General Question

Rarebear's avatar

German court bans religious circumcision. Bigoted antisemitic and antimuslim court decision or human rights triumph?

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321 Answers

ml3269's avatar

They said, it is the children’s right affected: A child can not decide, if he likes to let it be done… for that: To protect the right of the affected boys.
Understandable. O.k. – I am not religious. Easy for me to say that.
Circumcision on its own has advantages… for that… not a tragic thing. But without medical indication you should ask before… asking an adult person…

laureth's avatar

“Bigoted antisemitic and antimuslim court decision or human rights triumph?”

Why can’t it be both?

DrBill's avatar

human rights triumph

I am religious, and changing God’s design is wrong.

tinyfaery's avatar

Ok by me.

JLeslie's avatar

I have been thinking about asking a Q to men who have been circumsized if any of them wish they had not been. So, the timing of this question is good.

Not everyone is circumsized for religious reasons. My sister, she is a nurse and not religious, if she had a boy she would 100% have her son circumsized because of what she has seen while practicing nursing. I seem to remember our ID specialist jelly on other Q’s also being pretty adamant it was a good idea for health reasons. Of course there is controversy over this point, but it does seem there is an argument to be made over the parents right to make health decisions for their children.

I am loath to think it is antisemetic or antimuslim. Many European countries don’t do circumcision routinely as we do in America, or as we did in the past. There is a movement in America not to do it also, especially among certain ethnic groups. I know in some European countries they have also made illegal some of the ways kosher killing of animals was done. It seemed to me it was a humane ruling, not antisemitic.

SuperMouse's avatar

I think it is a bad idea to ban religious circumcision because it is infringing on one’s freedom to worship, or not to worship, according to their own beliefs. I am not weighing in on circumcision here, I am just uneasy about a court getting involved in matters of faith.

bkcunningham's avatar

Germany is becoming more and more statist toward parental rights and religious freedoms. This is what being progressive looks like.

CWOTUS's avatar

Oh, shit, @DrBill. So dentists are out? Orthodontists? Physicians of all sorts? There goes the pharmaceutical industry en masse… and healthcare in general, I suppose.

Let’s see… beauticians and barbers can look for work as… I don’t know, certainly not tanning booth operators. They’ll be out of work, too. Fitness instructors, yoga trainers… no work for them.

What I want to know is… “Who pressed charges against the doctor, anyway?”

JLeslie's avatar

@DrBill I thought you were Jewish?

ragingloli's avatar

Human rights triumph.
I always said that circumcision violates the baby’s right to bodily integrity, and now finally there is legal backup.

Mariah's avatar

I don’t really think of this as a religious rights issue. A religion may say that one must sacrifice a virgin during every full moon to please its god, but that doesn’t mean we can’t ban people from killing young girls.

I’m not saying it’s the same thing, or even comparable. But if there is truly no health advantages to it (and I know that isn’t well agreed upon, some people do argue that there are health advantages) then it’s just putting an infant through pain and suffering for no good reason and without his consent. And I think it’s okay to ban something like that, even if some religions do call for it.

gorillapaws's avatar

@Rarebear You’re the MD, what’s the latest science say about the health benefits (if any) of circumcision? Is good hygiene sufficient?

@JLeslie I was snipped at birth, and I’m told that makes me more desensitized than those who aren’t. I frequently have a hard time “finishing the job” when I’m with my girlfriend, and I do sometimes wonder if it wouldn’t be an issue if I still had my foreskin.

I also agree with @Mariah that religious freedom doesn’t extend to acts committed on another who is unable to give consent.

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Rarebear's avatar

@gorillapaws There are some possible health benefits to circumcision, but not enough to warrent doing it regularly in the first world. There is little to no evidence that circumcision causes any psychological damage. Also there is little to no evidence to suggest that circumcision affects sexual performance.

And yes, I know people will read my answer and go to the internets to find some web link or another. But read the methods of the paper before you post, not the conclusion.

gorillapaws's avatar

@Rarebear that’s interesting. I’ll defer to the science then.

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gorillapaws's avatar

@JLeslie One analogue might be a clitoral hood piercing. I’ve heard anecdotes that the piercing causes intense stimulation initially from walking around or doing normal daily activities, but over time they become desensitized, especially after they remove the piercing. I don’t have a clitoris and I’m unaware of any research so I have no idea if this is true or not. Also, based on @Rarebear‘s post, it seems there’s a good chance that circumcision leading to a reduction in sensitivity may be a myth.

If we assume that the latest science is accurate, then the issue of the original question becomes (at least in my mind): “If there’s a physical procedure with limited to 0 medical benefit, and limited to 0 harm that involves physical mutilation of another human without their consent for religious purposes, is this practice ok?”

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bookish1's avatar

Wow…Now this is a Problem of Knowledge…

Knowing what I know about Germany, I am inclined to think it is both especially anti-Muslim bigotry AND a self-congratulatory human-rights victory…Hope this doesn’t cause riots or worse. I am pretty sure it would in France.

Lordy… Pretty much every male-assigned person with whom I have discussed this topic, who has been snipped, regrets it. One of them has never forgiven his parents for being cowed into making that decision, and he’s restoring his foreskin. But in the U.S., it is still widespread because of medical groupthink about ‘cleanliness’ and outmoded tradition/‘normalcy’, not for religious reasons.

As someone raised in a very traditional culture, but who is still alive today thanks to ideas of Western universalism… Holy crap, I can’t even decide how I feel about this.

I would really like to know… Did the same decision ban ‘medical’ circumcision also, or had it already been banned? In other words, can any parents legally decide for their male assigned infant’s tiny genitals to be clipped? Is only circumcision for religious reasons prohibited? I really don’t feel like reading the article; it would just upset me far too early in the day.

[Edit: FWIW, male circumcision is something I always bring up in rhetorical arguments about female genital mutilation. Full disclosure: I am against any kind of infant genital mutilation, including on intersex infants, which is something practically no one talks about. shudders. But I am also against the state interfering with religious practices, and this one is pretty central to some religions, and I’d find it very disturbing if ‘medical’ circumcision were still allowed while only religious circumcision was banned.]

JLeslie's avatar

@bookish1 The men I have known have never complained about being snipped. My sister, working as a nurse, took care of teens and men who did it later in life by their own choice. I personally know a couple men who did it as adults, but I never discussed it with them, I know because their wife or daughter told me. I am sure there are men out there who wish it had not been done to them, but I think most men are fine with it. And, there seems to be some men who wish it had been done. There also seems to be women who prefer a man is cut. Sex and the City did an episode regarding it, and they of course are the gospel on such issues ~. Personally, I have never seen an uncut one in real life, so I don’t have an experienced opinion.

cazzie's avatar

Maiming a child’s body is never OK.

This isn’t just throwing a bit of water on the baby’s head and saying a few words, this is chopping a piece of their flesh off and making them bleed. It is barbaric.

FutureMemory's avatar

I can’t imagine it’s because of religious bigotry, but even if it is I’m OK with it – I mean, come on – chopping skin off a baby because your faith says it’s how things are to be done? Give me a freakin’ break.

Religious freedom doesn’t extend to acts committed on another who is unable to give consent.

Bingo! Way to go Germany. I still wish you hadn’t abandoned your crusade to outlaw Scientology.

mattbrowne's avatar

Religious freedom means the right to be an atheist or agnostic or Buddhist or whatever and circumcision isn’t required for that. I’d say a Jewish or Muslim teenager can still make the decision to get the circumcision. But undoing it is a bit more difficult.

There’s a lot of outrage going on in Germany right now… Another court might overrule this decision. Or the lawmakers need to clarify the issue.

tedd's avatar

Circumcision is child abuse, end of story.

I applaud the German court.

tedd's avatar

@JLeslie Then let the man choose to do it when he is old enough to make the decision for himself. There are zero benefits to being circumcised, and you’re literally chopping off part of the penis. There’s no reason that should be done to an infant. And frankly, I don’t give a damn what is popular with women. I’ve had feminist-leaning women yell at me for suggesting I prefer a woman who has a shaved vagina…. how does this not register going the other way?

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JLeslie's avatar

@tedd I am not arguing for or against circumcision on this Q, that isn’t what this Q is about. I understand people feel very strongly about the topic, we have argued it to death on other Q’s. I was just stating my experience, the men I know. I know other people think it is horrific to do to a baby, I am not trying to change any minds here.

Paradox25's avatar

This does raise some other potentially interesting questions. Should a child be forced to adhere to any type of religion, or even non-belief, before they are able to consent to it? This issue does have the potential to branch out into other facets as well.

Where does this law stand on circumcisions for hygiene reasons? The article only mentioned that circumcisions were banned for religious reasons. Many people such as myself were circumsized for hygiene reasons, not religious ones. Personally I’m glad that I was circumsized as an infant, even without my consent, but others may not share my feelings on this. I guess that either way this is still going to be considered a human rights issue.

tedd's avatar

@Paradox25 The hygiene argument is a joke. How about we just teach our kids to wash themselves, rather than chop off part of their genitals? I think the idea of taking off part of an un-knowing infants penis in the name of hygiene, when the same (or better) results can be attained by simply teaching the kid to properly bathe themselves…. is even worse than doing it for a religious purpose.

SuperMouse's avatar

I guess that when this is viewed alongside female genital mutilation and considered in the same light, limiting even religion based circumcisions it is not such a bad thing. I think that over the years we here in the US may have become desensitized to the idea of circumcision and the unalterable choice we are actually making for the baby boy. I know that when my boys were born I left the decision up to their father because since I don’t have the equipment I figured I didn’t have much standing to make the call. If I had it to do all over again though I would have insisted that none of them be circumcised.

The problem for me is limiting religious freedom and @bookish1‘s point about the cultural and political reasons behind Germany passing such a law is important to keep in mind in my opinion.

JLeslie's avatar

@tedd You might be interested in this link. At the bottom there are stats and studies about STD’s, HIV, and other infections circumcised v. uncircumcised. It seems there is a strong argument to circumcise in areas of very high HIV infection. Studies were discontinued in Africa because the group that was uncircumcised were acquiring infection at a much higher rate.

Washing does not necesarily keep away yeast infections. That has more to do with the area being moist.

LittleLemon's avatar

I just have to jump in on this. I’m going to agree with @laureth and @bookish1 and say that I believe this is both a case of bigoted anti-semitism/anti-muslim and a human rights triumph. Let me be clear, though that the reason for my “stance” (if you could even call it that) is because I’ve walked down both of these roads. Growing up religious, and choosing atheism as a young adult has caused a knee-jerk reaction in me to call the German court’s decision a breakthrough for modern society. On the other hand, I can’t help but feel as though it’s going a step too far.

@Paradox25 On drawing a similarity between this and instilling a religion in a child early on – you took the words right out of my mouth. I feel this issue is very similar.

I think the big concern for most people against this movement is not the movement itself, but what it symbolizes. If they’re not allowed to circumcise their child (for any reason), what could logically come next? No ear piercings for young kids (although a big “boo-hoo” to that one), and possible enforcement on a much larger scale. I could see this easily turning into a mandate for or against a wide array of vaccinations, if any major scientific evidence crops up in the future. However, I’m gonna jump on the uncut ship and set sail with my family. The boyfriend and I have already had this discussion in the early stages of our relationship, and if we have a boy in the near/far future, he will remain uncut (and taught proper hygiene).

Nutshell is – I love the windsock. Go Germany!

CWOTUS's avatar

It seems to me to be… much ado about not much at all. Another misuse of state power, whether to require or prohibit various parental actions in regards to their children.

Speaking as a circumcised male, I think I can say with some authority that male circumcision can hardly be compared to female genital mutilation. It’s like comparing a house fire to the Dresden bombing: somewhat similar outcomes locally, with vastly different methods and intents and long term consequences.

I like @laureth‘s point. It’s a case of the State acting through force to make two wrongs out of one.

What bothers me is the insistence to rely on the State to pass laws and enforce the norms of some groups onto all citizens. So, really, what is next? No ear piercing for girls, certainly – or should that be required? Should we also enforce – under penalty of law – hair length, makeup, and clothing? That is, clothing choices outside of the jurisdictions where school uniforms are de rigueur?

I also had my tonsils taken out while I was no more than five years old. I don’t think that was entirely optional; I think there was a health issue involved at the time. But tonsilectomies were common enough operations of the time that many of us didn’t ask “if” but “when” we had them removed. I haven’t heard of kids having their tonsils removed now in decades. So I’m sure that it didn’t “have to be” done. Maybe I should be more bitter toward my parents and the doctors they chose…

Blackberry's avatar

One can always do it later, of their own volition.

Rarebear's avatar

Just FYI, here is an overview of the Jewish Brit Milah. Happens at 8 days old
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brit_milah

Here is an overview of the Muslim Khitah. Timing isn’t as specific.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khitan_(circumcision)

tedd's avatar

@JLeslie So you’re suggesting we circumcise children, because the odds of them catching an STD if they have intercourse with an infected person is less than if they weren’t circumcised? Have you heard of condoms? I guess when I have a son I don’t need to tell him to practice safe sex, I’ll just have him circumcised, problem solved!

Here’s an idea. Instead of playing Russian Roullette with 5 bullets, you should play with 3, because you’ll have much less odds of blowing your head off.

And since we’ve debated this on this site in the past, I can already tell you the various studies I’ve seen, especially those located in Africa, are very largely funded by the Catholic Church…. who I’m sure has no dog in the race.

tedd's avatar

@CWOTUS I can also speak as a circumcised male, and plainly point out that you are simply desensitized to how barbaric the act is. It can’t be compared to the genital mutilation you hear about in females, because in those cases they’re just chopping off the clitoris or what have you. But believe it or not, women have their own version of the “foreskin” that is chopped off in men. Would you not consider it abuse if someone opted to clip that foreskin in an infant girl?

And you’re comparing tonsillitis to a circumcision? There’s a pretty huge difference, in that leaving the tonsils in can cause you to die…. There is no medical reason behind circumcision.

LittleLemon's avatar

@tedd I stopped reading after “they’re just chopping off the clitoris”.

JLeslie's avatar

@tedd I provided it for your information, not to convince you of anything. The studies are accepted by WHO. I questioned the studies when cited by Shilolo here, he is an Infectious Disease doctor. As far as I know Catholics generally don’t get circumcised around the world. I am just fine with whatever a parent chooses, I am not pushing for more or less circumcision.

I really don’t understand how anyone compares male circumcision to female. Women are left extremely damaged, many times unable to have sex without pain, urinary troubles. It is done to stop girls from touching themseves. To purposely prevent them from peasure. The intent is totally different.

Tonsilectomies were done as a matter of course by many doctors years ago, without significant health reasons.

bookish1's avatar

@JLeslie: Mutilating an infant’s tiny genitals is mutilating an infant’s tiny genitals. They get no say in the matter.

tedd's avatar

@JLeslie The resurgence of circumcision in the US, that made it so popular here despite the prevalence of any religion that practices it… Was that it was a way to prevent your child from masturbating, which could potentially lead them to a life of sin. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_male_circumcision#Male_circumcision_to_prevent_masturbation

So I outright challenge that assumption that “the intent is totally different” for starters.

The only difference is the magnitude of mutilation being done. But like I pointed out, would it not still be considered child abuse if I say… pierced part of an infant childs vagina?

@JLeslie As for the studies in Africa that you’re pointing to. The results seem to suggest that areas with mass un-circumcised penis’ are much more prone to STD’s. But Europe and India, both areas with significantly lower circumcision rates, have the same or even lower rates of STDs. And this is all ignoring the simple fact, that circumcision is not and should not be a substitute for simply practicing safe sex.

@LittleLemon I’m sorry that apparently mention of chopping off part of a females genitals offends you, while we are talking about chopping off part of a males genitals.

bookish1's avatar

@tedd: Yeah, I’m with you wrt the idea of “reducing” the spread of HIV through increased circumcision. Sounds pretty damn racist to me. “It’s ok, Africans can’t understand safe sex, better we just tell them all to get circumcised at birth, that’s the best we can do for them.” Mods, feel free to cut this out if you think it’s off topic, but this **** gets me worked up.

LittleLemon's avatar

@tedd I hope we could all agree that the intent is certainly different in today’s society. Whether or not it began as a barbaric ritual is not the question. The logic that people hold in the modern world is. Name me one parent who circumcises their boy to keep him from masturbating. And please name one parent you know who would circumcise their baby girl for cleanliness.

The offense came from you attempting to play the minimizing game in reference to male vs. female mutilation.

JLeslie's avatar

@tedd Seriously? You think a girl with her clit removed, sometimes with her vaginal entrance also sewn can touch herself for pleasure and engage in sex like a circumcised man? Give me a fucking break! I am not saying because male circumcisions does not result in such horrific consequence that it is a reason to circumcise males, I am only saying to compare them as equal procedures and the results that follow is complete misrepresentation. If you want to argue that any type of cutting is unnacceptible, I am fine with that argument, but please don’t say circumcised men suffer the same consequence as young girls in Somalia who cannot have sex due to their circumcision that is total and complete bullshit.

If you read what I wrote I said in area of high incidence of HIV infection. It’s not like I think HIV magically happens in uncircumcised men, and in my link I questioned the study also. I am perfectly willing to look at all the information and question it, you seem to be on a rant, and coming after me, when I have no problem with people who are against circumcision.

Are you circumcised?

JLeslie's avatar

@tedd Read up, in case you are unaware of exactly what female circumcision is. It varies a little, there are different types.

JLeslie's avatar

@bookish1 It is not racist. It was based on a study in Africa. It is not regarding African Americans. Uncircumcised and circumcised men in Africa.

tedd's avatar

@LittleLemon Well quite frankly I’m offended that you find this plain mutilation of a male child to be acceptable, so we’re even. And if you’d bothered to read on rather than stopping right there, you’d have noticed that I was specifically stating that it isn’t the same as just chopping off a clitoris, which is obviously much more extreme. The equivalent would be cutting their own foreskin. But that doesn’t make circumcision any less barbaric. What purpose have you for circumcising a child? The hygiene idea is a joke, the STD idea is even stupider than that.

@JLeslie One, calm the f*ck down and read what I typed. I never said it was exactly the same as a female having her clitoris chopped off in Africa. But I pointed out that the rebirth of circumcisions popularity in the US was most definitely brought about for the same reason… To prevent masturbation or touching yourself. Clearly circumcision isn’t as drastic as sewing shut a vagina or chopping off a clitoris, does that make it any less barbaric though?

And that’s exactly the argument I’m making. There is no reason whatsoever we should be taking a scalpel or knife to any infants genitals.

And I’m ranting against you because you’re posting false, or stupid information that I can prove wrong just by pointing out the obvious (hygiene, take a bath… STDs, wrap it up, etc, etc).... Ignorance such as that is what keeps people thinking that there are good reasons to circumcise young boys.

Yes I am circumcised.

If someone wants to get circumcised when they are old enough to make the decision for themselves… then so be it. But we should not be mutilating any childs genitals in the name of religion, hygiene, STD prevention, or masturbation-prevention. End of story.

cazzie's avatar

This is a real issue for States of Europe. We take in asylum seekers from all over the world and they bring their religious practices with them. While we want to respect their cultures, we have a VERY difficult time accepting their practice of mutilating their children’s sexual organs. Norway has outlawed female circumcision, but what happens is that they bring their daughters back to Morocco or Somalia for ‘vacation’ where it is done there. The girls are encouraged to go to a health professional if they fear this may be done to them and there are systems now in place to keep them safe. There is NEVER a justification for female genital mutilation.

Boys, on the other hand, are a different matter. Because it has been held in the collective consciousness as ‘cleaner’ to be circumcised, the practice of male circumcision is more difficult. Keeping it legal means that doctors can perform the procedure. If it becomes outlawed, it means that the procedure will be driven underground and it will be performed in less than ideal circumstances. Men in robes who are more practised with prayers than with sterilisation and medical techniques will be involved and that will add to the already horrible increase in infection and mortality rate.

I think the practice of female circumcision is rightfully outlawed, but must be with support for the young girls. They need a place to run to if they are feeling threatened.

As for boys, I think that it should be seriously discouraged, but not outlawed. Parents need to be educated about the choices they are making on behalf of their children. I wouldn’t tattoo the forehead of my son with my beliefs, so why should anyone remove the foreskin of their child for theirs.

LittleLemon's avatar

@tedd Okay, now I know you’re baiting me. Fine, I’ll bite. If you’ve read my response earlier at all, you’ll see that we’re not on opposing sides. If I ever have a son, he will not be circumcised. This is something my partner and I have chosen a long time ago. The part I’m assuming we’re butting heads on is whether or not anyone has the right to do this, in which case, I don’t feel 100% comfortable taking this right away from anyone. Unfortunate for some, I don’t feel strongly enough to forbid anyone from practices involving themselves or their children. It is simply not for me to say. In the case that a parent should perform an illegal act involving them or their child, then it’s quite a different story.

I cannot speak out on the matters of European politics, but if this were a ruling in the states, I would certainly raise an eyebrow to it. I don’t feel it entirely necessary for courts to intervene on a procedure that is performed with the best intentions (regardless if they are ill-founded or not). Most parents who participate in their boy’s circumcision feel that they have to do it now before the child has grown and it causes them more pain to get the procedure done later. I feel that the biggest problem is ignorance, which is not going to be curbed by setting government mandates. Parents should already be doing enough research to make an informed decision about the well-being of their children in the first place. Simply taking the option away from the parent is not going to educate them on why the mandate has been passed.

All that to say: I see both sides of the argument. That’s what I intended to convey in my very first response here. As for your stance on male vs. female circumcision, I’m assuming your mis-wording led you astray there, leading @JLeslie and I to believe you were playing the 1-Up game with gender politics. I’m glad to see we’re both in the “either one is pretty god-awful” camp.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@tedd Hey, I get that you’re upset about male circumcision. But here’s a pro-tip: don’t call it “just” the clit, and don’t use the pain of foreign brown women for your own purposes. There are other ways to justify your case, without belittling others. Stop comparisons to FGM.

JLeslie's avatar

@tedd Nothing I have provided is false. If you questions the studies I respect that. If you can overcome cultural obstacles and get more men to use condoms, I am thrilled about it, whether we are discussing circumcision or just basic safe sex practices.

FutureMemory's avatar

“Just the clit” would be like saying “Just the head of my dick”.

Rarebear's avatar

So to those people who agree with the German court decision I have some questions for you.

Let’s say you have a Jewish couple, both professionals, who have their son undergo a brit as Jews have been doing for thousands of years, and freely do all over the world. You would be in favor of those parents being thrown in jail and their child being taken away?

Will this lead to underground britot (pleural of brit—ironically a female word)?

Will this lead to people going across the border to Switzerland or France to have the brit? If the brit is done in Switzerland, and the parents come back, would you rip their baby from their arms and throw them in jail then?

What about when the child gets older and goes to school. Are you setting them up to be ashamed of their anatomy as some seem to be on this thread and give them a complex? Worse, would they be singled out for ridicule? Is this something that you’re prepared to support?

rooeytoo's avatar

MYOB, if a kid wants to sue his parents later for the “mutilation” then let him do it. In the meantime I’m more concerned with starving boys and girls and abused children all over. That is a real concern. Shame people and governments are not more involved in the fight to erase that.

Blackberry's avatar

@Rarebear I assumed people would ignore this law, because how would they go about stopping people from doing this, anyway?

If this is so serious that doors are being busted down to prevent circumcision, then the law is asinine. I’m apathetic about the whole thing, but of course I would not be for locking parents up for circumcision.

robmandu's avatar

(Fuel to the fire)

Just wondering how those that applaud the German court’s decision feel about abortion and “the baby’s right to bodily integrity”. [nod to @ragingloli]

There have always been limits to how far the practice of religion is allowed to go by law. Ritual sacrifice, ritual murder/suicide, etc. are all illegal and no-one has serious complaint. My opinion is that halt to ritual mutilation isn’t yet starting down the slippery slope of government intrusiveness.

Rarebear's avatar

@robmandu So you’d be in favor of sending parents to jail?

I’m not trying to be provocative, I’m just following a logical conclusion to the ruling. If it’s illegal, and people break the law, then they get punished. If you are in favor of the law, you’re in favor of the punishment, otherwise there is no point to the law.

That said, I haven’t read the German ruling. I don’t know if incarceration is the penalty.

FutureMemory's avatar

Parents of circumcised infant boys: Do you remember how long it took your child’s penis to heal?

LostInParadise's avatar

I wonder how many people who have been circumcised think of it as mutilation. I was circumscribed and that thought never occurred to me. Unless there is some evidence that a significant number of people who have been circumscribed wish that the operation was never performed or feel compromised in some way, then I think the German court has overstepped its bounds. It would be claiming to solve a problem that does not exist at the cost of interfering with a religious ritual.

Rarebear's avatar

@FutureMemory I can tell you how long it takes to heal. I used to do circumcision all the time back in the ‘90s. It takes about a week to completely heal, but the infant has discomfort for a couple of days. http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/pregnancy-newborns/caring-for-newborns/infant-care/circumcision.html

robmandu's avatar

@Rarebear, I dunno. Maybe make it a crime punishable only by a fine. Or perhaps just send one parent to jail.

Realistically, not sure how this could ever be proven in a court of law short of video tape evidence or berith raids. Germany is the size of the state of Oregon. And there are plenty of other countries where such a procedure could be legally performed where the family is there over the border and back home on the same day.

FutureMemory's avatar

Thanks, Rare!

Rarebear's avatar

@robmandu Which parent would you be in favor of sending to jail? The mother or the father? Let’s say the mother was Jewish and the father was not. Would you preferentially send the Jewish mother to jail because it is her religion?

And let’s say they did go over the border, would you be in favor of sending the parents to jail when they came back?

bkcunningham's avatar

@FutureMemory, 7 to 10 days. Less time than it takes for the umbilical cord stump to heal and fall off.

robmandu's avatar

@Rarebear, no jail at all if the crime wasn’t in Germany (or perhaps the EU, depending on how that whole thing works). Else, it’d be like an Illinois resident being jailed upon returning home from visiting a legal brothel in Nevada.

I don’t care to discuss the punishment aspect much further, sorry. The criminalization of a globally-accepted religious practice that’s thousands of years old just doesn’t excite me much.

Kinda thought it interesting that something which is so strongly associated with Jewishness would be banned in Germany. As someone who’s visited Dachau and Auschwitz personally, I kinda thought the nation would collectively shy away from any such associations. Ah well.

Rarebear's avatar

@robmandu That surprised me as well. It’s kind of why I asked the question the way I did.

JLeslie's avatar

@robmandu Surprised me too. My impression of most German people in present day is they are very far in the opposite direction of implying in any way anything antisemitic.

However, being a reformed Jew myself, I don’t really feel it is necessarily an assault on Judaism. I generally am very much sided with the rule of law of the country, and if the people who live there have religious beliefs that are against the law too flipping bad. If a country outlaws something because they feel it is it is bad for society or someone needs protection, then that is the law of the land. I think the citizenry has a right to question the law, fight it in the courts, make their arguments etc, but religious reasons usually doesn’t cut it for me.

josie's avatar

One more reason that government should stay out of the church’s business and vice versa.

janbb's avatar

I am trying not to weigh in on this much because I have very personal feelings but I am also surprised that Germany would pass this law.

bkcunningham's avatar

What I’ve gathered from what little bit I’ve read about the issue, a Muslim doctor in Cologne circumcised a 4 year old muslim boy. Two days later the family of the boy took him to be seen by a doctor because of bleeding. Because it was the child’s penis, social services got involved. Someone with social services decided to push the issue as grievous bodily harm to an infant on behalf of the physician. Whomever, a magistrate or judge said no charges should be filed but a prosecutor pushed the matter. He was acquitted and then the charges were upheld on appeal to a higher court.

gorillapaws's avatar

I guess I don’t see why this can’t wait until the child is old enough to decide for himself (say 8 years-old or so). Those with religious convictions can still follow their practice, but it doesn’t involve forcing an irreversible choice on another person.

As far as the punishment goes I think a short stay in jail might be a reasonable enough deterrent, but I think the person performing the procedure should face more severe penalties—something along the same lines as if they performed a procedure without informed consent that left a patient permanently altered. If this person is a MD, they could risk loosing their license to practice medicine.

With regards to female genital mutilation, I think the justification for why male circumcision is wrong is the same: It’s always wrong to perform a procedure with permanent effects and no significant medical benefit without the consent of the person this is being done to. That alone is sufficient to prohibit all similar types of behavior. It would be just as wrong to remove a small piece of the clitoral hood, leaving the clitoris intact. Of course with the more severe cases of female genital mutilation, it’s even more barbaric. In my mind it’s similar to the idea of shooting someone in the head, and burning them alive both being murder, yes one is significantly worse and more cruel than the other, but it was simply enough to take another person’s life to qualify. Likewise performing a permanent physical alteration on another person without their consent is sufficient to qualify as wrong, immoral, and unethical.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@gorillapaws Stop with the comparisons to FGM. Stop. Just don’t bring it up.

gorillapaws's avatar

@Aethelflaed I’m sorry you feel that way, but the reality is that both male circumcision and FGM are wrong for the same reasons, and because of this the comparison is perfectly valid. It’s wrong to steal a little amount of money, it’s also wrong to steal a large amount of money, both actions are wrong for the same reason. The person who stole more money should receive a more severe punishment, but the fact that some are stealing large amounts doesn’t make it ok for others to steal small amounts, or to not talk about the fundamental essence of why theft is wrong.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@gorillapaws No. FGM is a practice that often involves taking scissors or a pottery shard to the clitoris and one or both labias, scraping the inside of the vagina till it bleeds, and then sewing up the vagina with pins or thorns. In order for the wound to heal without losing so much blood as to kill the girl, she must not open her legs for several weeks, meaning she must open herself up to an oft-fatal infection when she pisses and shits on herself and the open wound. It is done solely for the purposes of controlling female sexuality, of preventing her from ever being able to have an orgasm, of making her “virginity” stronger so that it will cause her excruciating pain if she tries to have sex.

Male circumcision as practiced in Germany and America is overwhelmingly a medical professional taking a scalpel to the foreskin of the penis in a largely sterile environment. In Jewish contexts, it is done to create a covenant with G-d in which G-d will now protect that child. If it does reduce sensitivity, it certainly does not reduce sensitivity so much that men cannot ever have an orgasm.

To compare the two is to rely on intense levels of racism and sexism to make your case, in which not only are you exploiting the pain of brown foreign women for your own personal gain, but attempting to make it ok by Othering them as “barbaric”. If you cannot make your case against male circumcision without bringing up FGM, you don’t have a case.

gorillapaws's avatar

@Aethelflaed FGM is wrong because the woman is not able to consent, or forced upon her against her will. Period. That’s the fundamental essence of what makes it wrong. If a woman wants to sew up her vagina or have her clitoris removed willingly with full knowledge of the risks and possible complications, then I have no moral problem with that whatsoever. Circumcising men before they are able to consent is wrong for THE VERY SAME REASON: NO INFORMED CONSENT. This has nothing to do with race, gender, faith, sexual orientation, disability, country of origin, favorite sports team, or whatever. My argument strips all that shit away, distilling it to it’s barest essence. It would be wrong to cut the earlobe tips off of a child, or to tattoo them, or brand them, or otherwise permanently alter them without medical cause without their informed consent, regardless of race, gender, faith etc.

Rarebear's avatar

Like @Aethelflaed I also find the comparison of male circumcision to FGM offensive.

CWOTUS's avatar

Careful, @gorillapaws. Wouldn’t every medical procedure performed on a child under the age of consent (or an adult with insufficient mental capacity to knowledgeably consent) be “wrong”, according to your definition?

gorillapaws's avatar

@CWOTUS no, because those have medical benefits that the child cannot comprehend. As I said above “without medical cause.” There’s also implied consent the spirit of which would apply to the situations you’re referring to.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@gorillapaws Believe it or not, it is actually possible to argue for informed consent without bringing up FGM. People do it all the time.

gorillapaws's avatar

@Aethelflaed I didn’t bring it up, merely defended it’s logical applicability to informed consent. People who wanted to include it were being attacked, I merely defended the argument that FGM and Circumcision are on the same axis of wrong, one obviously much more severe than the other. I take offense to people who try to tell me what I can and can’t use as subject mater for a rational argument.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@gorillapaws Did I say you literally couldn’t? No, because I don’t have modding powers. Did I say it relied on so much bigotry as to make me immediately stop listening to whatever rational arguments you might have, and focus on the fact that you are now using racism, sexism, xenophobia, and trivialization and was Not Ok? Yes. Using FGM in circumcision threads is like the Godwin’s Law of circumcision.

gorillapaws's avatar

@Aethelflaed “Stop with the comparisons to FGM. Stop. Just don’t bring it up.”

That’s pretty clear to me. It’s not racist if your argument ignores race, it’s not sexist if your argument ignores gender, it’s not classist if your argument ignores class etc. My argument didn’t rely on any of those aspects to make a case, in fact it actively avoided those attributes and focused on how my argument was universally applicable in all cultures, applying to all genders, etc.

Aethelflaed's avatar

I’m SO glad I’ve had A Man come along and explain what is and isn’t sexist. Phew! Now I can get back in that kitchen, and don’t have to worry about silly little matters like “covert sexism” and “implicit bias”.

gorillapaws's avatar

@Aethelflaed I could have been a hermaphrodite and my point would still stand. If you want to address a failure in my argument or reasoning, feel free to do so, but trying to dismiss an argument simply based on the gender of the person making the case is an ad hominem logical fallacy. Not to mention it smacks of hypocrisy.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@gorillapaws I’m not saying it’s wrong because your a man; I am saying that the argument is beyond insensitive, that you personally clearly have almost no understanding of gender theory, and that men are not the deciders of what is and isn’t sexist, because it’s up to those who are oppressed to decide what’s oppressing them.

DrBill's avatar

@CWOTUS Seek help.

Dentists do not remove healthy teeth. Physicians do not remove healthy tissue except for the barbaric act of circumcision. Pharmaceutical industry does not give drugs they know will cause harm. Healthcare in general, help maintain the body, not destroy it. Beauticians and barbers do no harm, hair is dead, (that is why it does not hurt when it is cut) , it grows back; foreskin does not. Tanning booth operators do no harm, they even limit the time people are allowed in the booth specifically to insure harm is not done. Fitness instructors, yoga trainers insure the body is healthy and strong, so they do no harm.

“Who pressed charges against the doctor, anyway?” The children who were disfigured have, but because of the laws, by the time a child is old enough to sue them, the statute of limitations has run out.

gorillapaws's avatar

@Aethelflaed I’m sorry you feel that my genderless argument has sexually oppressed you. I cannot rationally understand why this is so. By your same logic I could certainly claim that by trying to limit the scope of my argument, you are oppressing my gender, and trying to silence my feelings on having had a piece of my penis removed before I was able to consent. I’m not going to make that claim, because I don’t think you’re trying to repress men describing their feelings about their sexuality, but the argument would be valid based on your own criteria.

King_Pariah's avatar

Sorta skimmed through, however, I fully support the individual choosing whether or not they want to be circumcised. Therefore I agree with the German Courts, let the individual make the decision when they are able to do so.

mattbrowne's avatar

@Paradox25 – In modern Christianity in Germany teenagers are no longer forced to adhere to Christianity. Teenagers can simply undo the baptism they received as babies by not undergoing the rite of initiation called confirmation. As adults they can send a letter to their church that they want out and that’s it. That’s religious freedom. In many Muslim countries leaving Islam will get you imprisoned or killed.

mattbrowne's avatar

Last night I watched an interview with Dieter Graumann who is the current chairman of the

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

in Germany. He expressed his outrage and said that this is the end of Jewish life in Germany. Although I can understand his outrage I strongly resent the second part of his message. To me this is a clear overreaction. Then he gave another argument against the court’s decision which makes a lot more sense to me:

Circumcision will continue to exist in Germany, but can no longer be performed by doctors because they would break the law. It would be done by quack doctors without medical training thereby causing a lot of damage.

janbb's avatar

@mattbrowne Well, “mohels” who are not doctors but trained in circumcision have been performing them for centuries with rare damage so that may not be a totally valid concern.

mattbrowne's avatar

@janbb – I’m not sure how widespread mohels are in Germany. There must be a reason Graumann voiced his concerns.

janbb's avatar

@mattbrowne Could well be. I didn’t ready the article before posting, I must confess. I know when my grandson was born in Paris, the practices were different than they are in the States.

robmandu's avatar

@mattbrowne, well quacks are possible I guess, but that might be an overreaction. I expect the tradition would continue to employ the same kind of trained experts that performed the rite long before western medicine was established.

JLeslie's avatar

@gorillapaws. When you find a woman who opts for herself as an adult to have her clitoris cut or removed let me know. It does happen for medical reasons, clitoral cancer, or if they have horrible chronic pain due to illness or unknown causes some women have their vulva or clitoris removed, but it is in very extreme circumstance and no woman is happy about it, they are mournful and it is a horrifc decision. I can see arguing a baby should have a right not to be cut unnecessarily, any part of their body, but the argument to compare to female circumcision is downright ridiculous and offensive.

A baby boy heals in 4–7 days I think. An adult takes much longer to heal, and they cannot masterbate or have sex for almost two months post op I think? @rarebear can confirm.

@mattbrowne It seems odd to me to allow a procedure to be done by one group and not another? Meaning legal for Mohels, but not doctors. Either it is legal or not, and must be done in sterile conditions by a skilled and trained person from where I sit. There have been cases of nonsterile conditions in America years ago and I think laws were passed regulating how circumcision is done. I vaguely remember a case, I think in NY, where several infants contracted herpes post circumcision, which is very very serious in infants, and that changed some laws. I wonder if Germany had taken in the past the procedure out of the hands of Mohels for health concerns? Just guessing as to why there might be very few Mohels in Germany who can perform the procedure.

However, @bkcunningham‘s post implies people in the religion, not doctors, are performing the procedure. However, at the age of four it sould be done with some anesthetic in my opinion.

bkcunningham's avatar

@JLeslie, I certainly didn’t mean to imply any such thing.

janbb's avatar

In France if it is not done by a mohel at a bris at 8 days and the parents want it done, it is done when the baby is 6 to 10 months old under general anesthesia. It is a much simpler procedure when done to a newborn than to either a baby or an adult.

JLeslie's avatar

@bkcunningham Did I misunderstand your post? I apologize if I misinterpreted it. Wasn’t it a 4 year old Muslim boy who was not healing well?

bkcunningham's avatar

According to every report I’ve read, the procedure was done by a doctor, @JLeslie.

bkcunningham's avatar

Yes, it was a 4 year old boy and the case goes back to a circumcision performed in November 2010 by a physician in Cologne. The doctor, the parents and the boy were Muslims.

gorillapaws's avatar

@JLeslie the point is, if such a situation arose, it would be ok because it’s her choice. It’s not COMPLETELY beyond the realm of possibility. I know there’s a passage in the Bible that says something to the effect of: “cut off the thing that makes you sin,” or something to that effect. I could see an extremely zealous Christian woman taking that passage very literally, and wanting to mutilate herself. The point is still moot however, since the example I gave is a thought experiment and it’s valid even if it never happens in real life. Women have a right to make decisions about how they do or don’t modify their own bodies when there’s no medical necessity, just as everyone else does (no mater what race, gender, sexual orientation, whatever)—it’s a very simple idea. The argument is not ridiculous because both things are wrong for the same fundamental reason, and I’m sorry you find that offensive.

Keep_on_running's avatar

This makes me proud to be half German. The “health reasons” and “faith” arguments are both bullshit excuses for surgically removing part of a baby boy’s penis. Seriously. It just escapes the realm of rationality.

Rarebear's avatar

@mattbrowne Actually, it’s not an overreaction. According to Jewish law (and granted it’s a weird law), uncircumcised males are not allowed to be Jewish. So if the letter of the law is upheld, basically Germany is saying that Jews are not allowed in the country. You will protest, but I am telling you that if boys are not allowed to be circumcised, they are also not allowed to be Jewish. It is one of the most important rules, and so important that even I, a hard atheist Jew in the US, if I were to have had a Jewish boy, I would have had him circumcised. (Fortunately I had a girl so I didn’t have to make that choice).

And if I were to have had to get my theoretical sun a circumcision I would have gotten a mohel and not a doctor (unless the mohel was a doctor). Mohels do hundreds of them a year, and a doctor may only do tens.

gorillapaws's avatar

@Rarebear how are you using the term Jewish? If you’re using the term to refer to a religious belief, then I would argue that an infant isn’t able to have a faith because it’s obviously lacking the cognitive ability to comprehend much of anything except wet diaper, I’m hungry, tired, or something hurts. If its in the racial sense of being a descendant of the original people lead in exodus by Moses, then I would have a hard time understanding how removing a piece of skin somehow alters the child’s DNA, or changes who his ancestors were.

I find your thoughts on this to be very interesting because it’s such a complex situation. You are clearly very smart, you have a better understanding of the medical aspects than likely anyone else here, you are an Atheist who is devoted to scientific rationality, and you identify with your Jewish heritage. Could you walk us through your reasoning for us a bit more?

Is it simply? (1) Being Jewish necessitates circumcision under Jewish law. (2) If I had a son, I would want him to be considered Jewish under the letter of Jewish law. (3) Therefore I would permanently alter my child’s body before he was able to consent so that he would be considered Jewish under the letter of Jewish law for those years between being born, and when he reached the age where he would be able to make that decision for himself.

Isn’t being atheist against the letter of Jewish law? I’m having a hard time rationally following your logic (although I fully respect your opinions, heritage and beliefs).

CWOTUS's avatar

@DrBill perhaps you forgot your fatuous, vapid and incorrect statement that “changing God’s design is wrong,”, but that’s what I was responding to you earlier.

You should probably stop seeking help.

JLeslie's avatar

@gorillapaws Your missing it. The side effects of an adult woman cutting off all or part of her clit and or vulva many times results in chronic pain (can be the rest of her life) including things likely pain, numbness, tingling, pins and needles, and inability to reach orgasm. One or more of these symptoms plus other mal effects happens a lot with this type of surgery, it is not just 1 in 100,000. This is why women don’t choose to do it, and why medical professionals don’t try to recommend it, except in dire circumstance. It is not just about the intent of why it is being performed, it is the result of what happens afterwards that is vastly different to the two different genders.

Being Jewish and being an atheist at the same time is very common. I can’t answer for @Rarebear, but most Jews are very strongly tied to their Jewish identity whether religious or not. For a lot of Jewish people circumcision is something they still take very seriously as identifying as a Jew and being accepted as Jewish.

LittleLemon's avatar

@DrBill There’s another side to your dentist analogy, however. Dentists do remove healthy teeth in preventative maintenance situations. They suggest the removal of wisdom teeth in a mouth with room for them, just in case. Of course, it’s then up to the patient’s discretion whether they want to play russian roulette with their teeth or not (excess food stuck in the gums as the teeth are coming in, etc.). I believe the majority of non-religious parents who have their children circumcised do so because they feel it’s a preventative measure against: insert any of the reasons we’ve already listed in this thread. I’m not saying they’re right or wrong, but I believe this is the main motivator behind such decisions.

@gorillapaws At the risk of putting off my female brethren here, I’m going to have to say I agree with you. I found no disrespect in your comparison, because you actively stated that it involved two points on the same line. While those points may be spread very far apart due to the intentions and the means behind them, the end result is philosophically the same: “performing a permanent physical alteration on another person without their consent is sufficient to qualify as wrong,” to quote you. I see what you’re trying to get at here, and for me the intentions are just.

JLeslie's avatar

@LittleLemon “performing a permanent physical alteration on another person without their consent is sufficient to qualify as wrong,” I see what he is getting at too when it comes to performing an act without the other persons consent (which we do to children all the time). The huge difference is the end result, aside from the intention of the act. Both can argueably be called mutalation, an altering of the body of the idividual, but the physical mal affects afterwards is vastly different between the two genders.

LittleLemon's avatar

@JLeslie Very very true. The aftermath involved can be classified as a whole other level of evil.

gorillapaws's avatar

@JLeslie so you’re saying FGM is wrong only because of the intense suffering it generates, and not because it was done against her will? In other words, you’d be ok with permanently altering a woman’s body before they were able to consent? What if someone wanted to tattoo their daughter’s lips red to help her win a beauty pageant for babies? Is that ok as long as there’s no long term suffering? It seems like an odd way of evaluating the ethics.

Regarding Atheist Jews, I do have to admit that I’ve never fully wrapped my head around the nuances involved with that group. I can certainly grasp identifying with one’s cultural heritage, but i don’t understand the desire to obey Jewish law, when Atheism so directly conflicts with perhaps the most core foundation of Jewish law. Isn’t it a bit like a vegan who eats meat, but won’t buy products made from animals?

“It comes to performing an act without the other persons consent (which we do to children all the time).”
This is a straw man fallacy. Yes they do, but it’s not permanent, and in the cases when it does involve a permanent alteration of the body, it’s for necessary medical reasons.

JLeslie's avatar

@gorillapaws I am actually worn out discussing the gender issue, but to answer your questions about Jewish identity and atheism. I think it has a lot to do with the idea that society will always consider us Jews no matter what we do, especially antisemitic people. Hitler would not have given a damn if my father was uncircumcised and never had done one think religious, his mother was a Jew and so off to the gas chamber. So, we as Jewish people I think kind of take that reality and find pride in our Jewish heritage, ethnicity, and traditions, even if God and religion is not our schtick. With this comes not only being associated with the group because society puts us there, but also realizing what we tend to have in common with our group. Each individual has their own parts of themseves that makes them feel Jewish I think.

The history of the Jews, especially the opression and murder throughout history, and especially fairly recent history, makes Jews generally want to perservere as a group, to continue on generation after generation, to survive. In America the religiousity that seems to be growing and growing of the Christian right with them getting louder and louder will only make Jewish people more and more worried about religious freedom. I would guess in Germany, even though Germans seem to be less religious now, the Jews, because of their history on that soil probably are a very united group in some ways, even if not religious. That’s my guess about Germany, I don’t know for sure. I know in Mexico City the Jews are very clannish, I figure it is a reaction to the Catholicism in the country. My FIL says being Jewish in America is completely different than MX. I don’t know if that is still true, it may have changed in the last 20 years.

gorillapaws's avatar

@JLeslie Thanks for your clarification. I think you did a good job presenting the thinking within that community. In a sense, it seems like the desire to circumcise babies is driven (at least partially) from the fear that their children may decide to reject their Jewish culture if given the opportunity to make the decision for themselves which is ultimately motivated by the fear of the Jewish culture eventually dying out? Is that a fair statement to make?

janbb's avatar

@gorillapaws The point is that being circumsized in no way prevents an adult male from rejecting his Jewish heritage, but not being circumsized makes it much harder (no pun intended) if he does want to identify as a Jew as an adult. (Bangs head on table and throws popcorn in the air.)

gorillapaws's avatar

@janbb I guess I don’t see why they can’t make the decision to be circumcised when they’re older and able to fully understand the decision they’re making. It would be like an active affirmation of their cultural beliefs instead of a passive one. To be honest, I’ve never really understood the Christian idea of baptizing infants, instead of waiting for the child to make that commitment for him/herself. (Eats some of your popcorn).

cazzie's avatar

You have to have your body mutilated as a baby to be a Jew? Really?

janbb's avatar

And this is why I sit these out…..I’m glad I’m not a Muslim.

JLeslie's avatar

@gorillapaws That isn’t really what I was getting at. Afterall, women feel Jewish without anything similar to circumcision. I think it is up to the individual with how they identify as Jews. A lot of Jewish people might view circumcision as one of those things. Personally I don’t, but I respect that some Jewish people might. If they do, they will do the procedure to their sons most likely. The baby is born and the Bris is planned. It’s like planning a baptism or even a wedding. An event expected as a tradition even if it is not for religious reasons. In a way it is part of the celebration of the event of the newborn baby. I know that seems odd to some.

JLeslie's avatar

@cazzie Yes. For some yes. It is more like a covenant not mutiliation from their perspective, it is finishing God’s work.

Some say that is part of the reason so many jewish people are doctors, finishing God’s work. There are more doctors in Israel per capita than any other country.

gorillapaws's avatar

@JLeslie I found the relevant biblical passage here:
“10 This is My covenant, which ye shall keep, between Me and you and thy seed after thee: every male among you shall be circumcised. 11 And ye shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of a covenant betwixt Me and you. 12 And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every male throughout your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any foreigner, that is not of thy seed. 13 He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised; and My covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. 14 And the uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken My covenant.’

I guess I’m still not sure why someone who doesn’t believe in God and views circumcision as an affirmation of cultural identity wouldn’t view making the decision to undergo circumcision as a young man (say at some point prior to the Bar Mitzvah) as an acceptable moral compromise. Do they have a party when an adult male converts to Judaism and gets clipped?

On a side note, I wonder why God hates foreskins? or wants to horde them as tokens?

Rarebear's avatar

@gorillapaws ” you are an Atheist who is devoted to scientific rationality, and you identify with your Jewish heritage. Could you walk us through your reasoning for us a bit more?”

I do not just “identify with my Jewish heritage.” I am Jewish.

And no, I do not care to walk you through my reasoning a bit more at this time. It does not contribute to the original question, which I put in “General” for a reason.

JLeslie's avatar

@gorillapaws I think since the procedure is so much less traumatic as an infant. If the parent thinks it is the right thing to do for religious, cultural, or health reasons (I am not arguing those reasons are right, I am only saying if that is what the parent believes) then doing it as an infant makes sense. @janbb brought up that in France doctors do it at 8 or 10 months, that seems much worse to me. The parent is still deciding for the baby and doing it when the child has a greater healing time and needs more anesthesia. I am pretty sure in Judaism if a boy has not been circumcised by their barmitvah then Jewish law changes the responsibility from the father to the boy, soon to be a man, himself.

A friend of mine, her second son the doctor kind of botched the circumcision. It wound up ok, but it was scary. She read up a lot, and she said if she had another son she would prefer a Mohel do it. She is Catholic, so I am not sure she could actually get that done, but her feelings about it was the Mohels do them over and over and over again, and are much better practiced. She also told me that she read around day 7 a baby’s blood begins to coagulate differently (I am not sure if this is scientifically true) and that doing the bris on day 8 is safer for the child regarding bleeding. She found it interesting the religious tradition might have some very valid scientific reasons for what day it is performed. Basically, all other religious practices and laws are set aside in Judaism to do the bris on the right day.

As to why God hates foreskin. I don’t know why the first Jews decided circumcision was the right thing to do. Maybe back then there was more infection? They did not shower and soap up as we do today. Maybe the person who was in a lot of power wound up having to cut his foreskin? There was a Q here on circumcision where one of our jellies told a story of needing to get cut because he had very bad problems with how his foreskin grew when he was very young, I don’t remember the details, and he would definitely circumcise his sons. Being an atheist myself, I don’t think God came up with the idea, but men. Probably there is some disagreement about why. Same with kosher laws. Some say it is abhorrent to eat an animal with the milk of the mother, others say dishes with both meat and dairy were more likely to have high bacterial growth and cause illness, others today say it was wise because meat and dairy in one meal is laden with fat and cholesterol and bad for health. Then there are all the other kosher laws we could scrutinize.

JLeslie's avatar

Oh, general. Good point, we got way off topic. My apologies @Rarebear.

cazzie's avatar

What if my flying spaghetti monster religion meant I had to tattoo the forehead of my baby when they were just days old. Should that be allowed?

JLeslie's avatar

@Rarebear If Germany allows Mohels to do the procedure and not doctors, how do you feel about it? I think @mattbrowne mentioned something akin to that above. That means there is an exception for religious purposes.

Rarebear's avatar

@cazzie That’s not the question. It’s a question of governmental authority. Let’s say you tatooed the forehead of your baby; should you be thrown in jail? For how long? Should the baby be ripped away from your arms?

Rarebear's avatar

@JLeslie Of course mohels should be allowed.

JLeslie's avatar

@Rarebear So then if they are allowed, does that take the antisemitism possibility away from such a ruling?

cazzie's avatar

We are talking about the legalisation of allowing parents to permanently alter a child’s body. The child has no way of consenting and it is generally done because of ‘religious’ beliefs of the parents. This is very MUCH the subject.

Rarebear's avatar

@JLeslie Yes, but then the ruling makes no sense. A mohel can do it but a doctor can’t? That’s just stupid.

Rarebear's avatar

@cazzie Okay, so if you pierce your child’s ears you should be thrown in jail?

cazzie's avatar

Not thrown in jail, but given some parenting lessons and perhaps things are pointed out to you so that you learn that what you did was stupid.

JLeslie's avatar

@cazzie All of my closest friends have circumcised their sons. They are all Catholic, it was not religious. My SIL left it up to her husband whether to circumcise their son, he preferred not to, and I know when her son was young she regretted it, now I am not sure, maybe she has changed her mind. Her son did have a couple infections, yeast infections, and in her own family the men are circumcised. The infection maybe would have happened anyway, but it caused her to think twice.

@Rarebear I guess somehow they can make sense out of it for religious reasons. A religious exception. But, I agree with you, for me it is illogical.

Rarebear's avatar

@cazzie Okay, so you’d be in favor of taxpayer-funded state sponsored parenting lessons if you pierced your child’s ears? The person taking the lessons would have a court order to attend these classes, and then fill out forms in triplicate to submit to a state correctional office in which case a taxpayer-funded social worker would follow up? Is that would you would be in favor of?

And yes, the tradition is circumcision is so ingrained in Jewish ideology that if a male is not circumcised, they are not Jewish. This would effectively kill off Judaism in Germany. I can’t speak for Islam as I am not Muslim.

Rarebear's avatar

Again, the question is not whether circumcision is right or wrong. It’s a question of whether a government can ban this, and if they ban it, what are the consequences?

JLeslie's avatar

@cazzie Wait, parenting lessons for piercing a baby girl’s ears? Probably 25% of the world population does that. I have no idea the real number, but certainly the majority of Latin America does, not sure about Europe and Asia. America is kind of split. You seem to have no room for cultural differences at all.

Rarebear's avatar

@JLeslie Taxpayer funded state sponsored parenting lessons at that.

gorillapaws's avatar

@Rarebear “It’s a question of whether a government can ban this” quite frankly this is a moronic question. Of course a government can ban whatever it wants to. I think the real question is it OK for a government to do this, and that question can only be answered by addressing the subquestions it raises, such as the morality of mutilating people without medical cause and without their consent. The role of government and faith. People’s rights to faith vs. people’s right to make decisions about their own bodies, etc. You’ve asked a philosophical question, and it’s being addressed philosophically, by analyzing it’s subcomponents. The discussion thus far has been perfectly topical, and absolutely appropriate for the General section.

As for ear piercing, that’s not permanent (and I personally think it’s wrong). How about cropping off the tip of earlobe. That would be a more appropriate analogy for argument’s sake.

LittleLemon's avatar

@gorillapaws Or if a family is particularly punk-rock, what about gauging a child’s ears? These do not tend to shrink back to how they originally were. Depending on the gauge size, of course.

JLeslie's avatar

@gorillapaws My ear is permanently pierced from what I can tell. I have a second hole in my left ear that I use once every 5–10 years, it is always open when I decide to stick an earing in there.

@Rarebear I think the government can interviene if it is determined to cause great harm, religious or not. People cannot kill their wives because the wife cheated, nor their daughters for flirting with a boy, and I would probably support legislation against things like stretching a girls neck with rings, because it leaves the neck muscles unable to support the head. And, rights of passage that are extremely risky to the life and health of the person. Some countries do force feeding of females, I would hope social services would do something about that too, but in some ways we kind of do force feed many of our children with huge amounts of calories, but in some countries it is done specifically around puberty and it is horrific, a huge increase of calories in a weeks time. As far as I can tell male circumcision does not rise to that level.

gorillapaws's avatar

@JLeslie The way I see it, if an act violates another person’s rights, then it should be forbidden regardless of the severity of the outcome. The state has a duty to defend the rights of it’s citizens, and religious practices are not an acceptable defense for doing so (we would all agree this is true for ritualistic sacrifices for example). Beyond that, a Religion has full protection under the law to practice and believe however they want, so long as they’re not violating the rights of others.

JLeslie's avatar

@gorillapaws Well, to me religious and cultural practices kind of blend together. Ear piercing in Equador is not done for a religious reason.

Rarebear's avatar

@gorillapaws Or course an ear piercing is permanent. Even if the stud is pulled out, there is permanent scarring in the earlobe, and it increases the risk of infection.

cazzie's avatar

@JLeslie I didn’t mean the ear-piercing. I did not bring that up and it was way off topic.

Rarebear's avatar

Okay @gorillapaws then I ask the same question to you that everybody else seems to be ducking. Let’s say that circumcision is illegal. Are you in favor of throwing the parents and the doctor in jail? And if we posit, as @JLeslie and I do that ear piercing is permanent, do you favor throwing a parent who pierces their son or daughter in jail?

cazzie's avatar

and who says a great big fat fine can’t be levied to help pay for the parenting lessons.

Rarebear's avatar

@cazzie It’s not off topic. We’re talking about a state law that forbids circumcision which is a permanent change to the body, as is ear piercing. But okay, you don’t want to talk about ear piercing, fine. Back to circumcision. Your solution is to have someone pay a fine AND undergo state sponsored parenting lessons? What if the parents refuse to take the lessons? Would you throw them in jail then?

cazzie's avatar

they could always be given the option of moving to Israel.

cazzie's avatar

Sort of like, ‘Well, you want to do that shit to your innocent little baby, you can’t do it here. If you want to live here, live by our laws. If you want to move to somewhere they let you maim your kid, move there.’

JLeslie's avatar

@cazzie Is that the law in your country? No circumcision?

gorillapaws's avatar

@Rarebear I don’t know what the appropriate punishment is for illegal circumcision with regards to the parents. It should be severe enough to be a deterrent, but not so severe as to be cruel (certainly not longer than a week in jail). And I’m not sure of the details if the Mom is Jewish and the Father isn’t who goes to jail for how long, (or every other edge case combination) etc. It can get messy quickly. The short answer is that the punishment should be sufficient to act as a deterrent and no more. I don’t think they should loose custody.

As for the Doctor or whoever else is performing the procedure, I think they should risk loosing their medical license, and face the same penalties they might have if they performed say an appendectomy on an adult male for which they had consent and then decided to also remove the foreskin while the patient was under anesthesia without their consent. However long that crime is punished for, that would be the appropriate punishment in my view. If the person wasn’t a Doctor they obviously have no license to loose, but the punishment should be equivalent.

Rarebear's avatar

@cazzie Wow! So your solution is to kick them all out of the country and have them move to Israel. Nice! A German Jewish family who has been in Germany for generations, and somehow managed to avoid being massacred by the Nazis, and you’d just kick them out?
And all the Muslims, where would you kick them out to send them to?

cazzie's avatar

No, they can absolutely stay. Just don’t maim the babies.

Rarebear's avatar

@cazzie I’m sure Israel would be happy to receive the influx of professionals you have just kicked out of the country.

@gorillapaws Finally, a reasoned nuanced answer. (By the way, it’s “lose” not “loose”, sorry a pet peeve of mine). But that doesn’t change the fact that circumcision is so deeply ingrained in Judaism that you’d be jailing every Jewish parent. As a German government, are you prepared to sanction that?

cazzie's avatar

I kicked nobody out. It is simply my personal belief that religion has no right to maim children.

JLeslie's avatar

@cazzie As far as I know circumcision is legal in all of Europe with some strict guidelines in some countries. Am I wrong? Is it illegal in your country?

Rarebear's avatar

@cazzie But we’ve already established that a principle of Judaism is to circumcise the male. Whether you like it or not is completely immaterial. So if you outlaw circumcision, you’re outlawing Judaism. Is that okay with you?

cazzie's avatar

@Rarebear Judaism is much more than a foreskin, or lack thereof. If it wasn’t, it wouldn’t be much of a belief system.

JLeslie's avatar

@gorillapaws Why does the religion of the parent matter if they went along with the act? Or, do you mean if a parent objected to the circumcision?

cazzie's avatar

@JLeslie I never put forward that my personal belief in this subject was law in the country I lived in. It is, however, discouraged, but legal.

bkcunningham's avatar

What if things changed, like they are known to do in life, and the elected government officials and the majority of residents believe that every male child should be circumcised? This is why preserving your personal liberties and freedoms, even those others may not agree with, is so important.

Rarebear's avatar

@cazzie Of course it is. But if you’re a male, you can only be Jewish if you are circumcised. You and I may not like it, but that’s the way it is.

cazzie's avatar

Let the boys get circumcised when they decide to be Jewish, then.

JLeslie's avatar

@cazzie Oh, my mistake, you are speaking only from your personal opinion on the matter if you were Queen. Got it.

cazzie's avatar

@JLeslie You obviously have not been following along.

JLeslie's avatar

@cazzie As I explained to @gorillapaws in some ways Jews don’t get to decide.

Rarebear's avatar

@cazzie No, the Torah says it has to be at 8 days, or have you not been reading the thread carefully enough? If an adult Jewish male wants to convert, he must undergo circumcision.

And by the way, many have asked why 8 days? Well the answer probably is that infant mortality was high, and if the child lives to 8 days then he’s probably going to live. If he dies after 8 days he gets a full Jewish burial.

cazzie's avatar

@Rarebear have you not been reading my posts? I don’t give a crap what some flying spaghetti monster says. And, being an adult that will be his CHOICE. The baby has no choice and is being mutilated by his parents.

janbb's avatar

And the naysayers are forgetting the fact that we keep saying that it is much more dangerous and painful to have it done as a teenager or adult that as a newborn.

But I really think we have to agree to disagree; nobody is going to convince anyone of anything they don’t already believe here.

Rarebear's avatar

@cazzie Yes, I have been reading your posts. It’s why I’m responding to all of them. And what I can gather is that you would be in favor of kicking all the Jews and Muslims out of Germany.

gorillapaws's avatar

@Rarebear Thanks for the correction. That’s one I often screw up.

”... you’d be jailing every Jewish parent. As a German government, are you prepared to sanction that?”

That’s a really tough question. I certainly wouldn’t like to see a group of people “singled out” as it were in such a way. It’s a shame that the tradition couldn’t be modified so the circumcision would be allowed after the child was old enough to make that choice for himself (it seems an acceptable practice for adult men converting to Judaism). Circumcision may have made a lot of sense before modern hygiene, it’s a shame that religions can’t seem to evolve as well (but I guess that’s the nature of religions—they are blind to science and evidence).

cazzie's avatar

@Rarebear, you overreact all you want. Just don’t mutilate your babies.

LittleLemon's avatar

@Rarebear Actually, you’re putting words in people’s mouths and drawing conclusions to fit your arguments. You asked what the punishment should be after the government outlawed circumcision. The talk of going to Israel for the procedure was only brought up after this point.

bkcunningham's avatar

Or what if the “government” said every male who is circumcised has to where a Star of David or a crescent moon and be put into a ghetto to live?

cazzie's avatar

@bkcunningham Obviously that is NOT what they are saying and you are playing @Rarebears game now.

Rarebear's avatar

@LittleLemon I am not. @cazzie wrote: “they could always be given the option of moving to Israel.” So in her worldview, either they don’t get their child circumcised, or they move to Israel. Not getting their child circumcised is not an option, so they’d be forced to move. How is that not kicking people out of the country?

JLeslie's avatar

Listen to @janbb.

See, in Latin America, and increasingly in the US they pierce the girl baby ears because pretty much all girls want their ears pierced eventually (there are a few exception, but very few). If the majority of Jewish men will want to be circumcised, then they will be pretty annoyed it wasn’t done when it was simple, when they were first born.

JLeslie's avatar

@LittleLemon Plus, “move to Israel,” is offensive in that it is like saying move back to their country, or where the Jews should be, when there are German Jews who have never lived in Israel, they have been Germans for generations, hundreds of years. I doubt she meant it that way, but it sounds bad.

gorillapaws's avatar

@JLeslie it sounds like your argument is that there is a form of implied consent for justifying the procedure just like providing CPR is justifiable without explicit consent. The big difference of course is that having one’s life saved is a medical necessity, but what amounts to cosmetic surgery doesn’t measure up.

I realize the vast majority of Jewish boys getting the procedure when they’re young may be annoyed, but what about the few who wouldn’t have wanted to be circumcised and can never really undo that?

cazzie's avatar

I don’t think comparing pierced ears to cutting off a man’s foreskin is apples to apples. Not at all.

janbb's avatar

i actually think it’s much closer than comparing it to FGM.

JLeslie's avatar

@cazzie I am not comparing the two. I am using it as an anology about the percentage of the population who wants to have it done.

Rarebear's avatar

@gorillapaws “Cosmetic surgery”? So are you saying that circumcision is akin to cosmetic surgery? Others on this thread have been comparing it to child abuse and genital maiming.

cazzie's avatar

@JLeslie but we are not talking about ‘wants to have it done’ We are talking about ‘should it be allowed’. Personally, I feel the same about ear piercings, but not as strongly as it is not as substantial a body change. It should be if the girl wants it and can decide for herself.

What about neck stretching? or feet binding? or earlobe stretching? Tattoos?

gorillapaws's avatar

@Rarebear It is cosmetic surgery, and it’s also abusive, they’re not mutually exclusive. It would be child abuse to give a baby girl breast implants too wouldn’t it? Isn’t all surgery done without medical cause considered cosmetic?

LittleLemon's avatar

@Rarebear You need to check your timeline, here. First: “I ask the same question to you that everybody else seems to be ducking. Let’s say that circumcision is illegal,” then, “What if the parents refuse to take the lessons? Would you throw them in jail then?” then, “They could always go to Israel,” which is obviously in response to the unasked question you’re bullying people into answering: “How would they get the procedure done if it’s outlawed?”

So, you created a hypothetical situation in which the procedure could not be done, and then got mad when we couldn’t answer your question on how this procedure could be done.

This is very reminiscent of the old, “Do I look fat in this dress?”

I get it. You want others to agree with you, which is why you asked this question.

cazzie's avatar

@gorillapaws I think it is a bit more than cosmetic. Ask any man with a foreskin and he will tell you he is rather attached to it for more than aesthetic reasons.

Rarebear's avatar

@gorillapaws Whoever heard of giving a baby girl breast implants? That’s not even a good example. Ear piercing is a much better example. But the reality is that it is Jewish and Muslim law they must get circumcised, so the letter of the law is basically outlawing both religions. Are you prepared to accept that?

cazzie's avatar

I don’t accept ‘religious law’ as any law I would ever live by. Give me Secularism or give me death.

janbb's avatar

@cazzie Nobody is asking you to live by it!

Rarebear's avatar

@LittleLemon You’re resorting to straw men now, and I won’t bite. You said I was putting words into people’s mouths (I assume you’re referring to my telling Cazzie she wants to deport all Muslims and Jews). I admit that that was a bit hyperbolic, but she was the one who said, “let them all go to Israel,” not me.

LittleLemon's avatar

@Rarebear In the same sentence you admit to creating hyperbolic statements, and then misquote the original sentence and its original intention. Thank you for proving my point.

cazzie's avatar

No, @janbb but religion is used to justify far too many crimes. Child mutilation among them.

Rarebear's avatar

@LittleLemon Okay, if you want to be tiresome, I paraphrased it because my keypad is acting funky and I have trouble scrolling up and down. But if you want the EXACT quote she said, “they could always be given the option of moving to Israel.” (sic). Happy now?

Please tell me how that is not the voice of intolerance and bigotry? Either the Jews see things her way or they move out of the country.

gorillapaws's avatar

@Rarebear the point is that something can be both cosmetic and abusive, your post implied that it can’t. I provided a (admittedly ridiculous) counterexample, but I think I made the point.

I stated above that it’s a state’s responsibility to protect it’s citizens’ rights, and I believe that people have a fundamental right to make decisions about permanent changes to their own bodies, the exception only being when there is a medical necessity and they are unable to make that decision for themselves. If a religion (any religion at all) cannot reconcile it’s practices with this very simple and basic idea, then the problem is with the faith, and not with the government.

I think delaying circumcision until the child is old enough to decide for himself is a perfectly reasonable solution (it’s obviously acceptable enough for adult male converts) from a strictly rational point of view. There is no need for expelling people from the country, demolishing synagogues, burning the Torah, banning unleavened bread and dreidels, removing holidays from the calendar etc. Just wait for boys to be old enough to make the choice for themselves.

cazzie's avatar

@Rarebear How is that utter bigotry? Don’t they currently have the option of moving to Israel?

Rarebear's avatar

@gorillapaws But you don’t seem to be understanding. The boys are not allowed to be Jewish until they are circumcised. I agree it’s a stupid law and I don’t happen to agree with it but that’s the way it is. Jewish law says it’s at 8 days, and that’s when it is. That’s nonnegotiable. So effectively, if you outlaw circumcision, you’re outlawing Judaism. Again, I ask, is that something you’re prepared to accept? This is a yes or no question.

@cazzie Of course it’s bigotry, and I’m surprised you don’t see it that way. And that’s okay, as long as you realize what you are saying. You are basically saying, “Jewish law is wrong. I don’t agree with Jewish law. And if you follow Jewish traditions you must leave the country.” How is that not being intolerant of other beliefs?

bkcunningham's avatar

Seriously, anyone who can say, with a straight face, that circumcision is a form of abuse or mutilation truly hasn’t seen abuse or mutilation of a child. If you are worried about children being abused, take up your cross and become a foster parent or volunteer to become a child advocate and keep your nose out of the business of parents having their sons circumcised.

LittleLemon's avatar

I do agree with @JLeslie that it could definitely be taken the wrong way, though I took it with a grain of salt because I’m not Jewish, and the comment was amidst others that were clearly meant in jest. I do understand how it could be a more heated sentence for someone who is Jewish, though.

@Rarebear You can re-write the exact quote all you want, but the problem I have is that you’re not actually reading it to see that it came after you proposed the scenario in which circumcision was already outlawed. I don’t know how many times I can repeat the same sentence.

I actually feel it should be the parent’s prerogative. I’m sure this is influenced by my lack of children, and perhaps my opinion on the matter will change later in life. The real problem I have is when people ask a question and aren’t concerned with hearing any answer other than the one they want. I was actually learning a great deal about myself and the others here, until you started taking every answer that you didn’t agree with as an excuse to argue.

ragingloli's avatar

The babies are so much in pain and terror during the assault that they go stiff and pass out.
It is abuse and mutilation, period.

Rarebear's avatar

@ragingloli They do not pass out—don’t make things up. Remind me, please. Exactly how many circumcisions have you seen and done? I’ve done hundreds, all under local anesthesia. Afterwards I would put the baby to the breast and they would suck away happily.

Rarebear's avatar

@LittleLemon Now I agree with you. And I’m not arguing with everybody. I’m only debating with people who seem to want to debate. I’m having quite a nice conversation with my friend @gorillapaws.

Rarebear's avatar

Look @ragingloli you can prove anything on the internet by pulling off a random web page with a google search. I can point you to thousands of anti-evolution and anti-global warming sites as proof. What I’m telling you, no trying to teach you if you’ll actually listen, is that not only have I performed circumcision, but I taught several methods of the procedure. Never, once, ever ever did a baby “pass out”.

gorillapaws's avatar

@Rarebear your question is more complex than that. First of all when you say “The boys are not allowed to be Jewish” what sense of the word “Jewish” are you referring (because it’s a loaded term in that it has many meanings in different context e.g. Jewish Atheists)? If you’re referring to the Jewish faith and beliefs, then I would argue that infants can’t have faith and beliefs. If you’re referring to their cultural heritage and ethnicity, then I would argue that removing a piece of skin doesn’t alter ancestry or DNA.

Furthermore, are male children between the ages of 0 to 7 days not Jewish? Judaism exists still and yet every Jewish male is apparently not so in the beginning. So I disagree with your premise that this somehow outlaws Judaism. It certainly doesn’t outlaw the current population, and the younger ones still have the option to choose circumcision when they’re old enough.

ragingloli's avatar

@Rarebear
Then it is their accounts against your claims.

Rarebear's avatar

@ragingloli You’re not calling me a liar are you? If so, I am disappointed in you.

@gorillapaws “Furthermore, are male children between the ages of 0 to 7 days not Jewish?” Actually, technically, no, they’re not. (As I said, I didn’t make up this rule).

You’re not Jewish, and it’s obviously difficult to explain and understand. I’m not prepared and educated in Jewish theology enough to argue the point, but it is true. You can not be a male Jew and be uncircumcised. So positing that that is true, and knowing that it effectively outlaws any new male Jews from coming into existence in the country, again, are you prepared to accept that?

Dutchess_III's avatar

Wow. I guess I come down on the side of the German government did the right thing, for all the reasons listed above.

If there were some other type of useless surgery or procedure required for no reason other than religious reasons, we wouldn’t even be having this argument. The old Japanese custom of binding the feet of girls. Granted, that’s extreme and crippling and circumcision isn’t, but we would whole heartedly back any government that said that binding a child’s feet is wrong.

I wouldn’t call it “Bigoted antisemitic and antimuslim.” Just logical and humane.

ragingloli's avatar

@Rarebear
I do not know if you were just lucky in your limited experience, or are dishonest. I am giving you the benefit of doubt here.
How about this study that was referenced on the site?
http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/104/1/e13.full

Although we could not, in a controlled manner examine the impact of different titrations of stimulus intensity on infants’ responses, we did examine the relationships among a hypothetical gradient of pain, clinicians’ ratings of procedural pain, and the infants’ responses. We had hypothesized that circumcision would be at the most invasive end of the spectrum, and this procedure did elicit the most vigorous physiologic and behavioral reactions of those we studied. Similarly, clinicians rated circumcision as the most painful of 12 clinical procedures.1 Thus, there was convergence in a hypothetical gradient of pain, a survey-based gradient of pain, and the infants’ actual responses to one procedure, circumcision.

JLeslie's avatar

@cazzie Now I wonder if you are reading my posts in full. I mentioned neck stretching and other permanently disfiguring cultural and religious customs that I don’t give a shit about religious freedom I would ban it. What I said was I don’t think male circumcision rises to the same level, because men do not seem to be harmed from it. Binding the feet of women means they cannot walk naturally, stretching their necks means they cannot hold up their own necks. Male circumcision, well let’s just say I see plenty of 5 year olds playing with their pee pees, and plenty of circumcised men doing the same.

@LittleLemon Huh? Well thank God Israel was given statehood. I mean where the hell are we gonna go? I explained to you above why the statement they can go to Israel is offensive (again I don’t think @cazzie meant it in that way) and then you knit pick on @Rarebear paraphrase of what @cazzie said? @Rarebear is not saying how will they get the procedure done. This is the same as the argument about abortion in the US. If we outlaw it and they are still done underground, which they will be, are you going to jail the women? All those women? That is a lot of women.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@ragingloli I read your post, which reminded me that 24 years ago I had to decide whether or not to have my newborn son circumcised. They told me “he can’t feel it so don’t worry.” I that that was the most IDIOTIC thing any one has ever said!! But in your post above regarding the pain, @Rarebear told you he uses a local anesthetic. No one is disputing that it would hurt like hell with out it.

Other than that, all of those stories could be pure fiction pulled out of some pulp magazine.

JLeslie's avatar

@Dutchess_III That does sound pretty idiotic to me. Supposedly the pain is not very bad though, since they clamp the area, or something like that, and it is done rather quickly.

Rarebear's avatar

@ragingloli Cool! Now we’re talking data, and not just some random internet site.

I do not deny that infants feel pain. That’s indisputable, and anybody who says they don’t feel pain is either blind, deaf or just stupid. That’s why I always used local anesthestic when I used to do procedures on infants (be it a lumbar puncture or circumcision). What I have a problem with is your claim that they feel “terror” (value judgement and no evidence) and that they “pass out” (no evidence).

JLeslie's avatar

My husband had his done at 5 years old. He had no idea it was going to be done. He was pretty upset when he woke up. Upset his dick hurt. I think that is so much worse than an infant, I don’t see how anyone can compare the two. Meanwhile, he talks about it like any kid who was very sick or went through something they didn’t like. Not overly traumatic or dramatic.

gorillapaws's avatar

@Rarebear It’s difficult to express my answer in a way that’s appropriately nuanced (and I’m rather enjoying the lesson in Jewish theology by the way). I had a really good Jewish friend when I was growing up and I would often go to his house for Shabbat enjoy the delicious food, but he was uncircumcised and I think memories of him may be interfering with my understanding somewhat. My good friend was Jewish, he was uncircumcised, I never realized there was a problem.

To answer your question, I think it’s acceptable for a state to ban circumcision until a child is old enough to decide for himself. This action by the State may be INTERPRETED internally within the Jewish faith as being a ban on Judaism, but I think in practice would not actually be so in reality because the logic for their interpretation is flawed. Judaism would still exist, it’s people would still have the same ancestors and cultural heritage they always have, and they can still follow the teachings of Moses, Abraham etc. insofar as they don’t violate the rights of others.

I think that’s as clearly as I can possibly explain my position.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Wait…I’m looking at it from the Jewish POV. Seriously, if the boy is not circumcised on the 8th day he can’t be Jewish. Is that procedure so ingrained in the religion that they can’t change it? If so, why?

Rarebear's avatar

@Dutchess_III Don’t ask me, I didn’t write the law.

@gorillapaws When my wife converted (her choice, by the way, not mine—and yes, she’s an atheist too) she had to sign a pledge that she would have any newborn male circumcised. That’s how important it is to Jewish law.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well, I wondered if you knew how deeply ingrained it is, and why. What do they do if for some reason a newborn can’t be circumcised on the 8th day?

gorillapaws's avatar

@Rarebear I’m still baffled by how one can “convert” to Judaism and be Atheist (It’s like dividing by zero or something). It’s like ok you can be a Jew, and you don’t have to believe in God, but if you have a son, you damn well better snip off that little guy’s foreskin! Until this thread I had no idea just how deeply this practice is rooted in the culture and faith.

JLeslie's avatar

@gorillapaws Pretty much around the world somewhere between 30–40% of Jews consider themselves secular or atheist. When you convert they don’t ask you if you believe in God. At least the reformed Jews don’t. When my husband converted I don’t think they asked if he was circumcised either for that matter, not that I remember anyway. Maybe I should ask him? We attended some classes, then he participated in a ceremony in the synagogue, said a prayer, walked around the room carrying the torah (I assume it was the torah) and boom, Jewish. I have his conversion document hanging on the wall in my house.

As far as women converting for their husbands, the biggest concern is the children will be Jewish.

Rarebear's avatar

@gorillapaws Yes, it’s difficult to explain. Most Jews I know are atheists, actually. My dad was an atheist, and my grandfather was an Orthodox Jewish atheist. When I have more energy I’ll try to explain it to you some time.

JLeslie's avatar

@Rarebear Did your wife convert in a Reformed Synagogue or Conservative?

Rarebear's avatar

@JLeslie Orthodox, actually. The rabbi was Conservative though. We are Reform

JLeslie's avatar

@Rarebear Oh, that explains why maybe none of that was brought up during my husband’s conversion. Plus, I am the mother, so it is less of an issue.

Orthodox?! That surprises me.

Rarebear's avatar

It’s where the mikvah was.

JLeslie's avatar

@Rarebear Got it. I don’t remember a mikvah either during my husband’s conversion. A friend of mine did it at the beach. I guess the ocean is God’s mikvah also? Or, at least for her and her rabbi it sufficed.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Here is what you gave me once upon a time when you had more energy, @Rarebear. The wiki article explains it.

Rarebear's avatar

Funny how analogous the mikveh is to a baptism.

JLeslie's avatar

@Rarebear I always say the Pope wears a yamulke.

janbb's avatar

@JLeslie Men don’t go in a mikvah but that is a whole side issue.

JLeslie's avatar

@janbb Oh right, of course. My mistake. I wasn’t thinking it all through.

gorillapaws's avatar

@JLeslie, @Rarebear, @Dutchess_III I’m able to understand how someone who is a descendant of Jewish ancestors and was raised in the culture and identifies as Jewish could arrive at the conclusion that there is no God, but still want to participate in their community and celebrate their cultural heritage/traditions. I can also understand Jewish Atheists raising their children with the same culture and traditions and also raising them as Atheists.

What’s really weird to me is someone who isn’t of Jewish descent, and/or wasn’t raised in that culture would want/need to convert, but they still rejected the existence of God. Couldn’t they simply participate in the culture to the extent they want to without having to convert? What does that conversion really mean if you don’t believe in God? It’s hard to wrap my head around.

For the record, Potato Latkes are the best thing ever (I’ve long suspected the Jewish people of using food as a conversion technique—much more effective than knocking on strangers’ doors at dinner time and telling them their whole family is going to burn in hell if you ask me).

LittleLemon's avatar

@JLeslie My intent was not to nit-pick. My intent was to remind him that at no point had @cazzie said she would have preferred outlawing circumcision. In fact, if you’ll read up, it was mentioned toward the beginning that she believed in it being “highly discouraged but not outlawed.” Hence my frustration with assumptions on @Rarebear‘s part. In the end, it is none of my business, but assumptions do tend to get the better of my rage instincts. ;)

For the sake of my scroll-wheel, I’m going to put a kibosh on the “he said,” “she said,” for this one and enjoy the theology lesson that is unfolding before me.

JLeslie's avatar

@LittleLemon I have to admit I had to look back and see where she wrote that. She certainly later in her answers made it seem as though she would prefer it be outlawed. It seems to me it is a matter of her being realistic that the procedure would likely continue, so she prefer it be kept legally for safety reasons regarding the boys. Kind of like Romney on wanting to keep abortion legal because a relative of his died from an abortion. Now he seems to have changed his mind, but I am referring to the Romney of the 90’s.

Rarebear's avatar

And @LittleLemon you can see how @JLeslie and I (both Jews) were reacting to the paraphrased “Just let them go to Israel” bit. They’re Germans, and just as German as the their next door Protestant neighbor. They are no more Israeli than you or I are. The sentiment of “Just let the Jews go somewhere else because I don’t like what they do” has been a bit of a sore spot with Jews for a very long time.

@gorillapaws in regards to my wife, it was a private decision and if she ever comes on Fluther I’ll let her explain it. She had her reasons. In terms of the food bit, it’s a bit of a joke among Jews that holidays are all “They tried to kill us, we survived, let’s eat!”

JLeslie's avatar

@gorillapaws Well, people convert for a variety of reasons. One is for a marriage. For many Jewish families it is important children will be raised Jewish. Since in the religion Judaism passes through the mother, especially if the wife is not Jewish, it is important she convert so the children are born Jewish. Also, in my marriage vows I spoke about keeping a Jewish home. Even though I am not observant, I don’t keep kosher, I feel my home is a Jewish home.

I didn’t ask my husband to convert, I never would. He felt it would be better if we were the same. He basically did what his dad did. His dad left Judaism and became Catholic for his wife.

Some people just feel at home in Judaism. In the culture in the rituals, and so they convert. Judaism is much more earthly than other religions, more tangible, especially if you are reformed. A person who likes religious structure, but has lost their leap of faith necessary in other religions would have an easier time feeling accepted and comfortable in reformed Judaism.

Being an observant Jew is in one way following God’s laws, but in another way is rituals and rules that make sense to some people, even if they don’t believe in God. It is a comfortable fit. Not much different than if someone follows a vegan diet and does everything possible to be as green as possible. They become part of the Jewish community.

Rarebear's avatar

Holy crap. Great answer. What she said.

mattbrowne's avatar

@JLeslie – No, that’s not what I meant. Of course, it would be illegal for mohels as well, not just doctors. Most political commentators predict changes to existing laws. The court made its decision based on existing German laws. It would be too risky for Germany to irritate Jews in Germany and Israel and elsewhere. There would be severe damage to our country’s reputation.

I did a bit of research and it seems there are plenty of mohels in Germany as well. I just wasn’t aware of that and haven’t heard the term. See for example

http://www.beschneidung-mohel.de

JLeslie's avatar

@mattbrowne It sounded risky. I figured Germany would be one of the last countries to try and outlaw something very Jewish.

mattbrowne's avatar

@JLeslie – Germany didn’t outlaw this. There was one court examining existing laws and making a decision. This is completely different from our parliament creating a law that would explicitly outlaw something very Jewish. It was a question of the right to life and physical integrity, which also applies to female genital mutilation. Suppose someone founded a spaghetti religion and one of its laws would require such a form of mutilation. Does this fall under freedom of religion? Where do we draw the line?

mattbrowne's avatar

@Rarebear – Can a male teenager get a late circumcision and be recognized as Jewish?

JLeslie's avatar

@mattbrowne Above I explain that I draw the line depending on the harm it causes. Male circumcision does not seem to be overly traumatic, nor cause permanent harm. I understand that part of the body is gone permanently, but men seem to do just fine masturbating and wanting to have sex with every woman who walks by, even when circumcised, and they don’t like with any chronic pain from the procedure. Female circumcision, foot binding, neck stretching, all those types of things cause permanent harm that leaves the individual unable to be “normal,” some of those procedures are likely to cause a lifetime of pain or some sort of handicap.

What also would influence me is there was a lot of circumcised men who were very upset that they had been circumcised as infants, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. I don’t see a major movement from men, in fact, most circumcised men circumcise their children, especially Jewish men, and I don’t think for a second it is because they want to harm their sons.

Rarebear's avatar

@mattbrowne Sure. They can convert at any age.

Dutchess_III's avatar

This is a really, really tough question.

mattbrowne's avatar

@JLeslie – I agree that the physical harm done is small compared to female genital mutilation. This still leaves the question whether modern forms of Judaism might consider alternatives, for example performing a ritual without actually using the scalpel. At the age of 15 a boy could undergo the full circumcision ritual after giving his consent. I never believed in the concept of non-evolving religions. The fundamental human right to life and physical integrity is a wonderful accomplishment of the 20th century. Human rights are universal. They unite humankind. Modern religions should honor them.

mattbrowne's avatar

@Rarebear – I wasn’t talking about conversion. Suppose a boy of very liberal Jewish parents wasn’t circumcised. At the age of 15 of his free will he wants to be an orthodox Jew. Would he be recognized as a Jew by the orthodox community, if the circumcision took place at age 15 instead of right after birth? Or is his (full) Jewishness lost by missing the crucial deadline right after birth?

JLeslie's avatar

@mattbrowne I think there are definitely Jewish people who would not care if a man was circumcised. I personally would not be concerned if a man was uncircumcised regarding his ability to claim whether he is Jewish or not.

The problem with circumcision later is it is much more of an ordeal. I understand the argument for letting a man decide for himself. When does he decide, what age? Does he have to wait until 18? 16? All too late for his barmitzvah. Are most of those boys going to wish their parents had just done it when they were babies? When it was a week of healing and minimal pain, compared to 6–8 weeks of healing to get back to normal.

mattbrowne's avatar

@JLeslie – These are good arguments indeed. There’s seems to be an ethical dilemma here.

ragingloli's avatar

In Germany, the age of consent is 14 years. At that point, the person also becomes able to legally choose his religion or lack thereof, including, for example, leaving the church they currently belong to, even against their parents wishes.

JLeslie's avatar

@ragingloli So 14, still a little late for the barmitzvah, and still a bigger operation. Although, I would guess in Germany if a 12 year old wanted to be circumcised, and the parents consented, the boy could have it done? Or, would German law still look at that as the boy not being old enough to decide?

Rarebear's avatar

@mattbrowne It’s not just Orthodox Jews who perform britot. Every Jew does, except for a very small minority exception.

ragingloli's avatar

@JLeslie
Good question. Body modifications, like piercings, do require parental consent as well before the age of 18.
Personally, I think if a 12 year old voices his consent, then with parental approval and presence he can have it done.

gorillapaws's avatar

It occurred to me, what happens when a baby isn’t able to be circumcised on the 8th day after birth? What if there is a medical complication or it’s premature in an incubator? What if the Mohel is hit by a bus on his way over? What if the male child has an abnormal penis that would never allow for circumcision? Are there exceptions to this policy or are the babies not considered Jewish until this happens in all cases?

If a male infant dies before being circumcised is it still given the full Jewish funeral ceremony and buried in the same way a circumcised Jewish infant would be? I’m trying to understand how much tolerance the rules have for accommodating practical realities.

janbb's avatar

I can’t answer your questions according to Halakha – Jewish law – but I can tell you that my sons were circumcised in the hospital and I considered them Jewish.

JLeslie's avatar

@gorillapaws If a baby is premie or medically unable to have the circumcision, then the baby under Jewish law is allowed to wait. Judaism takes into consideration the health of the patient. For instance a person who is diabetic would be permitted to eat on a holiday that requires fasting.

I would assume a baby who died before circumcision is given a full Jewish burial. I can’t imagine the baby would not be given that honor, the baby died before the eight day. But, I am not sure of all the rules surrounding burial. Or, do you mean a baby not circumcised and older than 8 days?

Edit: Oh, I think, but not sure, that the bris takes place seven days after a doctor declares the baby is able to be circumcised if it can’t be done on the 8th day due to health reasons. I’ll try to find a Jewish website that answers these sorts of questions.

gorillapaws's avatar

@JLeslie Well both really. From my (very limited understanding) it seems the child isn’t Jewish until he’s circumcised. If the child hasn’t reached 8-days old then he technically wouldn’t be Jewish. If the Halakha is able to be flexible with regards to changes in science and mankind’s understanding of the world, or react to reasonable obstacles that occur in the real world, maybe it would be possible for them to allow boys to wait until they’re older in countries where such practices require the child to consent for himself?

JLeslie's avatar

This says the baby is actually circumcised as soon as he is healthy enough if it was delayed, which is different than how I remember it. I don’t know if it varies sephardic and ashkenazi, or if I am just totally wrong. Probably more likely I was wrong.

I hate to think any child below the age of 13, before his barmitzvah, would not receive proper burial. It just seems logical to me that God would understand the boy is innocent since it was up to his parents to have him circumcized. But, religions often dissappoint me, so I don’t know for sure. I hate the idea of original sin in Christianity for similar reasons. A perfect innocent baby, how can God want to punish it?

gorillapaws's avatar

@JLeslie Thanks for the link. I read a bit more and there is the obligation for a man to circumcise himself when he is able if it wasn’t done to him as a child. Perhaps that shows sufficient flexibility to accommodate a law requiring consent of the circumcisee?

I completely agree with your point on original sin.

Rarebear's avatar

I think that in a more liberal shul they would bury an uncircumcised male in a Jewish ceremony if he were brought up Jewish. But I don’t know for sure. Next time I see my rabbi (which is very infrequently) i will ask her.

JLeslie's avatar

@gorillapaws Doesn’t a baby need to be baptised to be Christian?

janbb's avatar

I think we’re wading off into territory we know nothing about. I can’t imagine that a baby born of Jews would not have a Jewish burial if he died before his bris. There is no concept of original sin in Judaism.

gorillapaws's avatar

I think it varies widely based on the denomination. I believe some denomination wait to baptize until the child is old enough to understand what’s going on. I think parents would still consider a baby Christian prior to the baptism (of course this makes sense because an infant can’t really have a religious belief system yet).

Rarebear's avatar

I found the answer. I was wrong.
http://www.jewishvaluesonline.org/96

JLeslie's avatar

@Rarebear I’m glad. I like when Judaism makes sense to me.

@gorillapaws I guess I was thinking more about getting into heaven since we were on the topic of death. And, not so much what the parents think, but the letter of law so to speak of the religion. What @Rarebear provided means to me that the baby will be just fine at the time of the messiah. He will be recognized as Jewish. Since Jews believe all good people can go to heaven it kind of is moot in terms of afterlife. Where the Christian God (and I see God as the same God in all Abrahamic religions, but for purposes of this discussion I say Christian God to clarify) seems to only let Christians. I hope an unbaptised baby would still be viewed as Christian, but I knowof several parents and grandparents who do the baptism behind a parent’s back to make sure the baby will be ok.

But, that is a separate matter, although intertwined, with a parent being able to bury their son with a Jewish funeral in a Jewish cemetary with Jewish customs. I noticed that the morning period is different for very young infants, I think it said less than 30 days? That makes sense to me, especially since during the time of the creation of these traditions there was a lot of infant mortality.

mattbrowne's avatar

Well, in secular societies (unlike in theocracies) laws made by the people supersede religious laws. Therefore we can expect that the German lawmakers will come up with something like

“Every person has the right to life and physical integrity (...). This does not apply to the circumcision of male babies.”

As a result, the court has to change the decision. What could happen next is that some human rights organizations go to the German Supreme Court which has to verify whether the changed law is constitutional. If it is, the activists could still go to the

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

Well, let’s see how things turn out. Btw, some bishops of the Catholic Church in Germany have criticized the court’s decision yesterday. Even though most German Christians are not circumcised, the Catholic Church is very worried. They perceive this as a very strong attack on the freedom of religion. European anti-discrimination laws would actually require the Catholic Church to consider female applications for priesthood. But again there were some additions to the law like

“Every person has the right to choose every profession. Men and women are equal (...). This does not apply to the priesthood in the Catholic Church.”

Women rights organizations are furious.

ragingloli's avatar

@mattbrowne
They could find a solution similar or equivalent to that found in the case of abortion.
The german supreme court ruled that abortion violates the right to life of the fetus, which they ruled the constitution and therefore the state, protects from the moment of conception.
Technically, therefore, abortion is illegal in Germany. However, the court also ruled that the legislature has the right to define the punishment for abortion, so the legislature then enacted that, while abortion is still illegal, there will be no punishment as long as certain rules are followed, such as performing it within 3 months of conception, being councilled on the consequences of the abortion by a medical professional, and waiting a few days afterwards to let it sink in.
So, in the case of circumcision, while it would still be illegal, punishment could be dropped if similar rules are followed.

Personally, I would find it insulting if lawmakers would make a categorical exception in case of circumcision, valueing religious freedom over the fundamental right to physical integrity of the baby.

mattbrowne's avatar

@ragingloli – I agree with you, although I would use slightly different wording. Abortion is wrong and it should be avoided. The goal should be zero abortions as a result of zero unwanted pregnancies. Good sex education is important. Punishing doctors and women is wrong too, but it makes sense to have certain rules in place such as a waiting period and mandatory counseling.

I said this in the other thread: I don’t believe in forms of religions that exclude people because they keep their foreskin, or because they are divorced, or because they are gay. However, the form of religion I prefer is not one that appeals to everybody.

cazzie's avatar

@ragingloli and @mattbrowne What they could do, then, it leave it up to the children that grow up circumcised. If they want to pursue reparation or criminal charges against their parents or religion later in life for doing it to them against their wishes, perhaps that should be written in.

All is not lost, though. I just heard about this and had to google it.

http://www.wikihow.com/Re-Grow-a-Foreskin

mattbrowne's avatar

Thanks for the link @cazzie. Interesting!

ragingloli's avatar

@cazzie
The problem with that is, that children that grow up in an environment that does not consider a crime to be a crime and wrong, will not grow up to see it as a violation.
In a society where child molestation was accepted and common (Ancient Greece, specifically Sparta with its institutionalised pederasty, for example), the victims would not think they had been violated once they grow up.

bkcunningham's avatar

@cazzie, is that for real? The solution to growing back foreskin is to gently and continuously stretch it? It sounds like a joke.

cazzie's avatar

@ragingloli circumcision of both boys and girls is just one of those ingrained religious things. If a child grows up in the environment without it done, they are likely to feel like a freak and unaccepted as well, so NOT cutting them can be harmful psychologically because they are indoctrinated into a religion and being told they are not really jewish (or muslim) because they haven’t had a rather delicate portion of their bodies cut off regardless of how devout they are. Can’t do much for anyone who ‘drinks the coolaid’ as they say. Lost forever to rational thought. (Not that I don’t think one can’t have spiritual and religious leanings without loosing all ties to the rational…) But this form of branding one’s kind is not rational, but based on blind following and tradition. A ‘covenant with their god’. Humans simply are not rational beings. Fortunately, I am not one. I think I must be a cyborg because this way of thinking simply is beyond my reasoning skills. (or perhaps my reasoning skills are superior? one could argue that?) But, for the time being, female circumcision is seen as a crime (but is still horrifically encouraged and the girls are pressured in some societies, regardless of geographic location), but male circumcision is socially acceptable, regardless of the reasoning behind it. I carry out my beliefs within the law, and Jews and Muslims and others who prefer to do that to their babies, carry out their beliefs within the law. Sånn er det, as we say in Norway. I will not be picketing any mosques or temples or pediatric wards over the issue. But, when someone (who seems to have asked this question to simply hear corroborating views) brings up this subject and openly asks for opinions, I will give mine. It is just my opinion. And I am the queen of nothing, I assure you. (things got a bit snippy in here.)

@bkcunningham that is absolutely true. Some men feel so cheated that, as babies, they had skin taken off their penis that they will go to extreme lengths (pardon the pun) to right the wrong they feel they had been forced to endure, even though the nerves and sensitivity isn’t quite the same.

JLeslie's avatar

Again, in the US circumcision is not usually done for religious reasons, especially in the past. It was cultural. I agree with @cazzie a boy can feel like an outcast whether he was circumcised or not, just depending on whether he is the minority or not in that particular group of boys. One more time I will point out that Jews and Muslims make up a tiny weeny percentage of the US population. I would guess in Europe circumcisicion is rarely done to boys who are not Jewish nor Muslim, and so Europeans most associate it with those religions. And, of course this question directly asks about the religious connection. I do wonder if they outlawed male circumcision here, except for religious purposes, what our country would think? About 50% of parents still have it done to their male children, so I wonder if America would say, “ok,” and just go along with it.

cazzie's avatar

@JLeslie the question specifically states that banning said practice is construed as a ‘bigoted antisemitic and antimuslim court decision or a triumph for human rights.’ Nothing about secular use of the practice.

bkcunningham's avatar

You said, “tiny weeny,” @JLeslie. hee hee

JLeslie's avatar

@cazzie I acknowledged the question specifically asks about religious circumcision, but I keep getting the feeling some of the Europeams don’t get that in the US that ccounts for a very small percentage of our circumcicion, so we come from a very different perspective on the topic.

Rarebear's avatar

Plastic surgery on the penis. Sounds like fun.

RareDenver's avatar

I’m still pissed off that some dude sprinkled magic water on my head when I was a baby, can’t imagine how pissed off I would be if he had cut my foreskin off!

filmfann's avatar

When my infant son was circumcised, it took nearly a week to heal. I am sure he was in pain, but this was the choice my wife and I made, based on our religion, and on current medical evidence that showed circumcised boys live longer, and are more disease free.

Keep in mind the removed foreskin often goes on to live productive lives. Many are contributors to this site.

bkcunningham's avatar

@RareDenver, like my momma always said, “Better to be pissed off than pissed on.”

cazzie's avatar

@filmfann just called some of us schmucks. Are we going to stand for that?

rooeytoo's avatar

And give him lurve for so doing!

mattbrowne's avatar

Lawmakers just announced to change the existing laws as everyone expected they would. Circumcisions will be possible. Some activists here have already started to protest. But there will be a large majority in the parliament.

Rarebear's avatar

@mattbrowne Thanks for the update.

noraasnave's avatar

Someone in this thread brought up the point that the child doesn’t get to decide so it is wrong. Many decisions are made for a child: Birthday (or at least birth ‘time of year’, name, religious or non-religious practices, parents, immunizations, formula, brand of diaper, smoking/non-smoking parents, drug abusing parents, breastfeeding, baby toys, and the list goes on and on. Babies make no decisions, except to let their caretakers know when they aren’t happy.

I think it would be wrong for the government to decide what is happening as far as circumcision but as long as the parents decide, it seems, that like it or not, they are the best suited to decide. So I think it is inappropriate for the government to make this decision.

So as long as the circumcision is for sexual fulfillment it is okay, So in other words just don’t check the religious block on the paperwork?

Dutchess_III's avatar

What in the world could circumcision have to do with sexual fulfillment @noraasnave?

DrBill's avatar

@Dutchess_III

it makes a huge difference, to explain it would take more room than I have here. the difference is why I oppose circumcision except for medical necessity.

mattbrowne's avatar

@noraasnave – Baby girls who get their clitoris cut away are not happy, and their barbaric parents still decide it’s best for them. Are they best suited to decide? Should governments stay out of this too?

DrBill's avatar

@mattbrowne

Everyone should stay out of it except for the guy it is attached to.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@DrBill I was just trying to figure out what @noraasnave could possibly be referring to as far as “sexual gratification”, especially as we’re talking about days old infants. I personally, think it would be detrimental for that reason.

noraasnave's avatar

On point of fact, @Dutchess_III you misquoted me in the post directly above, I never proffered the term “sexual gratification” and I agree that would be questionable concerning a baby.

@Dutchess_III I have known adult males who have been circumcised for sexual fulfillment. I have known parents that have had their baby boys circumcised for the child’s future sexual fulfillment, and not for religious reasons. According to the Adult males I am referencing getting circumcised as an adult is much more painful, since babies don’t have an erection in response to external stimuli.

@DrBill I didn’t realize that the topic was on little girls or whatever the grotesque process you mention is called. I don’t think removing a guys foreskin precludes sexual pleasure in the way that a woman’s clitoris would.

No, it should not be legal to remove a child’s nose, ears, clitoris, or any other parts that they come with, but foreskin of a baby can benefit them for reasons cited in other responses to this question.

@DrBill No, parents don’t always try to do what is best for their children. To this point, in my experience most parents don’t. In extreme, dire, situations the government does a better job of making decisions for children, and that is a statement to how bad the situation is for children in today’s world. This is nothing new, and the situation you posit seems to fit that criteria.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Semantics, dear. However worded you were expressing concerns about an infant’s sexual fulfillment, gratification, whatever. I don’t think that is the parent’s choice to make. I also think circumcision would negatively affect sexual fulfillment.

Also, where do you get the idea infants don’t get erections due to external stimuli?

noraasnave's avatar

@Dutchess_III parents make a lot of decision for children that will affect their future for good or ill, it is our blessing and our curse. Some of the things we decide to do to help them hurt them, and some thing we do to hurt them end up helping them.

I will concede that hurting a child as an infant, when they can’t adequately express themselves is questionable, but then I realize that the birth process isn’t a pain free process, so then should we stop putting babies through that process as well?

I also concede that when the diaper is first removed and the cold air hits the baby’s penis that it does get an erection and even many times pees, to the surprise of the person changing the diaper, at least at first.

It is helpful to understand that you don’t care about semantics, I thought it would be helpful to pay attention to the words you use on this site. I was clearly wrong, I will go by body language instead!

Dutchess_III's avatar

You seem to approve of parents approving of circumcision for their infants for sexual gratification: “So as long as the circumcision is for sexual fulfillment it is okay…” Or did I misread that too.

noraasnave's avatar

@Dutchess_III for FUTURE (hopefully Adult) sexual FULFILLMENT. Seriously…lol?? You used the term “sexual gratification” again? I have no idea how sexual gratification even enters into circumcision. You seem fond of the term, why don’t you explain how it works? It seems like I am the victim of your projection.

Dutchess_III's avatar

What is the difference between sexual fulfillment and sexual gratification? If the difference is horribly significant I shall apologize.

OK. Backtrack then. You have no idea how sexual gratifcation even enters into circumcision, but apparently you feel that sexual fulfillment enters into circumcision. I’m just asking you to explain what you mean.

noraasnave's avatar

Gratification is more ‘self’ oriented, fulfillment is more ‘other’ oriented. Specifically, circumcision, from what I have heard, is more fulfilling to the female partner of a heterosexual relationship. Hence the reason I used the term fulfillment.

To answer your second question. How could circumcision bring about sexual fulfillment for an infant who is days old? It couldn’t. I was referring to the sexual fulfillment of the infant when it grows up to adulthood and then engages in sexual relationships.

Since making the statement that I don’t know how sexual gratification works for an infant, I have read a few definitions for both. But since I was seeking to apply neither sexual gratification nor sexual fulfillment to an infant, but to the infant when he/she grows up I hardly see the relevance.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Hm. Do you have any links to support the idea that a circumcised penis is more gratifying to the female? That just doesn’t really make much sense to me.

noraasnave's avatar

My friend is being stubborn, he refuses to link his penis to the internet along with his sexual experience.

Dutchess_III's avatar

What? You mean, you’re basing your information on some GUY who has this crazy idea that his penis is more magical than other guys’ penis?? Every guy thinks that! And every woman lets them! End of discussion.

mattbrowne's avatar

@DrBill – Well, I realized that circumcision really is the number one religious duty of orthodox Judaism in Germany after a boy is born. If this doesn’t happen the boy is no longer considered to be Jewish. I was surprised to learn about this exclusion principle. And I don’t agree with it at all.

Dutchess_III's avatar

What exclusion principal are you referring to @mattbrowne?

mattbrowne's avatar

The one @Rarebear pointed out. Only circumcised boys and men are considered part of the orthodox Jewish community. So a non-circumcised man could follow all the other traditions of the religion and he would still remain excluded. This is the reason why the whole thing is such a big deal.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well, it’s just the Jewish tradition. I don’t understand it either. I could even say I disagree, but that is totally beside the point. The tradition goes back thousands and thousands of years. This is one of those uncommon situations where you just can’t inject 21st century logic into it.

mattbrowne's avatar

Update from Germany:

“On June 26, 2012, a court in Cologne, Germany ruled that circumcision was “inflicting bodily harm on boys too young to consent”, deciding that the practice contravenes the “interests of the child to decide later in life on his religious beliefs”. The decision of the court in the city of Cologne, that a child’s right to physical integrity trumps religious and parental rights, applied only within the jurisdiction of that court. The ruling was condemned by Jewish and Muslim groups in Europe. A broad majority of German lawmakers passed a resolution asking Angela Merkel’s government to clarify the ruling so as to allow Jews and Muslims to continue to practice their religion. On 12 December 2012, following a series of hearings and consultations, the Bundestag adopted a law explicitly permitting non-therapeutic circumcision to be performed under certain conditions by a vote of 434–100, with 46 abstentions.

janbb's avatar

@mattbrowne Thanks for the update!

JLeslie's avatar

Yes thanks.

I think it is odd to allow something like this for religious purposes. The courts are saying they basically think it is harmful and unfair to the child, but for religious reasons you can harm your child? And, if someone is not Muslim or Jewish they are not able to have their son circumcised even if they feel it is best? Isn’t that discriminating against people who are not Jewish or Muslim? I am in favor of allowing parents to choose to circumcise, I don’t think their religion should matter.

mattbrowne's avatar

@JLeslie – The majority of our lawmakers think that circumcision inflicts bodily harm and cannot be done without the consent of the child before the age of 14. However, because freedom of religion is part of our constitution as a fundamental right there is this exception.

rooeytoo's avatar

Seems like discrimination to me. But I guess you could conveniently convert and then revert after the fact.

mattbrowne's avatar

I agree, @rooeytoo, it’s discrimination against non-religious people who want their baby circumcised. Our lawmakers are facing a dilemma here. Their ultimate concern is Germany’s reputation abroad. Our country can’t be the first one to forcefully end a Jewish tradition that’s several thousand years old. Nazi Germany killed 6 million Jews. Democratic Germany can’t outlaw a fundamental Jewish tradition. I wonder why no other country unburdened by history is dealing with the issue of bodily harm inflicted on a baby who might later object to it. I object to circumcision for another reason as well: no religion should keep a tradition that makes boys more important than girls. The real reason behind circumcision is celebrating male offspring.

gorillapaws's avatar

@mattbrowne I can be certain of one thing at least. The reason no other countries are tackling this issue is that it’s political suicide for any politician’s career. Just look at how much controversy it stirred up here.

JLeslie's avatar

@mattbrowne I agree Germany can’t do it. And, as I said above, I also believe it is discrimination to only let specific groups still do the practice. I think Germany was mistaken to ever even take on the issue regarding the law. Germany certainly can educate it’s citizens about circumcision, various views and medical information, and the population would likely be swayed, I assume it already is, to not do it as compulsory for male infants.

There are European countries that have forbidden certain practices for killing animals under kosher law. I assume they came to agreement with Jewish authorites, some sort of compormise acceptable to both the Jewish people in the country and the lawmakers. I have only read short articles aboutit a long time ago, so my memory isn’t very good on the topic.

In my mind freedom of religion is to protect people to build places of worship, to enter those places, to not have a government that insists it’s population worships one specific God or religion. But, I don’t believe in protecting religious law that harms people. If a Muslim lives in America and thinks it is ok to kill his daughter who had sex with a schoolmate, well, too bad, he does not get to practice that under the protection of religious freedom.

I think there is often grey lines in what people believe harm children. We have seen many arguments about corporal punishment, circumcision, verbal abuse, and I guess the law has to decide when the “harm” is so extreme it is unacceptable and agrred upon as very harmful by experts and the majority. Still, it can be very difficult.

As far as Judaism putting more importance on boys, I think the majority of Jews, the secular ones and even some who are religious don’t think in terms of looking to their religion with how they treat women. Now girls have baby naming parties and Bat Mitzvahs to be the equivalent of circumcision and Bar Mitzvahs. This has been going on since I was a young girl, and I am 45 years old.

I don’t know any Jewish person personally who expects women to be submissive to men. I know a lot of Christians who use those words, I don’t jnow how that plays out in their actual marriages though. I just went to a Christian wedding where she said she would submit to her husband, and my guess is they are in practice going to be a loving couple that works together, not that she will be obedient to him. Even the Orthodox Jews I personally know the women are educated and work. But, there are some very religious groups where the women conforms fairly strictly to specific roles, like the chassidic Jews. At my Jewish wedding both of my parents walked me down the aisle and stood under the chuppah with me, I see this in many Jewish weddings, I have yet to go to a Christian wedding where the mother was given the same honor as the father to walk their daughter or son down the aisle. But, I assume some do do it.

I don’t know how it is in Germany, maybe with the country’s past the Jews who are still there are very clannish and religious as a reaction to the history. I see in Mexico the Jews tend to be quite religious, I guess as a reaction to having lived in a Catholic country. Here in America I am shocked at how many religious Jews there where I live in TN. It’s like innthe bible belt every religion is just more religious. I see more Muslims covered from head to toe in the south then I ever did living in the northeast.

Anyway, my only point is, Jewish people around the world have incredibly high rates of tertiary education (both genders) many Jews are athiests (estimated at 40%) and generally girl babies are thought of as less desireable like we see in some other cultures. They stay with traditions for many reasons and maintain their Jewish identity, not usually because of their belief in God and following the commands from the torah, but rather as an identity. Most people I know whether Jewish or Catholic circumcise because they believe it to be better medically. That is a separate argument, which I won’t go into, but it is not that they think God will dissapprove, many of them are atheists.

It never occured to me circumcising a boy signifies males are more important.

rooeytoo's avatar

I wondered if that was actual jewish theory – that circumcising makes males more important???

mattbrowne's avatar

The issue arose, because of a single court’s ruling in Cologne. Courts don’t make laws. They interpret them. Circumcision had never been mentioned in any German law before the incident. After the ruling, German lawmakers had no choice but to take on the issue regarding the law in order to ensure the legality of circumcision. And the court had no choice but to come up with a ruling either. When a 4-year-old Muslim boy began bleeding two days after his circumcision, his parents took him to the casualty ward of Cologne’s university hospital. The hospital contacted the police, who then launched an investigation. Then charges were pressed and a court had to look into the issue.

I know that the vast majority of today’s Jews support equal rights for men and women.

This doesn’t change the fact that Judaism, like many other religions, arose in a time of patriarchal social structures celebrating the birth of a boy while being disappointed about the birth of a girl. The symbolism of male circumcision stems from this historical fact. It is about the celebration of the penis and masculinity and men as progenitors. Many of today’s Muslims celebrate a boy’s circumcision letting them parade on the street like a king, see for example this picture

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-TwN4YUEoRBU/ThkwCdWNJTI/AAAAAAAAC9s/4Bf17LYNr78/s1600/circumcision+party.jpg

Today, like the Catholic Church, orthodox Judaism discrimates women by not allowing them to become rabbis (btw Rabbi Regina Jonas, the world’s first ordained female rabbi, was ordained in Germany in 1935, and she died in Auschwitz in 1944). Orthodox Judaism also discriminates against uncircumcised boys and men by not recognizing them as Jews. Circumcision must become a choice. Freedom of religion includes the right to modernize religions in my opinion.

JLeslie's avatar

I should have written girl babies are NOT thought of as less desireable. Man, that was a big mistake. Totally changes the point I was making, but, I assume you understood my mistake from your response.

Many many religions when followed strictly put women in a submissive role, I agree. Jews have an incredibly high rate of non religious people who still identify as Jewish was my only point. I agree freedom if religion means the right to modernize. In fact, Judaism is a prime example of it in my opinion. We have sort of formalized the modernization by dividing into groups as orthodox, conservative, and reformed.

In the US there was a case, probably more than one case, of something going wrong during circumcision. One rather famous one was regarding a practice that was not sanitary. There are laws now regarding sterile requirements no matter who performs the procedure.

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