The rebranding of circumcision as ‘child abuse’ echoes the ugly anti-Semitism of medieval Europe

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There are many bad things about the modern atheistic assault on religion. But perhaps the worst thing is its rebranding of certain religious practices as “child abuse”. Everything from sending your kid to a Catholic school to having your baby boy circumcised has been redefined by anti-religious campaigners as “abuse”. This use of emotionally loaded language to demonise the practices and beliefs of people of faith has reached its ugly and logical conclusion in Germany, where a court has decreed that circumcision for religious purposes causes “bodily harm”, against boys who are “unable to give their consent”, and therefore should be outlawed.

This is an alarming attack on freedom of religion and on parents’ rights to initiate their children into their faith. The court case centred around a four-year-old Muslim boy who was given a very bad circumcision, but the precedent set by the case will of course affect Jews as well as Muslims. And as Germany’s Central Council of Jews rightly said, the court’s ruling is “an egregious and insensitive measure”, which represents “an unprecedented and dramatic intervention in religious communities’ right of determination”. He points out that Jews have the freedom to circumcise their male children in every country in the world – but soon maybe not in Germany

Written By: Brendan O’Neill
continue to source article at blogs.telegraph.co.uk

130 COMMENTS

  1. I agree with the German court. I was circumcised as an infant, but did not consent. And now, I would like the rest of MY body back, but no chance.

    It should be up to the individual to decide like say plastic surgery, not for parents to inflict on their children.

  2. I think that people should still be allowed to exercise their religious freedom in countries that guarantee such a freedom. But perhaps the non-religious shouldn’t be doing this? I think it’s time to stop this barbaric practice.

    It’s true that we pull out the term “child abuse” more often than we should, but physically cutting off a child’s body part out of something less than necessity still seems to justify the phrase.

  3. Having been circumcised when I was 8 days old, I can tell you first hand that I suffered no psychological consequences. At the same time, nobody in the white Christian world seems to think female circumcision isn’t cruel. 

    It’s glib to say that children should have the right to decide for themselves. I can tell you that at first I was angry that my son, when he was 15 or so, took that right on himself. Of course, all he did was show what has proven to be an incredibly considerable intelligence. But that does mean that a ritual circumcision is then to be illegal. Hell, I don’t know what the answer is. 

  4. So essentially, Mr. O’Neill is of the opinion that a parent’s right to “initiate their children into their faith” supersedes the right the child has to choose what happens to their own body. I wonder if he would hold the same opinion if a new religion popped up that requested other elective procedures for their children, like nose jobs, or if a new religion popped up that declared a child must have their eyes torn out at birth in order to be initiated. Unlikely. He seems to only defend circumcision because it’s something we’ve “always done”, not because he has any actual respect for this particular “right” the of the parents. 

  5. This is fear mongering against a tragic, blood ritual performed on those who do not give consent. None of us would object to any adult who self mutilates but when a knife is taken to the genitals of children as if this is a benign act the law must take a stand and protect the victims.

    Any act of initiation or indoctrination of those who do not give consent is a form of assault.

    The populations that continue to engage in circumcision of boys are Muslims, Jews and Americans. While it is easy to see the connection of Islam and Judaism to ancient Egyptian circumcision rites the American predisposition to the act is odd and somewhat modern.

    Circumcision didn’t become wide-spread in the
    United States until the 1940′s. Before that, the great majority of
    babies, children and adults were not circumcised. The operation gained
    popularity after World War II, when the
    soldiers returned home and started the Baby Boom generation. This is
    when doctors started performing them on every
    baby, with, or without his parents’ permission. [This had been suggested in 1928 by the American Medical Association, but
    hadn't yet gained popularity.] Their fathers, who had not been
    circumcised at birth, did not object because they had been conditioned to believe that it is “healthier”
    to be circumcised, by the Army
    during WWI and WWII. At first, only Black soldiers were singled out
    for circumcision, because they were believed to be unable to keep
    themselves clean. Eventually, this carried over to all soldiers, who
    were sometimes
    threatened with courtmarshal, if they refused to undergo the knife.”

    http://www.circumcisionquotes….
     

  6.  ” The FBI’s insane invasion
    of the headquarters of the Branch Davidian religious cult in Waco,
    Texas, in 1993 was likewise justified on the basis of halting child
    abuse. That led to the deaths of 82 people – 28 of them children. “

    Fallacy of the false comparison and an emotional assault on  the sensibilities of anyone. What won’t these people not stoop to?

  7. In Medieval Europe, as pointed out in the book The Covenant of Circumcision, Jew-baiters often depicted circumcision as “cruel and grotesque”.

    Wow, even low-life such as Jew-baiters knew it was cruel and grotesque as far back as medieval Europe?

    Personally can’t see much beyond the words of the German court:

    “The body of the child is irreparably and permanently changed by a
    circumcision,” the court said. “This change contravenes the interests of the
    child to decide later on his religious beliefs.”

    A snide and nasty little article that seeks to associate concern for the physical abuse of children with anti-semitism from an individual whose biog’ suggests he is the editor of:

    an independent online phenomenon dedicated to raising the horizons
    of humanity by waging a culture war of words against misanthropy,
    priggishness, prejudice, luddism, illiberalism and irrationalism in all
    their ancient and modern forms.

    Yeah. Sure.

    Anvil.

  8. Rationalism in its ancient and modern form:

    This is My covenant which you shall keep, between Me and you and
    thy descendants after thee, every male among you shall be
    circumcised. And ye shall be circumcised on the flesh of your
    foreskin, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and you.
    And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every
    male throughout your generations (Genesis 17:10-12).

    Anvil.

  9. “There are many bad things about the modern atheistic assault on
    religion. But perhaps the worst thing is its re-branding of certain
    religious practices as ‘child abuse’”.

    So according to The Telegraph, the worst things we atheists do is call attention to practices considered child abuse? Really? That’s the worst we’re being accused of? Talk about not erring on the side of prudence regarding the safety of children. If we’re wrong, what’s the physical harm? If’ we’re right…

    Mike

  10. I also agree with the German court. I find it so bizarre that people will vehemently oppose religious practices of female genital cutting with no thoughts whatsoever of it being an attack on those persons’ rights to ‘religious freedom’, yet when religious practices of male genital cutting are opposed it’s exactly that. Now I know that some female genital cutting is extremely harmful and can lead to many horrible medical complications and I am not comparing those types of cutting to male circumcision. There are, however, some forms of female genital cutting that are less harmful than male circumcision, for example, piercing and scraping, yet that is opposed just because it’s happening to a female. How did this sexism become so deeply engrained in attitudes towards genital mutilation?I would also argue that male circumcision is actually breaching the child’s right to religious freedom, seeing as they will always have that mark regardless of what faith they choose to adopt as an adult, if any. These people are basically trying to defend their so-called right to indoctrination; no surprises there.

  11. Attack on freedom???

    And what would the children think?

    In what way does having a tender part of your body removed, without anaesthetic by someone who knows jack shit about the real world, not amount to abuse?

  12.  “Having been circumcised when I was 8 days old, I can tell you first hand that I suffered no psychological consequences.” 

    If I had my earlobes cut of at 8 days old I wouldn’t remember any suffering now either neither would I remember if my parents chose to break my fingers.  However, It would still be abuse.  There are arguably medical grounds for circumcision (none that I personally agree with but I could be wrong), but removing body parts because some fictitious deity tells you to is clearly abuse.  Now I’m not going to claim that it is anything like the type of abuse that Muslim girls suffer but it is still abuse. 

  13. This shows how totally out of touch with the modern world these religionists really are, and this is a problem of religion in so many different ways today.

    OK, in the days when people rarely washed, they may have had a point, but it’s strange how our animal predecessors survived without a problem. More likely is, as Hitchens has pointed out, it has more to do with the will of the older members of society to wish to reduce the sexual fulfilment of  the younger generation. The hygiene argument just doesn’t wash! 

  14. From a legal standpoint, I think it is both possible and reasonable to require parents to have a good medical justification for cutting parts off their children; http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=41583” rel=”nofollow”>tonsillectomy comes to mind. However, no parent is going to see indoctrination into his/her own religion as abuse. Law prohibiting that is not going to happen. At the same time, that does not stop us from taking that position as a social pressure movement. Some things are better handled by social pressure than by statutory specification.

  15. I remember seeing a documentary about people who feel their left leg doesn’t belong to them so they want it off.  These are adults who clearly have a a problem with their brain and how it maps to their body but the medical establishment will not take their legs off because it  would cause unnecessary harm and they would contravene the Hippocratic oath.  they usually then organize an accident train running over it, putting it in dry ice for hours etc. and as often as not die as a result.  So a grown adult (otherwise sane an lucid- psychiatrists can’t help them change their body map) can’t get body parts removed but the medical professionals are perfectly happy to do it to a new born if religion is involved.

  16. … and comments are, predictably, closed on this article at the Telegraph’s site.  It seems that, besides being a journalistic hack, Mr. O’Neill is a bit of a coward.  His most odious and self-indulgent articles are often closed to comment.  He does, nonetheless, think like a real christian; “Let me tell you what’s wrong with you, and don’t bother with a rebuttal because my mind is set.” [In superstitious, bronze-age stone]

  17. What is inconceivable is why this barbaric practice is still practiced in our modern times, with all we know about health and wellbeing. Bizarre cult rituals which cause harm to innocent children should be punished by law the same way any other physical maiming of one person by another would be…with especially stiff sentences considering that circumcision is performed on little infants which cannot defend themselves.

  18. “Many secularist campaigners are cock-a-hoop about the ruling…………..

    The above paragraph from the article shows exactly how far the toys are being thrown out of the pram.  No justification for the abuse (as there is none), just footstamping and name calling.  If you fix a few areas to add the correct wording (rather than the emotional name calling) it reads like a reasonable observation of right minded people over the centuries.

    “Many secularist campaigners are cock-a-hoop about the ruling. They believe their description of circumcision as “child abuse”, as a cruel operation that ignores the UN-guaranteed “rights of the child”, is radical and caring. But in truth it echoes centuries’ worth of nasty anti-circumcision posturing by people who hate certain of no religious faith. In Medieval Europe, as pointed out in the book The Covenant of Circumcision, Jew-baiters non religious people often depicted circumcision as “cruel and grotesque”. The “barbarous and cruel Jews” were slated for callously snipping off their own boys’ foreskins and for secretly desiring to do the same to Christian boys, too. These “merciless” creatures were described by one English writer as “foreskinne-clippers”. The modern atheist’s description of circumcision as “child abuse”, though used to attack highlight horrific practices by both Jewish and Muslim communities, is only an updated, more PC version of the old anti-Semites’ non religious peoples description of it as “cruel and grotesque”.”

  19. Well that didn’t work, all my text edits and formats vanished.

    Should read;

    “Many secularist campaigners are cock-a-hoop about the ruling…………..The above paragraph from the article shows exactly how far the toys are being thrown out of the pram.  No justification for the abuse (as there is none), just footstamping and name calling.  If you fix a few areas to add the correct wording (rather than the emotional name calling) it reads like a reasonable observation of right minded people over the centuries.”Many secularist campaigners are cock-a-hoop about the ruling. They believe their description of circumcision as “child abuse”, as a cruel operation that ignores the UN-guaranteed “rights of the child”, is radical and caring. But in truth it echoes centuries’ worth of anti-circumcision posturing by people of no religious faith. In Medieval Europe, as pointed out in the book The Covenant of Circumcision, non religious people often depicted circumcision as “cruel and grotesque”. The “barbarous and cruel Jews” were slated for callously snipping off their own boys’ foreskins and for secretly desiring to do the same to Christian boys, too. These “merciless” creatures were described by one English writer as “foreskinne-clippers”. The modern atheist’s description of circumcision as “child abuse”, though used to highlight horrific practices by both Jewish and Muslim communities, is only an updated, more PC version of the old non religious peoples description of it as “cruel and grotesque”.

  20. Brendan O’Neill is squealing as if he has just had the end of his un anaesthetised penis chopped off. 

    These primitive people are not content until they have scarred the minds and bodies of children.

  21. Typical attempt to close down valid criticism via the mindless chanting of “anti-semitism”. Contemptible.

    It is perfectly reasonable to describe the wholly unnecessary and permanent surgical alteration of a non-consenting child’s body as abuse.This is a procedure that permanently alters not merely the appearance but also the sensitivity and sexual response of the penis. Many of us uncircumcised Brits have, no doubt, looked in some initial puzzlement at American males talking about “lube” and gym socks as an aid to masturbation. Why on earth would they do that? We think. Well, they do that because they’re circumcised, and they have therefore been robbed of the benefit of a nice, soft, sliding foreskin to render such aids wholly unnecessary. 

    I am not an anti-semite and I will continue to insist that infant circumcision is child abuse, and that it must be outlawed.

  22. I always wondered, do you suppose it could be possible for a circumcised adult to sue the doctor who did the procedure without his permission? That would be good to set a precedent which would then deter other health professionals from continuing the practice.

  23. What are these detractors thoughts on female circumcision? None of them talk about it in the same context.  

    “anti-Semitism of medieval Europe” typical knee jerk, not based on facts comment

  24. Shorter version…

    Wah! wah! wah!

    Is it not about time someone realized they were a little to old to keep sucking that dummy…?
    Time to grow up and and wear long trousers sonny!
    But make sure they do not chaff your willy…otherwise we might have to cut it off!

  25. If you want to mutilate the genitals of a child, or go out of you way to campaign for the right of others to do this, you are mentally ill.

    Just take a step back and THINK about what you are saying.

  26. spiked, an independent online phenomenon dedicated to
    raising the horizons of humanity

     

    “Phenomenon”? How pretentious. (The words after it are pretentious too.)

     

    waging a culture war of words against misanthropy,
    priggishness, prejudice, luddism, illiberalism and irrationalism in all their
    ancient and modern forms.

     

    When does anti-atheist prejudice, some of which this article embodies,
    get the same treatment? What about infants’ right not to have parts of their
    skin removed with a knife for no medical reason?

     

    The rebranding
    of circumcision as ‘child abuse’ echoes the ugly anti-Semitism of medieval
    Europe

     

    That logic cannot be valid, because it would imply any group against whom
    we have historically discriminated should be able to get away with anything in
    the name of that which makes them members of that group, e.g. their religion. Some
    actors have been discriminated against; that doesn’t mean that they should be
    allowed to commit perjury, which amounts to “acting” in court. Besides,
    circumcision is far from uniquely Jewish; the case that led to this judgement
    concerned a Muslim family. Why doesn’t this echo “the ugly Islamophobia of
    modern Europe”? At least echoing modern Europe would make sense; people today
    don’t care to continue Medieval nonsense for the most part. The reason this
    possibility isn’t considered is because, being a Telegraph journalist, O’Neill
    doesn’t worry about the rights of Muslims as much as he does the rights of
    Christians or Jews.

     

    There are
    many bad things about the modern atheistic assault on religion. But perhaps the
    worst thing

     

    Therefore, if your
    argument against said worst thing is bad, you presumably have no real case for
    that first sentence, so even saying it contravenes all those lofty aspirations
    above.

     

    has been
    redefined by anti-religious campaigners as “abuse”

     

    Given that the existing
    definition of abuse has been used to make the case such allegations are
    factually accurate, it cannot constitute redefining anything, any more than I “redefine”
    a crime when I argue in court someone previously not punished for it is in fact
    guilty of it.

     

    demonise the
    practices and beliefs of people of faith

     

    Exactly; it’s not the
    people who are being demonised. This is in sharp contrast with, for one thing,
    the historical use of the word “demonise”; it originally means to accuse others
    of being agents of evil. That really is going after people themselves.

     

    [it’s an
    ugly conclusion that] circumcision for religious purposes causes “bodily
    harm”, against boys who are “unable to give their
    consent”, and therefore should be outlawed.

     

    Does O’Neill contest that it does cause bodily
    harm, or that the boys are unable to give consent, or that we generally think
    those two facts together are sufficient to outlaw something? The problem here
    isn’t that religion is being critiqued; the problem is that O’Neill thinks
    religion should uniquely be exempt from ordinary assessment criteria. Bear in
    mind the people who say this are the same people who say this, among others, is
    a measure we should take to help religion flourish because of how it makes us
    better. By definition, religion can’t both enhance and reduce our moral
    responsibility; if it makes us better people, facts should bear that out when
    it’s assessed the same way as everything else.

     

    If anyone does contest the cause of bodily harm,
    let’s look at the facts. Skin is removed with no anaesthetic in a highly
    sensitive region of the body. The children involved are newborns. It causes
    lifelong reduction in the ability to orgasm. The skin is typically removed by
    literally being sucked off, which causes high transmission rates of herpes.
    These aren’t trivial things.

     

    freedom of
    religion and on parents’ rights to initiate their children into their faith

     

    You don’t own your
    children; they should form their own opinions. This isn’t even a matter of what
    freedoms we wish to grant parents in our society; it’s a matter of fact,
    because children “initiated” into a faith nonetheless aren’t true adherents of
    it until they’re old enough to know they think its claims are accurate. When
    does that happen? Perhaps earlier than at the age of 18, but certainly nowhere
    during infancy. Ultimately, O’Neill’s argument can work only if religious
    rights not only exist, but specifically that impositional religious rights
    exist in parents and decisive religious rights do not exist in their offspring
    at this young age. And even if that is true, it still means you’re deliberately
    exploiting a “they’re mine to control” window rather than seeing what decisions
    they will make when that window closes. Religion is the only idea in our
    society which thinks it deserves to be able to convince people but also thinks
    it will be significantly less able to do that if it waits until people are old
    enough to think for themselves.

     

    The court
    case centred around a four-year-old Muslim boy

     

    *A boy of Muslim parents*. What’s so hard about
    that? A four-year-old is no more a Muslim than he is a member of a Trade Union,
    to paraphrase Marcus Brigstocke (he discussed a four-year-old’s possibility of
    being a Christian).

     

    the
    precedent set by the case will of course affect Jews as well as Muslims

     

     

    The precedent will affect *everyone*. The
    difference is only certain groups are evil enough in their practices (note
    again it’s not the people I’m calling evil) to need to alter their course in
    the light of this law. There are, it seems, some bad things currently only
    bankers do; but that doesn’t mean making them obey a new law we must all obey
    would be discriminatory. Au contraire; one law for all is the only fair form of
    law. But as I noted before, people like O’Neill call for a double standard of religious
    exemptions.

     

    the court’s
    ruling is “an egregious and insensitive measure”, which represents
    “an unprecedented and dramatic intervention in religious communities’
    right of determination”.

     

    They say that second part like it’s a bad thing.

     

    Jews have
    the freedom to circumcise their male children in every country in the world –
    but soon maybe not in Germany.

     

    That doesn’t mean Germany
    is wrong. All legally protected rights are due to laws prohibiting their
    infringement. Whichever nation introduces such a law first will initially be
    the only one. I don’t know where slavery was banned first, but it was the only
    nation where people didn’t have the freedom to keep slaves. Now, slavery isn’t
    legal anywhere (as is my understanding) – certainly nowhere decent.

     

    [Jews] were slated for callously
    snipping off their own boys’ foreskins and for secretly desiring to do the same
    to Christian boys, too.

     

    Given that the historical trend O’Neill compares
    this ruling to lied about how Jews sought to interact with the *children of
    Christian parents*, he is unfair to make that comparison.

     

    These “merciless” creatures were
    described by one English writer as “foreskinne-clippers”. The modern atheist’s
    description of circumcision as “child abuse”, though used to attack both Jewish
    and Muslim communities, is only an updated, more PC version

     

    Firstly, O’Neill repeatedly says the Muslim-too
    thing is irrelevant to the causation, but he never proves it. Secondly, he’s
    again conflating criticising a person with criticising what they do. The
    historical trend was to call Jews merciless *creatures*; today, *circumcision*
    is called child abuse. Again, he’s saying “you’re the same as these other guys”
    when the very facts he uses to try to substantiate it prove otherwise.

     

    They are effectively using
    children as human shields, as a cover under which they and their beloved state
    might interfere in both family life and the realm of religious conscience in
    order to reprimand people for believing the wrong things and carrying our
    “cruel” practices.

     

    Arguing you shouldn’t treat children a certain way
    isn’t using children to further other ends; it’s doing children a service even their
    parents do not. Whether or not any other aspects of religion later come under fire,
    the children’s situation won’t be used as a pretext for any later verdicts. How
    do I know I am right and O’Neill is wrong? Because, again, he twists what’s
    happening. No-one is to be punished for their beliefs, and no-one is to be
    punished for carrying out practices which are cruel-in-inverted-commas.
    Circumcision isn’t cruel-in-inverted-commas; it’s cruel as a medical fact.

     

    What is being attacked here is
    the fundamental right of parents and communities to pass on their beliefs to
    their offspring.

     

    And when we asked parents not to smack their
    children, *the fundamental right of parents and communities to*… Look, the fact
    we must all concede here is the rights of children and/or their parents must
    have limits here, because of where they rub against each other. Where do we
    draw the line? A new liberal movement is arguing we need to make parents more
    responsible.

     

    History tells us that the
    rebranding of religious practices as child abuse can have terrible
    consequences. Many anti-Jewish pogroms in the past were justified on the basis
    that Jews abused children. The FBI’s insane
    invasion of the headquarters of the Branch Davidian religious cult
    in Waco, Texas, in 1993 was likewise justified on the basis of halting child
    abuse. That led to the deaths of 82 people – 28 of them children.

     

    Either we’re going to do those things again, or we’re
    not. If we’re not, it doesn’t matter. If we are, our world will have to change
    in some implausible ways first; for one thing, we will have to go backward from
    democracy to theocracy. Ironically, people like O’Neill often want such
    changes.

  27. I don’t think it’s as simple as it looks. In my opinion, it’s too soon to outlaw circumcision. I also consider the practice to be a barbaric ritual, but outlawing at this time will most probably cause a rise to religious fundamentalism. This is not the kind of decision that can be taken by one judge in one court case.

    • In reply to #39 by Dane:

      I don’t think it’s as simple as it looks. In my opinion, it’s too soon to outlaw circumcision. I also consider the practice to be a barbaric ritual, but outlawing at this time will most probably cause a rise to religious fundamentalism. This is not the kind of decision that can be taken by one judge…

      I confess to being somewhat ambivalent about the issue myself although for probably different reasons to you.

      Whilst disliking the practice of male circumcision (and female circumcision too, I may add) and inclined to think that it is a practice that should only be practiced on adults with their consent, I nonetheless get the feeling that it can (and probably will) be used as an attack on political Islam and as a sort of cultural ‘battering ram’ to attack non-western cultures in general and make them conform to a set of values not their own. I am inclined to think that this desire on the part of westerners to create a universal set of moral and socio-cultural values could be seen to constitute a form of cultural imperialism and that attempts to impose cultural hegemony upon societies unwilling to accept such values that they see as attacking their sense of identity, if not sensitively handled, could ultimately backfire and encourage militant resistance of both the religious and secular variety.

      Apropos, I think that only when the United States of America gets behind the campaign to ban male circumcision will it go truly global.

      • In reply to #129 by Ipse Dixit:

        In reply to #39 by Dane:

        Whilst disliking the practice of male circumcision (and female circumcision too, I may add) and inclined to think that it is a practice that should only be practiced on adults with their consent, I nonetheless get the feeling that it can (and probably will) be used as an attack on political Islam and as a sort of cultural ‘battering ram’ to attack non-western cultures in general and make them conform to a set of values not their own.

        Surely a ban on male circumcision would be as much an attack on Judaism as Islam ?

        Most people have stopped using the phrase “female circumcision” because most of the practices it encompasses are far more severe mutilations than your typical male circumcision. It has been replaced by “female genital mutiliation” to emphasise, particularly amongst the uninformed, this important distinction. Look it up on wikipedia and you will see what I mean.

        Opposing FGM is not opposition to Islam in particular. It is opposition to a barbaric cultural practice.

        Michael

        • Surely a ban on male circumcision would be as much an attack on Judaism as Islam?

          Indeed it would, as may be to many secular people living in the USA and indeed Christians too in so far as they engage in the practice and justify it on religious grounds.

          Most people have stopped using the phrase “female circumcision” because most of the practices it encompasses are far more severe mutilations than your typical male circumcision. It has been replaced by “female genital mutilation” to emphasise, particularly amongst the uninformed, this important distinction.

          Actually, because it is such a sensitive subject the word mutilation was dropped and I’m given to understand that the official name given to it by the UN is Female Genital Cutting, which goes to show that it’s still a touchy subject and not a cut-and-dried issue. Plus, the words most people must be qualified by saying that these people tend to live in the West or are those living elsewhere who are western educated; it does not necessarily refer to the majority of the population in the countries where it’s practised.

          Opposing FGM is not opposition to Islam in particular. It is opposition to a barbaric culturalpractice.

          So it’s opposition to Islam in general? Again, this is a controversial subject in the countries where it’s practised and because it touches upon issues relating to cultural identity what may pass as a ‘barbaric’ custom to outsiders may be seen as a necessary rite of passage to those communities that practice it.

          • In reply to #131 by Ipse Dixit:

            Interesting I hadn’t noticed this change to Female Genital Cutting (FGC). A quick google shows WHO still with FGM, UNICEF using FGM/C, and the New York Times using FGC.

            Do you understand the motivation ? Is this a genuine cultural relativist belief that people in other cultures don’t suffer like us or we don’t have the right to interfere ? Or is it a political belief that if we call it something nicer they might give it up quicker ?

            Thanks – Michael

  28. Why should you make a special exception for religion? It’s either child abuse, or it isn’t, and everyone should follow the same set of rules. If I was a member of a religion which advocated murder, then should the law allow me to murder people in the interests of “freedom of religion”

  29. I’m sorry did they stop for a moment to hear the opinion of the ones circumsied? I have been circumsieed and I firmly beleive it is a form of child abuse.

    You cut a piece of that child’s body!!! in the name of religion. It is shocking how some religions show some much interest with the way child genitals look. It is digusting, mad and inhumane.

    Yet again, common sense outgrows religion.

  30.  

    If people shouldn’t be disgusted by this ritual, then why did the
    Telegraph choose a cute picture of grandad holding the baby, rather than
    the Rabbi making the cut?

    Simple framing.
    The apologists are falling over themselves to ingratiate themselves with the barbaric muppets.
    None more so then some media outlets that boast a high percentage of Zionist patronage within their ranks.

    Dane
     

    I don’t think it’s as simple as it looks. In my opinion, it’s too soon to outlaw circumcision

    No it is that simple …it is child abuse…it should never have been permitted in the West in the first place!

     

    it’s too soon to outlaw circumcision

    So some child abuse is more privileged then other child abuse?

    Listen up please…the religious fanatics of all stripes look for accommodationism as their chink in the secular armour…they have no compunction of using whatever leeway they find to behave like utter moronic cretins whenever and wherever they want, and they keep pushing because they are never ever satisfied.
    They want their delusion to to be the main  point of existence…for EVERYONE!
    And every major religion plays that one handed game of ‘paper scissors rock….they win!’

    Playing softly softly will not make any transition to a rational society any less difficult, in fact it will prolong it and allow bitterness to fester into outright hatred, which in a few religions it already has, this you can tell by the rhetoric used against atheist and atheism.
    They are not interested in dialogue…the three Abrahamic delusions are much of a muchness on that point…the nuts do not fall far from the tree apparently!… by the same token the time for dialogue passed at least 1500 yrs ago when they started importing their insanity into Europe.

    And governments back pedal and play sycophantic toady because accommodationists pretend that is the civilized way…in the meantime show me the ‘civilization’  in chopping a babies willy…and I will show you a civilization based in barbarism and bronze age mysticism.
    This has nothing to do with hygiene, that is just the weak excuse they hide behind, about the only one they have before falling back on religious traditionalism.

    In the year 2012CE it is more then about time this irrational bollix was discarded as the nonsense and child abuse it really is!

  31.   OP – Everything from sending your kid to a Catholic school to having your
    baby boy circumcised has been redefined by anti-religious campaigners as
    “abuse”. This use of emotionally loaded language to demonise the
    practices and beliefs of people of faith has reached its ugly and
    logical conclusion in Germany,

    The usual psychological projection (theist mirror specs) of the bigot playing victim, claiming others are bigoted for criticising his irrational bigotry!

    This use of emotionally loaded language

    Gazoinggg!!!  – another irony meter wrecked!

  32. As George Orwell once said, “just because the Daily Mail says it’s Tuesday, that doesn’t mean it isn’t”.

    I fully agree that Medieval anti-semitism was a very nasty thing indeed. There are few who do not. But just because Medieval christians sought to ostracise jewish elements from their societies, that doesn’t mean they didn’t have a point when they noticed how barbaric and abusive the ritual mutilation of babies was.

    But okay, let us assume for the sake of argument that nobody in the Western tradition is capable of making an objective judgement on the issue of circumcision because of the centuries-old cultural connotations the practise has. Let us assume that we are all incapable of scientific objectivity on the matter of the ritual mutilation of infants. Fine. How do we settle the matter? Well, a good way would be to ask someone who isn’t in the Western tradition and doesn’t even know about, much less care about, the history of jewish and islamic cultures in Europe. What would an entirely unbiased observer from a country that has never had circumcision think?

    Funnily enough there are over a billion such observers in places like China, Japan and Korea. And, funnily enough, they tend to find the practise incredibly creepy and distasteful when it is explained to them. In places where there isn’t this cultural anaesthesia of tradition, nobody thinks it’s a good idea.

  33. Just because something is a “tradition” doesn’t mean it isn’t stupid and cruel.

    Cultural equivalence is what got us in the UK into the mess we’re in right now.

    We’re not perfect, no culture is, but we need to stop taking what we have for granted, because it was hard won, and precious.  

    Employing the euphemism “child abuse” when talking about the rape of children by priests softens the edges of the crime in the name of catholicism, when calling it by its real name reveals the profound visciousness of the physical act and the degree of betrayal of trust by the individual who perpetrated the assault.

    Gloves off say I.  

  34. Mr. O’Neill has to understand that anybody will keep the right to get circumcised. As long as they are able to decide it for themselves. What becomes illegal is to “force” a genital mutilation on someone. Religion and tradition are no license to be immoral.

  35.  “What is being attacked here is the fundamental right of parents and communities to pass on their beliefs to their offspring.”

    No. It isn’t. What is being forbidden here is the mutilation of new born babies. Since when were beliefs passed on with a knife?

    O’Neill must know that allowing comments would instantly open his misanthropy, priggishness, prejudice, illiberalism and irrationalism to robust rebuttal. He’s a coward and a fool or a coward and cruelly amoral sycophant. Either way despicable.

  36. I was circumcised for medical reasons as a child because of a water infection. I do wish that an alternative had been investigated like antibiotics. However I can’t remember having a foreskin and mine works perfectly well thank you. However at least my parents felt there was justification medically at the time. I just find it incredible that this medieval practise is still going on in this day and age and people like Brendon O’Neill are defending it. Circumcision is a substitute for sacrifice but what if a religion called for an actual sacrifice? Would he be defending the “parents’ right” then? These are not anti-religious issues, they are anti-child abuse issues and it’s about time that people like Mr O’Neill stopped trying to muddy the waters by trying to suggest its anti-Semitism and imply we’re just like the Nazi’s in world war two! Too many children are suffering actual bodily harm in this practise but it’s just not publicised. I would also argue that Americas tendency to have their boys circumcised for hygiene reasons should also be outlawed. The German decision is a brave one and I sincerely hope that this catches on in other countries.

  37. So atheists are guilty, by association, with medieval jew haters? Methinks the gentleman doth protest too much! In fact ii’s a while since I have read such gale force windbaggery. Of course we know from St John’s gospel how much the Christians are supposed to blame the Jews for being Christ’s killers!

    If I removed a hair from the Queen’s head, I would be locked up and charged with assault. If a rabbi sucks and bites off the foreskin of a newborn baby boy then that’s okay in O’Neil’s book, because it’s traditional and part of a religion. Well it’s not okay in my book. Circumcism, for religious reasons, is a disgusting and atavistic ritual, designed with control in mind.

  38. Many secularist campaigners are cock-a-hoop about the ruling. They believe their description of circumcision as “child abuse”, as a cruel operation that ignores the UN-guaranteed “rights of the child”, is radical and caring. But in truth it echoes centuries’ worth of nasty anti-circumcision posturing by people who hate certain religious faiths.

    In truth? No, merely in your imagination Mr O’Neill. Whatever you think it might echo, the ruling gives adult men the chance to decide if they want parts of their bodies removed rather than permit their parents decide for them.

    What about female genital mutilation? Should we overturn that ban on religious grounds, or perhaps because it “echoes” some past episode of religious intolerance? 

  39. Let’s see if this is applied in the UK:-
     

    From Monday anyone who deliberately causes or allows serious physical
    harm to a child or vulnerable adult faces up to 10 years in prison.

    Taking effect in England and Wales, it also enables prosecutions of people who stay silent or blame someone else.- The new offence, the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims (Amendment) Act 2012, is due to come into force on Monday. -  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-1

  40. Whether a child remembers or not is no excuse…nor is it a mitigating circumstance!

    Abuse has been committed.

    Using that logic if the defence of a paedophile can state I am not guilty cos the kid was to young to remember, I rather suspect that would not particularly impress a judge!

    What do you think?

  41. This article is excellent evidence that pointing out to people that it is abusive to inculcate or to perform surgery for reasons of faith alone on, children and babies who are unable to defend themselves, is actually hitting home.

    It IS abuse to tell children stories as facts.  It IS abuse to slice off the foreskin of a baby without medical need. 

    I don’t suppose it is pleasant to hear this given that it is impossible to refute or deny.

    So to defend it, one must call it faith and freedom of faith and compare the attack on these practices to medieval anti-Semitism.

    That’s right: pointing out simple truths about religious practices is nothing short of medieval anti-Semitism.

    I did hear during a television debate, the chief rabbi, Jonathan Sacks, defend circumcision on health grounds; unfortunately, no-one pointed out that we don’t whip out tonsils and appendices of newborns as preventative surgery, nor did anyone take up the notion that gentiles do perfectly well with penises as god intended.

  42. ‘This is an alarming attack on freedom of religion and on parents’ rights to initiate their children into their faith.’

    No it isn’t.  It is concern that children’s rights to not being violated and treated cruelly are thrown upon the floor and danced upon in the name of fucking yahweh (inter alia Allah, doG).

    This article is an alarming attack on common sense and on children’s rights not to be initiated by mutilation rite into medieval batshittery by their delinquent parents

    When will religios get it that freedom of religion does not extend to harming others EVEN if that other happens to be your own issue! 

  43. Wow, the article seemed reasonable until it dove over a cliff in the last paragraph describing the raid on Waco as “insane”.

    As Desmond Morris said, if it wasn’t an ancient ritual and someone tried to introduce it, they would be arrested for child abuse.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v

    A Bris is more horrible than one can imagine. After the flesh is severed it is soaked in wine and placed on the baby’s lips so it can suck wine from its own flesh. It is totally morbid and sick. Antisemitism is a vile plague on humanity, and sadly there are reasons for it. Not only is the mutilation an issue, but they chant as they do it. It’s like a satanic ritual from Rosemary’s Baby.

    The Jews are peculiar. Like an insect trapped in amber, they preserve the otherwise lost chapters of the human story. They also carry the burdens of that barbaric era. While the Desmond Morris clip I provided states the Egyptians began the practice for magic ritual, others believe the practice began in order to make soldiers better rapists (decrease bacterial infection), as that is how war has been waged for most of history. This horrifying practice has most horrid origins.

  44. “The rebranding of circumcision as ‘child abuse’ echoes the ugly anti-Semitism of medieval Europe”

    One could argue the rebranding of circumcision as “child abuse” sounds the beauty of pro-human rights in contrast to the barbaric act of sexual mutilation.

    “There are many bad things about the modern atheistic assault on religion.”

    Such as?

    “an egregious and insensitive measure”

    I would say that about sexually mutilating your son.

  45.  The word “rebranding” is used in the original article. This is entirely appropriate as circumcision is nothing more than the branding of helpless infants to mark them as the property of Judeo-Christian establishments. I am still feeling hacked-off about it myself. The word “rebranding” is used in the original article. This is entirely appropriate as circumcision is nothing more than the branding of helpless infants to mark them as the property of Judeo-Christian establishments. I am still feeling hacked-off about it myself.

  46. The word “rebranding” is used in the original article. This is entirely appropriate as circumcision is nothing more than the branding of helpless infants to mark them as the property of Judeo-Christian establishments. I am still feeling hacked-off about it myself.Reply The word “rebranding” is used in the original article. This is entirely appropriate as circumcision is nothing more than the branding of helpless infants to mark them as the property of Judeo-Christian establishments. I am still feeling hacked-off about it myself.Reply

  47. I cant help but think there is something in an argument for ‘pre-emptive consent’ – similar to the medical case for it.

    If we take it as a given* that the parents will indoctrinate a child into the religion then by the age of, say, 5 the child – now able to speak and express desires – will affirm consent to the circumcision that was already performed at 8 days old.Shouldn’t this religiously motivated pre-emptive consent be honoured, in accordance with people’s expected future desires, in the same way medically motivated pre-emptive consent is?

    *I know bringing up a child in a religion is arguably abuse but that is a different issue.

  48. I don’t understand how protecting ‘Jewish’ children is echoing anti-semitism, surely we would be going after ‘real’ Jews if we were against them wouldn’t we? Also, I’m literally astonished that this is still an argument. People need to step up and put these things in the spotlight because as long as no one notices, no one cares. It wasn’t for reason (alone) that this question was brought up, as with nearly every law or policy or whatever we first needed a victim, so it’s already too late for that poor boy but, as with Mohamed Bouazizi, let’s honor him, make ‘him’ heard and go for perestrojka in policy and glasnost in religious practices ;).

  49. There is some medical evidence suggesting that circumcision *may* be beneficial in certain circumstances – it may reduce the transmission of AIDS, for example, and also the possibility of penile cancer – but overall the medical evidence is not conclusive. An adult man can, however, choose to be circumcised if he believes that this will be beneficial to his health.

    We do not pre-emptively remove girls’ breasts to prevent breast cancer. Nor should we circumcise infant boys for *possible* medical benefits. We certainly should not do so for any other supposed reason.

  50. It is just a troll for web traffic, “no comments” because the publishers know exactly what it is.

    My questions are:

    Why is this site linking to this tasteless nonsense?
    Why are you passing page rank in the link to such sites that are so tasteless. Check out Tim Farley at Skeptools.com for more background.

  51. This is how the Telegraph bills O’Neill:

    “Brendan O’Neill is the editor of spiked,
    an independent online phenomenon dedicated to raising the horizons of
    humanity by waging a culture war of words against misanthropy,
    priggishness, prejudice, luddism, illiberalism and irrationalism in all
    their ancient and modern forms.”

    Are we having an Irony aneurism yet?!?

  52. I wonder what the outcome would be if the age to be circumcised was raised to 18.  How many young men would willingly agree to have the operation knowing there would be no local or general anesthetic?

    Alan J.

  53. “This is an alarming attack on freedom of religion and on parents’ rights to initiate their children into their faith. “

    Yes it’s appalling. The world is going to pot when one cannot ritually sacrifice virgins to the sun god any more. And it’s a disgrace that we can no longer chop off the heads of our enemies and ritually use them to play football with. And don’t get me going on the scandalous ending ( I blame that Galileo guy ) to being able to have a damned good witch burning on a Saturday afternoon instead of all this namby pamby football using plastic balls rather than heads.

    Ye Gods…..what is the world coming to !!

  54. “There is some medical evidence suggesting that circumcision *may* be beneficial in certain circumstances…”

    I’m not convinced. The practice of circumcision seems to be too well defined by culture and geography. If it’s that healthy how come the far East haven’t taken to it? And surely 3,000,000 years of evolution would have selected it.

  55. There will never be freedom until the clergy, all clergy, is forced to keep its filthy, perverted hands off of the genitals of children, all children, boys and girls.  Equating the slicing of genitals with religious freedom does nothing but expose the toxicity and pathology of all religion and the perverse effect it’s had on the human mind for thousands of years.  Imagine walking into a church, mosque, temple or whatever and as you walk in the sky pilot meets you at the front door with a razor in his hand and announces to you that he (or his appointee doctor) is going to slice part of your penis off whether you like it or not because he has been appointed by God to do so.  This IS what is happening to children with our complicity for thousands of years.  We must clear our brainwashed minds of this issue and see it for what it is, perversion of the most vile sort.  Stupid, goddamned religious bullsh*t …

  56. “Brendan O’Neill is the editor of spiked, an independent online phenomenon dedicated to raising the horizons of humanity by waging a culture war of words against misanthropy, priggishness, prejudice, luddism, illiberalism and irrationalism in all their ancient and modern forms.”

    Seriously?

  57. Genital , or other, incisions under the claims an elitist god is going to select you whilst those not doing so are subordinate – is an insult to human dignity on every level : 

    It reserves the rights to psychologically abuse and physically abuse the human race by direct action or deselection of the unabused; 

    It reserves the rights to claim neuron real estate over  predominantly uneducated individuals (children or even oppressed/vulnerable adults); 

    It reserves the rights to claim political immunity and recourse for its barbaric actions as if indeed some rational all powerful mind had sanctioned this; 

    It reserves the rights to garner financial benefits based upon what are cruel and bullying tactics; 

    It reserves the rights to insist and use military force to insist these bullying demands are tolerated by others; 

    It reserves the rights to claim others are perpetrators of crimes who even think of considering it less than worthy of respect;

    It reserves the rights to demand servility from the rest of humanity for its arrogant and dictatorial claims by insisting the human race per se submit entirely to its borderline personality disordered demands and the psyche of similar attributes it propagates in its subdued rank and file. 

    It doesn’t get any worse than this: the cotton pickers only know how to pick cotton so they are tied to the fields of sackcloth whilst their leadership and higher rank sail the markets of empire and opulence. 

    Alas we arrive at Occam’s razor: why ought the rich and powerful deliver the slaves from their cotton picked foreskins, when it can be used for financial advantage? The banker cartels have interest in your genitals and your children’s, no? The good life can be secured uopn the imaginations of the masses. It has monetary value and affords absolute power,  so why sacrifice this for the sake of other’s free minds and lifestyles? Heaven is already here for those wielding the knife so why release it?

    Upon these principles most of humanity is built: exploit and exploit till the exploited applaud your success at their own demise, nay fight to the death for your rights to do so, by delusion or revolution. 

    Occam all ye fearful,
    Drug of faith,
    Or drug of field,
    Delusion pays your triumph,
    Corrupted by my secret motives.
    Come ye O come ye,
    Confused and then misled,
    Gind your bones, 
    Then make my bed,
    Die and save my head,
    My heaven now whilst yours is death!

  58. Oh dear.

    Haven’t we got better things to be fighting battles about? We atheists shouldn’t be associating ourselves with being anti-circumcision. Bad circumcisions are an abomination but properly done circumcisions really aren’t.

    I don’t agree with them but I haven’t seen any evidence to indicate that they cause harm to the vast majority (>99%) of babies who have the procedure carried out by medical professionals.

    Let’s be pragmatic about this.

  59. Good News !

    As of Friday, 29th of June, the ruling of the Cologne court is legally binding, because the religious party did not appeal it.

    Reports are trickling in now, of hospitals having stopped offering this particular “service”, among them the Jewish Hospital in Berlin.

  60. There are many bad things about the modern atheistic assault on religion.>/blockquote>

    I know! It’s terrible! -  The strain on fumble-brained preachers, who are suffering the cruelty of being forced to try to learn to think RATIONALLY, or even update their bronze-age world view by studying scientific evidence!  OOOoooh! the brain-pain! 

    Those atheists will be rubbishing their childish assertions next, and forcing them to look at FACTS as intellectually mature adults do!! — Horrors!!

  61. The problem with any religious acts upon a child especially at that age is that it can obviously have no say in the matter and is therefore being indoctrinated into its parents beliefs just to enforce its parents attitudes.  Again it is no surprise that a right wing newspaper such as the torygraph would then employ such fear spreading hysteria such as this.

  62. People of faith are simply going to have to get used to having their comfort blanket tugged at by rationalists; it’ll probably take time for their petulance to die down, but I’m confident that the thinking communuty will give them as much help as they need.

    After all, no one can grow up in a day, and those courageous individuals who’ve come out already are getting along well in the real world.

    Patronizing, condescending tone fully intended, because I’m sick and tired of being talked at as if I’m a child by faith heads, and from now on will give as good as I get.

      

  63. Oh dear.

    Haven’t we got better things to be fighting battles about? We
    atheists shouldn’t be associating ourselves with being anti-radical mastectomy. Bad radical mastectomies are an abomination but properly done radical mastectomies really aren’t.

    I don’t agree with them but I haven’t seen any evidence to indicate
    that they cause harm to the vast majority (>99%) of women who have
    the procedure carried out by medical professionals. In fact they can save women from breast cancer. So let us do  radical mastectomies on women, without their consent, whether or not they show signs of or are predisposed to breast cancer.

    Let’s be pragmatic about this.

  64.  

    Haven’t we got better things to be fighting battles about? We atheists
    shouldn’t be associating ourselves with being anti-circumcision.

    Atheists and citizens in the USA certainly have the bigger issue on the same questions of hospitals and doctors profiteering from carrying out unnecessary operations, giving a very limited service to most people, and appallingly bad value for money compared to other developed nations.! 

    The graph linked here shows the comparative cost of health-care by-country.  The red line of the USA should have a clear message for its citizens!

    http://thesocietypages.org/gra

  65. Perhaps if a ‘circumcised-as-a-child’ adult began a court case against the rabbi/temple/parents that carried out the (ahem) ‘operation’ against his will and sued them it could set a precedent? How could he lose?

    Also I wonder if Mr O’Neil would defend female circumcision in the same way or attack anti-female cicumcision campaigners as Islamophobes.

    What if a religion dictated that all young boys should be fitted with Prince Alberts? (Oouch)

  66. Isn’t circumcision violating ‘gods creation’. Does god have a foreskin? Why did he ‘design’ human males with foreskins if he wanted us to chop them off?

    These are questions for the believers. Wonder how they would wriggle out of those.

  67. Cutting the flesh is branding the child as a member of a dogmatic cult. It is an awful practice that serves no other function beyond physically marking the child and providing an opportunity for a tribal ceremony necessary for the reinforcement of belief.

    Inculcation of young minds is the real crime. Teaching children to believe in primitive superstitions and training them to believe these things without question or evidence, in other words priming their minds to be uncritical and lazy, is the real crime. After all, if the children were not ensnared the cult would inevitably fade away as the feedback loop is broken.

    Eliminate the pollution of impressionable young minds and successive generations will be spared physical mutilation and free us all from the real danger of armageddon brought on by the sick minds of the true believers.

  68. For many years now, when I’ve seen arguments that female circumcision is a barbaric Islamic practice, the come-back was that it’s nothing to do with Islam, but a ‘cultural’ thing. But now we find that an attempt to stop the practice of male circumcision is countered with the argument that it’s an attack on religious freedom.

    Would Mr. O’Neill would like to defend female
    circumcision, it being an attack on parents rights to initiate their children into their faith? Or is he of the opinion that it’s only cultural and so can be safely labelled child abuse?

  69.  “I’m a little surprised that medical professionals everywhere don’t seem
    to advise against this “unnecessary” procedure more often. If something
    isn’t broken…”

    Does ka-ching ring a bell?

  70. My purely practical concern here is that such (completely laudable) changes in hospital practice may place more children at risk of botched circumcision. Many religious parents denied access to the procedure under hospital conditions will resort to traditional practitioners in their religious communities – assumedly exposing their children to increased risk of infection and/or errant incisions. I do not forsee many observant Muslims or Jews abandoning the practice without very harsh enforcement, and even that will likely create a pretty active “underground” circumcision market.

    I fear that this (clearly abusive) practice is so deeply entrenched that some amount of inevitable harm will occur during a protracted campaign to marginalize it out of existence.

    Oh, and from a purely PR perspective it is unfortunate that the opening shot in this battle should be fired in Germany of all places. Surely this will result in more and louder cries of “Anti-Semitism!” than would have arisen in any case.
     
    All that having been said, I heartily agree with the German court and applaud this first step in the right direction.

  71. Jewish life in Germany will completely break down within a month, what with all these infant boys having their G’d’s magic rays blocked by foreskins and making it impossible for Him to form the traditional covenant with the male babies.

  72. I’m not just an atheist. A pragmatic atheist states that for all practical intent and purpose, God is not an active agent.
    I am a humanist as well, which is why pain inflicted on babies for no very good reason and completely disregarding their basic human rights FUCKING MATTERS.

  73. From a legal viewpoint, circumsiscion is illegal. Case closed. But of course, some idiot has to come in and shout “discrimination”!!! I agree that anti-Semitism should not be tolerated, but neither should bodily harm inflicted upon babies for no reason other than centuries of dogmatic idiocy. I was not circumsiscised because my parents thought I should be free to pursue whatever future I wish, and not be initiated into somebody else’s ideals. To quote Dawkins: “there is no such thing as a Muslim child, and no such thing as a Christian child. There are just children.”

  74. Sorry, what?! You just defined an atheist. Not a pragmatic atheist. Pragmatism doesn’t come into your definition.

    You also seem to share one of the issues many atheists, including me, suffer from: an inability to debate without getting angry and, as a result, resorting to belittling the other person’s views or, in your case, swearing.

    I have seen no evidence to show that correctly carried out circumcisions cause significant pain or suffering when carried out as a baby, or that the procedure results in any loss of sexual enjoyment. Of course there are instances where things have gone wrong but those are usually where the procedure has not been carried out by trained medical personnal in a medical environment. A good friend of mine was circumcised as a young adult for medical reasons and although it hurt at the time he doesn’t seem to have sufered any long-term consequences.

    I’m disappointed that people on here – people who should know better – seem to be jumping on the bandwagon without first stopping and asking to see EVIDENCE. If you know of any studies on the matter then please show me.

  75. - Kieran Madden –

    So, now you have illustrated two subjects where you have not looked for the evidence and then demanded that others refute your vacuous assertions  Where have we heard, “You can’t DISPROVE my assertions”, before?

    – …. and although it hurt at the time he doesn’t seem to have suffered any long-term consequences.

     

    How do you know?  This sounds like hearsay and speculation, rather than evidence.  There are several explanations already earlier in this discussion.

    I’m disappointed that people on here – people who should know better –
    seem to be jumping on the bandwagon without first stopping and asking to
    see EVIDENCE

    Irony meter explodes!!!

  76. I was circumcised when I was about 32 for medical reasons, I can tell you that having enjoyed an active sex life before hand and afterwards, there is (for me) a loss of enjoyment. 

    Had I been cut as a child I obviously wouldn’t have a bench mark for comparison, so stating that a circumcision as a child results in no loss of sexual pleasure is technically correct, but in reality it’s a nothing statement that can not be justified or taken seriously.

  77. As an ethno-cultural Jew from former USSR, I was neithe circumcised nor practiced Judaism in any meaningful way. Upon coming to U.S>, for personal reasons, I underwent circumcision in my early 20s. Although I am currently an atheist, I don’t regret having undergone the procedure, nor find intercourse less enjoyable as the result. Having said that, I believe undergoing circumcision should be a personal decision by an individual old enough to consent in an informed fashion. Given my experience, I resolved to allow the same freedom of choice to my future son. Fortunately, I just had a daughter, and was able to avoid the inquiries from friends and family. Until someone  provides a reasonably compelling medical reason for the necessity of childhood circumcision, it simply should not be performed. Having said that, I can see how among legitimate objectors to the practice, bigots might have seized upon it as a pretext to condemn Jews as a group. 

  78. The Virus that causes AIDS is a organism that evolves by random mutation acted upon by natural selection that  enables it to handle drugs designed to fight it.
    By definition it has an effect on evolution.

  79. You got it in reverse. natural selection in general allows for the frequent random mutations resulting in increased tolerance. Most viruses and bacteria , due to frequent reproduction, will eventually develop resistance to a new drug.  

  80. I think we might be saying the same thing, and I misread your initial comment. I think we can be in agreement that the viral meds provide the selective environmental pressure which acts upon random variation in a rapidly replicating organism to select for a particular trait, in this case drug resistance.  

    I think I raised issue with the wrong part of your post. If you are claiming that AIDS has an effect on human evolution, that is certainly true. However, whether that effect resulted in some pronounced evolutionary change in our specie is arguable, and unlikely. Although the virus may provide the necessary selective pressure, humans don’t reproduce at a rate even close to that of viruses preventing any rapid change. As far as I know, the most recent known evolutionary change in a human population occurred several thousand years ago. 

  81.  

     TheOneRealIgor – However, whether that effect resulted in some pronounced evolutionary
    change in our specie is arguable, and unlikely. Although the virus may
    provide the necessary selective pressure, humans don’t reproduce at a
    rate even close to that of viruses preventing any rapid change. As far
    as I know, the most recent known evolutionary change in a human
    population occurred several thousand years ago.

    While HIV and AIDS have only been recognised recently, forms of the virus have been around for a very long time.

    While recognisable major changes may be triggered from time to time,  evolution is a constantly on-going process.

    http://www.avert.org/origin-ai… – HIV is a lentivirus, and like all viruses of this type, it attacks the
    immune system. Lentiviruses are in turn part of a larger group of
    viruses known as retroviruses. The name ‘lentivirus’ literally means
    ‘slow virus’ because they take such a long time to produce any adverse
    effects in the body. They have been found in a number of different
    animals, including cats, sheep, horses and cattle. However, the most
    interesting lentivirus in terms of the investigation into the origins
    of HIV is the Simian Immunodeficiency Virus (SIV) that affects monkeys,
    which is believed to be at least 32,000 years
    old.

    .. …. ..

    Their final findings were published two years later in Nature
    magazine3 . In this
    article, they concluded that wild chimps had been infected
    simultaneously with two different simian immunodeficiency viruses which
    had “viral sex” to form a third virus that could be passed on
    to other chimps and, more significantly, was capable of infecting
    humans and causing AIDS.

    These two different viruses were traced back to a SIV that infected
    red-capped mangabeys and one found in greater spot-nosed monkeys. They
    believe that the hybridisation took place inside chimps that had become
    infected with both strains of SIV after they hunted and killed the two
    smaller species of monkey.

    They also concluded that all three ‘groups’ of HIV-1 – namely Group M,
    N and O (see our strains and subtypes page
    for more information on these) – came from the SIV found in P. t.
    troglodytes, and that each group represented a separate crossover
    ‘event’ from chimps to humans.

  82. I think we might be saying the same thing, and I misread your initial comment. I think we can be in agreement that the viral meds provide the selective environmental pressure which acts upon random variation in a rapidly replicating organism to select for a particular trait, in this case drug resistance.

    Yes that seems likely..at least that is how I read it but thought it best to clarify my post!

    I think AIDS is an evolutionary organism…certainly seems to have perked up from the crowd around 30 odd years back with a vengeance.
    There are opinions that in fact it has been lurking in the gene pool but only started turning really anti-social around 1884 and 1924 before then completely unknown…and as they say if it walks like a duck and quacks like one it is unlikely to be a mongoose.

    Strange similarities with the black death the Yersinia pestis bacterium.
    Not a virus as such but recent work seems to cast doubt that the black death was a bacterium…it seems that has characteristics with an evolved branch of the Ebola virus…possibly a mutation.
    But given the mechanism and speed of infection Yersinia pestis as the perp seems less likely…and I digress.

    Horses never had a problem with the Black death…even though bitten by the fleas, in fact documentation and reports suggest the folk back then realised the import and actually slept with their horses during outbreaks and infection rates were significantly lower.

    Edit…Sorry I missed a whole paragraph out here in this post….

    No one seems sure why infection rates seemed lower…
    Theories tend to centre on the fleas not being attracted by horse pheromones, and therefore folks in the horses miasma were not bitten by the Yersinia pestis carrying fleas…It also brings into the equation the remote possibility that the Black death was a two fold contagion.
    The virus…tentatively considered a possible Ebola mutation…and one of the close infection vectors was the Yersinia pestis carrying fleas, it is unclear if the flea had to be a Yersinia pestis carrier but as a co-conspirator that cannot be ruled out.
    Maybe the Yersinia pestis bacterium was infected by the viral mutation.
    I do not know if there is any substance to the tale…it does seem far fetched…but now’t as weird as biology.

    I think there is a genetic link between these haemorrhagic nightmares anyway and they roll into each other.

    But certainly I would think that AIDS has nudged the human evolutionary story some what.

    There is a recessive allele in a gene, for example that seems to bestow immunity.

    In the prostitutes in Africa and a rather well documented case of a homosexual man that slept with infected partners during the epidemic in the States that gene is apparently expressed.
    They regularly came into contact with the virus with no ill affect.
    Eyam was a village in Blighty where a quarter of the residents survived the plague…apparently descendants tend to have this rare recessive component expressed.
    Horses have it naturally!

    There is a causal link and I do think it is evolutionary.

    I doubt it would be pronounced but it is a factor.

    As far as I know, the most recent known evolutionary change in a human population occurred several thousand years ago.

    Yes indeed but the environment has been somewhat tamed in the last several thousand years.
    Food, welfare, and medical science has reduced substantially the selection pressure maxim.

    We are fairly comfortable compared with our distant forbearer’s.
    Evolution is not so critical to us…at the moment.
    Well that is my take on it.

  83. “There are opinions that in fact it has been lurking in the gene pool but only started turning really anti-social around 1884 and 1924 before then.”
    I remember reading about that. There is evidence suggesting  HIV outbreaks dating back to 1800  The possible outbreaks were identified in reports of disease outbreaks bearing identifiable characteristics of PCP. It appears that HIV was not as virulent during those times. 

    But yes, AFAIK, many viral and bacterial pathogens that affect us evolved along with our specie, in some instances jumping from our genetic similar due to a random mutation. Of course, for most part, humans also developed biological defenses limiting the overall impact of pathogens. I haven’t thoroughly looked into it, but allegedly Native Americans who migrated to the Americas towards the end of an ice age across a frozen passage, underwent a form of sterilization where the cold quickly weeded out the carriers and lowered the transmission rate. As a result, Native Americans enjoyed a relatively healthy life, with their population numbering in 100 million by some estimates by the time the Europeans arrived.  And we all know what happened next. 

  84. Circumcision is a sort of like branding a steer. It marks the child as belonging to a religion.
    It is done without anaesthetic, without consent. Done to an adult without consent it would be considered aggravated assault.
    My brother had it done as a teen and told me it was very painful.
    There is usually no medical need for it. It can be postponed until the child is old enough to give consent.
    The original motive was to dull sexual pleasure, the same as female circumcision. The child’s benefit has nothing to do with it.
    It is a very high handed thing to do to another. Religion is no excuse. Consent should be required.
    The hypocrisy of advocating male circumcision while protesting female circumcision is based on excusing the sins of one’s own religion.

  85. This charge of anti-semitism really gets silly. I had  it thrown at me when I said:

    1. I don’t think Israel should have nukes. At the every least they should submit to inspection.

    2. The religious land claim of Jews to modern day Palestine is ridiculous.

    3. More Palestinians than Jews have died in the conflict.

    4. AIPAC has too much influence in US politics

    5. I don’t think circumcision, male or female should be imposed without consent.

    It is often any comment about curtailing the activities of Jews is interpreted  to mean I want them all killed. I think some of them have a mindset that they are still living in a death camp and need every scrap of power over others just to survive. Anything negative is a veiled death threat.  The problem is, Israel creates a sort of air-tight echo chamber where the same ideas endlessly reverberate.  The ideas revolve around paranoia, Jewish superiority and the importance of tradition. It needs fresh air.

    I am so fond of Jewish food, Klezmer music,  Jewish humour… I want them to enjoy their lives too.

  86. Most primitive cultures include circumcision as part of the coming of age ritual.  It is not exactly consensual, but at least  more so than doing it to infants. Some non-orthodox sect could move the ceremony to the Bar Mitzah.

  87. I am just afraid that the court decision will be overturned by a higher court, because once someone here in Germany has mentioned the word “anti-semitism”, even if it’s completely inapplicable, politicians and the media and everyone else will usually bend over backwards to show they are not anti-semitic – and they will throw reason and humanity out of the window in the name of appeasing people like Mr Graumann from the “Zentralrat der Juden”, who was spouting nonsense as soon as the decision was made public. No-one in Germany seems to understand that it’s about the right of children not to be mutilated, not about making life difficult for Jews or Muslims. Even people like Volker Beck, of the Green Party, which always tries to present itself as a champion of human rights, is against this ruling – all in the name of “religious freedom” and not discriminatig against minorities. Well, it’s their problem if they feel discriminated against, on account of their prehistoric, primitive religion…

  88. Foreign minister Guido Westerwelle (FDP) and Green Party chief Claudia Roth, sadly in a spasm of dimwittedness, have also instantly come out against the ruling. This is in part the result of the continued fallout from the Vergangenheitsbewältigung – the ongoing, largely self-imposed (and heartily encouraged by the purveyors of the Holocaust Industry*) need of Germans to appear to eternally do penance for the sins of their (by now grand and great grand) fathers.

    Hopefully this court’s ruling can also be seen as a further step in Germany, along with the theses of Thilo Sarrazin, towards finally allowing reason and evidence instead of historical guilt and political correctness take precedence in arriving at positions.

    *http://www.youtube.com/watch?v

  89. If atheists would start tattooing an “A” onto their children, to express their conviction and the desire that the next generation will uphold their parent’s world view – there would be an outrage.

     

     

    But it is naturally excepted that religion is heritable.

    In Germany parents are legally the religious guardians until the child is 14 years old. Baptizing babies (who have oh such a great understanding of the religious believe they are joining) may be entirely pointless, but if you leaves Christianity their is no label on your body to tell the world. If a muslimic or jewish boy decides against his faith – he is marked for life.

  90. I think that it has something to do with the voting procedures within these organizations with the countries that practice FGM/FGC either outvoting western countries or otherwise blocking the vote somehow.

    As for the motivation, my guess is that it’s twofold:

    • For those countries where female circumcision exists as a social practice I think it’s because they don’t want what is part of their culture to be denigrated by insensitive, know-it-all westerners using overtly derogatory language about an issue that is to them more nuanced and complex, touching as it does on issues of national pride and self-identity.

    • For Europeans and Americans it’s probably merely a tactical concession where, not wanting to be bogged down over petty things like what it’s called, they get straight down to the task of problemitizing, stigmatizing, delegitimising, pathologising and criminalising the practice. If calling female circumcision genital cutting works better with non-western audiences than genital mutilation then UN aid agencies like the WHO and UNICEF are quite happy to use such a term. In the West where concerns over cultural sensitivities aren’t an issue the more emotive term FGM is used and where they are, the term FGC is preferred. To these organisations it’s just a cynical exercise in public relations: how best to get votes, donors, money and power.

    I think that arguments about cultural relativism apply to this issue and your (loaded?) question about whether human beings in other cultures can experience suffering is not really the right kind of question: of course they can but that’s the wrong question; the question should be whether the people in that culture see it the way we do or whether they see it differently because how each of us sees the world is dependent on our upbringing, which is in turn influenced by our culture.

    And as for this right to interfere…? I think we should ask ourselves some hard questions before we begin interfering anywhere. Questions like:

    1. Where does this supposed right come from? God? The US Congress? The UN?

    2. Will the effects of our interference make things better or worse?

    3. Do the people we’re trying to help want, or even really need, our help? What’s stopping them helping themselves?

    4. How has the West ‘helped’ in the past 50, 100, 300 years?

    John

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