October 25, 2006

Things that affect a boy's mind.

A divorced man has won a lawsuit that he brought to prevent his 9-year-old son from getting circumcised:
The couple's 2003 divorce decree gave the father the right to be consulted before the boy underwent any "extraordinary" non-emergency procedure.

The father said he believed surgical removal of the boy's foreskin could cause long-term physical and psychological harm. The child's mother wanted the procedure to prevent recurring infections. She testified that the boy had suffered five bouts of painful inflammation and had begged her to help him.
Oh, yeah, and having your father enlist the power of the state to assert dominion over your penis -- that's not going to affect your mind.

Here's another article. Things are a bit more complicated. The judge, Circuit Court Judge Jordan Kaplan said, analyzed the medical evidence and seems to have decided based on an insufficient showing of physical benefit in the boy's particular condition. Moreover, the boy had his own lawyer, and the lawyer recommended that decision. And then there's this:
The eight-month dispute took some nasty turns. [The mother's lawyer] charged that the father did not care about the boy's health but feared his ex-wife and her new husband were trying to convert the boy to Judaism.

The father's attorneys hinted that the mother's aim was to spite her ex-husband and please her current husband, who is Jewish.

The boy's stepfather and stepbrother are both circumcised, while the biological parents are Catholic immigrants from Eastern European countries where circumcision is rare.

But Kaplan said he did not address "issues of ethnicity or religious beliefs relative to circumcision" because the parents did not raise them in their legal pleadings.
So what seems most important is excluded from the judge's view because neither parent wants to get into that. The poor kid! Not only are his parents divorced and still fighting, they're fighting over his penis! There's nothing the judge can do about that.

42 comments:

Evil HR Lady said...

I hope they are putting aside lots of money for the therapy he's going to need. Lots of money.

SteveR said...

I can't imagine that kid won't have some real challenges.

I'm glad I (my parents) got that out of the way early.

Some people think that it affects a baby to have that done. Well I don't know about that, but clearly this brouhaha will.

George said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Pogo said...

Advice: refuse to engage the anti-circumcision crowd. It's a fanatical religion.

Second piece of advice. Avoid bringing your son'e penis into court. Just wait until the kids at school find out.

Bo Steed said...

It sounds like they were just getting too snippy with each other.

Goesh said...

Evil HR Lady said it all - tons of money will be needed - the kid is probably already wanting to mutilate cats...

Henry said...

Andrew Sullivan's got to be all over this one. Someone go check.

Jim said...

The kid someday just needs to be given the foreskin advice my dad wisely gave me, "Son, you're just going to have to wear it off."

RaymondW said...

I know several guys that had to have this done due to their wives getting chronic uti's. Not fun to get circumsized as an adult, let the kid get it over with.

Pogo said...

Oh, and i forgot this:

Eeeeeew on these parents.
I wonder when the court hearing on his bowel habits is set for?

Paul Zrimsek said...

A few weeks ago we had a tempest in a C-cup; now we're making a mountain out of a mohel.

J said...

"It had no face, no personality, very dull. It was like a martian. But hey, that's me."

Elaine Benes

Anonymous said...

The boy had five bouts of painful penis infections? wtf!


Okay, seriously jyifpppm? Clearly, we have a 'parade of painful penis mutilations' going on, but what about the JYIF...Jews yearn to inflict a festive parade of ppm. Yeah, I think that will do.

Anthony said...

Hey, I ought to start a penis-positive politically oriented masculinist web site. Then I can have my picture taken with Ann and a group of other bloggers and make sure I'm in the front with my codpiece protruding for all to see and wonder at. And then get all indignant when a famous blogger points out that I'm all about the schlong and respond that the phallus is really just a vehicle for demonstrating the innate anti-masculine nature of society in general and that flaunting my male prowess is merely my own way of taking control over my own sexuality and increasing the dialectical paradox inherent in our proletariate-centric society.

Or something.

D'ya think Enzyte would kick in some funding?

DBrooks said...

This kind of family bickering over a penis can be very damaging to a young boy. I remember when my sister's friends used to fight over my penis. Somehow I recovered.

Tibore said...

Jesus H... if the parents, even divorced, are that far apart on issues pertaining to their child, why the hell did they have a child in the first place?

I'm sorry, and I don't care if people flame me for this, but if the parents are so far apart on basic issues, then they shouldn't have had a kid to begin with.

Drew W said...

A few weeks ago we had a tempest in a C-cup; now we're making a mountain out of a mohel.

Kudos to Paul Zrimsek for the preceding quip. Still, there are probably even worse circumcision puns out there waiting to be made -- so we should bris ourselves. (Ouch. That one may have hurt me more than it hurt you.)

Seriously, though, a friend of mine went proudly uncircumcised until his 30s, at which point his organ started to cause him (and his sex life) a whole trouserful o' trouble. I told him I didn't want to know what it was like to get circumcised so late in life. He assured me that I was correct. I didn't.

PS to tibore: I agree. And I'll go you one better. If people can't foresee every possible potential situation that may arise in the vast future that stretches out before them, well, they have no business getting out of bed in the morning.

Jeff said...

"Advice: refuse to engage the anti-circumcision crowd. It's a fanatical religion."

It seems that the religion that forces unneccesary, unanaesthetized surgery on infants FOR RELIGIOUS REASONS would qualify as "fanatical".

That goes for the non-Jewish crowd, too.

Revenant said...

Advice: refuse to engage the anti-circumcision crowd. It's a fanatical religion

Because there's nothing at all fanatical about lopping off parts of your penis on the say-so of a bunch of priests from five thousand years ago. That's completely normal. It's NOT wanting to do that that's crazy and fanatical.

Ugh. Religion makes me sick sometimes.

Pogo said...

Re: "It seems that the religion that forces unneccesary, unanaesthetized surgery ..."

See what I mean?

And I thought Revenant was some sort of libertarian. Except I guess when it means someone chooses to practice religion. That makes him sick.

But he's also wrong about the science (once again).

from UpToDate.com:
"All studies have demonstrated that uncircumcised boys have an increased risk of UTI, averaging three to twelve-fold higher than in circumcised boys. The incidence of UTI in uncircumcised male infants, circumcised male infants, and female infants was 1.03, 0.10, and 0.52 percent, respectively.

Uncircumcised men appear to be at risk for penile cancer, and their sexual partners may be at a higher risk of cervical cancer as well.

Squamous cell cancer of the penis is a rare disease; the age-adjusted incidence in the United States is less than 1 per 100,000 males, comparable to other developed countries [15]. The rate of penile cancer is at least three-fold higher among uncircumcised men; in such men, the risk of penile cancer may be as high as 1 in 600. Neonatal, more than adult, circumcision appears to protect against this disorder.

Cervical cancer may be more common in the sexual partners of uncircumcised men. In one study, as an example, sex with either uncircumcised men or men circumcised after infancy increased the risk of cervical cancer four-fold.

The literature describing the relationship between circumcision and sexually transmitted infections (eg, syphilis, gonorrhea, herpes simplex) generally suggests that circumcision protects against these diseases, although contradictory data exist.

Chronic inflammation may cause scarring and secondary phimosis (ie, nonretractile foreskin), which sometimes requires surgical intervention. In an Australian survey, up to 18 percent of men not circumcised in childhood subsequently were circumcised.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, in its 1984 position paper, stated, "Newborn (male) circumcision has potential medical benefits and advantages as well as disadvantages and risks". As with many public health issues, risks of male circumcision are thought to be low and short-term while the potential advantages are considerable and long-term (such as protection against future diseases).

Pogo said...

Now witness the influx of The Cult of the Worshippers of the Foreskin .

James,
Wikipedia for medical advice?
Surely you're not serious.

Anonymous said...

now we're making a mountain out of a mohel.

Ba-da-bing!

Well done, sir.

Anonymous said...

I really don't have strong feelings on this issue, but James -- a foreskin is not a tooth.

If you had an appendix externally attached, why wouldn't you take it off preventatively?

Pogo said...

Re: "Do you have evidence to the contrary?"

Read my post (The American Academy of Pediatrics).


In any event, consensus is useless in science. Facts are all. Consensus is politics. Science is not.

Pogo said...

Geez James, did you even read the link you posted?

The report takes the null position. It neither supports nor refute its utility at all. it says "you decide".

And that's my point. I'm not pro or anti. I'm for Free Choice.
and you seem opposed to free choice.

P.S. My report came from UpToDate.com, dated March 17, 2006.

Pogo said...

The other two articles are merely opinion pieces, just advice based on the evidence.

The AAFP actual statement is a null statement: "Existing scientific evidence demonstrates potential medical benefits of newborn male circumcision; however, these data are not sufficient to recommend routine neonatal circumcision."
It neither recommends nor rejects it.

You. Decide.

Pogo said...

Re:"took the position that the procedure should only be done for cultural reasons"

It does?
Heh.
James, your method of interpreting the written word is as flippant as your comment about knocking out teeth.

So certainly, declare victory and withdraw.

Freeman Hunt said...

"It's pretty convincing that circumcision protects," said Dr. Peter Piot, executive director of UNAIDS, the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS. "But circumcision alone is not going to stop this epidemic."

Link.

Freeman Hunt said...

Pro vs. anti circumcision aside, I feel sorry for this boy. Can you imagine having to go to a court case where your parents are arguing about your private parts?

Revenant said...

And I thought Revenant was some sort of libertarian. Except I guess when it means someone chooses to practice religion.

You're not making any sense. Just because libertarians think things should be legal doesn't mean we think they are right to do. Parents have the right to have unnecessary surgical procedures performed on their children, just as they have the right to raise them thinking "god hates fags" or that black people are inherently inferior. That doesn't make it less reprehensible that they do so.

But he's also wrong about the science (once again)

How can I be "wrong on the science" when I made no claims about it?

"The science", where circumcision is involved, tells us three things: it is permanent (under current technology), it reduces sexual pleasure later in life, and it has various minor health benefits. It is not a significant life-changing event one way or the other. Whether it is a good idea or a bad idea depends on whether you'd rather enjoy sex somewhat more or have a slightly easier time of it health-wise. Similarly, science tells us that forcing all women with large breasts to have breast reductions would bring about a net reduction in breast-related health problems, but it does not tell us whether such a policy would be a good idea. Science can't (yet, anyway) answer questions about how people should want to live their lives -- which is why those people should be left to decide for themselves.

In my opinion, deciding that FOR somebody -- especially when they could always have decided for themselves later on -- is very, very wrong, morally speaking. Circumcision is common in the United States for reasons that are highly religious in origin -- thus, my remark that religious people make me sick sometimes. If the Jews of ancient Israel hadn't decided that God didn't like their foreskins we wouldn't even be having this conversation. Circumcision would be as rare here as it is in Japan.

Charles Giacometti said...

More penis-blogging, I see.

Pogo said...

"If the Jews of ancient Israel hadn't decided that God didn't like their foreskins..."

Revenant, seeing the positive health benefits their religious proscriptions yielded, your argument is a little weak.

Your argument that a libertarian can actively oppose the behavior of another parent is alot weak. Parents make permanent decisions for their kids all the time: where they live, what they read, discipline, religion, schools, surgery, etc.

So on what standard do you base the term "reprehensible"? By what yardstick can you criticize another's behavior under libertarianism? What norm are you referencing in doing so?

And your statement "lopping off parts of your penis on the say-so of a bunch of priests from five thousand years ago" is a reference to the science behind this procedure, whether you acknowledge it or not (i.e. implying it's based entirely on myth).

And Freeman does point out additional research which has served as a basis for proposing the performance of circumcisions across Africa: the noted reduction in AIDS. maybe the priests from 5000 years ago weren't as stupid as you suggest.

Derve said...

Pogo/Freeman:
I'll give you all that...

Will you acknowledge:
in America, in the 21st Century,
with proper cleaning and hygiene education, an uncircumsized penis can be a perfectly healthy thing?

The AIDS transmission rate in Africa is not truly relevant to that of an uncircumsized modern man who doesn't neglect cleaning himself and practices healthy habits. Of course, parents have to educate and stress the importance of keeping clean (even on camp trips!) And sure, some problems can still arise.

5 penis infections in a child not yet sexually active? Perhaps the boy is neglecting himself if he's having issues with his foreskin.

Pogo said...

Re: "with proper cleaning and hygiene education"

Remeber, we are talking about males here.

Derve said...

See, it's dumb stereotypes like that Pogo that perpetuate the myth... Like those commercials where Mom is always happy to clean around the toilet.

Studies have shown plenty of boys and men are able to remain healthy and clean, foreskin intact. But I acknowledge the easier route is to get rid of it.

Pogo said...

Studies have shown...??

Um, boys and men being fairly unclean compared to women, cats, dogs and many barnyard animals isn't a stereotype for nothin', son.

You ever been in a boy's dorm? A men's room in a bar? A single guy's apartment? A group of guys living together?

Please.

Jim said...

I'd like to read a comment from one of the many girls who used to be a boy until (s)he was circumcised.

Uncircumcised males subject themselves and their mates to a slightly higher risk of cancer because they have more and better sex with a lot of appreciative women.

This thread does bring up a couple of unresolved issues for libertarians, namely:

1. Are children property of their parents or of the state, or really little persons entitled to be free of bodily mutilation not of their choosing?

2. Does a 17 year-old "child" have a right to choose his sex partner? (then at 16, 15, 14, ...)

Revenant said...

Revenant, seeing the positive health benefits their religious proscriptions yielded, your argument is a little weak.

I already noted that there are minor health benefits to circumcision -- although not significant ones, as demonstrated by the fact that ancient civilizations that did NOT perform the practice did just as well as the Jews did. But in any case, the Jews did not (and do not) practice circumcision for its medical benefits.

Your argument that a libertarian can actively oppose the behavior of another parent is alot weak.

Only if you're ignorant about libertarian philosophy.

Parents make permanent decisions for their kids all the time: where they live, what they read, discipline, religion, schools, surgery, etc

I take it you're unaware that there are libertarians so vehement about individualism and free will that they consider all of the above to be immoral unless the child consents to them. The core of libertarian philosophy is "coercion is wrong".

Now, personally I'm I think there are many things the parents have to decide for the children, but performing permanent, irreversible, and unnecessary surgery is not one of those things. The fact that few adult, uncircumcised men wish they didn't have foreskins shows that much.

By what yardstick can you criticize another's behavior under libertarianism?

When that person is using coercive force on another human being. There is no objective standard to apply that particular yardstick to any given action, which is why libertarian gatherings are so... er... "festive". In my view, permanently reducing your son's ability to feel sexual pleasure in order to achieve an insignificant improvement in his health is sick.

And Freeman does point out additional research which has served as a basis for proposing the performance of circumcisions across Africa: the noted reduction in AIDS

Oh, this is Africa? I thought it was the United States -- the nation which, despite having one of the highest rates of circumcision on the planet, has the highest rate of HIV infection in the industrialized western world.

Of course, even in spite of all that the yearly risk of contracting HIV through is only 0.013% in America -- 0.002% if you're a heterosexual male, and virtually zero if you're a *child*. So the notion that we need a massive program of surgery on male children in order to fight this nonexistant threat is laughable.

Maybe circumcision in Africa is a good idea, especially given the frequency of unprotected adult-child sex there. But just because a drastic measure produces big benefits in a plague zone doesn't mean that it is rational or morally defensible to practice it in a comparatively disease-free environment like America.

In conclusion, I'd like to point out that circumcision is not considered necessary in any but a few of the nations with first-rate medical systems, and the perceived necessity of it is generally *decreasing* in those nations (including this one) as the old set-in-their-ways doctors die and are replaced with new ones. I think the ball's in your court to explain why, if the science in favor of circumcision is as clear as you claim it is, it isn't a common medical procedure in the western world.

Freeman Hunt said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Derve said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Pogo said...

Re; "...if the science in favor of circumcision is as clear as you claim it is..."

You miss the point. The answer is far from clear. Throw in alot of lefty-liberal nanny state socialism in the West deciding What's Good For You and statist prigs in the US who also know What's Best (or at least what's popular right now), and the numbers skew (e.g. The Lancet's cooked statistics).

In the end, it's a toss-up, scientifically speaking.
You decide, (and you pay) a libertarian might say.

[are there actual libertarians against choice?]

Revenant said...

You decide, (and you pay) a libertarian might say.

Or the parents decide and the child pays, as you might say.

are there actual libertarians against choice?

We're against deciding what's best for other people. That's why parents forcing a medical procedure is a helpless child is wrong. Children are not things; they are not property. They are people, with rights.