September 7, 2011

California trumps San Francisco on circumcision.

The city has a ballot initiative that would outlaw circumcision, with no exemption for religion, and the state legislature has now barred cities from adopting a such a law (assuming Gov. Brown signs on).

84 comments:

Lamar63 said...

SF got cut-off!

purplepenquin said...

Reminds me of what that weird guy down the street would always say...

"Liberals want to kill babies, Conservatives want to cut their wieners off."


...and when I say always, I mean ALWAYS! Ask him about the weather, mention the latest ballgame, or inquire if he needed anything from the store; that was always his response.

MadisonMan said...

I'm all for local control, but I think interference from the state in this case is definitely warranted.

Revenant said...

Why should there be a religious exemption? Infants don't have a religion.

ricpic said...

They want the whole hog in Frisco!

Trooper York said...

I hate it when the government dicks around like this.

Moose said...

I can't wait til Sully gets ahold of this.

fleetusa said...

Another classic example of government invading our tribal/personal space.

X said...

last place I'd expect to try and establish a penis control precedent.

Paul Zrimsek said...

And all this time we thought Tony Bennett left his heart in San Francisco.

Pogo said...

So San Fransiscans are okay with tattooing and piercing your dick, and putting all sorts of metal through it, but not slicing off some of the extra skin.

The logic escapes me.

Fred4Pres said...

Mazel Tov!

Andrew Sullivan, however, will weep.

edutcher said...

This was pure anti-Semitism, dressed in PC wrapping paper.

Nice to see Moonbeam get one right.

Revenant said...

Why should there be a religious exemption? Infants don't have a religion.

Of course they do.

AReasonableMan said...

Circumcision is unquestionably an unnecessary physical mutilation. It is reasonable for the State to say that such a mutilation requires informed consent on the part of the mutilated. If men, on reaching the age of 18, decide that they want to cut off parts of their penis the government should butt out. Up until then the government should actively restrain adults from cutting off parts of a child's penis.

If an adult wanted to suck on a child’s penis, an action that produces no physical scaring or permanent damage, there is almost universal agreement that the State should prohibit this activity. Why is it then OK to say that the State should not prohibit a physical mutilation of this same penis by an adult?

Palladian said...

So the mutilation will continue!

YoungHegelian said...

@ARM

"Circumcision is unquestionably an unnecessary physical mutilation."

Not if you think God tells you otherwise....

And if you think the law shouldn't make weird exceptions for what God tells people to do, I bet you sit up all night worrying about what those crazy peyote-toking Indians are gonna think of next.

RichardS said...

California defends the right to Jew process!
More seriously, there's a serious free exercise question here. Circumcsion is definitional for Jewish males--although there are a handful (perhaps literally that few) on the fringe of the Jewish world that deny it.
P.S. Let's not forget the vile propaganda that was created in support of the ban:
http://pajamasmedia.com/tatler/2011/06/03/proof-that-s-f-s-circumcision-ban-is-anti-semitic/

Trooper York said...

I think the government should keep their hands off our dicks.

Especially Barbara Boxer and Diane Feinstein.

Trooper York said...

Now Sarah Palin on the other hand....

RichardS said...

But if you rub it, it becomes a suit case . . .

Maguro said...

It is reasonable for the State to say that such a mutilation requires informed consent on the part of the mutilated.

Where does this leave abortion, then? Does San Francisco want to ban that, too?

Revenant said...

"Why should there be a religious exemption? Infants don't have a religion."

Of course they do.

No, the parents do. The child can't even form a coherent thought yet, let alone endorse a metaphysical world-view.

Cutting bits off a child for legitimate medical reasons is one thing. Doing it because of the parents' religious beliefs morally abhorrent. The child is a human being, not a topiary hedge.

Palladian said...

Of course the same San Francisco liberals who abhor circumcision don't mind if you cut the infant's spinal cords or poke their brains out as long as they're still in the womb. But mess with their penises after their birth, and you're in for trouble! What will they have to waggle around on Folsom Street in 18 years?!

Revenant said...

Where does this leave abortion, then? Does San Francisco want to ban that, too?

It seems to me that the hypocrisy lies more in the other direction.

Virtually all pro-choice people concede that infants count as full human beings, even if fetuses don't. So it wouldn't be surprising to hear that they think infants shouldn't be mutilated.

Pro-life people, on the other hand, generally claim that a newborn infant has already been a human being for nine months -- which makes it hard to comprehend how mutilating one could possibly be acceptable. "Hack it up as much as you like, just don't kill it" doesn't seem like a sensible approach to child-rearing.

Palladian said...

Anti-abortion and anti-circumcision seem to be logically compatible positions.

AReasonableMan said...

Mutilation of the penises of children is a deeply primitive impulse, the practice of which is surprisingly widespread in pre-agricultural cultures. It is not tied exclusively to any specific belief system.

I am not arguing that you can’t mutilate your own penis once you reach the age of consent. I am personally comfortable with any one on this forum in possession of such an organ cutting off as much of it as they see fit. I am uncomfortable with them performing a similar mutilation on their child’s penis. If, once the child reaches the age of consent, the parent and child, after a reasoned discussion, decide it is a good idea to cut off part of the child’s penis, then, at that point, it may not be unreasonable to argue that the government should restrain from interfering. Again, I am perfectly comfortable with adults cutting off as much of their penis as they wish. I would suggest counseling before embarking on such an action but I do not believe that this should be mandatory.

Palladian said...

Both positions, it seems to me, represent the ultimate respect for the sanctity of life and the sanctity of human freedom. Taking another innocent human's life, and mutilating an innocent human without him having a choice should both be naturally abhorrent actions for the liberty lover.

Pogo said...

People gets full-on crazy about circumcision.

I never understood it. The most boring subject in the world, except mebbe for Jeb Bush as President or 'best lint color'.

Hardly any zealots match the anti-dick cutters. It makes statists outta staunch libertarians.

edutcher said...

Revenant said...

"Why should there be a religious exemption? Infants don't have a religion."

Of course they do.

No, the parents do. The child can't even form a coherent thought yet, let alone endorse a metaphysical world-view.

Cutting bits off a child for legitimate medical reasons is one thing. Doing it because of the parents' religious beliefs morally abhorrent. The child is a human being, not a topiary hedge.


And here I thought Libertarians eschewed morality and moral codes as a check on their freedom - all that social Conservatism and stuff.

In any case, he obviously never heard of baptism, bris (sp?), and I'm sure other religions have similar rites welcoming a newborn into the faith.

David said...

That ought to piss them off.

"You mean, our power is not unlimited in the People's Republic of SF? Our authority derives from the state and from the people? Isn't that unconstitutional."

Pogo said...

So libertarians are for the free practice of religion, except you cannot raise your kids in the religion because they are not at the age of consent.

Liberty!

n.n said...

There is no functional equivalence between male and female circumcision.

How is it possible to express concern about this particular [negligible] action of involuntary exploitation taken by the parents, while it is considered enlightened to be pro-choice and support the termination (often in the most horrid and grotesque manner) of a human life before it emerges from its mother's womb?

This society has its priorities just a little bit skewed.

David said...

You mean my penis has been mutilated all of it's checkered life? I never knew. Until now.

RichardS said...

Is it reasonable to support a policy which, if it were national, would require every Jew who is in the least bit observant, to leave the U.S.?

I follow the logic. Parents have the right to raise their children as they choose, teaching them whatever they want, but don't have the right to do anything physically. Only a consenting adult has that right. The trouble is that definition of "religion" as simply confessional, does not apply here.
In short, we're up to the point where the line between religion, law, and politics cannot be separated. Free exercise for Jews requires legal circumcision, full stop. But a certain understanding of natural right could mean that parents may not forcibly do surgery on a child. Reason, rightly understood, seeks to moderate such conflicts.

Curious George said...

Outlaw circumcision and they will just have them in back alleys.

john said...

David said...
You mean my penis has been mutilated all of it's checkered life....
.

Same with me David, except mine's striped.

john said...

...or banded, perhaps.

Maguro said...

Same with me David, except mine's striped.

You might want to see someone about that. Doesn't sound good.

Joan said...

All of the anti-snip crowd ignores the medical evidence showing that circumcision reduces rates of infection of STDs, including AIDS. There is a good medical reason for circumcision.

Clean Cut, from Scientific American, which begins:

The World Health Organization declared three years ago that circumcision should be part of any strategy to prevent HIV infection in men. The organization based its recommendation on three randomized clinical trials in Africa that found the incidence of HIV was 60 percent lower in men who were circumcised.

YoungHegelian said...

@Joan,

Another health value of a clipping is that cancer of the penis, while rare among men in first world countries, is unknown in circumcised males.

You know how they treat penile cancer? The doctors bob your nob. And not in the "let's quit while we're ahead" manner of a mohel, either.

Besides, apparently chicks prefer the neat look. And if it's good with God and with chicks, who the hell dare call it "Mutilation"?

john said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
john said...

@Maguro -

It still feels good, however.

And I fully intend it to stay that way until they pry it from my cold, dead hands.

Freeman Hunt said...

It helps prevent STDs. You'd think San Francisco, with all the free love, would like it.

AReasonableMan said...

The medical argument for cutting off part of a child's penis is exceedingly weak. It is statistically highly improbable that a child will contract either AIDS on penile cancer before the age of consent. Any benefit that might accrue to the population of male children from penile mutilation will be heavily out-weighed by complications due to the procedure.

If, at the age of consent, an individual decides that there is a significant health benefit to cutting off part of their penis, all power to them. Some women have pre-emptive mastectomies to reduce the risk of breast cancer. Some of these operations represent rational decision-making based on quantifiable genetic risk factors and some are the result of an irrational fear of cancer.

Since the rise of online porn, it has become increasingly common for women to have cosmetic surgery to enhance the appearance of their vaginas. If a man, once past the age of consent, decided to cut off part of his penis to enhance its visual appearance, I guess this is OK. Personally I am not that comfortable with either procedure because the risk associated with the surgery would seem to outweigh any possible benefit, except perhaps for someone working in the porn industry, but even in this case I don't think it should be illegal.

dbp said...

California is really screwed when Jerry Brown is the voice of reason there.

dbp said...

The US is one of the few predominantly Christian nations where circumcision is common. This came about because doctors in NYC noticed that Jewish boys seemed immune from a bunch of urinary type diseases that gentile boys could get.

Conditions are far more sanitary than one hundred years ago, so the benefit is likely slight--other than the STD angle. Opinions can vary on whether it ought to be done, but to claim there is no health or medical reason for the procedure is willful ignorance.

YoungHegelian said...

@dpb

Gentile circumcision in the US started big time after WWII, in part because military doctors noticed far fewer problems among circumcised men living in foxhole conditions.

The worst problems occurred among troops in the North African theater where the extremely fine particles of sand built up in the foreskin and caused a horribly painful infection. The Army then figured out why the desert peoples of North Africa had practiced circumcision for 4 thousand years.

AReasonableMan said...

Cutting off a part of a child's penis has a low complication rate it does not have a zero complication rate. For children under the age of consent there is almost zero benefit and a slight risk hence, the lack of overall medical benefit.

AReasonableMan said...

If a man decides that sand in his penis is a sufficiently good reason to cut of part of his penis, good luck to him. This is not a strong argument to cut off part of a child's penis.

Seven Machos said...

there is almost zero benefit and a slight risk

I love crazy-ass rationalists. For them, doing something because it is a religious tradition or for cultural reasons simply does not register.

You will never win. Yet you keep trying the same, tired arguments.

YoungHegelian said...

@7M

"I love crazy-ass rationalists..."

They just keep on making a mountain out of a mohel!

Palladian said...

"For them, doing something because it is a religious tradition or for cultural reasons simply does not register."

Yeah, unnecessary, permanently damaging surgeries on babies for weird, senseless, prehistoric reasons is a totally respectable cultural tradition. Like that clitectomy thing.

Seven Machos said...

It's not senseless or unnecessary to the people who do it. This is obvious.

I do think there is a fascinating psychological issue at work behind the fact that gay men, as a group, seem to me (based on what I see at Althouse) to be against circumcision. There's definitely a lot under the skin there, I think.

The libertarians simply amuse me, as always.

jimbino said...

My dad advised me to just wear mine off.

EDH said...

...the state legislature has now barred cities from adopting a such a law (assuming Gov. Brown signs on)...

But, just like California, Mohels will be required to report the tips.

YoungHegelian said...

@7M

"....gay men, as a group, seem to me .. to be against circumcision. There's definitely a lot under the skin there, I think."

Ya think? Maybe straight guys would see it differently if straight chicks cruised web sites dedicated to finding uncut men. Which they don't.

Yeah, people get touchy when you step on their fetishes.... Because, ya know, fetishes are such rational things. Unlike religion...

Ralph L said...

smegma
Nothing else needs to be said.

AReasonableMan said...

So, if I understand the argument, it's gay to think that it is not OK to cut off parts of a child's penis.

An alternative argument would be that a strong interest in modifying another male's penis is just a little gay.

Seven Machos said...

"Reasonable" -- You don't understand the argument.

I will help you, though. The argument against you, particularly, is that you are never going to win because you simply don't believe that tradition, religion, and complex cultural issues matter. There are other reasons as well, but I won't go into them.

I am genuinely fascinated by what I perceive as a fascination among gay males with uncut cocks. I'd like to have that conversation. But I highly doubt that you will be able to add anything of substance.

AReasonableMan said...

Right back to the gay argument, it was working so well.

Seven Machos said...

It's not an argument. You are showing poorly here. I pity you.

But, by all means, tell people once again how their religion and culture don't matter.

Ralph L said...

Why aren't the Muslims in San Fran. rioting?

AReasonableMan said...

The drive to mutilate the penises of young males is ancient. It clearly predates any current major religion. It is so pervasive in primitive societies that it is not unreasonable to suggest that penile mutilation conferred some evolutionary advantage at some point in early human prehistory. Whatever this advantage was it is unlikely that it was a health advantage, given the risk of life threatening infections before the invention of antibiotics. It is possible that the practice conferred some cultural advantage. It is unlikely that the conditions that may have made this practice advantageous in the past remain intact in a modern society.

There is a legitimate conservative argument for maintaining traditional cultural practices, no matter how nonsensical or even destructive, because the alternatives may be even worse. This argument has to be balanced against our general interest in protecting the rights of children.

Genital mutilation is not a universal tradition in Christian countries and its current popularity in the U.S. seems to be a cultural fad that is now waning, rather than a deeply held cultural practice. Jewish and Muslim adherents can make a stronger argument, but even in these religions the practice is not universal. Religious traditions change and adapt to local cultures. It is hard to see much downside to a trend that results in fewer people cutting off parts of children's penises.

Seven Machos said...

Dude -- Circumcision will never be illegal anywhere in the United States. Period.

But tell us the same thing again. Beat your head against the wall some more. Maybe it'll make a difference this time.

Revenant said...

Hardly any zealots match the anti-dick cutters. It makes statists outta staunch libertarians.

Well, duh; libertarians believe that preventing the use of violence against innocents is one of the few legitimate uses of state power.

I suspect that if someone took a knife to YOUR dick without asking, you'd turn into a "statist" as well. :)

Ralph L said...

Shouldn't the headline be "California Pulls Back San Fran...?"

It is weird how some guys think they've been seriously damaged by circumcision, when so many more were shortchanged by genetics. CC post puberty is very painful.

Revenant said...

And here I thought Libertarians eschewed morality and moral codes as a check on their freedom - all that social Conservatism and stuff.

Well, you were wrong.

Seven Machos said...

Libertarians sure do have a lot of laws they want to pass making people behave certain ways. Crazy.

Palladian said...

Fuck you for your suggestion that being anti-mutilation has something to do with being gay, or having a "foreskin fetish". That's akin to saying that being anti-slavery is because you like big black cock. Revolting.

Seven Machos said...

Palladian -- For the record, I did not say that. I have merely stated that I notice a lot of gays being against circumcision, and I wanted to probe the psychology of that, wherever it would go.

Didn't work out.

Revenant said...

Libertarians sure do have a lot of laws they want to pass making people behave certain ways.

Yeah, "don't take knives to your children" is a really wacky law.

Only a libertarian could think of it.

Seven Machos said...

Here's one from your annals, Rev: Family law should be rewritten so that parents can turn their nine-year-old children onto the street if that's what they want.

Loved that one. Good luck with it.

hombre said...

SF is committed to the higher suceptibility to AIDS coincidental to uncircumcised men.

Always the equal opportunity city!

A. Shmendrik said...

If it does de-equip, you must not snip!

Revenant said...

Here's one from your annals, Rev: Family law should be rewritten so that parents can turn their nine-year-old children onto the street if that's what they want.

Uh... when did I say that?

kwood said...

Do the anti-circumcisers feel that male circumcision is equivalent to the known practice of female circumcision?

Not as bad?

As bad?

Worse?

For the record, I was cut as a child and I'm a WASP. I'm grateful to my parents for making the choice and have never had problem or second thought about it. No mysterious impulse to put a sock on it or anything like that. If there's some aspect of sexual gratification I'm missing out on, well, exactly how stimulated can a man get? I mean, you either 'get there' or you don't.

There seems to me to be something very childish and disingenuous about the men who emote at length about the tragedy of their un-asked-for circumcision. As conservatives, we criticize others all the time for falling prey to the lure of seeing one's self as a victim. Why is this such a grave exception? Should we stop cutting embilical cords too? Is there a support group for people who mourn the loss of their tonsils?

AReasonableMan said...

This post doesn’t make a lot of sense. The poster has not established that any of the people arguing against cutting off parts of children's penises have in fact been subject to the procedure themselves. Sadly, much of the enthusiasm for the practice lies no deeper than feeling if it was good enough for me then it is good enough for my child.

A key principle is in question here. Will children remain prey in perpetuity to an ancient superstitious ritual mutilation that serves no rational purpose or will we move on to a healthier respect for a child’s right to self-determination on a non-trivial issue, which body parts to keep.

dbp said...

Curr Opin HIV AIDS. 2010 Jul;5(4):344-9.
Male circumcision to reduce sexual transmission of HIV.
Templeton DJ.
Source

National Centre in HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research, University of New South Wales, Australia. dtempleton@nchecr.unsw.edu.au
Abstract
PURPOSE OF REVIEW:

Three large trials among African heterosexual men in the last decade have confirmed that male circumcision reduces HIV acquisition. This review summarizes recent data regarding circumcision performed primarily to reduce HIV in high-prevalence settings.
RECENT FINDINGS:

Male circumcision more than halved the acquisition of HIV in the trials, and was associated with few adverse events and high levels of satisfaction. An additional trial found no direct reduction in HIV risk for female partners of circumcised men. Evidence for an HIV-protective effect of circumcision in men who have sex with men is weak and inconclusive. Acquisition of HSV-2 and high-risk human papillomavirus are both reduced in circumcised heterosexual men, whereas acquisition of common male urethral pathogens are not. Concerns exist that behavioural disinhibition could offset benefits of this intervention, and it remains to be seen whether the low rate of adverse events and adoption of safer sexual practices observed in the trials will be maintained in circumcision programmes outside trial settings.
SUMMARY:

The evidence that circumcision reduces HIV in African heterosexual men is clear. The impedance of political, cultural and logistic factors on expansion of much-needed African circumcision services requires urgent attention.

AReasonableMan said...

This post is irrelevant. We are talking about U.S. children. As already discussed there is no net health benefit to male genital mutilation for this group. Not surprisingly the AMA does not recommend the procedure.

dbp said...

What is the effect of circumcision on risk of urinary tract infection in boys with posterior urethral valves?
Mukherjee S, Joshi A, Carroll D, Chandran H, Parashar K, McCarthy L.
Source

Birmingham Children's Hospital, Birmingham, United Kingdom.
Abstract
PURPOSE:

Boys with posterior urethral valves (PUV) have increased risks of urinary tract infection (UTI) voiding dysfunction and ongoing renal damage. Circumcision has been shown epidemiologically to reduce UTIs, but no trial has yet confirmed this in PUV. Circumcision is not routinely performed in boys with PUV in our unit, but one quarter of our patients are circumcised for religious reasons. It may be hypothesized that circumcision reduces the risk of subsequent urinary tract infection in boys with PUV. This study aims to test this hypothesis by comparing the risk of UTI, and subsequent renal outcome, in PUV in uncircumcised boys with those who were circumcised.
METHODS:

A retrospective cross-sectional case note review of boys with PUV was performed, and the following were documented: age at presentation, method of diagnosis, method of treatment, initial renal status, and timing of treatment; use and timing of urinary tract diversion; timing of circumcision; and UTIs-date, organism, and treatment.
RESULTS:

Seventy-eight patients were identified, mean age 6.7 years (range, 1-18). These boys experienced 78 UTIs in the uncircumcised state. Subsequently, 27 were circumcised, experiencing 8 UTIs. Eighteen boys were diverted. The incidence of UTI was reduced from 0.50 +/- 0.14 (mean +/- SEM) UTIs annually uncircumcised to 0.09 +/- 0.02 (mean +/- SEM) circumcised (P < .01, Student's t test).
CONCLUSION:

In PUV, circumcision reduces the incidence of UTI by 83%, every circumcision prevents 1 UTI on average. Early circumcision in all PUV is beneficial, but a larger randomised control trial should be considered to confirm this.

dbp said...

Pediatr Ann. 1989 Mar;18(3):205, 209-10, 212-3.
Circumcision.
Anderson GF.
Source

Minneapolis Children's Medical Center, MN.
Abstract

There are no absolutes regarding circumcision, and the decision to circumcise a child as a newborn or otherwise must be made after carefully weighing the alternatives to, and risks and benefits of, this common surgical procedure. These alternatives, risks, and benefits must be fully explained to parents considering circumcision, and informed consent must be obtained. In well-trained, experienced hands, circumcision is a safe procedure that effectively eliminates proven problems such as cancer of the penis, and may eliminate the problems of increased risk of urinary tract infection and sexually transmitted diseases.

PMID:
2664681
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

dbp said...

Bioessays. 2007 Nov;29(11):1147-58.
Why circumcision is a biomedical imperative for the 21(st) century.
Morris BJ.
Source

School of Medical Sciences and Bosch Institute, Building F13, The University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales 2006, Australia. brainm@medsci.usyd.edu.au
Abstract

Circumcision of males represents a surgical "vaccine" against a wide variety of infections, adverse medical conditions and potentially fatal diseases over their lifetime, and also protects their sexual partners. In experienced hands, this common, inexpensive procedure is very safe, can be pain-free and can be performed at any age. The benefits vastly outweigh risks. The enormous public health benefits include protection from urinary tract infections, sexually transmitted HIV, HPV, syphilis and chancroid, penile and prostate cancer, phimosis, thrush, and inflammatory dermatoses. In women circumcision of the male partner provides substantial protection from cervical cancer and chlamydia. Circumcision has socio-sexual benefits and reduces sexual problems with age. It has no adverse effect on penile sensitivity, function, or sensation during sexual arousal. Most women prefer the circumcised penis for appearance, hygiene and sex. Given the convincing epidemiological evidence and biological support, routine circumcision should be highly recommended by all health professionals.

(c) 2007 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

PMID:
17935209
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

kwood said...

Sadly, much of the enthusiasm for the practice lies no deeper than feeling if it was good enough for me then it is good enough for my child.

Many people who abort children do so with a similar lack of depth in feeling.

"I want to look good in my wedding dress!" and that sort of thing.

Cry me a river and move on, please.

kwood said...

The poster has not established that any of the people arguing against cutting off parts of children's penises have in fact been subject to the procedure themselves.

Just an example:

http://www.norm.org/

I've seen postings by facebook 'friend of friends' who go on in any circumcision-related discussion about their own victimization for being circumcised as children.

I'm basically in slack-jawed awe of their prowess in finally finding a victim group that will accept healthy, otherwise well-adjusted and educated white males.