Claiming victory is not the same as earning victory.

I stumbled upon an interesting list today at a site claiming to offer “News and Information on all aspects involving
Male Circumcision”. I was already aware of the site and its irrational support for infant male circumcision, so I’m not particularly surprised by this new-to-me list. I will not link it directly, but feel free to peruse the stupidity ( encompassed within the full list. It’s tilted “DEBUNKING THE MYTHS AND LIES MADE BY THE ANTI-CIRCUMCISION CULT”. Judge for yourself how well this pro-infant circumcision site debunks anything other than the pretense that its author is a credible sources of fact.

Allegation 13: Infant circumcision violates the (human) rights of the the [sic] child since it is done without his consent.

From the day that a child is born until it is old enough to make its own decisions, it is the responsibility of the parents to look after the welfare of their child. This means making decisions that they believe will be in their child´s best interest. If parents are convinced that circumcision will benefit their child, they have the legal and moral right to make this decision for him. … [emphasis in original]

Why refer to the child as “it”? “It” is clearly a “he” in this discussion. Do not disassociate the truth that the child is a person from the discussion of what will be done to him by others. Treating him like an independent person with his own opinions may lead to a different outcome. This is why many pro-circumcision advocates seek to circumcise infants. They know most males will opt against circumcision if they’re left with their choice. If advocates have to force an action onto someone for it to persist, the action is most likely illegitimate.

Of course his parents are responsible for his welfare. They can’t refrain from feeding him, or sheltering him, or any other standard of humane treatment. However, intervention outside of daily necessity requires that he have an underlying medical need. When circumcised, his foreskin is healthy. There is no medical need. Circumcision is beyond the realm of reasonable decisions parents may make for a healthy infant.

The troubling part of this attempted debunking is the final sentence I’ve excerpted. Look at the standard. There is nothing beyond parental intent. The parents merely need to be “convinced” about circumcision’s potential benefit to the child at some point in his unknowable future. This is a pathetic attempt at logic. This same unexamined trust in the wisdom of parents would permit female genital cutting, as well. Again, the parents only need to be convinced that it will succeed at achieving some nebulous outcome at some point in the future. Evidence – the standard for science – is absent.

This argument fails to surprise, of course. Parents determined to ignore the evidence of their child’s son’s healthy genitals will happily nod at an excuse that claims to validate their (illegitimate) legal and (alleged) moral rights. There is no regard for the boy’s natural human right to remain free from unnecessary harm. As long as he is healthy, circumcision is a violation. If his foreskin becomes a problem, circumcision is only valid if no less invasive solutions will work. Outside of that rare scenario, any surgical intervention on a child’s genitals is an unethical, immoral perversion of the parent-child hierarchy.

Parents are guardians, not owners. The child retains his rights.

2 thoughts on “Claiming victory is not the same as earning victory.”

  1. I agree that infant circumcision is wrong, but how does one respond to a comparison between it and surgical “correction” of polydactyly (extra digits)?

  2. The comparison isn’t really very good, in my mind. Ultimately the comparison is normal versus a deformity. The foreskin is supposed to be there. Extra digits are not.
    I’m inclined to use the normal to inform the abnormal. If it’s healthy, leave it alone. It’s not normal in the way the foreskin is, but it’s also not a health risk.
    That said, there’s the more obvious case that this will set the child apart from his or her peers. I understand the desire to make the child visibly consistent with the peer group. This at least has some logic in the desire to spare the child from teasing. Kids can see an abnormality (extra finger). They’re unlikely to see his intact penis.
    Those who offer a comparison like polydactyly – I more often see cleft palate used – seek to draw a justification for intervention on the normal based on the abnormal. That’s backwards. Just like legislating for the majority of scenarios based on one small possibility often leads to terrible outcomes, deciding on surgery has the same path. We should deal with the outliers when they arise. The normal should be left alone.
    Personally, as I said, I’m inclined to leave an extra digit alone. As for a cleft palate, it’s silly for anyone to argue that being against unnecessary infant circumcision requires someone to be against correcting a cleft palate. The deformity has a serious impact on a child’s quality of life.

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