless"? Must be confused by some other thread.

Anyway, WHO and SciAm agree with me: it works for Africans where public sanitation is poor, hygiene is difficult, and medical care rare. All those studies are Kenya, Uganda, etc. Not New Zealand. Not France.

Cutting off you earlobe ALSO does no harm and is 100% effective against cancer of the earlobe.

Darrell said...

Women should refuse sex with an uncircumcised male.

Pogo said...

So Gabriel, do you understand that the words "inadequate information", "equivocal" and "not sufficient to recommend" are not at all equivalent to "fallacy" or "elf-serving rationalizations" as you claimed?

Even your source, the American Academy of Pediatrics said
Existing scientific evidence demonstrates potential medical benefits of newborn male circumcision...
"

Pogo said...

Gabriel, your terms "fallacy", "ancient" and "self-serving rationalization" are no different or better than saying "worthless", although you are free to think otherwise.

BarryD said...

"Why is it the job of others to prove his claim?"

An atheist is someone who doesn't have a belief in a god or gods.

jimbino didn't say that an infant is a "positive atheist" or whatever people call themselves who actively believe that there is no god.

So an assertion that an infant is born without any religious beliefs, or any beliefs in or about any god or gods, is something that can be assumed by default. It might not be true, but if there is any evidence that an infant believes in a god or gods, that evidence would refute the assumption. Absent it, the assumption has to stand.

Again, you can't prove the complete lack of something. However, it's easy to prove there isn't a complete lack, with a tiny bit of evidence of that something.

Atheism is a complete lack of something. Any evidence of religious beliefs by infants would show that they're not born atheists.

So where is that evidence?

This is not about some obligation. It's elementary logic.

damikesc said...

While I can see this decision going either way, I can't really find a good reason why the German court should allow it, any more than why they shouldn't.

They allow abortion --- but circumcision? THAT, my friends, is a bridge too far.

That whole abortion thing makes these kinds of semantic arguments silly. It's legal to simply kill the baby --- but to cut a piece of skin? Crime!

Nevertheless, where IS the line? What can people do to other people, because of "religion"? What can't they?

Abortion isn't something championed by religion. It does tend to be championed by atheists.

Just sayin'.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@ Pogo: "Demonstrates POTENTIAL benefits". Not "demonstrates benefits". Can't you read? No, you can't, we already saw that when you claimed I said "worthless".

do you understand that the words "inadequate information", "equivocal" and "not sufficient to recommend" are not at all equivalent to "fallacy" or "elf-serving rationalizations" as you claimed?

You cited ambiguous evidence that does not apply to living in America as positive evidence, and that is a fallacy and a self-serving rationalization, yes.

Incidentally I wish to sell you a rock that will protect you from tigers. The evidence is equivocal, so you will fall over yourself to buy one for your infant son. I've been using mine for years and never met a tiger yet. Case closed according to your standard of evidence .

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Pogo: Circumcision is of great worth to Jews and Muslims. And to white Americans who don't wish to got odd looks in the locker room from other white Americans.


But for people in developed countries, there is no evidence that the benefits outweigh the risks. Why does having that fact pointed out make you so angry? Im' not going to make fun of your cut hog. I was circumcised too. It's not a big deal, except to Jews and Muslims. Which I've said all along.

BarryD said...

'Gabriel, your terms "fallacy", "ancient" and "self-serving rationalization" are no different or better than saying "worthless", although you are free to think otherwise.'

That's simply wrong, Pogo.

He has said REPEATEDLY that the reason we don't find the practice to be shocking and bizarre is that it's ancient. We do it because we've done it for a long time.

Now some things that we might find shocking and bizarre (consider weight training, 100 years ago) become part of everyday practices that are considered beneficial to health. So maybe circumcision is beneficial.

However, one has to present actual evidence for that. "May be potential benefits" is the stuff of snake oil supplement commercials.

As of now, the data point to "neutral" with "more study needed."

We'd consider the practice bizarre, if we were not used to it, just like the earlobe notch that Gabriel uses as a hypothetical.

Honestly, I'm not anti-circumcision. I'm circumcised and it didn't appear to hurt me any, physically or psychologically. I could see the court ruling either way. What I can't see is why so many here seem to believe that the court MUST favor circumcision.

Moose said...

"German court says a boy's right to physical integrity trumps..."

So seriously - how can the parents then authorize non-critical surgery? This would rule out getting cavities filled, teeth removed, tonsils removed, a whole host of medical procedures.

Jim S. said...

One cannot prove a negative.

What? Why not? I can prove negatives. Who told you one cannot prove a negative?

The burden of proof is on someone who asserts that an infant believes in a god or gods.

Who's asserting that? The claim is that the usual categories -- disbelief (atheism), withholding belief (agnosticism), or belief -- do not apply to an infant.

Darrell said...

Mommas, don't let your babies grow up to be Gabriel Hanna.

Gabriel Hanna said...

One thing though that is really bad is claiming that circumcision is going to protect Americans from HIV infection. That "advice" is positively murderous. In America, where most men are circumcised, so are most men infected with HIV.

Even if the WHO figures applied to developed countries, it's like playing Russian roulette with one bullet instead of two in the cylinder. In countries with poor sanitation and people who can't afford condoms, circumcision is better than nothing, but not by very damn much.

Jim S. said...

Burden of proof issues are notoriously complex, but on this issue the train left the station a while ago. Atheism is the assertion that God does not exist. On another thread, jimbino tried to claim it was the lack of belief in God. It didn't work out too well: atheist philosophers abandoned this tack a few decades ago because all of their attempts to define what "lacking a belief" meant could not differentiate it from disbelief on the one hand and the withholding of belief on the other. They tried this because they didn't want to be in the uncomfortable position of having to have defend their stance. The end result is that the atheist is making an assertion, a claim to knowledge, just as much as the theist and so must share the burden of proof.

Now one could argue that someone who has never heard of a concept (or is unable to really cognize much) "lacks a belief" in that concept. So you could make this claim about infants. But once you've heard of the concept -- and I suspect the atheists who tried to use this to avoid having to shoulder their share of the burden of proof have heard of the concept they're using it against -- you no longer lack a belief in it. You disbelieve, withhold belief, or believe it (with the necessary qualifications and details of course).

BarryD said...

"Abortion isn't something championed by religion. It does tend to be championed by atheists.

Just sayin'."

You're sayin' a bunch of irrelevant nonsense.

george said...

What about removing the kid's thumbs?

When they come up with an opposable foreskin for my prehensile penis then I think you might have a point. I will also be able to feed myself peanuts while typing with both hands... but that also is beside the point.

Seriously, male circumcision is really just a cosmetic procedure. Health wise it is probably a wash with circumcision being slightly better perhaps. I have certainly never known anyone who has bemoaned his lack of foreskin. But I suppose such people are out there, albeit in far fewer numbers than those who would like to be rid of it.

If you think it is inhumane to have it removed then try getting it caught in your zipper just one time...

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Darrell: You're just mad at me because you're a Birther and I rightfully mocked you for it a few days ago. Content-free snark never persuaded anyone of anything, you're just feces-flinging.

Why do you hate pediatricians so much, that you get mad at me because I quote their professional associations? Probably because one signed Obama's birth certificate?

jimbino said...

Jim S:

A "theist" is a person with belief in a god. An "atheist" is a person without belief in a god. We scientists accept that you cannot prove a negative, such as "Mercury has no moons" and we call a person ignorant who asserts the contrary without proof. Asserting that a baby has a belief in a god without proof is likewise ignorant, as is asserting the "power of prayer" with no proof.

A baby is atheist, amoral, illiterate, and even asexual, at least regarding sexual attraction. If you feel otherwise, offer some proof.

When as a kid I asked my dad about my own intact pecker, he replied, "Son, the best I can do is give you the advice my mother gave me: you'll have to wear it off."

BarryD said...

"Atheism is the assertion that God does not exist."

It can be. Or not. If you want to put words into the mouths of others, about what they believe, then what you write is really not worth the time to debate.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Negative_and_positive_atheism

Saint Croix said...

In some countries, such as the United States, it is also not uncommon for parents to request that young boys are circumcised for health reasons.

It's way common. I'm circumcised. Not when I was four, though. Geez.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@damikesc:They allow abortion --- but circumcision

No, they don't allow abortion, actually, not after the first trimester

I know, Germans are all lefty progressives, right? But things in Europe are not as they are here. Abortion laws in Europe are far stricter generally than in the US.

Darrell said...

Gabe--

Not a birther, so you've once again proved how little you know. But I suspect you do that every day.

Supplying a simple legal document is not too much to ask for--especially when you pretend to do just that.

BarryD said...

"The claim is that the usual categories -- disbelief (atheism), withholding belief (agnosticism), or belief -- do not apply to an infant."

Right. The infant has no beliefs about god at all. Absent a culture that insists that one must form such beliefs and be categorized, the infant would grow to an adult without any change in that state.

Jim S. said...

jimbino: do you really want to go through that again? Atheist thinkers, both historically and today, do not define atheism the way you do, and for a very good reason. It was popular for a few decades in the mid-late 20th century, but no one could define how "lacking a belief" is different from disbelief (atheism) or withholding belief (agnosticism). You're beating a dead horse.

wyo sis said...

Snip it! Snip it in the bud!

Jim S. said...

The infant has no beliefs about god at all. Absent a culture that insists that one must form such beliefs and be categorized, the infant would grow to an adult without any change in that state.

And yet, somehow, the concept of God seems to occur to nearly everyone in every culture in every historical period, including atheist cultures like communist China and Russia.

Can you answer the question jimbino couldn't? How does "lacking a belief" differ from disbelief (atheism) or withholding belief (agnosticism)? Atheist philosophers adopted this definition in the mid-20th century and abandoned it a few decades later because they were unable to do it. Pointing to a Wikipedia entry doesn't really help your cause.

Lyssa said...

We're not very religious, and certainly not of a religion that cares about circumcision. My husband asked if we would have our baby circ'd (if it's a boy), and I said that it was up to him (I figure he's the resident penis expert in the household). He said yes, definitely. It's just cleaner and easier to take care of.

So, there's that. I tend to think that the people who want to complain about this just really want to find something to be outraged about (and if it involves the Jews, hey, all the better).

Dave said...

@ Barry

"What I can't see is why so many here seem to believe that the court MUST favor circumcision."

The constitution of Germany, in theory, protects the freedom of religion. Male circumcision is the DEFINING act that signifies Judaism. You can not be a male Jew over 8 days old and not be circumcised, thus the court has outlawed Judaism. The historical disconnect needed for a German court rule so stupidly is in itself remarkable.

Jim S. said...

FYI: I think those who say you can't prove a negative are actually thinking you can't prove a universal negative. "There are no X's" is a universal negative. Non-universal negatives are easy and are proven daily by everyone (including scientists jimbino).

Of course you can prove a universal negative, but only if it contradicts a law of logic. "There are no X's that are not X's in the exact same sense." Any attempt to deny the laws of logic can only be valid if one presupposes the laws of logic.

Now wasn't this thread supposed to be about circumcision or something?

Dave said...

What's on display in this court is the common lack of respect for others by those in power. Lot's of folks say they believe in freedom but they really mean their freedom not yours.

Saint Croix said...

And you funny-looking dicks can shut up. V.D. waiting to happen, that's what you are.

America loves Israel because we share a bond.

Anti-Semitism just bleeds right over into Anti-Americanism. And that, my friends, is a fear of our enlightened penis.

Yes, our dicks are so big, we take 10% off.

Euroweenies with your bad economic policies and your ugly dicks. Good beer, though. You drink to forget.

New Zealand also has good beer.

Israel, not known for its beer. America, not known for its beer. All the great beer countries have ugly dicks. Think about it!

jimbino said...

Dave,

You are so wrong. While Orthodox Jews even countenance the abusive sucking on the 8-day circumcised pecker, there are Jews who do not circumcise their kids. There are also millions of atheist Jews, like Albert Einstein and David Friedman. I convinced a young Jewish mother here in Austin to leave her male child intact!

Furthermore, any "freedom of religion" clause in any constitution protects the freedom of religion of the atheist child and does not give parents carte blanche to mutilate little atheist babies' peckers.

Jim S. said...

"the freedom of religion of the atheist child"

Evidence please for thinking a baby is an atheist? Yes? No? Maybe? I don't know? Could you repeat the question?

Gabriel Hanna said...

Look I think almost everyone posting here agrees on two things:

1) Jews, Muslims, or anyone else should get to circumcise their kids.
2) Muslims, or anybody else, should not get to sew up their daughter's genitals and get a religious exemption.

So what argument threads that needle. The medical argument, that circumcision is medically beneficial, is bogus. There is no other body part where we say "Oh, you want to cut that off so it doesn't get infected". Minnesotans, for example, don't cut off infants' toes despite the fact that frostbitten toes can get gangrenous and kill you, right? Take care of your toes in winter, they don't get frostbitten; take care of your foreskin and it doesn't get nasty and infected, and if you want to prevent HIV, and you live like a Ugandan, a condom will be far more effective than chopping a bit of your dick off.

So instead of getting all mad about the invalid argument, and doubling down on it, can we try to think of a valid one? Let's try to think of an argument that allows people to circumcise their children but not chop their earlobes off or sew up their genitalia.

Darrell said...

jimbino knows the minds of "atheist" babies! Just like John Edwards did. Wait 'til that Austin Jewish mother figures out why you were so interested in her baby's pecker. I'm sure she can find how to bobbitt you on the internet.

Circumsise men, benefit women. Why does the Left hate women so?

Dave said...

Jimbino,

If they aren't circumcised, they aren't Jewish. They may be culturally or historically Jewish, but they are not religious Jews. Really, your claim is bizarre. Where on Earth did you pull it from? Back it up with something other than a smear of the Orthodox. I used to be Jewish myself BTW.

Dave said...

As the for the fact that child doesn't make the choice themselves, well parents are the guardians of their own children and make many decisions for them, presumptively out of love. By what right can any state claim to force another religion on unwilling guardians? How is that not tyrannical?

Scott M said...

There are also millions of atheist Jews, like Albert Einstein and David Friedman.

Einstein called himself an agnostic. Why should we continue reading your comment any further than that?

Luke Sneeringer said...

There have been cases in the past where someone has done something horrific and claimed religious freedom, as well as cases where people have claimed religious freedom to try and get around laws unreasonably. The U.S. Supreme Court (yes, I know this is a German case) has a standard for it. Anyone remember what that standard is?

Aridog said...

"What I can't see is why so many here seem to believe that the court MUST favor circumcision."
_____________________________

How about courts and government, anywhere, just butting out of the matter? Neither favoring nor opposing something that is neither lethal nor disabling.

Must b e not enough government in our lives, eh?

jimbino said...

Yo Dave,

Nowadays, we have the WWW that can be used to instantly identify ignorant folks who make false statements.

"The author of two books, including "Questioning Circumcision: A Jewish Perspective," Goldman said circumcision is not important to being Jewish. 'Not circumcising is the choice of a minority of Jews now, but new ideas always start with a minority before they are accepted by the majority,' Goldman said.

Regardless of whether he is circumcised, the child of a Jewish mother is considered a Jew under Jewish law. But parents who fail to circumcise 'will have turned down an opportunity to enter into the covenant properly," said Rabbi Moshe Trager, who has performed hundreds of circumcisions.'"

Check it out for yourself at:

http://www.noharmm.org/jewhouseholds.htm

che

Shanna said...

"The author of two books, including "Questioning Circumcision: A Jewish Perspective," Goldman said circumcision is not important to being Jewish. '

Just because some guy thinks it's not important to the faith doesn't mean anything. Lots of catholics use birth control, but the authority on the official stance is the pope, right?

Dave said...

Gabriel,

You have a point; but the distinction is not hard to make. Male circumcision is not a drastic change that results in loss of function or feeling like female genital manipulation which usually means removal of the clitoris. Males may actually have a gain in sensitivity.

Pogo said...

"The medical argument, that circumcision is medically beneficial, is bogus."

So the CDC, the WHO, Scientific American, and the American Academy of Pediatrics are wrong, but Gabriel Hanna is correct because ...he says so?

Jeebus on ice skates, what a load of shit.

Darrell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jimbino said...

Yo Scott M.

You are another who won't do a simple WWW search before making a false statement through ignorance:

Albert Einstein: From a Jesuit Viewpoint, I am an Atheist

I received your letter of June 10th. I have never talked to a Jesuit priest in my life and I am astonished by the audacity to tell such lies about me. From the viewpoint of a Jesuit priest I am, of course, and have always been an atheist.

- Albert Einstein, letter to Guy H. Raner Jr, July 2, 1945, responding to a rumor that a Jesuit priest had caused Einstein to convert from atheism; quoted by Michael R. Gilmore in Skeptic, Vol. 5, No. 2

Darrell said...

The German courts have no problem with a 16-year old getting sex reassignment surgery (despite the law saying 18) and that age is expected to drop as children 12 and under have been diagnosed with "gender identity disorder" and are receiving hormone therapy.
But circumcision? Hell no!

Dr Weevil said...

Near the top of this thread, Gabriel Hannah wrote (12:59pm):

"Imagine that a new religion, like Wicca or Scientology, required that infants have a notch cut out of the fleshy part of their left earlobe at eight days.

"Most right-thinking people would find that appalling and want it illegal, even though there is no significant loss of function from cutting a chunk out of an earlobe, and in fact body-piercing enthusiasts do something that is not much different."

No imagination is necessary, except perhaps to try to figure out who these "right-thinking people" could possibly be. I know a professor who had her little girl's ears pierced in about six places on each side before she was three years old: the holes went all the way from the earlobe to the top of the ear, and had gaudy studs in them. No one thought anything of it, and I had forgotten all about it until reading this comment. Parents are already allowed to have their babies' ears mutilated in America, and they don't even need a religious excuse. I have the impression that tattooed babies are not unheard of, though I can't think of an example known to me personally.

jimbino said...

Dave,

Surely you are not so ignorant as to not be aware that there have been many cases of boys who became girls as the result of a botched circumcision followed by surgery.

Jana said...

Penn and Teller did a great episode of Bullshit on circumcision, which has been available online for free. We did not circumcise our son, for the reasons that Gabriel cited.

We did not find the reduced risk of HIV infection all that compelling of an argument. We don't live in Africa, after all.

The practice became widespread among non-Jewish populations in the US because Victorian-era folks thought it decreased the desire for masturbation. Since it became common practice, it is not surprising that women have a preference for the look of the circumcised penis.

In my area, the incidence of circumcision is something like 50/50 now, and in our metro Seattle area, my doctor says it's even more more like 30/70.

Dave said...

Shanna has the rebuttal covered.
One flaky reformed Rabbi's opinion does not a case make.
Jews vary quite a bit in practice. For example female Rabbis are allowed by some groups but not by others. Circumcision defines Judaism for the overwhelming majority of Jews. It's Biblical; right there at the beginning when the covenant was formed with Abraham. Who are you to tell Jews they can't practice their beliefs or to presume to define them? Such disrespect, as you've shown here, for the beliefs of others is exactly the problem with this ruling.

damikesc said...

No, they don't allow abortion, actually, not after the first trimester

...which is not allowing abortions, how?

You're sayin' a bunch of irrelevant nonsense.

Yes, atheists love of children is quite selective.

Murder them? Sure, go ahead.
Circumcise? PRISON!!!

That you don't like the point is precious.

jimbino said...

Darrell,

A young German kid could elect to be circumcised as well as he could elect sex-reassignment surgery. The present controversy involves religions parents forcing permanent sexual mutilation on a non-consenting atheist baby.

Alex said...

Barry sounds like he had a bad circumcision.

Dave said...

Jimbino,

I'm aware. Life is risk, terribly tragic things happen, in this case very rarely fortunately. It does not justify suppressing a religion.

Alex said...

Parents coerce all kinds of things on their children, why is this the one thing that the German court decided a kid could get out of? Sounds to me like a deliberate attack on Judaism. Harkens back to the Nuremberg Laws.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Pogo:So the CDC, the WHO, Scientific American, and the American Academy of Pediatrics are wrong, but Gabriel Hanna is correct because ...he says so?

I know you can't read what I wrote, but other people can, and you only hurt yourself by trying to lie about what I said. That's the second time you've tried it. But all the words are on the page for all to see, my friend.

I'm the one who cited all the pediatricians, not you. I'm the one who pointed out the studies were only done in Africa for people without modern sanitation or medicine, not you.

And I'm the one who wants to find a VALID argument for allowing people to circumcises their children, while forbidding mutilations, while you are only interested in defending a bogus argument--probably because you only have room in your intellect for one argument at a time.

Pogo said...

"We don't live in Africa, after all."

Does anyone study science in school anymore?

Pogo said...

"I'm the one who cited all the pediatricians, not you.

But you ignored what they said.

Darrell said...

Penile cancer, 1290 cases last year according to the ACS--almost exclusively linked to uncircumsised penises. How many cases of "botched" circumsicion requiring amputation?

Pogo said...

"...a bogus argument-"

So which part of the WHO or CDC or Scientific American articles were "bogus"?

Be precise.

holdfast said...

Any Jew that remains in continental Europe these days is a frigging idiot. They certainly don't deserve what is going to happen to them over the next few decades, but they're still idiots for not seeing the writing on the wall.

jimbino said...

Gabriel Hanna:

I welcome your attempt to find a circumcision rule you can subscribe to, but I think you fail to consider the fact that any child, with or without the support of his parents, can elect circumcision if he fears contracting HIV in Africa or elsewhere, or for a host of other medically necessary or even religious reasons.

We need to focus here on the child-abuse crime of parents' forcing genital mutilation on a non-consenting atheist baby for reasons of their religion or their culture. Any baby is justifiably circumcised if medically necessary.

Dave said...

Gabriel

Look up thread I gave you a reason, but you have to state what is "valid" more clearly. You can't be the only judge of validity in a reasoned argument either. The medical evidence is valid, but you've judged it to be insufficient. Tell us why. If it helps, I happen to agree that the medical benefits are modest. They're modest but they exist.

Darrell said...

Vaccines would be mandated if they could achieve the same reductions in both male and female disease reduction as circumcision. In the US, much less the undeveloped world.

The "atheist baby" argument is just too silly to respond to. What do you propose next, banning infant Baptism?

jimbino said...

Darrell,

Do you advocate prophylactic amputation at birth of any body part that might become cancerous? Isn't this really about religious nuts forcing sexual mutilation on non-consenting infants?

Dave said...

Jimbino,

Sounds like you've judged the Jewish religion as unacceptable. How do you defend your total disregard for others freedom of religion? Who are you to tell any parent how they should raises their own kids?

Dave said...

Jimbino,

So ordinary Jews are "religious nuts".

jimbino said...

Yo Darrell:

Infant baptism can hardly be banned since it has no effect whatsoever. Removal of a body part from a living person without his consent has long been recognized as assault in every civilized country. Now Germany has leaped to the fore by refusing to grant immunity to religious nuts who assault atheist babies.

Germany has not outlawed circumcision for medical reasons.

Scott M said...

Yo jimbino,

Stating facts as you perceive them do not make them so. I said he wasn't an atheist and claimed to be an agnostic. You're claiming, from the source, that Einstein said "from a Jesuit's point of view", and that's not the same thing at all.

From "Einstein: His Life And Universe" concerning the same series of letters with a US Navy ensign, "You may call me agnostic, but I do not share the crusading spirit of the professional atheist whose fervor is mostly due to a painful act of liberation from the fetters of religious indoctrination received in youth."

Einstein, from the same book, said that religion "informed and inspired" his work rather than conflicted with it, leading, I suppose, to the famous quote:

"Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind."

Neither of us are Einstein. At least, I'm fairly sure I'm not. Which of us is hitting closer to what is probably the way he actually felt?

By the way, Darth Vader killed Anakin Skywalker from a certain point of view.

Just sayin'...

jimbino said...

Dave,

Haven't we already established that there are many Jews who are not religious and many Jews who do not circumcise? Yes, those who mutilate an atheist baby are religious nuts whose assault should be punished.

Eli Blake said...

Interesting.

In Africa, they encourage circumcision as a means of combatting the spread of AIDS.

Dave said...

Jimbino

You haven't established anything I can see other than your own bigotry.

Darrell said...

Yeah, the removal of the foreskin is just like amputating an entire
body part. Your parents were given the choice to remove your entire head when you went in for that tonsillectomy--if you were fortunate enough to get one.

I guess the Brits were right in the 19th Century about cicumcision preventing insanity.

Petunia said...

My English friend's son was not circumcised after birth, as is the custom over there. He had to be when he was five, though, because he had gotten so many infections under there that (guys, you might not want to read this part) parts of his foreskin were actually adhered to the head of his penis.

Poor kid had to be circumcised under general anesthesia, and couldn't wear pants for a couple of weeks. He wore big nightshirts and even that was excruciating when the fabric rubbed. His mom said that for several days he screamed and cried when he peed.

I happened to be visiting a week or so after the surgery and being a young boy he of course decided to show me his surgical site. I won't describe it in detail...but suffice it to say it looked really, really, REALLY painful.

I wonder too whether bathing instead of showering (when the boy is old enough), as is also common in England, makes a difference in the rate of infection.

jimbino said...

Scott M:

Someday you will have to admit that the terms atheism and agnosticism are used in entirely different philosophical realms.

An atheist is a person without belief in a god. An agnostic is a person whose approach to a question in physics or metaphysics is one of skepticism. All scientists are agnostic about everything. A corollary of that is that no scientist is a believer, since belief implies making an assertion without evidence, which no scientist can do.

A person can be an atheist and an agnostic, as Einstein was. Or he can be neither, which is what all religious nuts are. Then there are Buddhists, who are atheist believers (non-agnostics). And finally, there is, philosophically at least, the possibility that a person is both agnostic and theist. That would be Thomas, who doubted but ultimately found the evidence he needed. Too bad he's not around, since modern men haven't a scintilla of evidence, as Penn and Teller have shown. If Thomas were here, he could collect the $1,000,000 prize offered by Scientific American and James Randi for showing proof of religious superstition.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Pogo: Third time you've lied about what I wrote--and you are lying about what the pediatricians wrote. They said:

the benefits of circumcision have not been proven to exist, except for Africans living in the Third World;

that these benefits have not been shown to outweigh the risks;

and they DO NOT RECOMMEND routine circumcision of infants, but leave it to parents to make informed decisions.

But you learned to read on Opposite Day, apparently.

Since you can't read, let me spell it out, ONE MORE TIME.

The ARGUMENT that circumcision should be allowed because it is beneficial is BOGUS. "Bogus" (look the word up) modifies (look that one up) the ARGUMENT, not the BENEFIT. Not because the BENEFITS are bogus, moron. Not because the pediatricians are "wrong", cretin. But because the benefits, even if they are real, have not been shown to outweigh the risks. Illiterate jackass.

@Petunia: Poor kid had to be circumcised under general anesthesia,

And if he'd let his toes freeze they'd need to be removed too.

Hey, let's remove the left testicle of every male at birth, and the left ovary of female. Testicular and ovarian cancer will drop by 50%! Hooray!

No, actually. Only for the foreskin do some people think you should chop it off before something bad happens to it. Because we are not thinking rationally about it, but relying on tradition.

Let us think about it rationally, so that we may accommodate tradition.

Mitch H. said...

Wow, the nuts are out in force today. What is it about circumcision that makes people go so thoroughly nuts? Via Meadia's thread on this story likewise got overrun by vituperative anti-Semitic loons, which isn't really a common thing over there. Not so much anti-Semitism here, although we have jimbino's crusade for the atheistic oppressed infancy of humanity to make up for that, I suppose.

And yes, if a religion felt the need to notch their infants' right ears, I wouldn't have a serious problem with it. Facial tattooing and facial branding, I think I'd have an issue with, but mostly for aesthetic & cult-isolation reasons, not for the practice itself.

If your body modification is a) harmless and b) does not interfere with the ability of the child to leave your in-group when they reach majority, what the hell do I care about it? The *kid* may get upset, but that's between the parents and the child and maybe his psychiatrist, not a matter for the state.

Facial tattooing fails condition (b), and female genital mutilation fails condition (a). See? Nicely logical, utilitarian and libertarian at the same time.

Dave said...

Thanks Mitch for a clear and concise application of logic.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Eil Blake:In Africa, they encourage circumcision as a means of combatting the spread of AIDS.

The studies that Pogo is too stupid to read show that Africans, who lack access to sanitation and medical treatment, can reduce transmission of HIV if they are circumcised. By about 1/2.

These are people who cannot afford condoms, who cannot always practice good hygiene.

Two things to note:

1) Reducing HIV transmission by about half is like playing Russian roulette with 1 bullet instead of 2. It is an improvement, but there are much better ways to achieve the same thing, especially if

2) You are a person in a developed country who has access to sanitation, health care, and condoms: circumcision does nothing for you in terms of preventing HIV. You have far better and cheaper ways of reducing your chance of catching HIV than an African in the Third World does.

Scott M said...

I was paying close attention, despite your repetitive ad homenim, until you got here...

All scientists are agnostic about everything.

It's a shark-jumper, to be sure. Nowhere outside religion does dogma exist as strongly as it does in science. Perhaps you meant to say a good scientist, but you did not. You said all, blanketing the field with manure.

Your first statement was that I was ignorant for claiming he wasn't an atheist, but instead an agnostic. Am I still ignorant for saying so? Your statement about the co-existence of those two philosophies, if you indeed believe it yourself, seems to conflict with your claims of my ignorance.

Aside from all of that, there are professed agnostics that are regulars 'round here that will disagree with your definition for them and, from the looks of it, would argue their case much more effectively.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Mitch: Problem is male circumcision fails b). This is one way Nazis detected Jews.

And your example doesn't rule out, say scientologists tattooing "Xenu Rules" on their kids at birth in an out-of-the-way spot. Which is fine by you... and I honestly don't care that much either, but anyone who does needs to be prepared to find a better argument.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Dave: I happen to agree that the medical benefits are modest. They're modest but they exist.

The risks of circumcision are modest as well, but they exist. Do they outweight the benefits? Since no one knows that yet, pediatricians around the world recommend against routine circumcision.

This does not mean, I explain for the benefit of Pogo who can't read, that pediatricians are against circumcision. They are not, they are against it being done by default, because no one knows if it has a net benefit or not.

Which is the same as cutting off earlobes, or the ritual facial scarring mentioned by Mitch.

To me it seems very obvious--don't cut things off if there's nothing wrong with them--but I respect that other people may have non-medical reasons for wishing to do so. In fact, they all do, as the medical reason does not exist, unless a whole lot more research is done.

Pogo said...

Interestingly, the American Academy of Pediatrics statement cited by Hanna was 1999, whereas my reports are all far more recent (2005, 2012).

It as not been updated since then. It states therein:


"In addition, there is a substantial body of evidence that links noncircumcision in men with risk for HIV infection.19,112–114 Genital ulcers related to STD may increase susceptibility to HIV in both circumcised and uncircumcised men, but uncircumcised status is independently associated with the risk for HIV infection in several studies.115–117 There does appear to be a plausible biologic explanation for this association in that the mucous surface of the uncircumcised penis allows for viral attachment to lymphoid cells at or near the surface of the mucous membrane, as well as an increased likelihood of minor abrasions resulting in increased HIV access to target tissues. However, behavioral factors appear to be far more important risk factors in the acquisition of HIV infection than circumcision status."

They don't say anything about Africa, though.

jimbino said...

Mitch H.

Do you realize that not only "harmless" assaults, but "beneficial" assaults against the bodily integrity of another person without his consent are punishable under long-accepted law?

Nobody can prophylactically remove another's appendix without his consent merely to avert possible appendicitis.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Jana: I don't know about you but my folks got very defensive when I mentioned to them we weren't circumcising; they seemed to think it was some sort of judgment on their parenting of me, and I had to explain that it wasn't, we just didn't see any reason to do it. I wonder if you had the same experience.

Pogo said...

"...as the medical reason does not exist..."

Bullshit, again.
The 1999 AAP didn't find a compelling reason to advocate routine use, but they did NOT say no medical reason existed (see my post just prior).

This is a lie you keep repeating for unclear reasons.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Pogo: You can't read. See those little numbers? We call them CITATIONS. Those are citations of studies done in Africa. Like I;ve been saying all along.

Dave said...

Gabriel,
I agree that the medical risks are conditioned on the development of the country and other considerations. Circumcision need not be the default as it currently is in the US, but outlawing it is excessive, mostly on religious grounds. I don't find the medical evidence to be especially convincing. I read it as, on balance, a net positive, but I certainly wouldn't object to a parent not circumcising their child is they cared not to. It's the forcing of the issue by the court that really stands out here.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Dave: I certainly wouldn't object to a parent not circumcising their child is they cared not to. It's the forcing of the issue by the court that really stands out here.

I am with you 100%. And you know that in Germany or any other country some other court might have found that Muslims should get to circumcise their girls if they get to circumcise their boys. So what's the knockdown argument that would settle it? Mitch came close. I haven't thought of a good one.

Dave said...

Jimbino,

Too funny: you're now using "long-accepted law" as a justification for invalidating a 6 thousand year law.

Dave said...

Gabriel,

The closest I come to that is that clitoral removal causes a loss of function. It's clearly harmful. Something less extreme might pass. that's the best I've got.

Freeman Hunt said...

The other trade off is that if foreskin becomes a problem later in life, the surgery is hellacious. Not so if done in infancy.

And Gabriel, Africa is not the only place that such studies have been done.

Does one want to bank on perfect condom usage, excellent personal hygiene, and fastidious nursing home attendants or that the circumcision will be without complication? It's all in how you calculate risk assessment.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Dave:clitoral removal causes a loss of function.

True. But earlobe removal doesn't, ritual facial scarring doesn't--and then there are men who think losing their foreskin is a loss of function--I have no way to know if that's true. So it's a stumper. What do we allow parents to do to their kids?

Some religious parents have killed their kids by denying them medical treatment, some hippies have killed their kids by denying them vaccines. I don't know how to make one rule that sorts it all out, without appealing to tradition. And maybe that would be enough in a sane polity.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Freeman:The other trade off is that if foreskin becomes a problem later in life, the surgery is hellacious. Not so if done in infancy.

Same for earlobe removal, or removal of the little toes, or ritual face scarring.

Does one want to bank on perfect condom usage, excellent personal hygiene, and fastidious nursing home attendants or that the circumcision will be without complication? It's all in how you calculate risk assessment.

Exactly my point all along. But a sixty percent reduction in transmission rates, even if it works outside of Africa, I don't think quite rises to the level of justifying cutting something off that has nothing wrong with it when condoms etc are far more effective and easily available.

Pogo said...

Gabriel:
The cites included:

(1) Sex Transm Dis. 1994 Jul-Aug;21(4):201-10.
The association between lack of male circumcision and risk for HIV infection: a review of the epidemiological data.
"Four other cross-sectional studies (The Gambia, Mexico, Tanzania, and the US) found a trend towards an association"

Cook LS, Koutsky LA, Holmes KK (1994) Circumcision and sexually transmitted diseases. Am J Public Health. 84:197–201.
(done in Seattle)

Kreiss JK, Hopkins SG (1993) The association between circumcision and human immunodeficiency virus infection among homosexual men. J Infect Dis. 168:1404–1408.
(done in Seattle)

Indeed, Africa is studied, and I think Africans are in fact at higher risk.

But you misrepresented here, and you're wrong again.



You are wrong.

Freeman Hunt said...

The earlobe analogy doesn't work because there is no real difference between amputating the earlobe in infancy or adulthood. Age complicates circumcision tremendously.

AllieOop said...

I see the penis thread is still going strong, well it's only fair after all the vagina threads last week.

I recall an old gent on the Alzheimer unit, who had a horrendous infection of the penis, which was amputated later. I don't know where the infection originated though.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Freeman:The earlobe analogy doesn't work because there is no real difference between amputating the earlobe in infancy or adulthood.

I'd be surprised if you had evidence of this, and afraid to know how you acquired it. And how do you know it's not true of tattoos, facial scarring, ear piercing, or any other scenario someone could think up?

So you are saying we can chop healthy body parts of infants provided it's easier to do so, and willing to stand on that as a general rule, and thought through all possibilities you didn't intend?

Or do we maybe need to think harder about this?

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Pogo: It's awesome that you are checking citations. There's about 30 or so studies cited, and almost all done in Africa. Some, like you pointed out, are gay men in the US. If you prefer to hang your hat on that--

--are you willing to say apply your logic outside the foreskin, say to labia majora? Can we chop off anything from an infant, if it leads to decreased HIV transmission rates? Or maybe we should bank on the far more effective measures that don't involve chopping off healthy tissue?

@Alley Oop: Frostbitten toes need to amputated sometimes. Let's chop them off in infancy to prevent that.

AllieOop said...

Gabriel, it's a teeny tiny piece of loose skin. It's not an appendage with a bone in it.


No boner jokes please.

Freeman Hunt said...

Gabriel, I take it you haven't read about adult circumcision? Age complicates it tremendously. As for the earlobe, I know an adult whose earlobe was ripped off in an accident, and recovery was a breeze.

So you are saying we can chop healthy body parts of infants provided it's easier to do so, and willing to stand on that as a general rule, and thought through all possibilities you didn't intend?

That isn't the argument. The argument is not, "It's easy to do, so let's do it." The argument is, "There are good reasons to do it, and waiting makes it extraordinarily difficult, thus mostly eliminating the choice for the adult anyway, so do it." Or, "So doing it can be a rational choice not based on religion or tradition."

Paddy O said...

I want to exercise my right to be circumcised as an infant and so give my parents permission to have made the choice they did when I was born. I would be mad if they didn't and I needed to do it later in life.

I also believed in God as a baby.

Sadly, there are people who want to take both of these rights away from me by imposing their own beliefs upon others, including babies.

Gabriel Hanna said...

For everyone's consideration: Mulesing of sheep in Australia.

Mulesing is when you chop off a big hunk of a sheep's backside and let it scar over. It's done in Australia to prevent flystrike, where flies lay eggs in diseased skin and eventually the maggots kill the sheep. They do not anesthetise the sheep.

PETA types react to mulesing in about the way you'd expect, it's barbaric blah blah blah.

The sheep farmers though, point out that in Australia with its huge spaces, nasty flies and enormous sheep population, that this is the most cost-effective way to protect sheep from flystrike.

The HIV argument for circumcision is similar. You have a piece of flesh you can definitely live without, it's prone to infection if you can't take proper care of it, and it happens in a geographical area where there isn't so far a better way to deal with the problem.

There certainly is a good argument for mulesing sheep in Australia, but those arguments are not good for mulesing your cat in Chicago. Likewise, circumcision in Africa is certainly better than nothing, but in the developed world we have many other alternatives that work better for HIV prevention.

First, HIV is very rare in the First World and very common in Africa. Your list of things you are likely to die from is very different in the US than in Africa. Second, your alternatives are very different. Circumcision is attractive for Africa because it's permanent and cheap. But it's also not nearly as effective as what we have here.

I guess I'm still just fundamentally unable to see why we would chop something off to keep it from going wrong. Like cutting off an earlobe to prevent getting melanoma on it. There's better ways.

I have no quarrel with religious or even fashionable arguments for circumcision, but I'm not seeing the evidence that the cost-benefit ratio establishes a medical argument: and neither are pediatricians.

Shanna said...

There's about 30 or so studies cited, and almost all done in Africa. Some, like you pointed out, are gay men in the US.

Don't you think those studies might be more likely in those populations precisely because HIV is is more common, thus more people to study? I'm not sure why you think it invalidates the studies.

All of your sites were wishy washy/non detailed comments. Pogo's had studies and a valid medical explanation. Pogo wins.

Pogo said...

@Gabriel Hanna
What you said was this: "@Pogo: You can't read. See those little numbers? We call them CITATIONS. Those are citations of studies done in Africa. Like I;ve been saying all along."

And you were wrong, because in fact they involved the US and Africa, so you've moved the goalposts.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Freeman: "There are good reasons to do it, and waiting makes it extraordinarily difficult, thus mostly eliminating the choice for the adult anyway, so do it."

But you've left out the reasons not to do it, and they exist. Circumcision is not risk free, or consequence free, and the people best informed so far find it to have essentially zero net benefit.

To establish the rational argument you'd have to show that the benefits outweigh risks, which has not been done, which is why we are arguing.

And if you embrace that as a principle, you may find someone in the future using that principle in ways you don't intend. For instance, maybe Muslims will want to put notches in their daughters' labia, or some lunatic will think of something too perverted for me to anticipate now.

I am very comfortable with saying that because Scientology is a fake religion they don't get to cut their kids earlobes off or tattoo them or whatever. But out our courts systems have put their faith in rationalism, unfortunately. Rationalism often takes you places you don't want to go.

cubanbob said...

Back to business as usual in Germany. A clever way to say no Jews allowed please plus the added benefit of throwing Muslims out as well. A two for one deal. Nordic countries already ban kosher ritual slaughter for meat and soon will do the same for Halal.

The Germans ban circumcision for an eight day old boy but have no problems killing him nine days before. Atheists, progressives and pagans. What a toxic brew.

Jim S. said...

An atheist is a person without belief in a god.

You keep saying this. I keep asking you to define what it means and what differentiates it from withholding belief (agnosticism) and disbelief (atheism as it is almost universally understood historically and today). After you wait a few minutes you then repeat that an atheist is someone who lacks belief. It's as if you know you can't answer my question (which is no slight) and are just trying to get away with something.

I think I understand your motive: If you disbelieved in God you would have to share the burden of proof with the theist, since you're making a claim to knowledge. But agnosticism leaves it wide open that God might exist and that other people might even know he does. Basically, you just want to think what you want to think, and don't want to have to go through all the trouble of having reasons or evidence for it.

There's a term for that: blind faith.

Pogo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gabriel Hanna said...

@Pogo: Yes, you are right, some studies have been done in the US, though the majority were done in Africa, where the bulk of the beneficial results were seen. I will not qualify that, you are right. Good on you for reading the citations.

However, the benefits still have not been shown to outweigh the risk, and pediatricians do not recommend routine circumcision.

Give me a hug, you big lug.

Jim S. said...

It's almost midnight over here in continental Europe, so I'm heading to bed. Good night everyone.

AllieOop said...

Cubanbob, Germans don't allow abortions after the first trimester, I believe Gabriel Hanna mentioned that upthread.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@cubanbob:The Germans ban circumcision for an eight day old boy but have no problems killing him nine days before.

Abortion after 12 weeks is illegal in Germany. They're not Democrats over there, you know. Scientology is illegal too.

Roger J. said...

This post doesnt address the most important issue: do the ladies prefer cut or uncut? That to me would be the deciding factor. What say you ladies? Its not about medical issues--its about getting laid.

Smilin' Jack said...

Jewish and Muslim groups are reportedly outraged.

Hee...someday the irresistable power of sheer stupidity will unite all the peoples of the world.

Michael K said...

"Evidence-based medicine, Pogo and Alley Oop. Not rationalizations."

The American Academy also has some strong opinions about whales. Sorry, I skipped a lot of comments that might have made the same point.

jimbino said...

Abortion is fully legal in Germany up to birth if medically necessary, in other words, to avoid death or serious bodily injury to the mother.

That should be the rule for infant circumcision as well: only if medically necessary, to avoid death or serious bodily injury to the atheist baby.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Pogo: Let me apologize for being nasty to you. I was. Even if I had been 100% right, and you had been 100% wrong, nothing you said justified the things I said to you.

I forget, sometimes, that there are people behind the pixels. I will try to do better.

cubanbob said...

AllieOop said...
Cubanbob, Germans don't allow abortions after the first trimester, I believe Gabriel Hanna mentioned that upthread.

6/27/12 4:50 PM
Gabriel Hanna said...
@cubanbob:The Germans ban circumcision for an eight day old boy but have no problems killing him nine days before.

Abortion after 12 weeks is illegal in Germany. They're not Democrats over there, you know. Scientology is illegal too.

6/27/12 4:51 PM

In which trimester does it become human? What, we are supposed to to believe the German's are enlightened because they ban Scientology? Every religion seams weird to a non-believer and atheist are just plain foolish to believers (Pascal's Wager). Considering circumcision has been practiced for several thousand years with no apparent ill effect on the circumcised the reasoning used by the German's is simply imposing one set of beliefs on others by force of law.

I said before, the German's (and soon to be followed no doubt by most Nordic countries) have found a clever way under the guise of human rights to make themselves Jew free with the added bonus of making themselves Muslim free. Watch and see this becoming EU policy over the next several years.

Pogo said...

Lo mismo, Gabriel.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@cubanbob:In which trimester does it become human? What, we are supposed to to believe the German's are enlightened because they ban Scientology?

Not what I was getting at at all. First, they don't have the same understanding of religious freedom that we have in America; pretty much no other country does. So banning a Jewish or Muslim practice doesn't jar them like it does us, they ban whole religions. They don't have freedom of speech either, people who say loonie things about the Holocaust here are ostracized, but in Germany they are imprisoned.

And they don't look at abortion how we do. Under our laws, abortion is a right--though I know you disagree, current law sees it that way--and a pregnant woman doesn't have to justify the decision to anyone in order to have an abortion. Their laws are more restrictive. A fetus nine days from being born is more protected there than it is here.

Revenant said...

The bottom line: circumcision protects heterosexual men from HIV acquisition via sexual intercourse

Whatever happened to abstinence? :)

Revenant said...

In which trimester does it become human?

The third -- week 28 or so.

Gabriel Hanna said...

Here's a harmless religious tradition: the Day of Ashura.

So, the cutting and the blood is superficial. Unlike a foreskin, blood grows back. They nick a vein in the head, it's painless and though it looks god-awful, it isn't harmful. There's no loss of function of anything.

Should Shia Muslims be forbidden from ritually cutting their children during Ashura?

What if we find out there are net health benefits? Shia actually do claim this, but what if some study is done and they find out it mitigates some frightful disease or other?

Should we let parents harmlessly bleed their children?

Revenant said...

You keep saying this. I keep asking you to define what it means and what differentiates it from withholding belief (agnosticism)

Agnosticism is the belief that it is impossible to know if gods exist. It is not simply "withholding belief".

and disbelief (atheism as it is almost universally understood historically and today).

Historically, anyone who did not answer "yes" to the question "do you believe in God" was called an atheist. Reserving the term for only people who actively disbelieve in gods is a modern invention.

Coketown said...

Pogo, you have not been reading your epistles. "Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them. You may be sure that such people are warped and sinful; they are self-condemned." This all made for a very tedious thread of comments. It was the same redundant shit over and over and over--redundant not only to itself, but to other threads where the subject of God arises. Can't we talk of interesting things like the self-determining agency of babes before the law or the intrusion of government into religious liberties? Does every post concerning God have to revert to this trite, tiresome bullshit? When Gabriel Hanna shows up, rest assured you're in for a sleep-inducing treat. Zzzzzz.

jimbino said...

German Penal Code allows for therapeutic abortion at any time during the pregnancy:

http://www.aicgs.org/issue/the-legal-framework-of-abortions-in-germany/

The German penal code (paragraph 218) states that abortion is unlawful. Those who attempt to abort a fetus face up to three years in prison or a fine. In severe cases, where the perpetrator acts without the consent of the pregnant woman or frivolously endangers her life or health, the sentence ranges from six months to five years in prison. If the pregnant woman aborts her fetus, she faces up to one year in prison or a fine.

Paragraph 218 explicitly states that any actions taken prior to the fertilized egg’s attachment to the uterus wall are not considered an abortion. While the attempt to abort a fetus by a third party is unlawful, a woman who unsuccessfully attempts to end her pregnancy will not be prosecuted.

Paragraph 218a of the penal code, while maintaining the unlawfulness of an abortion, mandates that the doctor and pregnant woman performing and undergoing an abortion are not to be prosecuted under the following circumstances:

1) a pregnant woman requests the abortion and can demonstrate to the doctor that she has undergone consultation at least three days prior to the abortion;

2) the abortion is performed by a medical doctor; and

3) the abortion takes place within the first trimester.

The penal code further states that an abortion is not considered unlawful if the doctor determines that a pregnancy endangers the woman’s life or severely compromises her physical or mental health and no other solution can be found. If the pregnancy is the result of rape, an abortion is lawful. In both cases, the abortion is to be performed within the first trimester.

In addition, abortions that are performed prior to the twenty-third week of pregnancy are lawful if the woman is found to be under particular distress at the time of the procedure and has undergone consultation. Individuals performing an abortion without the determination by a doctor that the life and health of a pregnant woman are compromised will be prosecuted under paragraph 218b.

wyo sis said...

In an elective medical procedure that does no harm most of the time why not let the parents decide?
In a religious ceremony/ritual why not let the parents decide?
Why should the state have anything to say about it at all?
These questions are easy if you take the position that the state has no place getting between parents and their children unless there is clear and criminal harm done to the child. I don't think circumcision is either criminal or harmful and a few instances of mistakes don't call for the interference of the state. We need to get over the idea that the state should be involved in personal or family decisions.
Many elective medical and dental procedures have a much higher rate of complications and death, and the state stays out of it. It's the religious element that gets people all worked up.

jimbino said...

No Revenant,

Agnosticism is not a belief, but the posture of the skeptic or scientist to any question; it has nothing specifically to do with god.

Atheism is, as you say, a simple denial of a belief in a god; it is not a belief that there is no god.

A scientist does not believe in anything, much less in a god of talking snakes and a stopped Sun.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@wyo sis:These questions are easy if you take the position that the state has no place getting between parents and their children unless there is clear and criminal harm done to the child. I don't think circumcision is either criminal or harmful and a few instances of mistakes don't call for the interference of the state. We need to get over the idea that the state should be involved in personal or family decisions.

So we have one person who is cool with people cutting their kid's foreheads open once a year.

Anyone not cool with it who can explain why circumcision should be ok?

AllieOop said...

Coketown, I think you may have been the only one bored to sleep by this discussion, it was one of the most fascinating and fast paced I've read here.

Dissenting opinion is what keeps reading threads interesting!

wyo sis said...

I'm not cool with it, I think it's going to happen whether I'm cool with it or not. And, just to make it clear, it's not a medical procedure. Making a bunch of laws about it only end up limiting everyone's freedoms eventually.

Coketown said...

Coketown, I think you may have been the only one bored to sleep by this discussion, it was one of the most fascinating and fast paced I've read here.

No, everyone except the handful of people involved were bored to sleep. It wasn't fascinating; it was redundant and trite. It's been played out countless times over the years on this blog. Its speed doesn't change that, any more than accelerating on the freeway changes powerline poles into unicorns.

Saint Croix said...

The vagina discussion was way more fun.

who can explain why circumcision should be ok?

It's like Nero whining about that new cult called the Jews. They've been doing it for a while. You know, the Jews? Maybe you heard of them. "I'm going to outlaw this Jewish practice because, let's face it, Jews are stupid."

And I would not call this German hostility to Jews. After all, San Francisco tried to do it too.

It's just fucking socialism, that's all. Socialists know best. Fall in line. Do what you're told. Gabriel Hanna didn't circumcise his son so now you can't circumcise yours. That's the way socialists roll. Demolishing a 4000-year-old religious practice is just a side benefit.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Saint Croix:Gabriel Hanna didn't circumcise his son so now you can't circumcise yours.

I said nothing of the sort, and explicitly said more than once that parents should be free to circumcise their children, religious or not.

Revenant said...

Agnosticism is not a belief, but the posture of the skeptic or scientist to any question; it has nothing specifically to do with god.

You are mistaken. The word for skepticism is "skepticism", not "agnosticism".

Agnosticism is a belief, just as theism or positive atheism are.

Revenant said...

It's just fucking socialism, that's all.

The believe that babies should not have parts of them chopped off is called "common sense" or "simple decency", not "socialism".

Certainly, it conflicts with many long-standing religious beliefs. Common sense and simple decency often do.

AllieOop said...

Each to their own Coketown. Why read it if it was so boring to you?

wyo sis said...

"Certainly, it conflicts with many long-standing religious beliefs. Common sense and simple decency often do."

Common sense and simple decency often mean keeping your disagreements with religion out of the realm of the law.

Saint Croix said...

I said nothing of the sort, and explicitly said more than once that parents should be free to circumcise their children, religious or not.

My apologies. That was actually quite rude. Sorry about that.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Saint Croix: Yay! Another hug.

«Oldest ‹Older   1 – 200 of 276   Newer› Newest»