Monday, August 13, 2007

Keep circumcision safe and legal

A prominent gay blogger is calling for circumcision to be universally banned.

D. Stephen Heersink, who runs "The Gay Species" blog, argues that circumcision is against the Geneva Convention, which calls it "barbaric" and "inhumane". Hmmm. Circumcision is against the Geneva Convention, but abortion isn't? Boy, that certainly tells us something, doesn't it?

Heersink also argues that it "desensitizes" men. And we know how bad the problem of desensitized men is today, don't we?

Here in Kentucky we have people wanting to mandate a vaccine that prevents HPV for all middle-school girls because it would save lives. But recent studies show that circumcision dramatically reduces HIV transmission, so, by the same logic, we should mandate circumcision middle school boys, an idea I have advocated, tongue firmly implanted in cheek.

What I wouldn't give to see Heersink and Rep. Kathy Stein together discussing their views on circumcision.

Keep circumcision safe and legal.


Beanie's Appa said...

I'm down here in TN, and in my mind, if people want to mandate the HPV vaccine for girls, the same logic applied to boys would mean mandating the HPV vaccine for boys. Is there any reason to believe the HPV vaccine wouldn't work on boys?

The key difference between a vaccine and circumcision is cutting on genitals - already banned by law for girls.

The only reason I can see that makes it tougher to ban circumision on boys is the largely male body of lawmakers that are already circumcised. Would they be man enough to say they are missing something special and that their parents did something wrong to them?

Martin Cothran said...

Actually, the HPV vaccine does not work on boys--only on girls.

And believe me, circumcision is not the worst problem politicians have.

Anonymous said...

Since the Geneva Convention is concerned with the treatment of prisoners of war, one can draw one of two conclusions.

One is that Heersink is concerned about possible (or actual?) events concerning circumcision of prisoners of war.

Another is that, like many if not most anti-circumcision zealots, he hasn't the slightest clue about what he's talking about.

Anonymous said...

Christinaist embracing torture techniques is so "charitable." Jesus must be embracing your cut foreskins. Did god get the human body wrong, so that cutting foreskin makes it better, less sensitive, and more sexually-dysfunctional? Not a very intelligent designer. I suppose we should cut off the clitoris to please Yahweh, too. Cut off women's breasts as well, mutilate them, that way you won't have to cover their bodies, which entice men's lusts. Just keep them silent, spreading their legs so they can bear YOUR children, for the greater glory of god.

Anonymous said...

Andrew Sullivan has been saying the same thing. As has, interestingly enough, the Catholic Church. Bodily mutilation (and that is exactly what it is) is forbidden. If our bodies are created good by God (and this it particularly pertinent to creationists) then we probably should not go about lopping off body parts. Seems pretty straightforward to me.

I hope the argument is not that we should keep circumcision legal because the Jews did it in the Old Testament. If that's the case, then perhaps we should allow female circumcision, since that is a practice of many African Muslims, and we're already allowing genital mutilation as an exercise of religion. It is worse, but only by degree.

Martin Cothran said...

Well, we do try to keep this blog at least PG-13, so I'm tempted to delete Mr. Heersink's post, but I think I'll just let it stand.

Let me just say that Mr. Heersink's reasoning seems somewhat strange to me. Uncircumcized men of the world, unite! You have something to lose: your prepuces!

By his logic, I had better not cut my hair, or shave either. That would be changing what God created, wouldn't it? And if I change my mind and join his cause, how comfortable should I feel about clipping my fingernails?

Interestingly, some very orthodox Jewish sects, while practicing circumcision, do not cut their hair. Mr. Heersink presumably does just the reverse: while he reviles circumcision, he cuts his hair. But at least the orthodox Jews, while avoiding cutting their own hair, don't accuse people who do of bodily mutilation.

And maybe he could explain how circumcision makes people sexually disfunctional? On the other hand, maybe he'd better not. That would definitely earn us an R rating.

Anonymous said...

It is clear that as the benefits of male circumcision mount up, the latest being the 60% protective effect of male circumcision against female-to-male HIV infection, the rabid anti-circumcision lobby will become more shrill and over-the-top as their desperation increases.

With the WHO and UNAIDS now calling for mass male circumcision we will see these anti-circumcision zealots become more marginalized and more desperate.

New Data on Male Circumcision and HIV Prevention: Policy and Programme Implications

Anonymous said...

Oh yes... and before I forget there is this nonsense about the foreskin having some sexual function.

Believe it or not the anti-circumcision zealots actually organized and funded a study to prove just that. I mean would you believe the findings of a study into smoking organized and funded by Big Tobacco? But these guys are so desperate that they are trying to pull this off to save the foreskin.

Then comes a study that proves them wrong and they go ballistic:

Boy is it sad to see these anti-circ guys crash and burn like this...

solarity said...

Two five year old boys are sitting in a hospital waiting room. One leans over to the other and says, "What are you in here for?"

The other says, "Circumcision."

The first boy says "Oh, man! I had that done right after I was born. I couldn't walk for a year!"

Anonymous said...

If one is not able to distinguish between cutting off ones body parts and cutting off ones hair, I do not think there is a point in arguing. I suppose by your thinking there is nothing wrong with tattooing, nose piercing, branding etc etc.

The fact is simply this: amputating body parts is unnatural. When it is performed on someone without their permission it is wrong.

And hey, if it's justifiable for medical benefits (there's just as much evidence that Catholicism medically wards off HIV in Africa) then why not cut off the whole thing? Then we wouldn't need to worry about STDs.

TLC Tugger said...

If there was a way to change a baby boy so that he would never have to shave his face as long as he lived (and suppose it had zero risks or side-effects), we would say that's wrong; he should get to decide for himself as an adult. What if he wanted to grow a beard?

In case you didn't notice, the UNAIDS report cited does not recommend infant circumcsion. It does not say circumcision is more effective than condoms, and it does not say circumcision protects women from infected men (or from pregnancy, for that matter).

It also does not explain how a half million cut-at-birth American men have died of AIDS, or how non-cutting Japan can have lower HIV incidence than 95%-cut Israel.

HIS body, HIS decision.

Anonymous said...

Some clown said: "And hey, if it's justifiable for medical benefits ... then why not cut off the whole thing? Then we wouldn't need to worry about STDs."

This is the normal parting shot from a skin freak who has seen his argument crash and burn. The foreskin is merely a mammalian penile sheath and it is only in the minds of anti-circ dreamers that it has some sexual function.

See here:

Martin Cothran said...

What about if we were able to circumcise the child in utero--while, according to your all's pro-abortion friends, the fetus is still a part of the woman's body? Is that okay?

Anonymous said...

Ron said: "It also does not explain how a half million cut-at-birth American men have died of AIDS'

Now lets look at the US stats shall we from

At the end of 2005 it was found that only 11% of males were in infected through heterosexual activity. 59% through many having sex with men (MSM), 20% through injecting drug use (IDU), a further 8% from those involved in MSM sex and IDU and the rest unknown source of infection.

So only 11% of HIV+ men in the US have been HIV infected by that means.while the majority are homosexual and/or IDU drug abusing. Obviously the majority of those dying were not through heterosexual infection.

Now of this 11% of males there are no circumcision statistics yet it is known that 15% of the 11% are White, no-Hispanic (reflecting 60% of the population), Of the 62% of the 11% Black/African American (reflecting 12% of the population), and 20% of the 11% Hispanic (reflecting 14% of the population).

There you have it so predominantly circumcised white heterosexual males have a 0.002% chance in the US of being HIV+. Non-black Hispanics heterosexual males have a 0.017% chance of being HIV+ (8.5 times higher than whites) and Black/African American males have a 0.061% chance of being HIV+ (30.5 times higher than for whites.)

So having been through this now Ron if you continue to post this garbage to the net it would be obvious that your intention is to spread disinformation in support of your anti-circumcision activism. If you can't be truthful in your campaign who do you really think will support such a dubious cause?

Anonymous said...

Joshua Amos,

The issue of whether or not circumcision can prevent some disease is entirely irrelevant. The point is that it is a part of the body, and its removal is amputation. Perhaps amputation should be allowed: there are actually fetishists who amputate body parts for sexual reasons, and I suppose that is their right. However, to amputate the body part of a child without their consent is unjustifiable.

And, to point out the obvious, circumcision is typically performed by fundamentalists (who miss the whole council of Jerusalem part of the NT) for religious reasons. Again, there is a difference only in degree, not in kind, between those who practice circumcision on males and those who do it on females.

Anonymous said...


Can we agree then that circumcising a child inside and outside the womb is wrong as it is a person who has not consented to any kind of amputation?

Martin Cothran said...


I would agree that IF circumcising a child is wrong, THEN it is wrong whether it takes place inside or outside the womb. My comment was partly tongue in cheek, as I cannot resist taking a jab at people who don't see the obvious truth that unborn children are human persons too, and should be treated in a similar way.

However, I do not agree with the antecedent of the above statement, "circumcising a child is wrong." Now, first, I think that, since circumcision being wrong is not self-evident, that the burden of proof is on those who say it is. But the only argument they offer is the following:

All amputation is wrong.
Circumcision is amputation.
Therefore, circumcision is wrong.

But that argument begs the question, since, in order to know the truth of your first premise--whether all amputation was wrong, you would first have to assume your conclusion--that circumcision was wrong. Otherwise, all amputation would not be wrong.

To just simply use a scary word to describe circumcision does nothing to prove your point.

When you use the term "amputation", you conjure up images of the cutting off of arms and legs. But that is a purely rhetorical ploy, and it leaves the question of whether they really are of the same genus of things entirely unanswered.

What is the reason to believe that circumcision is like the amputation of body parts? The only argument for this I even recognize as an argument is Heersink's sordid descriptions his own perverse self-indulgence.

Not exactly a recipe for a successful public relations campaign on this issue.

Anonymous said...

"Now, first, I think that, since circumcision being wrong is not self-evident, that the burden of proof is on those who say it is."

Ok, let's take the case of those fetishists who amputate limbs for sexual purposes. Let's say that these fetishists do this in a marital relationship. If you would say that this is wrong (and any normal person would) then the burden of proof is on you to demonstrate why this is wrong.

Let's take another example: female circumcision. It's more painful, but this again is a difference in degree not in kind. Tell me Martin, why do you think female circumcision should be wrong (if you do)? I'm guessing the answer is that the Jews did it in the Old Testament. On this point I will just refer you to Pope Eugene when he was dealing with a sect of Christians that practice circumcision:

[The Holy Roman Church] firmly believes, professes and teaches that the legal prescriptions of the old Testament or the Mosaic law, which are divided into ceremonies, holy sacrifices and sacraments, because they were instituted to signify something in the future, although they were adequate for the divine cult of that age, once our lord Jesus Christ who was signified by them had come, came to an end and the sacraments of the new Testament had their beginning. Whoever, after the passion, places his hope in the legal prescriptions and submits himself to them as necessary for salvation and as if faith in Christ without them could not save, sins mortally. It does not deny that from Christ's passion until the promulgation of the gospel they could have been retained, provided they were in no way believed to be necessary for salvation. But it asserts that after the promulgation of the gospel they cannot be observed without loss of eternal salvation. Therefore it denounces all who after that time observe circumcision, the sabbath and other legal prescriptions as strangers to the faith of Christ and unable to share in eternal salvation, unless they recoil at some time from these errors. Therefore it strictly orders all who glory in the name of Christian, not to practise circumcision either before or after baptism, since whether or not they place their hope in it, it cannot possibly be observed without loss of eternal salvation."

Emphasis on the last sentence.

Anonymous said...

The American Academy of Pediatrics - no foe of neonatal circumcision of boys - uses the word "amputation" in their medical description of circumcision.

There it is, in stark medical terms. If you can't handle the medical truth, maybe you should rethink your position on forced genital cutting on non-consenting minors.

Martin Cothran said...

So I can just change the nature of something by using a creative adjective? Thanks for the tip.

Anonymous said...

"Amputate" is a verb. "Amputation" is a noun. That circumcision is amputation of the foreskin is just a medical fact.

Anonymous said...

Here's a thought experiment for pro-genital mutilation weirdos:

Pretend you didn't live in a culture which bizarrely cuts off part of male infants' genitals at birth.

A doctor approaches you after the birth of your son and tells you "I'm so sorry. A lunatic physician snuck in and sliced off part of your sons' penis while he was sleeping. It cause your son incredible pain and reduced his penis in size permanently, forever changing the way he has sex.

But he'll still be able to sexually function and bear children, so it's no big deal, right?"

You pro genital mutilation folks would be just fine with that, right?

Anonymous said...

I'm having my baby daughter's breast tissue removed after she's born.

I don't like the way large breasts look (just my preference) and there's also the risk of breast cancer so I'm doing her a favor.