Striking the Match

I know I’m overanalyzing with my interpretation of this because I come into the story with a (not really) unrelated bias. I also know that the author’s point is worth considering, that the foundation is a device to discuss a separate issue. But I can’t get past the obvious flawed assumption in promoting the photojournalist’s use of that device.

A photo of a young boy lying expressionless in a hospital bed hung behind Thorne Anderson.

“This is a boy who had a circumcision,” Anderson said. “It was discovered in that circumcision that he had a condition that would not allow his blood to clot.”

“Now, ordinarily this is very easy to treat. You can take regular dosages of a simple blood coagulant and then he can lead a relatively normal life. However, in Iraq, these blood coagulants, which are available everywhere in the third world, all over the planet, were banned from import under (the United Nation’s economic sanctions on Iraq). Because it was conceivably possible that they might be used as a precursor to a chemical weapon.” Anderson said.

“As a result, this 5-year-old kid died right in front me while I was making these photographs,” he said. “It was at that moment that I really became committed to covering the story in Iraq. Seeing this fraud, political conflict reduced to a human level created a frustration that made me want to tell this story.”

Before I step into any additional assumptions, I’m assuming the boy’s circumcision was not medically necessary. The article does not say, so I should not discount the possibility that it was medically necessary. But I will assume it was not; I’m probably correct. And it makes a useful device. (I’ve already addressed the more foundational assumption of ritual circumcision, which is glossed over to the point that it’s accepted by most as required by faith.)

The boy died because of circumcision, not because of economic sanctions that blocked the importation of blood coagulants. I don’t mean to sound cold, but if no one had cut him, the boy would not have bled. If he hadn’t bled that day, he wouldn’t have died that day. Bleeding and economic sanctions were the manner and the catalyst, respectively, of death, but they were not the cause. Circumcision killed that boy. Ignoring this is how statistics misrepresent the true complication rate of circumcision.

4 thoughts on “Striking the Match”

  1. Even boys with a potentially fatal blood disorder aren’t safe from this butchery (in Iraq or anywhere else). It’s unbelievable and unconscionable.
    Hemophilia is a clear contraindication for circumcision yet you have doctors out there circumcising young hemophiliacs anyway and, in the process, violating every ethical tenet known to man. And, as an added injustice, none of them has ever lost their license or been criminally prosecuted for their despicable misdeeds.

  2. Since the foreskin is a normal, natural part of the body, I’m not sure what hemophilia has to do with this arguement. People should leave boys intact regardless of a clotting disorder or not. Why is circumcision for a boy even still legal in the US? As I understand it, it’s illegal to cut a little girl (rightfully so). Why don’t parents just leave their sons alone too????

  3. Chris,
    The point with hemophilia is that circumcision is surgery. Most people ignore that and think they can cut boys with immunity. Society ignores this, so in this respect, they can operate with complete immunity. But simple human biology is a lot less forgiving. Then people act surprised that this could happen.
    Your overall point is correct, though. It shouldn’t be allowed.

  4. “Since the foreskin is a normal, natural part of the body, I’m not sure what hemophilia has to do with this arguement.”
    Performing medically unjustifiable surgery on a child with a potentially fatal bleeding disorder is clearly depraved and insane. The very idea is so reckless and so irresponsible, no one could possibly support it without appearing to be mentally ill….yet some do and we allow them to act on their impulse.
    The obvious question is, why? Has our society really degenerated to the point where things like common sense and human decency no longer matter?

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