1. How can we do this to a child without his consent? There are so many things we do to children without their consent – change their school, banish their friends, give them drugs, abandon and neglect them. Removing a foreskin should not even fall in the top 20 ways to ruin your child’s life.
Right, ethics. She again fails to address this valid concern. Stating that “X is worse than Y” grants no legitimacy to Y.
2. “Foreskins are, well, fun,” writes one gay reader. My authority here is obviously limited. That said, all that research of specific areas of male sensitivity (Andrew cites some here) has always struck me as dubious. Erotic pleasure is a rich and complicated thing. Specific percentages of sensitivity can’t possibly sum up the experience.
Those last two sentences are true. Yet, she’s said nothing in defense of infant circumcision with either statement. Even if she’d explained why the research of specific areas of male sensitivity strikes her as dubious, what would that prove about infant circumcision? An extension of the ethical argument she’s failed to confront involves each individual deciding what constitutes preferred pleasure and sensitivity from and for his normal body. Erotic pleasure is a rich and complicated thing unique to the individual. Specific percentages of sensitivity evaluated by another can’t possibly sum up the experience for the individual.
3.Preventative surgery is a “bizarre notion.” This is somewhat more convincing. But for one thing, “surgery” is a bit of an exaggeration. We certainly cause infants minor pain for the greater public good many times, in the form of vaccines. It depends, I suppose, whether you consider HIV and STD’s a widespread public health crisis, or something affecting only a very few. I could get into the specifics of the research here, but I won’t.
Why is surgery in quotes? It is not an exaggeration to call circumcision surgery. Even her source from yesterday’s article, WebMD, defines circumcision as “the surgical removal of the foreskin, the tissue covering the head of the penis.” If there is a risk of death, no matter how small, circumcision is surgery. Her statement suggests a lack of curiosity on the subject for anything beyond what she wants to believe.
The vaccine argument is interesting and related. However, circumcision is the (surgical) removal of healthy, functioning tissue. The associated pain is a separate, secondary aspect for consideration. Our ability to control pain and its temporary presence are not defenses for performing the offending surgical procedure. Controlling pain does not render the intervention humane.
Nor are a boy’s genitals subject to the alleged needs of the public good. STDs require specific, individual actions. Those are actions that infants will not be undertaking for many years. When they begin engaging in those actions, they must use condoms, regardless of whether or not they still have their foreskin. Conveniently, a condom’s effectiveness is considerably higher than that of circumcision.
On the specifics of the research, it would be useful for her to state them. I’ll probably agree with her. It’s not necessary, though, because the discussion must circle back to ethics because she’s advocating circumcision on healthy infants, not adult volunteers. What we can do is not synonymous with what we should do.
I didn’t include this in my objection yesterday because it disappears as an issue once we get the question of infant circumcision correct, but it’s an interesting point to pursue because a willingness to comprehend circumcision from perspective of the child’s rights is essential to ultimately grasping why circumcision is wrong. From her entry today:
…, my post defending circumcision taps into the current fears about “big government trying to mandate certain types of medical procedures,” as one reader wrote in.
As a circumcised male, why do I care whether circumcision is mandated by the government or merely by my parents? The result – forced circumcision – is the same for me. Basically, Rosin engages in the “if you don’t like circumcision, don’t circumcise your son” defense. This is wrong. The case against circumcision centers on the boy as a (healthy) human being, not the boy as a son of parents making a choice.