I didn’t know I’m a gay loving liberal professor

In my circumcision posts, I’ve certainly been angry at times. However, I’ve always told the truth. I deal in facts because I’m willing to think and am capable of making up my own mind. I trust others to do the same, but some people aren’t quite so willing. I read this editorial the other day, arguing against circumcision with valid support. When I saw that the site allowed feedback posts, I knew it would get interesting. I replied to a few posts that contained either inaccuracies or lazy thinking, but one message deserves no response, because arguing logic and reason would be useless. Consider the wonderful comment left by Lee from Omaha:

Freaking Liberals can’t stay out of the bedroom. Where do they get off saying this time tested procedure isn’t necessary. Of course it has health benefits and makes men more attractive, but NO, they have to think alnatural. The gay loving liberal professors ought to just let folks be and not worry about natural things. If they need to do something, have them figure out why Homosexuals can’t be converted to Heterosexuals. With all the problems in the world, like being homosexual, why do liberals think they need to stick their God hating noses into our bedrooms?

I wonder if godhatingnaturalgaylovingliberalprofessor.com is still available. That would be even more descriptive for me than if I used my own name. Even people who don’t know me would know how to find me immediately.

Sometimes, people scare me.

As long as it’s for the children

It won’t come as a surprise to anyone that, if I ever have a son, I will leave him intact. Yet, I have a fear associated with that decision that is only reinforced by this recent story from Winnipeg:

St. Boniface Hospital has suspended circumcisions of male newborns after a mix-up where the procedure was performed on the wrong baby.

Authorities say they’re investigating the incident.

“We’re concerned about any event of this nature because obviously a child was circumcised before his parents had a chance to make a decision and to give their consent and we will look into that,” said Helene Vrignon, a hospital representative.

Vrignon said the identities of two baby boys on the same ward got mixed up. The family of the boy who was incorrectly circumcised had not yet made a decision about whether to have the procedure done, she added.

I have no idea what my response would be if doctors made that mistake with my child, but it wouldn’t be a delayed decision on whether or not I’d sue. I fully comprehend that this is an unlikely scenario, but it’s certainly possible. Given that approximately 75% of newborn males in Virginia are circumcised upon birth, parents still view circumcision as a decision-less decision. I’d take no chances a doctor might make an “inappropriate” mistake. I’d still have a letter before the birth for every doctor involved indicating that circumcision should not be performed.

But the bigger problem in this scenario should be obvious. The doctors circumcised the infant without consent, as Mr. Tetreault said. He implied the parents’ consent. Presumably, the law in Canada, as in the U.S., focuses on the parents, but that’s the wrong analysis. Is everyone involved so dense that they can’t make one minute shift in thinking to grasp the medically-unnecessary surgery inflicted upon the infant without his consent? Let everyone play musical chairs with their roles in this example and the principle remains. Yet, we ignore that this lack of consent occurs every day in America. Future generations will look back in disbelief at our blatant ethical violation.

Frustration beats exhaustion every time

More news from the “circumcision cures all” front:

Female sexual partners of circumcised men are less likely to contract Chlamydia trachomatis infections than are those of uncircumcised [sic] men, a study shows.

The most common bacterial cause of sexually transmitted infections, C. trachomatis can cause severe reproductive complications in women and is associated with increased risk of cervical cancer.

The relationship between male circumcision and C. trachomatis infection in the female partner has not been explored, Dr. Xavier Castellsague, at Institut Catala d’Oncologia in Barcelona, and colleagues point out in the American Journal of Epidemiology for November.

That didn’t stop Reuters from reporting it with the headline “Circumcised men less apt to transmit Chlamydia,” did it. Only in the seventh (of eight) paragraph do we learn this trivial piece of information:

Only among younger women and women with a history of consistent condom use was there no association between circumcision and C. trachomatis detection.

I’m willing to grant the younger women aspect as relatively obvious, since younger people in general encounter less disease. But history of consistent condom use? Do you think that might have something to do with protecting women (and men) from venereal infections? Is it so hard to point a nod in the direction of personal responsibility?

I’ve made the point, but I’ll do so again. I’m not opposed to adult circumcision, but responsibility must be included in the decision to engage in sexual activity, whether the choice be trust in the sexual partner, whether to use a condom, or whether the male wants to be (or should be) circumcised. But those are sexual choices, appropriate for adults. Infants obviously don’t need to make those choices, nor should they have those choices made for them. The decision to undergo circumcision should remain with the adult male who will face the consequences.

Choices matter in life. If a man chooses to remain intact “despite” the apparent scientific evidence, and then engages in behavior resulting in venereal infection (which he has to catch from somewhere, mind you – women are responsible how in this discussion?), so be it. If he then engages in activity resulting in his female partner (what does the study say about male partners – not an irrelevant question, I think), contracting his venereal disease, that’s a result of their choices. Personal responsibility matters. Circumcision may be a reasonable choice for the adult male, and that’s certainly the role of science in this discussion, but reporting on that shouldn’t be skewed.

Of course, what I’ve pointed out isn’t the only bias going on here, right? Remember the title of the Reuters article (“fans” of Reuters know where this will end up): “Circumcised men less apt to transmit Chlamydia.” What does the study’s abstract say about the study? Consider:

Male circumcision has been shown to reduce the risk of acquiring and transmitting a number of venereal infections. However, little is known about the association between male circumcision and the risk of Chlamydia trachomatis infection in the female partner. The authors pooled data on 305 adult couples enrolled as controls in one of five case-control studies of invasive cervical cancer conducted in Thailand, the Philippines, Brazil, Colombia, and Spain between 1985 and 1997. Women provided blood samples for C. trachomatis and Chlamydia pneumoniae antibody detection; a type-specific microfluorescence assay was used. Multivariate odds ratios were computed for the association between male circumcision status and chlamydial seropositivity in women. Compared with women with uncircumcised [sic] partners, those with circumcised partners had a 5.6-fold reduced risk of testing seropositive for C. trachomatis (82% reduction; odds ratio = 0.18, 95% confidence interval: 0.05, 0.58). The inverse association was also observed after restricting the analysis to monogamous women and their only male partners (odds ratio = 0.21, 95% confidence interval: 0.06, 0.72). In contrast, seropositivity to C. pneumoniae, a non-sexually-transmitted infection, was not significantly related to circumcision status of the male partner. These findings suggest that male circumcision could reduce the risk of C. trachomatis infection in female sexual partners.

And what do you know, the title of the study is “Chlamydia trachomatis Infection in Female Partners of Circumcised and Uncircumcised [sic] Adult Men.” I guess the facts just get in the way of sticking your arm up and screaming “Ooooh, ooooh, look what information I have! I haven’t read it all but you won’t believe it!”

Can Children’s Services invoke Eminent Domain?

You’re going to be shocked, but I have an opinion on this story:

A Roman Catholic high school has ordered its students to remove their online diaries from the Internet, citing a threat from cyberpredators.

Students at Pope John XXIII Regional High School in Sparta appear to be heeding a directive from the principal, the Rev. Kieran McHugh.

Officials with the Diocese of Paterson say the directive is a matter of safety, not censorship. No one has been disciplined yet, said Marianna Thompson, a diocesan spokeswoman.

It’s a private school, so no civil rights are being abused. That doesn’t make it right. It’s not even the most appropriate response a learning institution could pursue. Kurt Opsahl of the Electronic Frontier Foundation offered this, which is too logical and obvious for the school, I suppose:

“But this is the first time we’ve heard of such an overreaction,” he said. “It would be better if they taught students what they should and shouldn’t do online rather than take away the primary communication tool of their generation.”

The real issue for me in this is the likely reason the school believes this is within its bounds. The parents who enroll their kids in Pope John XXIII Regional High School probably signed something giving the school the ability to make this decision for their children. But why do parents feel this is good parenting? Better to learn early that parents own children.

This is a high school, where the “kids” are within a few years of adulthood. Sooner rather than later they’ll be making decisions on their own, involving themselves in relationships and activities with the same potential consequences that the school aims to protect with this policy. Shielding them from the world before turning them loose is an abdication of a basic purpose of education. Parents signing this away is worse.

I’d say I’m surprised, but I’ve written enough about that concept to know that it shocks only the foolish.

Staring at trees shrubs inside the forest

Researchers released an interesting report today. Consider:

Community-acquired methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections are cropping up with surprising frequency in newborn boys, and mom could be involved, researchers reported here.

It’s always useful to study increases in infection rates, so this report is no doubt important, but I have no knowledge to add to the increase in MRSA, nor am I trying to imply any. I want to take a different angle on this, and anyone who’s read my writings probably knows where I’m going with this. I am going there, but not with the attack some might expect.

The word “circumcision” jumped out at me, as you probably guessed. I’m not looking to get into a “circumcision causes increased MRSA infections” because I can’t prove that, even if I thought it true. Reading through the rest of the article, I don’t get the impression that it’s remotely indicated in the research. I think that’s a dead-end. For me to argue that, I’d have to read something that implied it. Also, having gotten into enough circumcision debates to know what hysteria looks like, I wouldn’t go there. The facts are on my side. Throwing baseless arguments around just because I want to win would only hurt my case. My only argument going forward is a matter of semantics and how those semantics flaunt simple reason. The rest of this entry should be read as arguing nothing more than that.

What I want to focus on is inherent in the excerpted sentence above and these paragraphs further down in the article:

They drew from data on a prospective cohort of all children treated at Texas Children’s hospital for S. aureus infections between the summer of 2001 and the spring of 2005. The cases were classified by route of acquisition, either nosocomial or community acquired.

They looked at the demographics, hospital course and outcome of a subgroup of patients who were younger than 30 days old when they were diagnosed with community-acquired MRSA. The babies, all of whom were full-term or near-term neonates (> 36 weeks gestation) had been healthy before being infected with community acquired S. aureus. They defined as previously healthy any child who had no hospitalizations other than at birth, and no surgery other than circumcision.

Why does “no surgery other than circumcision” keep coming up? Circumcision is surgery, even if proponents wish to portray it as just a little snip. (It’s much more than “just a little snip,” but I’ve already discussed that.”) Why exclude it, especially if you’re trying to portray the infants as healthy? In what other circumstances do we operate on healthy children? It’s ludicrous to associate the two, as if they can logically co-exist in the same realm of logic. They can’t. Yes, I know I’m being extremely nit-picky about this, but I remain baffled that otherwise intelligent people possess such a blind spot in their medical thinking.

When given the chance, choose facts

The tide is changing in Japan, too. Consider:

Phimosis is the word used to describe the condition where the foreskin can’t be pulled back over the top of the glans, and it’s long been a topic of discussion in Japan’s weeklies. Common belief here has it that the problem can easily be solved through circumcision, but growing numbers of Japanese physicians are arguing that it’s no longer necessary to inflict the “cruelest cut of all” to solve the condition.

“It’s a big mistake to have made phimosis such a problem in the first place. Medically, there’s absolutely nothing wrong at all,” Eiji Ishikawa, head of the Ishikawa Clinic and one of Japan’s most prominent urologists, tells Shukan Gendai. “Actually, phimosis is more like the natural condition and there’re more health problems involved when lopping off the foreskin. Western views on this condition have changed drastically over the past 30 years.”

Just so you know.

The kitty, he attacks the wall with his claws

Danielle directed me to an interesting post at Animal Writings about vegans and vegan cats. The article is interesting but Danielle specifically pointed out one portion that’s very interesting. Consider [emphasis added]:

Researching cats became a cascade of disturbing and unsettling discoveries. First I found out about declawing, robbing a cat of an integral part of his body and lifestyle. I found out that in most countries the procedure was illegal or de-facto outlawed on animal cruelty grounds, vets almost unanimously despise it, and as a consequence so did cat owners. But in this country, vets not only performed the procedure at practically the drop of a hat, but often actually recommended it and gave scant or little information about humane alternatives such as multiple, well-located, sturdy scratching posts, or SoftPaws nail caps. I quickly learned about the multiple benefits of embedded scratching with claws, and the myriad ways in which cats used their claws. Claws are a part of a cats skeletal and sensory system. I couldn’t believe that people would so callously lop them off.

Hmmm, I wonder what comparison I could make with that excerpt?

Minnesotans will find religion

Consider this, which should be a victory for boys, except it won’t be because of the ridiculous cop-out.

The state’s insurance programs for 670,000 low-income Minnesotans no longer include coverage of Viagra, sex-change operations or circumcisions, unless required by one’s religion.

This will never pass any form of challenge, of course, because of the religious exception. How is the state supposed to verify that? And I must ask, how does a religion “require” circumcision? Freedom of religion means the child has the same right to choose his religion. His parents may raise him in their religion, but they do not have the right to impose a severe physical mutilation upon him. We don’t let parents circumcise girls if that’s part of their religion. Why are boys exempt from such protection?

And there’s this:

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Jim Abeler, R-Anoka, a chiropractor and father of six boys, agreed. He added two exemptions, to allow payment if it’s medically necessary or part of someone’s “religious practice.”

Rep. Abeler is wise to include the medically necessary provision, but along with an increase in religion, I suspect there will also be a significant increase in “medically necessary” diagnoses in the future. American physicians already perform far too many circumcisions for grossly-misdiagnosed foreskin problems such as phimosis. This will only get worse when the incentive for the parent is to push the doctor for circumcision. I’m already momentarily pretending that the $54 average fee for performing circumcisions won’t factor into the decision. It’s shameful.

Every state should adopt this policy. With state budgets under constant scrutiny for cost-cutting measures, this is an easy, immediate solution, saving funds for necessary medical procedures. As the article states, Minnesota is the 16th state to eliminate state funding for routine neonatal circumcision. The other 34 states must follow suit, without the ridiculous exemptions.

For what it’s worth, insurance companies should eliminate funding for routine neonatal circumcision, the most performed surgery in America. Insurance companies justify funding circumcisions as a benefit that satisfies a customer demand. Insurance companies correctly refuse to pay for cosmetic surgery, such as breast augmentation, for adults. They shouldn’t pay for forced cosmetic surgery on infants.

Everyone’s doing it; it must be okay

Last week I didn’t post the day after I wrote about circumcision. I didn’t, and still don’t, want my site to become only about circumcision. The topic had built so long that I had to resist the urge to post again. I’d planned to keep this plan for a while longer, but I need to respond to someone else’s post about my first entry. I’m still keeping my goal, but this is necessary. As last time, I use coarse language and graphic descriptions. Etc., etc.


Call my circumcision post bitching, moaning, and wailing if you like; I’ve certainly been known to do all of those here. But I wrote it based on my research and my experience. You have the right ability to disagree with me that there are “supposed evils of male circumcision”. But before I stroll through the evils of male circumcision, in general, I’ll remind you that I wrote that routine infant male circumcision is evil. I even mentioned that I think adult male circumcision is stupid, but that adults may choose that for themselves if they like. It’s just easier to post two links, one of which goes back to my post, and then write that “this appears to be largely a gay thing” than it is to actually consider the facts, I guess. Anyway, now that I’ve clarified what I already clarified, I’ll propose some of the evils of male circumcision.

I’ll start with the basics. These are the purposes of a healthy, intact foreskin [footnotes from original article]:

  • Protection: Just as the eyelids protect the eyes, the foreskin protects the glans and keeps its surface soft, moist, and sensitive. It also maintains optimal warmth, pH balance, and cleanliness. The glans itself contains no sebaceous glands–glands that produce the sebum, or oil, that moisturizes our skin.[11] The foreskin produces the sebum that maintains proper health of the surface of the glans.
  • Immunological Defense: The mucous membranes that line all body orifices are the body’s first line of immunological defense. Glands in the foreskin produce antibacterial and antiviral proteins such as lysozyme.[12] Lysozyme is also found in tears and mother’s milk. Specialized epithelial Langerhans cells, an immune system component, abound in the foreskin’s outer surface. Plasma cells in the foreskin’s mucosal lining secrete immunoglobulins, antibodies that defend against infections.
  • Erogenous Sensitivity: The foreskin is as sensitive as the fingertips or the lips of the mouth. It contains a richer variety and greater concentration of specialized nerve receptors than any other part of the penis.[15] These specialized nerve endings can discern motion, subtle changes in temperature, and fine gradations of texture.[16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23]
  • Coverage during Erection: As it becomes erect, the penile shaft becomes thicker and longer. The double-layered foreskin provides the skin necessary to accommodate the expanded organ and to allow the penile skin to glide freely, smoothly, and pleasurably over the shaft and glans.
  • Self-Stimulating Sexual Functions: The foreskin’s double-layered sheath enables the penile shaft skin to glide back and forth over the penile shaft. The foreskin can normally be slipped all the way, or almost all the way, back to the base of the penis, and also slipped forward beyond the glans. This wide range of motion is the mechanism by which the penis and the orgasmic triggers in the foreskin, frenulum, and glans are stimulated.
  • Sexual Functions in Intercourse: One of the foreskin’s functions is to facilitate smooth, gentle movement between the mucosal surfaces of the two partners during intercourse. The foreskin enables the penis to slip in and out of the vagina nonabrasively inside its own slick sheath of self-lubricating, movable skin. The female is thus stimulated by moving pressure rather than by friction only, as when the male’s foreskin is missing.
  • Now that we know the foreskin isn’t useless, what can happen when it’s removed? I mentioned how a newborn’s foreskin doesn’t begin to retract until a few years into life, at the earliest. The foreskin and glans are essentially fused together. With circumcision, as practiced in the United States, the doctor forcibly separates the child’s foreskin from his glans. This leads to scarring of the glans as sensitive skin is ripped away. Scarring and removal of nerve cells will lead to reduced sensitivity. Less commonly, forcing the foreskin from the glans may not separate all skin, leaving skin bridges. Google “skin bridges” if you think that might be a pleasant outcome.

    Once the child is circumcised, at least his penis will be cleaner, right? Unfortunately, the foreskin has a role in protecting the penis. Society believes that smegma is dirty and must be eliminated. Society believes the foreskin will trap urine and cause infection. However, removing the foreskin exposes the penis to urine and feces for extended periods. Diapers act as sealants, guaranteeing constant contact with waste products the intact penis is designed to protect against. Wow, that’s not really cleaner, is it?

    As the child ages, nothing else happens because the circumcision is in the past, right? If you guessed “yes”, you’re wrong. As the child ages, the now-exposed glans and remaining foreskin encounter constant contact with diapers and clothing. This contact causes wear on the penis. Where the glans of an intact penis will encounter little abrasive contact, the circumcised penis suffers constant contact. Without the foreskin and its naturally-lubricating glands, the penis has no protection. This will lead to keratinization, or what may generally be considered calluses. This, however, does not go away because there is no rest period for the circumcised penis. It remains in constant contact. This will worsen throughout the male’s life.

    Men can still enjoy sex, though. Right? Of course, but at what cost? After the foreskin is peeled away, the doctor is left to estimate an appropriate amount of skin to remove. This isn’t obvious as it would be in an adult male who’s undergone puberty and the effects it has on the body. The doctor will remove this skin once he’s estimated the correct amount. If the doctor guesses incorrectly and leaves too much, this can be adjusted (or not) later. If the doctor guesses incorrectly and leaves too little, too bad. The child will now suffer tight, perhaps painful, erections.

    Once he becomes sexually active, the circumcised male may deal with the additional bonus of skin tearing. This will occur when his too tight (or even looser) circumcision tears due to the friction of sexual intercourse. There will be blood. There will be pain. There may even be additional scarring. All of those are quite conducive to a happy sex life, no?

    Of course, it’s possible to decipher that from the link to Andrew Sullivan you provided. I wonder, though. Did you read what he lists in his anti-circumcision argument? I suspect not, so consider these details from “a study published in the British Journal of Urology”:

    When the anatomically complete penis thrusts in the vagina, it does not slide, but rather glides on its ownbeddin of movable skin, in much the same way that a turtls neck glides in and out on the folded layers of skin surrounding it. The underlying corpus cavernosa and corpus spongiosum slide within the penile skin, while the skin juxtaposed against the vaginal wall moves very little. This sheath-within-a sheath alignment allows penile movement, and vaginal and penile stimulation, with minimal friction or loss of secretions. When the penile shaft is withd
    rawn slightly from the vagina, the foreskin bunches up behind the corona in a manner that allows the tip of the foreskin, which contains the highest density of fine-touch neuroreceptors in the penis [1], to contact the corona of the glans, which has the highest concentration of fine-touch neuroreceptors on the glans [18]. This intense stimulation discourages the penile shaft from further withdrawal, explaining the short-thrusting style that women noted in their unaltered partners. This juxtaposition of sensitive neuroreceptors is also seen in the clitoris and clitoral hood of the Rhesus monkey [19] and in the human clitoris [18].

    Wait, the foreskin has a function in sexual intercourse? Evolution couldn’t be that smart, could it? We’re led to believe that the foreskin is like the appendix, with no clear reason why man still has it, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

    Of course, you do go on to state that “straight women are pretty solidly on the other side for reasons that are readily comprehensible”? I’m not sure what constitutes readily comprehensible, but I suspect they’re reasons of ignorance more than reasons of preference. However, I’m momentarily willing to grant that women are solidly on the circumcision side. So what? I discussed that in my original post, noting that it was irrelevant because women don’t get to decide how a man should be, only if she wishes to be with him as he is. But I’ll quote just for emphasis. His answer is in response to a parent, but it’s still relevant. Consider:

    Some men and women gag at the site of an uncircumcised penis, A.Z., but they’re assholes that you wouldn’t want your grown son to fuck anyway, right? Besides, circumcision rates in the United States are falling–just 65 percent of all newborn males are circumcised today–so the men and/or women your son will one day be fucking and/or be fucked by are unlikely to be disgusted by an uncut cock, A.Z., as they will either have encountered more of them or they’ll have one themselves. As for whether or not men prefer to be circumcised, well, most cut men are happy with their dicks, A.Z., and most uncut men are happy with theirs. The thing about the unhappy cut men, though, is that they can’t get uncut, you know what I’m saying?

    I’d apologize for his language, but fuck it, this topic is too important to be polite. But I’ll add a clarification based on the argument that parents decide to circumcise their son(s) because of women’s preferences. I’m assuming this comes down to the mother’s reasoning when including women’s preferences. She knows what women want, etc. But enough explaining.

    When a mother accepts the decision with the (partial, at least) reasoning that her son’s future sexual partner(s) will prefer his penis if he is sans foreskin, she sexualizes her son with an external expectation of what’s appropriate inconsistent with parental duties. She’s more worried about another mother’s daughter than she is about her son. If she must sexualize her child, she should ask herself the better question, “Which foreskin status will he prefer?”. In that context, the answer should be obvious. Regardless of whether or not he wants to remain intact, that choice remains his if he is intact until adulthood. When circumcised as a child, he loses that choice. His personal preference remains relevant in his life, but becomes frustrating and impossible to satisfy if it requires his foreskin. So, no, I don’t particularly care what women prefer when it comes to the dealing with an intact penis when the alternative is a mutilated penis.

    It’s certainly possible that none of this will convince you of the evils of male circumcision. Remember, if it helps, to put this in the context of routine infant male circumcision. I’ll end this discussion with this statement and a simple declaration. Consider:

    The gross inadequacy of these arguments [for circumcision] is yet another instance of people failing to develop or apply the all-important philosophical skill of thinking in principles. People simply don’t often-enough ask questions like: Would this sort of argument hold water in other, similar cases? As a result, they accept all manner of ludicrous conclusions simply because the arguments, taken in stark isolation, seem unobjectionable. As a result, people who would never dream of cutting off a child’s ears so as to eliminate the problem of dirt collecting behind them are willing to cut off the foreskin so as to prevent the collection of smegma.

    America must afford equal protection to boys. Routine circumcision of males must stop. Now.