Perception dictates more than reality.

In the circumcision debate, most regard those of us who would require immediate medical need before permitting the circumcision of children as the nutjobs. Consider this quick analysis of that opinion, based on two competing quotes from an Australian newspaper, The Age. First, this:

Kai is the third son the Barwicks have had circumcised by Dr Russell, a Brisbane GP who specialises in circumcision. “For us we decided to do it because of cleanliness and hygiene,” Ms Barwick said. “My third boy at two weeks had a urinary tract infection and Dr Russell said the circumcision would mean there would be less chance of this happening in the future.”

Second, this:

Dr [George] Williams does not understand why parents choose to circumcise their boys because of cleanliness. “It’s much harder for a female to practise hygiene but we don’t recommend circumcision of a female for that reason. This idea that males are hopeless and unable to look after themselves so they use circumcision as genital hygiene is just stupid.”

Notice, of course, that us in the first excerpt involves those in the family not in possession of the penis in question. Notice, also, that the second excerpt relies on logic, something absent from the first excerpt. A male infant’s intact foreskin adheres at birth, so his penis requires no more care than cleaning his finger. After circumcision, parents must care for the wound, which is clearly more work than having no wound.

Cultural acceptance does not make an argument the sane position in the debate. This is especially true in the first article, as it discards the ethical dilemma involved in forcing medically-unnecessary on a child because there’s “no pain.”

2 thoughts on “Perception dictates more than reality.”

  1. “This is especially true in the first article, as it discards the ethical dilemma involved in forcing medically-unnecessary [surgery] on a child because there’s ‘no pain’.”
    No pain, huh? Isn’t it funny how reporters will report things as facts without bothering to check into them first?
    Did the guy who wrote that story actually witness this allegedly totally painless circumcision being performed? Did he monitor the patient to make sure there were no signs of any pain being experienced?
    Circumcision advocates have made similar claims about circumcision under a local anesthetic being totally painless before (as if jabbing a baby in the groin two times with a hypodermic needle could ever be considered totally painless) and have been shown to be wrong.
    It’d be one thing if they claimed that the procedure was less painful than it used to be, but of course, being the compulsive liars they are, they have to “embellish” the truth and claim that it no longer causes any pain at all.
    It must be remembered that anesthetic creams aren’t nearly as effective as anesthetic injections. And the circumciser still has to tear the foreskin away from the head of the penis (something that causes serious pain in itself) before he can attempt to remove it, whether he uses a scalpel or not.
    Both of these things are reason enough to doubt the latest claims about circumcision not being painful anymore.

  2. I’m always amazed that people readily ignore the fact that, even if circumcision involves no pain (untrue, if only for the needle), the boy will feel pain during the healing process for the wound. That doesn’t count?
    Intact boys don’t have that. Tylenol isn’t sufficient. The ethical dilemma can’t be swept away because it’s uncomfortable.

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