Last week I entered a short exchange with a pregnant woman about circumcision. I thought it might go well enough, although I’m well aware that when people get it in their head that genital cutting is reasonable, there is little anyone can do to restore sanity. The need to dig in and not confront truth seems quite powerful.
One particular phrase jumped out at me in her entry:
…oh, the terror that awaits him. I hope I don’t have to take Alec in to get his circ done…
If it’s a terror, and you don’t want to do it, don’t do it. Maybe there was some connection to reality in there. So I commented, asking why she would go through with it if she knows it’s a terror and clearly doesn’t want to do it. Simple enough, I thought. Her response?
That was a little more like a “kidding around” type of thing. I don’t think it’s a horror. If it was a serious problem, they wouldn’t circumcise babies. 🙂
It gets worse from there, which you can’t validate for yourself because she deleted the first two comments and my response. It was long, but I addressed each of her wishful thoughts with facts. Clearly she didn’t like being challenged, so she deleted the “debate”, presumably to believe it never happened. Like I said, the need to dig in and not confront truth seems quite powerful.
I won’t bore you with the details of my second comment for I’d have to excerpt everything in her comment for it to make sense. But I opened with this:
If it was a serious problem, they wouldn’t circumcise babies.
That’s not true. Just because something is easy does not mean it’s right or in the boy’s best interest. Doctors regularly removed tonsils, but now it’s clear that tonsils fight infection. It’s not a routine procedure now. Doctors wait until disease that can’t be treated with less invasive measures. Explore history and you’ll find examples of medical practices that are now known to be wrong. Our medicine is the most advanced in human history, but that doesn’t mean we know everything and won’t know more in the future. We will rediscover the foreskin’s value. Other developed countries have abandoned infant circumcision to no ill effect.
Everyone who has even thought about exercising has heard the warnings about lactic acid. It builds up in your muscles. It is what makes your muscles burn. Its buildup is what makes your muscles tire and give out.
Coaches and personal trainers tell athletes and exercisers that they have to learn to work out at just below their “lactic threshold,” that point of diminishing returns when lactic acid starts to accumulate. Some athletes even have blood tests to find their personal lactic thresholds.
But that, it turns out, is all wrong. Lactic acid is actually a fuel, not a caustic waste product. Muscles make it deliberately, producing it from glucose, and they burn it to obtain energy. The reason trained athletes can perform so hard and so long is because their intense training causes their muscles to adapt so they more readily and efficiently absorb lactic acid.
How many more examples do we need from history? When we look back in the future at the madness that is forced circumcision, how will we view it? We’ve shown too much willingness to dig in despite facts for me to believe we’ll be harsh on ourselves. But history will not be kind.
Science changes, but even beyond the basic evidence-based facts, however flawed the methodology that generated them, common sense must prevail. That’s where the general idea “first, do no harm” originates. It’s one thing to believe the opposite about lactic acid. With infant circumcision a doctor willfully removes healthy tissue from a child for potential benefit, if the parents even care about the potential benefits. Too often the justification is purely social. Read many of the comments at Suburban Turmoil if you question how nonsensical some parents get when deciding to have someone cut their
children sons. I will never understand why parents value the possible opinion of another, future person over the normal, intact penis of their son.
Of interest, from the article on lactic acid, I doubt I’d phrase my indictment this nicely, but the basic idea is applicable to circumcision.
“It’s one of the classic mistakes in the history of science,” Dr. [George A.] Brooks said.
That’s just a theory with limited permanent impact. What would we call medically unnecessary genital surgery on non-consenting individuals? Parental choice? Classic, indeed. And insane.