Last week, Townhall published this essay by Michael Medved regarding circumcision and recent findings about its presumed HIV prevention. Lest you think it’s meant to be a balanced look at circumcision, in the sense that any argument that attempts to validate an insane idea against the critical opposition of logic, it’s not. But you’re probably aware of Michael Medved in general, so this comes as no surprise. If you don’t know in advance, the first paragraph signals his intentions. (Yes, that’s what an opening remark is supposed to do, but it doesn’t help if it’s a flawed assumption.)
For more than ten years, medical science has provided mounting evidence that circumcision brings substantial health benefits. Last week, the release of data from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) made worldwide headlines and gave new impetus for an ancient practice.
When an article begins by explaining that some new justification exists for an ancient practice, you know the writer is uninterested in questioning. In that case, the potential medical benefits are enough, the potential medical drawbacks don’t exist, and it’s preposterous to consider that the child might have a right not to be surgically altered on the whim of his parents. Mr. Medved doesn’t “disappoint,” in that regard. As support, he quotes only this:
“Look,” said Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which financed the trials. “This is a one-time, permanent intervention that’s safe when done under the appropriate medical conditions. If we had an AIDS vaccine that was performing as well as this, it would be the talk of the town.”
Ethical questions do not exist. He is not alone in this erroneous view, but this best exemplifies it. The mere presence of the word permanent should raise every red flag imaginable, whether ethical, legal, or parental. Instead, it’s seen as the greatest benefit. It’s blind.
In the middle of his essay and in his conclusion, Mr. Medved offers a religious defense which warrants a response. It’s not where I want to go with my analysis today, so I’ll point anyone interested here. Apply what I said then to this piece and you’ll have close to what I’d say now. There’s a little more that needs to be said on Mr. Medved’s conclusion, but that’s for another day. For now, you can figure out the gist from my analysis of his opening paragraph.
Instead, I want to highlight this bit of misdirection:
Meanwhile, there are various factors about this horrible plague of AIDS that deserve special attention from all those who take Scripture seriously.
For many years, we’ve known that the best way to contract AIDS is to engage in a practice (male homosexual “intercourse”) strictly prohibited by the Bible.
Now we learn that one of the best ways to protect against the disease is to follow a procedure solemnly commanded in the Bible (circumcision).
I have no idea if his misdirection is intentional or not. I’ve seen it in too many places recently to automatically assume that it’s malicious. It’s likely the same mental blindness that blocks out any negative while seeking to confirm existing beliefs. Regardless, the studies we’ve seen so far only addressed heterosexual HIV transmission from female to male. It’s his prerogative to believe that the Bible has issues with such “intercourse”. But it’s indefensible to apply unproven results to excuse genital surgery on children, especially when the majority of those children will never engage in the unconnected behavior he finds so repulsive and sinful. This does not reveal the wisdom of the Bible. It reveals the fallacy of self-selected facts.
P.S. Note how he states that engaging in an action is the best way to contract
AIDS HIV, without the proper qualification that irresponsibly engaging in that action is the cause. Excluding that key, irresponsibility, allows him to ignore the best protection, responsibility. Instead, unnecessary surgery on children is the answer. That’s quite convenient. In the realm of his essay, HIV prevention is an excuse, not a benefit.