Like foreskin, circumcision is very sensitive for some people. I’ve managed to piss off both sides with my views, and I suppose it’s because this is one of those cases where I oppose something, but I don’t want to outlaw it. Nothing is more sure to make everyone despise you than to agree that something wrong shouldn’t be illegal.
Circumcision is barbaric, that much is true. There’s really no argument for it. “Because God said so” is not an argument, it’s nonsense. The studies that claim circumcision decreases the spread of HIV are questionable at best, incredibly biased and completely manufactured at worst.
But I’m loathe to oppose circumcision.
Every argument I see against circumcision seems to hinge on a simplistic fallacy: an appeal to nature. I see comments about how men are “supposed” to have a prepuce, how the foreskin “shouldn’t” be removed. It’s almost like people are claiming that men were “designed” to have the foreskin… which is something I can imagine some pagan in the first century arguing during a debate with a Hebrew (and such debates did occur).
Let me say now, I hate nature. Maybe it’s the fact that I have asthma, maybe it’s the fact that I’m allergic to nearly every type of pollen, grass, animal, and dust, or maybe it’s the fact that I hate walking in the woods and I think people who enjoy that sort of thing aren’t right in the head. Or, maybe it’s that I think human beings are capable of overcoming nature.
While I don’t really “get” circumcision (though I did “get” circumcised), I “get” the concept of modification. I wouldn’t outlaw piercings, and I don’t think parents who pierce their children’s ears are monsters. “But that’s reversible.” If you say so… most people I know have scars from closed piercings, but okay. It’s “reversible,” but the real issue here is “bodily sovereignty.”
If your parents can alter your body for one reason (namely, for something as frivolous as ornamentation), I don’t see what’s wrong with them modifying it another way if it doesn’t cause harm or loss of basic function.
I don’t know of anyone advocating for female circumcision, for example. If Jewish people were chopping the head of the penis off, I would be the first to step in and say, “Whoa, whoa, whoa.” The fact is, however, that they’re cutting off non-functional skin, and the outcome is not “damage” to the child… assuming no complications.
Though if you’re going to split hairs over the potential for “complications,” there is a long list of things I wish parents wouldn’t do to their kids before I would have them cease circumcision. Even owning a trampoline is more dangerous than circumcision, and I can’t imagine outlawing them.
Ultimately, it comes down to a simple issue for me: I have my eyes on the future, not the past. I think it’s a foolish precedent to say, “Parents have no right to alter a child’s natural being.” I hope to live to see the day when our children undergo genetic therapy to cure the problems for which we have no other solution. I’d like to see the human race improved, and that will entail modifying what we are at the most basic, fundamental level.
Maybe we’ll realize that having a penis at all isn’t that important, or even beneficial. I know I have wasted countless hours with mine. In this scenario… a world without penises… all this time we spent arguing over circumcision doesn’t seem very important. In fact, even in this world, where we have penises, the whole discussion still seems futile.
Suppose we ban circumcision. What then? It becomes like abortion: even though someone can’t do it in the safe and regulated manner, they find a way to do the procedure in a clandestine fashion. Ultimately, there will be more complications for those boys who are circumcised (because mark my words, banning it won’t stop it from happening in any Jewish community).
Who do we punish if we discover someone is performing circumcisions? Do we fine someone, leaving them to continue doing it? Do we jail the Rabbi? Do we jail the parents? Do we rip the child from its mother’s arms because we don’t like circumcision and clearly her decision to do that to her child indicates she can’t make any of the decisions necessary for raising a child properly?
I don’t like circumcision one bit, but that’s why any sons I have won’t get one. I know… it’s never enough that you and I do the right thing while someone else over there is doing the wrong thing… but again, what are you going to do about it? What is the ultimate outcome of that act being allowed?
What’s so wrong with a future of genetically modified, blonde-haired, blue-eyed children with circumcised penises? I think it’s worth doing just to piss off Hitler’s ghost.
As for me… my children will be blue-haired and blonde-eyed, and if they want to join the Jewish religion, they will have a painful initiation ahead of them.