Examples of “(male) children as chattel”

I don’t generally listen to what parents claim when they circumcise their sons. By nature of the act, they treat their son’s body as their property. They would deny it if confronted with this logic, and most aren’t willing to listen to even that. It’s mostly fruitless fodder for philosophical discussions.

Sometimes, though, parents come out and make it nakedly obvious. From this thread on cloth diapering after a circumcision, which descended into defensiveness and ad hominem. (To be fair, the original question asked for an answer independent of whether to circumcise or not.) Select quotes:

# 10: first off, ignore any “hate responses” as you are the parent and it is YOUR choice. Don’t listen to scare tactics. …

YOUR choice. Also, only those opposed to circumcising non-consenting, healthy children can use scare tactics, of course. A focus on HIV, UTI, penile cancer, STDs, hygiene, and social rejection aren’t fear-based tactics?

# 19: … What ever choice you make mamma is the right one. It is your son and your choice [sic]

There can be no objective truth, as long parents wish hard enough with good intentions.

# 37: … Dont [sic] worry about the anticirc posts, he’s your baby, it’s your decision. …

She’s your baby, it’s your decision? Nope.

I expect every single mother quoted here would deny that their words mean they consider their sons their property. But the logic just doesn’t hold up. It’s always the self-absorbed obsession with how circumcising affects them, without consideration for the how it affects the boy negatively or what objections he might one day raise. It’s their (capitalized for emphasis) decision.

This is interesting to me since I’ve encountered the hysteria that arises the moment anyone hints at a comparison of performing genital surgery on female minors. No woman would want that done to her. Duh. But every boy will be perfectly content if it’s done to him. He’ll applaud his parents. Again, duh. Except I can’t figure out how to get from “medically unnecessary” to “duh”, intellectually or emotionally. It will never compute because it requires willful ignorance.


For fun, here are two comments in response to the links offering information against the circumcision of children:

# 15: … she [sic] asked for ADVICE on CARING for an INFANT, not if you thought the reason behind that special care was/is warranted. …


# 27: And that pertains to cloth diapering after a circ how? …

The links pertain to cloth diapering because, at its core, if you don’t engage in a surgical violation of the healthy boy’s body, the debate over what to do to protect his sensitive penis is moot because nature’s already provided the protection. If you ask me what’s the best way to diaper a girl whose parents surgically altered her healthy genitals, I’m going to question the validity of the action that makes the question allegedly defensible. There is no difference because the cutting occurs on a penis rather than labia or a clitoris. None.

Throwing a Scalpeled Hail Mary.

Do unto others, or something like that:

During spring break, [University of Florida quarterback Tim] Tebow added a new facet to his fame. In an impoverished village outside General Santos City in the Philippines, Tebow helped circumcise impoverished children.

“The first time, it was nerve-racking,” he said. “Hands were shaking a little bit. I mean, I’m cutting somebody. You can’t do those kinds of things in the United States. But those people really needed the surgeries. We needed to help them.”

Others saw [Richard] Moleno, who after a crash course from the Filipino professionals, circumcised 10 boys and removed six cysts, some the size of tennis balls. Tebow helped with the last few circumcisions, growing more comfortable with each one.

“I got a kick watching him,” [Tim’s father] Bob Tebow said. “He did a great job, and he didn’t look really nervous. I wouldn’t let him cut on me, but he did well and helped where there was a need.”

Before I comment, circumcision in the Philippines is generally not like what we think of as circumcision. It is more an opening up of the foreskin through a dorsal slit than anything. It’s also a ritualistic transition from childhood to manhood, although it’s still forced on children. And the social pressure to circumcise is even more intense than it is in the United States.

Also, I have no idea if the boys in this story needed circumcision or not. I assume they didn’t, but the conditions they live in don’t exactly suggest that as an obvious assumption. The number of child circumcisions suggests, though, that there was more of a ritualistic “need” than a medical need. Obviously I oppose the former entirely, with condemnation for the latter only when less invasive treatments are ignored when treating a child.

To the story… This is something to joke about? “I wouldn’t let him cut on me…”, but it’s acceptable to cut on a child? One doesn’t have to grasp the ethical problem with the medically unnecessary circumcision of children to grasp that competence gained through extensive education should be a prerequisite for performing any surgery. There is a reason we won’t allow it in the United States. There are actual human – with rights – beings involved. Complications occur. What would someone have said if Tebow had made a mistake? Not that this story implies Tebow performed flawlessly on these people, but would an accidental amputation of the glans earned anything more than an “oops”?

I like to run with my intellectual curiosity, like most people. Yet, I’m capable of understanding that getting my jollies should still recognize the rights of others.

The entry where I praise Bob Barr.

I’ve encountered no comments from former Congressman, current (potential) Libertarian Party candidate Bob Barr in response to Exxon Mobil’s quarterly earnings statement last week, so I’ll find something to praise about a Barr policy.

I approach Mr. Barr with a sufficient level of distrust because of his actions while in Congress. I didn’t follow politics as closely during the mid-to-late ’90s, so I’m working from my barely-informed position from those days. Mark from Publius Endures sums up much of what I remember in much greater detail when discussing both his qualms and potential for supporting a Barr candidacy. I’m not sold. I am intrigued.

Being a Libertarian Party candidate is no guarantee that I, as a libertarian, will be remotely interested. I wasn’t interested for multiple reasons in 2004 when Michael Badnarik won the nomination. And I hadn’t been interested this year before Barr joined the fun. Barr’s insider knowledge and name-recognition might help. If it can help shake up Washington, we can certainly talk.

Obviously Barr will not win the presidency, if he runs. That’s not the point. But I would be ecstatic with a president who believes this (under “Individual Liberty” in the Issues link):

he United States was created for the purpose of securing the liberties of its people. The colonists fled oppressive old world governments. The nation’s founders drafted the Constitution to sharply limit the federal government’s powers. The horrors perpetrated by the many collectivist tyrannies of the 20th Century demonstrate that the danger of government, any government, violating individual liberty is greater today than when America was founded.

That he’s willing to say it is huge. We are citizens, not subjects. None of the other candidates remotely cares about this where it interferes with a favored constituent group’s rent-seeking behavior. That’s not to say Barr would implement this even if he could get Congressional cooperation. But I’d be satisfied with a government stalemate. No progress is better than further decline.

And this, titled “No Torture. No Exceptions.”:

This administration has gone beyond even the Bizarro World standard of declaring up to be down or left to be right. Not only is torture not torture, but there exists insufficient clarity even to know what is torture so we can determine whether an interrogation technique is torture or not. While the extreme sophistry and word gamesmanship practiced to a fine art by this administration might make a high school debating coach proud, it does great disservice to the notion that we exist in a society in which there are rules and norms of behavior with clarity and definitiveness and in which government agents as well as the citizenry are held to standards of behavior. This is not something of which we as Americans should be proud, and the use of torture will come back to haunt us in ways this administration apparently either doesn’t realize or simply doesn’t care about.


I found positions I (vehemently) don’t like among Barr’s positions. I’d also like details on what I like about his positions. I do not want to encounter another faux-libertarian who believes that liberty means accepting oppression locally as long as we remove the federal government from our lives. Another day.

The entry where I praise John McCain.

I’ve encountered no comments from Senator McCain in response to Exxon Mobil’s quarterly earnings statement last week, so I’ll find something to praise about a McCain policy.

I haven’t thought too deeply on the Second Amendment and all the implications. It just isn’t an issue I’m inclined to obsess over as a personal interest. Emotionally, I’m inclined to take a hard anti-libertarian position but that would be based outside of the fact pattern, as well as a dismissal of common sense and personal responsibility. I also understand more now about how a citizenry defends itself against tyranny from government or fellow men. The property right to one’s life is enough. So, I generally respect McCain’s position on the Second Amendment.

For example:

Gun Manufacturer Liability

John McCain opposes backdoor attempts to restrict Second Amendment rights by holding gun manufacturers liable for crimes committed by third parties using a firearm, and has voted to protect gun manufacturers from such inappropriate liability aimed at bankrupting the entire gun industry.

I don’t know enough about the legal details to have a position on how he proposes to achieve this. Still, when a business sells a legal, constitutionally-protected product in accordance that works correctly, what the buyer does with that product is the sole point for discussion. Gun manufacturers don’t kill people any more than Volkswagen kills someone when a drunk Passat owner gets behind the wheel and drives on the sidewalk. The product works as intended. End of discussion.

Also, this:

DC Personal Protection

As part of John McCain’s defense of Second Amendment rights, he cosponsored legislation to lift a ban on the law abiding citizens of the District of Columbia from exercising their Constitutional right to bear arms.

Once again, the legal questions are beyond my scope. But unlike D.C. voting rights, I can find no distinction within the Constitution that denies the protection of Second Amendment rights to residents of D.C. Any such argument essentially says that D.C. residents lose all Constitutional protection of their natural rights. That can’t be right.

Another contestant down.

I’m calling a technicality on this one because it doesn’t specifically refer to the release of Exxon Mobil’s quarterly earnings. Still, Sen. Obama is currently airing this ad in Indiana in anticipation of the coming primary. It has all the hot button issues: windfall profits, energy independence, foreign oil, and high gas prices. And there’s a belief that more money “invested” by the government will bring about a solution. That’s enough for a disqualification.

Is this a parental right?

Via Boing Boing, I thought baby dropping had to be a hoax.

Muslims in western India have been observing a bizarre ritual – they’ve been throwing their young children off a tall building to improve their health.

The faithful have been observing the ritual at a shrine in Solapur, in western India’s Maharastra, for more than five hundred years.

They believe it will make their children strong and say no accidents have ever happened.

The video accompanying the article suggests it is not a hoax, although I remain skeptical. But it does raise an obvious question. Is this a parental right similar to the claimed right to circumcise male – and only – male children? The child doesn’t need to be tossed from a building. There is an objectively identifiable, if hard to quantify, risk of injury, both minor and severe. There are benefits stated by parents that are subjectively identifiable, objectively unprovable for the child being tossed, and hardly guaranteed to be preferred by the child as an adult. Would he or she choose, as an adult, to be dropped from a building into a sheet below? (Note: The one child whose face we see closely in the video appears to be rather not enjoying the process.)

Compared to infant (male) circumcision, should baby dropping be treated ethically and legally different?

Don’t let the crazies get something more right than you.

It’s pretty pathetic when Conservapedia is more accurate on female genital mutilation (link) than most other Internet debate on the topic.

The procedure may range from a simple cut in the pubic region to the complete removal of parts of the female reproductive organs.

There’s very little else there, and there’s no source for the specific claim. (That could be here, as an example.) But it’s accurate, in a simplistic way that’s almost always missed.

Unfortunately, that sentence follows a statement that’s inaccurate because it’s partially refuted by the statement above.

Female circumcision, practiced in parts of Africa, is a much different procedure that can have lasting effects on a girl’s health.

That’s all there is. It’s not possible to argue the accurate claim that a form of FGM involves only a simple cut and still adhere to a claim that male genital mutilation is a “much different procedure”. I’m sure many would defend this by going into intent. I don’t accept that because the claim that FGM is strictly imposed to eliminate the ability to feel sexual pleasure is often wrong. There’s also the core human right to remain free from harm. Genital cutting on a healthy individual without the individual’s consent is wrong. It’s ethically and legally incorrect to discriminate in judgment against this practice based on gender.

Not that the UN and World Health Organization understand this core stance. WHO defines gender discrimination in its glossary:

Gender discrimination refers to any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of socially constructed gender roles and norms which prevents a person from enjoying full human rights.

There’s the irrelevant claim that women prefer circumcised partners. There’s the more vehement dismissal of any (equally irrelevant) claim that men in certain cultures prefer women with surgically altered genitals. Etc. etc. (c.f. this entry.)


Lest you think I give any actual credibility to Conservapedia, I quote this statement from the circumcision entry:

The procedure lasts only ten minutes and …

No source supports that statement in the entry’s footnotes. If, as the site’s About page suggests, this is the sort of thinking meant “to educate advanced, college-bound homeschoolers”, my low opinion of the site should be obvious.

We have our first loser.

We do not have a winner in the race for an entry of praise. But I don’t think anyone will be surprised to learn the identity of the first candidate to drop out. You’re going to be so not surprised, although much Hillarity (pun intended) and ignorance ensues.

“There is something seriously wrong with our economy when Exxon’s record $11 billion in quarterly profits are seen as a disappointment by Wall Street. This is truly Dick Cheney’s wonderland.

“But on Main Street, middle class families are facing devastating choices every day between buying groceries and filling up their gas tanks to get to work. They are being squeezed by a vice grip of record high gas prices, record declines in housing values and an economy that is shedding jobs and tumbling into recession.”

“I believe these families need immediate relief. That’s why I have called for making Exxon and other oil companies with record profits pay the federal gas tax this summer. Now, Senator Obama doesn’t believe in any kind of gas tax holiday. And Senator McCain doesn’t want to pay for one. I believe we should impose a windfall profits tax on big oil companies and use that money to suspend the gas tax and give families relief at the pump. They typical family could get $70 in relief, and families that drive more for work could get even more. Truckers will get a $50 break every time they fill up their tanks.

“At the same time, we need to set a new course for our long term energy strategy, and move away from oil and towards new sources of clean energy. That’s why I have proposed a $50 billion Strategic Energy Fund that will invest that money in clean energy sources like wind and solar.”

I try not to deploy this term, but it’s the only description that fits here: hack. Unfortunately, this is probably the only race she’ll drop out of any time soon.

Post Script: Per Mark’s comment to yesterday’s entry, I’m including Libertarian Party candidate Bob Barr in the race. The LP nomination is far from certain, although I suspect Barr will win it. And I’ve already discussed my concerns with the other leading candidate for the LP nomination, Wayne Allen Root. I’ll also set a deadline of Monday. (This story doesn’t have legs.) Any candidate who shows restraint will receive an entry of praise about some policy position.

Post Post Script: Here’s an excellent essay on the actual issues involved in oil and profits.

The headline omits the bad news for the company.

Both candidates for the presidency, and most certainly the lone straggler in the race, will focus only on $10.9 billion in profit, ignoring the full story:

Exxon Mobil Corp., the world’s largest publicly traded oil company, said Thursday record crude prices helped its net income grow 17 percent in the first quarter, but the results came in below Wall Street forecasts.

As expected, margins at the company’s refining operations dragged heavily on the bottom line as the big jump in prices on refined products such as gasoline, while a menace to consumers, failed to keep pace with the rapid increase in crude prices.

Still, queue the countdown clock to when Exxon Mobil will be once again demonized by politicians. Forget that the price increases at the pump are based in market dynamics and not just arbitrarily set to claim more windfall profits so that the CEO can make more money for himself. The correct answer will be ignored because the ignorant fairy tale purchases votes.

I wish to make a pledge. I will write a nice entry praising a policy position of whichever presidential candidate waits the longest to cite Exxon Mobil as an example of rising gas prices and why government needs to step in.