Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Anti-circumcision ballot proposal now reaches Santa Monica

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Rabbi Gil Leeds
Rabbi Gil Leeds

After San Francisco, it’s now Santa Monica’s turn to see a bill introduced that would prohibit the ritualized and pervasive practice of male genital mutilation known as circumcision on any male under the age of 18:

Performing a circumcision on a boy under age 18 — even for religious reasons — would be illegal under a measure that a San Diego group hopes to place on Santa Monica's November 2012 ballot.

A similar initiative this month from the anti-circumcision group known as MGM Bill garnered enough signatures in San Francisco to place it on that city's November ballot. MGM stands for "male genital mutilation."

Matthew Hess, the group's founder and president, said that California law prohibits female genital mutilation and that boys should get the same protection. Circumcision, he said, removes "thousands of nerve endings" and is a painful and unnecessary procedure. He equated it to the practice in some countries of removing all or part of a female's genitals.

Circumcision of male infants is a religious requirement in Judaism and a cleanliness-related custom in many Islamic communities. As a result, the effort by MGM Bill to put forth the initiative is raising concern among religious organizations, which contend that a ban would violate the 1st Amendment prohibition against government interference with a person's practice of religion.

Yes, I cringed at the false yet typical equivocation of circumcision with female genital mutilation (where the clitoris and part or all of the vulva is chopped off). As stupid, wrong-minded and pointless as male circumcision is, it just cannot be compared to the trauma that is vulvar excision. This is a comparison that people on both sides of the debate really need to stop making,

Moving on, it’s only typical that religious groups would try to pass this off as an issue of “religious freedom”, their go-to excuse for pretty much anything these days. They are evidently blind to the idiocy of arguing that it would interfere with “a person’s practice of religion”. Religious liberty does not give you the right to chop off other people’s body parts without their informed consent. Freedom applies to what you can do to yourself, or to willing individuals, not to parties who don’t, and can’t, know what’s being done to them at the time.

The only rational and responsible answer is to prevent boys from having their wee-wees cut up until they’re old and mature enough to be able to decide for themselves. It doesn’t matter if male circumcision is a relatively painless operation in itself; it’s still an unacceptable infringement upon the child’s right over his own body.

Oh, and for a nice wrapper, here’s a bonus idiotic quote:

"Quite frankly, I find it absurd and insulting," said David Lehrer, a Jewish leader. "It takes the notion of the Mommy State to a ridiculous extreme. It probably touches upon being anti-Semitic."

Yes, because stopping religious parents from imposing their beliefs on their children by chopping off parts of their genitals … is anti-Jew.

I can’t tell if that sort of thinking reflects some incongruous form of religious entitlement, an ethnic oversensitivity, or plain idiocy.

(via Joe. My. God.)