Facts about circumcision

Posted: August 30th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Ethics, Logic, Mission, Pain, Parenting | No Comments »

Here is another good video about circumcision from Dr. Lindsey Doe, a clinical sexologist.My only caveat: I’m not a fan of the book Dr. Doe recommends at the end. I’ll post a review here eventually to explain why.


Error 404 proves paper0airplane’s “Standards for thee, not for me”

Posted: August 12th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Ethics | No Comments »

An image for your consideration:

paper0airplane-Error404

That link is http://thecaseagainstintactivism.wordpress.com/2014/08/09/choose-intact/, but that page no longer exists. Remember, that’s the page where paper0airplane wrote in the comments that “the post I’m responding to appears to have been edited somewhat, and included a blurb about someone else in a middle of an article about my posts. Interesting.” The only thing interesting is how that post is now gone (i.e. “edited somewhat”) and paper0airplane will almost certainly continue the smear tactics with zero acknowledgement of how cowardly and dishonest that behavior is. And how ironic, given paper0airplane’s complaints. Again, should that behavior reflect poorly on everyone who shares the mistaken view that parents should be able to choose non-therapeutic genital cutting for their children sons only? Or should it reflect poorly on only paper0airplane (and anyone who explicitly¹ endorses it? I still choose the latter.

I’d like to say that makes me happy. Maybe it should, since it’s an obvious vindication of what I’ve said and a self-inflicted error by paper0airplane. But I bet it’ll be pyrrhic. Why should I doubt that paper0airplane will continue smearing as if all people must own the behavior of a few and will continue imagining this standard applies only to opponents? The evidence I’ve presented suggests I shouldn’t doubt my reservations about paper0airplane.

The details from paper0airplane’s now-deleted post can still be read in my post.

**********

¹ Unlike paper0airplane, I know what the word explicit means. The standard is on the accuser, not the accused. In an acknowledged edit to a post, paper0airplane wrote:

EDITED TO ADD

I suppose it’s obvious that I don’t feel that it’s necessary to post any commentary on this. However, I am shocked that so little response was given to such a heinous thread. Why is this ok, intactivists? Sure, a few prominent intactivists distanced themselves FROM THIS POST. FROM THIS OPINION. But not THIS PERSON. To me, that is an EXPLICIT acceptance of this behavior.

This is not ok.

That is not what explicit means. If someone distanced themselves “from this post”, that’s an explicit rejection of this behavior. Perhaps the rejection needs to be stronger. (e.g. Was my response sufficient?) Yes or no, that is a different argument. But it should be obvious that an explicit rejection is not an explicit acceptance, unless one believes in “Heads I win, Tails you lose”, as paper0airplane’s behavior demonstrates.


Deplorable Behavior in Screenshots

Posted: August 10th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Ethics, Media Marketing, Mission | No Comments »

8/12/14 Edit: I’ve edited the links in this post because the html was broken. All content remains unchanged.

Disclaimer: Based on what I documented in my last post, I’m unconvinced this disclaimer will be noted or accurately represented by paper0airplane, but I write it with the common usage of the words: The behavior in the linked screenshots is deplorable. It isn’t something I support.

I asked for evidence to support paper0airplane’s accusation that a “prominent intactivist … has decided to set up a database of circumcised boys.” I said it was deplorable and that “[m]y guess is that it’s true,” while asking for a source. That was a simple demand that brought a ridiculous response (that didn’t source direct criticism with a link to my post). That response, addressed here, included this in a comment:

… It’s not a problem to provide their sources. However, I am pretty sure that even if I were to, that fact wouldn’t make it into the blog post.

In what I presume is a passive-aggressive challenge, paper0airplane posted two screenshots to support part of the original claim. I encourage you to review them. They’re repugnant and deplorable. Learn from them what the behavior of an ass can include.

I, of course, expect it to be completely obvious that my original point stands. It is not appropriate to assign the bad behavior of a person to every person who shares a nominal goal. I expect paper0airplane’s behavior in this series of posts to reflect only on paper0airplane, and not well. But anyone else who also incorrectly believes parental choice is legitimate for non-therapeutic child circumcision is not responsible for paper0airplane. I expect the same basic courtesy, which reflects my belief that people are individuals first.

For the record, I do not know the person mentioned in the screenshots, as I wrote twice, nor am I aware of any alias Facebook accounts she might use. I do not use Facebook for my activism.

As for the database mentioned in the screenshots, I have questions.

  • I’m with paper0airplane’s point from the original post. Why? This database doesn’t achieve anything toward ending the practice of non-therapeutic child circumcision.
  • Where is she getting her data? Medical records are private. HIPAA is supposed to protect this data. Is it collected from what people post publicly on Facebook?
  • Is there evidence that this website exists or is under construction? Is there a URL? Is it “merely” pointless, damaging trolling?

The comments in the screenshots aren’t dated, so I don’t know when they occurred. Also, this doesn’t provide evidence that the person was arrested for harassment.


“Agent Scully, we trust you’ll make the proper scientific analysis.”

Posted: August 9th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

paper0airplane,

As the saying goes, “don’t bury the lede”. Thus, I’m starting with your first comment in your response to me. You write:

I’d also like to point out that the post I’m responding to appears to have been edited somewhat, and included a blurb about someone else in a middle of an article about my posts. Interesting.

My first reaction to this involved a pause to consider the possibility that I accidentally published the post while writing the initial draft and then publicly edited it as if it were still my rough draft. If you’d seen me publicly editing, you would’ve seen between 2 and 30+ versions, each just a little different than the last. But it’s possible I screwed up. I do not believe that’s the case here because WordPress shows a “Publish” button, which changes to an “Update” button after it’s published. By your site’s address, I suspect you’re familiar with it. I clicked “Publish” on what you see in my post.

Then I considered the possibility that the other options in the ‘Publish’ area of my WordPress dashboard were incorrect and causing me to publicly edit my post. I don’t think that is what happened, either. I can see my posts as if they’re live because I’m logged in. I ran a test post and logged out. The test post isn’t visible.

So. This should be clear from my last post. If you’re going to accuse me of something, please provide more than “appears to have been”. I wrote the post. I edited it. Then I published it.

The rest of your comment:

Regardless, posting this was a mistake. I thought the person running that site was somewhat interested in the truth. Instead they’re accusing me of being stupid or a liar. …

I am interested in the truth. That’s why I concede the potential medical benefits. It’s why I don’t cite the flawed “117 deaths” number, except to say it isn’t reliable and shouldn’t be used. My argument for individual choice can withstand that. And as I’ve written before in response to your posts, my credibility is on display in this website for you to judge. Please don’t imagine what’s convenient for you when the evidence contradicts your grand narrative.

Nor did I accuse you of being stupid or a liar in my last post. I accused you of posting a smear. Then I provided evidence to support my accusation. Even now, when you’re accusing me without evidence, I’m not accusing you of being stupid or a liar. I think those two are the third and fourth easiest explanations, respectively. The easiest explanation is above. The second easiest is that you got confused somewhere while reading my post.

If you’re curious, this is what a post looks like when I’ve edited it after publishing it.

Onward:

… If you want sources, post a comment, and I’ll show you exactly where everything came from. Most of these have been posted on fb and due to their rules, and not wanting the page deleted, identifying information is sometimes left out. It’s not a problem to provide their sources. However, I am pretty sure that even if I were to, that fact wouldn’t make it into the blog post.

I posted a comment, but in the form of my blog post. I shouldn’t need to play in your sandbox for you to follow the basic etiquette for supporting an accusation you make. Nor is Facebook the entire realm of the Internet or where I might find examples of activism. I’m not obligated to be involved there, even if it might be wise to know more about who posts what there. But that’s a neat smear at the end of your comment. Good job. I asked for citations, so you work your way into imagining that you don’t need to provide them because I somehow won’t post them. Thumbs up for creativity, but spoiler alert: stop reading here if you want to continue believing that, because I post your clarifying fact below.

To your post:

Choose Intact, I read your recent criticism of this blog. What I find interesting is your take on the matter. You trust that what I’m saying is true. Why? Based on your criticisms, you seem to find me hypocritical at best. Your desire for evidence is understandable, however, you seemed to miss the most recent post I made showing some of the evidence.

I don’t trust what you’re saying. That’s why I asked for citations. I trust that what you describe is plausible because anything involving more than two people will attract some negative element. That’s activism, whether it’s against non-therapeutic child circumcision, for parental authority, or any other focused activity. The examples of pro-parental choice advocates at the end of my post demonstrate that. This is why I wrote that “my guess is that it’s true”.

I did miss that post because you published it while I was publishing mine. I don’t think you’ll be surprised to know that I find it unconvincing and problematic. (Hint: The child himself is nowhere to be found in your evaluation.)

The reason I didn’t show the screen caps proving the arrested women (it’s obvious who I’m speaking about) is both guilty of the crime she was arrested for, and on the other topics, is because there’s a pending court case on the harassment issue. I have no desire to accidentally step in the middle of that. However, it is simple to find the quotes about the database. Take a look at her Facebook page.

It isn’t obvious who you’re speaking about, which is why I wrote that I don’t have knowledge of it. I still have no idea. Your original post would’ve had more credibility if you’d included even this extra information. I would’ve disagreed with your rationale to refrain from sourcing, but it would’ve provided some justification. Instead, you lobbed a charge and now you’re telling me to do the research to prove your claim. The burden is on you, as the accuser.

It seems you’re unaware of who you are rubbing elbows with. Doesn’t that concern you in the slightest? Prominent members of an unorganized group are looked up to by other members of that group. They set the tone. But pointing out the very real problems with that tone are now considered ‘intactocopping’. That makes it pretty obvious to me that there is no interest in any deviation or dissent in the ranks.

What concerns me is that you demand that I be lumped in with anyone you’ve ever found who does something objectionable. I don’t even call myself an “intactivist”. I know there are people who engage in specific activities. Not knowing who you’re referring to in the last paragraph does not mean I’m ignorant enough to believe bad behavior doesn’t happen. As I said in my last post, I’ve spoken out against deplorable behavior before. I’ve witnessed others. Again, put more than two people together… Please don’t assume who I look up to.

As for ‘intactocopping’, I have no idea what you’re talking about. What part of my posts about your site do you think suggest I’m not interested in deviating or dissenting? I specifically put the “Partial Synopsis” at the top of my post so the point couldn’t be missed.

As far as a smear job being obvious from tge comments, my blog was flooded by those wishing to monologue on a separate topic from the one they were commenting on. I have no interest in indulging that, nor will I. You may find me misguided or sloppy as you wish, but a little smudge of objectivity would help you immensely.

The smear job was only your post because you didn’t source your accusations and because you criticize all for the behavior of a few. I provided links to your comments to show where you missed facts. Despite a flood of comments, you can be accurate in what you say. You weren’t. That was objective (e.g. You were wrong about doctors “not harming babies” when they circumcise them).

Finally, if you feel that parental consent for circumcision is illegal then SUE. Bring your case up in court and PROVE it. The law is philosophical, if the court says it’s illegal that would make it factually correct to assert such. Until then, the ethical considerations of such are purely opinion. Including mine.

I don’t have standing to sue anyone other than my parents and/or the doctor who circumcised me. The statute of limitations on that is long gone. But I didn’t say it’s ‘illegal’. Parental (i.e. proxy) consent is illegitimate. And you’re begging the question again. Something isn’t factual because the law says X. It’s factual or not. The law can be wrong.

Also, I specifically stated my case for why non-therapeutic child circumcision is unethical and is not a valid parental “right”. You still haven’t refuted that, but at least you acknowledge that what you’re saying is opinion. That’s progress.


Standards for thee, not for me

Posted: August 9th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Ethics, Media Marketing, Politics | 1 Comment »

Partial Synopsis: Deplorable behavior is deplorable, even and especially when it is from people with whom I purportedly agree on a goal. There, so that it’s not missed or misunderstood below.

In my last post about The Case Against Intactivism, I wrote that I think “paper0airplane’s overall approach is that the good intactivists should call themselves something else because the bad intactivists are ruining the term.” I don’t think I believe that any more. Maybe it’s just a week of sloppy blogging from paper0airplane, but this post, Invite Crazy, and its comments do not suggest a willingness to recognize even the most obvious nuance. It’s a smear job.

From the beginning:

The truth about intactivism is that, in the vein of Pro-Life zealots, it is becoming more and more extreme. It’s hard to believe there as many intactivists as there are (though truthfully, there aren’t that many). Honestly, it’s fine with me if you have an ethical objection to circumcision, but medically, there are benefits. It’s up to each parent to decide if those benefits are worth it. It’s up to each parent to decide if it’s culturally or religiously relevant to their family. It’s not up to intactivists. Unfortunately, they’ve decided that it is or should be.

This question begging is not a refutation of the ethical objection to non-therapeutic circumcision of a child. There are potential benefits, both medical and cultural. So what? There are harms and risks, too. The ethical question involves self-ownership, not merely “can we maybe achieve something according to someone else’s subjective preferences” or “but it’s easier if we do it to children”. Bodily integrity applies to the foreskin, just as it applies to every other part of a child’s body, male or female.

In paper0airplane’s paragraph, you see no mention that circumcision has both harms (i.e. costs) and risks. In the comments, paper0airplane writes that doctors are “not harming babies.” That is legally and factually incorrect. Legally, although I am not an attorney, this is basic torts. All surgery is harm. It’s a form of battery. The defense is consent. So it’s not correct to state that doctors are not harming¹ babies. There was a foreskin, then there isn’t. There were nerve endings, then they’re severed. There wasn’t a scar, then there is. There is also surgical risk. This isn’t debatable, although we can. Those are objective harms. The question of harm implicit in paper0airplane’s statement is that of net harm, which is different and subjective. My non-therapeutic circumcision, for example, is a net harm to me because I value all the subjective factors involved differently than my parents valued them, including aesthetics, and I live with my circumcision, not them.

The defense to these harms is, of course, that doctors have consent from parents. The debate centers on the extent to which proxy consent is valid. Intactivists argue that proxy consent should not be sufficient for non-therapeutic genital cutting on male minors, just as it is already not sufficient for non-therapeutic genital cutting on female minors. A male owns his prepuce from birth as much as a female owns her prepuce from birth, and to the same extent that either owns their toes and fingers and legs and arms and so on. There is no magical distinction for the prepuce of a male minor within bodily integrity. There is a valid ethical argument paper0airplane did not refute in that paragraph.

In the comments, paper0airplane reminds that this is a philosophical question. Yep. But the argument that potential (subjective) benefits dismiss ethical concerns is also a philosophical question. For all the criticism of intactivists, some valid, it’s bizarre to approach this with a “Heads I win, Tails you lose” standard, which is still an unconvincing and indefensible rhetorical tactic. Should I assume all proponents of gendered parental rights² approve of this propaganda technique, or is it wiser to direct my criticism at those who engage in it? For me it’s the latter.

A prominent intactivist, who was recently arrested for harassment, and whose revolting commentary on the death of AIDS workers was decried even by other prominent intactivists, including her mentor, Brother K, has decided to set up a database of circumcised boys. This is extremely unnecessary, invasive and honestly just weird. A man can simply look into his pants if he is curious about the status of his foreskin. He knows who his parents are, and can find out who his doctor was. The database is the workings of a mind who is unable to figure out where the boundaries are.

What I read there is that intactivists are attempting to self-police a deplorable tactic. But since that isn’t the lesson I’m supposed to take, let me demonstrate that it is. Just as celebrating the death of AIDS researchers is deplorable, setting up a database of circumcised boys is deplorable. It has no justifiable defense. If I had knowledge of this, I’d criticize it directly. But I don’t, which it’s why it’s critical that paper0airplane provide a source for this claim. My guess is that it’s true, but for someone who criticizes intactivists for playing loose with facts to then accuse without providing evidence for the accusation is embarrassing.

Another prominent intactivist spent 30 years parading with the crotch of his pants painted red, holding signs and taking weird photos of the public that walks by. The easiest question is why. The next question is what does he gain by doing this? An unfortunate answer comes in the way of screen shots of him asking for photos of young boys penises. Not just once, but twice, and probably more. I think it’s obvious the conclusion I’ve drawn.

Again, if true, that’s deplorable. I’d criticize it if I saw it. I haven’t seen it. And again that’s the problem with paper0airplane’s claim. It’s an accusation. The burden of proof for such a scandalous charge rests with paper0airplane.

Leaders like this …

Where is the proof that this is a “leader”? If it is, I’d like to know, too. Self-policing is critical within any activism. Providing evidence lets opponents know, but it also lets nominal supporters know, as well.

… are what is encouraging other intactivists to start creating violent memes, some explicitly threatening the lives of anyone who performs a circumcision. …

Behavior like this is/would be deplorable. Again, source?

… In my opinion, it is only a matter of time until a urologist or pediatrician or OB or mohel is shot or injured somehow. Intactivists, why is this ok with you? …

It isn’t. Be careful with assumptions. And provide evidence so we can denounce those who allegedly do this rather than simply denounce everyone with ad hominem.

… Why do you put up with, support and rally around people who are so off the mark and who totally lack appropriate boundaries, which is vital when you consider the subject. Anyone dealing with a child’s genitals SHOULD be able to tell when they’ve gone too far. Sure, I get it, you consider it a human rights issue, a violation, unnecessary cosmetic surgery. Those are all opinions.

Non-therapeutic circumcision is unnecessary surgery. That is not an opinion here. Its objectivity supports the other words in its sentence more than paper0airplane acknowledges. But again, don’t assume that all intactivists “put up with, support and rally around” this behavior or those who engage in it. I’ve distanced myself from at least one person I’ve interacted with after attempting to convince him of his error. I know others who have done the same with different people. It’s too convenient to assume that the extremists represent the movement, or that moderates support the extremists. Guilt-by-association without evidence to prove accusations, providing no opportunity to address offenders directly, amounts to a smear campaign.

Are those opinions worth someone dying?

Of course not. But how can I personally work to prevent that from happening if I don’t know who to challenge?

The next post is Not violent? You’re mistaken. It has a bunch of pictures implying violence because of circumcision, which are damning and deplorable. Of course, they’re also not sourced to anyone. Some of them appear to be from Facebook, which suggests authenticity. Suggests is not proof. Is it so difficult to anticipate an alternate theory that paper0airplane or someone sharing such beliefs could’ve created these? I do not think that’s what happened. I am not accusing paper0airplane of creating these. I am asking for citations. I believe that’s a reasonable, minimum expectation with both posts.

Recently I noticed a weird bit of misogyny from a Twitter user, @ParentsChoices, who attempted to insult the Blood Stained Men by implying they needed tampons. Are all supporters of parental choice for non-therapeutic male child circumcision misogynists with poor debate skills?

Obviously an unoriginal misogynistic insult is trivial compared to the accusations paper0airplane makes. But I can source a claim that vocal pro-circumcision advocate Vernon Quaintance committed sexual offenses against children. As I wrote in my last post on paper0airplane’s tactic, it wouldn’t be fair or accurate to attempt to smear all advocates for parental choice on circumcision with the misdeeds and crimes of a few. Blame rests only with the specific actors without further evidence. Assuming others support the deplorable actions without evidence of support is unfair.

¹ My concern is the factual claim, not the emotional claim. Self-ownership, not “don’t hurt the babies”.

² paper0airplane claims: “According to the law, parents get those pesky parental rights.” If it’s about the parents and their “rights”, then this pesky “right” would allow them to have their daughters’ genitals cut, too, for the same subjective reasons. “But there are no medical benefits to FGC”, one might say. So? We’ve already been told “[i]t’s up to each parent to decide if it’s culturally or religiously relevant to their family.” It’s too convenient to claim that this parental right is somehow specific to the male prepuce but not the female prepuce for cultural or religious reasons.

Or are we highlighting that “the law” is subject to human error and does not equate directly to human rights, including the bodily integrity of all citizens under its authority?


Flawed Circumcision Defense: The indecipherability of “ga ga goo goo ooga bahfah fum”

Posted: August 3rd, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Control, FCD, Parenting | 3 Comments »

Daulton Gatto asked to interview me. I agreed on the condition that he first answer a question from my last post. In response to Daulton’s alleged critiques of my “stupid arguments which claim to show that Mike Gatto likes to cut up baby boys’ wieners with surgical instruments,” I asked: “Why do you state my claim as something unconnected to what I’ve written?” I got something resembling an answer.

“Tony” seems to have taken issue with a statement I made in a previous post, which spoke to his implied belief that Mike Gatto likes to cut up baby boys’ wieners with surgical instruments. While I will acknowledge that Tony never actually stated such a belief in so many words, it is my position that his distorted interpretation of California AB 768 provides ample justification to draw such a conclusion.

The link you provide to California AB 768 doesn’t contradict my interpretation of the bill, which you excerpted in your answer. The rest of your answer appears to recognize that I interpreted the bill correctly. Instead, you’re agitated about this:

… I stated that [Mike Gatto] believes male minors do not have the same rights to their bodies as every other citizen of California. … But he incorrectly believes he and every other parent has the valid authority to choose, and, in his capacity as a legislator, to protect that authority in law.

That is the gist. The authority to impose non-therapeutic genital surgery on a child is illegitimate.

To which I respond:

Of course parents have the authority to have their infant children circumcised. Do you really expect a newborn baby to make this decision for himself? Or do you think that every single male in the world should be forced to wait until they gain legal control over their own medical care to have their stinky, ugly foreskin snipped off? As the proud owner of a smooth, polished penis … I can unequivocally state that my own experience with circumcision has been overwhelmingly positive …

Your thinking on this is too narrow. It’s absurd to imagine¹ that parental authority is specific within genital cutting so that it only applies to the healthy prepuce of a son but not the healthy prepuce of a daughter. As I wrote before, if parents have the authority you say they possess, that applies to control over their daughters’ genitals, too. It would be about the parents, not the child. Yet California law already prohibits this for exactly the reasons I state that non-therapeutic male circumcision is not a legitimate parental choice. Non-therapeutic genital cutting is an individual rights issue for the child (i.e. the surgical patient), which trumps this supposed parental right to proxy consent for sons only. The right to bodily integrity is the core of self-ownership and includes the genitals, even for male minors.

I don’t expect a newborn baby to make this decision, or any decision. But the standard for proxy consent (i.e. parental authority) is not “babies can’t make decisions for themselves”. And you have a curious understanding of what “force” entails. I think that every single male should be able to choose, absent medical need before he is able to decide for himself. No male should be forced to live with a circumcision he does not need, probably won’t need, and may not want. I don’t think this requires that he wait until he’s an adult to choose, but it should never be forced on him without need or his consent.

I’m happy for you that your experience with your circumcision has been positive. You don’t have to share my preference for my body. I don’t have to share your preference for your body. That’s the uncomplicated thing about individual preferences. They’re all subjective to the individual. A presumption of shared circumcision preference between a child and his parents is too convenient for public policy. It assumes away the value of self-ownership to the individual himself.

Parents have the legal right to make decisions about the medical care of their children until their children come of age. Otherwise, emergency rooms around the country would be filled with blubbering infants going “ga ga goo goo ooga bahfah fum” when doctors ask them whether or not they want their booster shots. …

I haven’t said anything suggesting otherwise about a general approach to parenting and its interaction with the State. I didn’t write that parents do not have the authority to make medical decisions, period. You’re not claiming I did, but this isn’t a good buildup for where you’re going with it.

… This legal right necessarily extends to circumcision, …

Necessarily? We agree that parents may choose circumcision where there is medical need, although I’ll add that there is an ethical duty to exhaust less invasive solutions first. This legal right does not “necessarily” extend to non-therapeutic circumcision. All you’ve done here is argue “Parents make decisions, Circumcision is a decision, Parents may decide on circumcision.”

… and the only objections are coming from a small minority of extremist demagogues who erroneously believe that Mike Gatto’s protection of parental rights is tantamount to supporting genital mutilation. …

I recommend that you look up the definition of demagogue again, and perhaps reread our series of posts after doing so, before tossing it around like that.

Mike Gatto protected genital mutilation. I do not know if he supports genital mutilation. Again, if AB768 bill protects a valid parental right, then the California penal code violates parental rights. Mike Gatto is duty-bound to try to correct that if he and you are correct about a parental right to have a child’s healthy genitals cut to satisfy their own preferences.

… I see no reason to offer a more thorough explanation, as it is my firm belief that your argument critiques itself by its circular and misguided nature. It’s Sunday, I’m hung over, and I can’t be bothered to make an exhaustive list of the endless number of logical fallacies you’ve and your supporters have committed.

Don’t worry, you were thorough enough to show the gaps in your argument.

¹ I take it as a given that you oppose female genital cutting, as prohibited in California law. Please correct me if I’ve assumed too much on that point.


If the press release says it’s “voluntary”…

Posted: August 1st, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: "Voluntary", Media Marketing, Politics, Public Health | No Comments »

There are few things more predictable in an article titled A Lesson in Health: Scaling Up Voluntary Medical [sic] Male Circumcision than the false use of voluntary. (all emphasis added)

[Seventh-grade teacher at Kopong Primary School in Botswana, Mothusi Joseph] Kgomo and five of his students who were circumcised that day (with their parents’ consent) are a few of the more than 1 million men and youth in sub-Saharan Africa who have chosen to protect themselves and reduce their lifetime risk of contracting HIV by participating in Jhpiego-supported VMMC programs. …

While the unprecedented scale-up of this lifesaving intervention in countries with high HIV-infection rates is impressive, what’s more remarkable are the people who helped make it happen: fathers who brought their sons to clinics, best friends who encouraged their peers, military lieutenants who set an example for their platoons, tribal chiefs and concerned wives, as well as nurses who took on added responsibilities and roles at health centers, and healthcare providers from neighboring countries who traveled long distances to help their fellow Africans during busy VMMC campaigns. …

This article – by Leslie Mancuso, President and CEO of Jhpiego – is adapted directly from a press release (pdf). That press release¹ declares that “More than 1 million men and youth in sub-Saharan Africa have chosen to protect themselves and reduce their risk of contracting HIV by participating in Jhpiego-supported voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) programs.” It’s always the same. When public health officials say “Voluntary Medical [sic] Male Circumcision,” they never mean voluntary. Never. I’d suspect the word will eventually be dropped altogether, just as adult disappeared, except it’s useful for the propaganda needed to circumcise healthy children.

¹ How soon before we get another “news” story about Selemani Nyika, Triza Liyasi’s husband, or Lt. Suwilanji Musamba?


“Enough. No. I will protect my son.”

Posted: August 1st, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Ethics, Logic, Parenting | No Comments »

There is so much to praise in this post from a mother who researched and rejected circumcision for her son. I like this the most:

So if you’re still reading, you are probably thinking, “Damn, okay you didn’t circumcise your little boy. He didn’t feel the pain, and his penis is just fine. So why are you still talking about it?”

I’d answer you with this: If everyone just stopped talking about it, where would mothers like me who were wavering in their decision find the information and the courage to say, “Enough. No. I will protect my son.” I was so lucky to know a woman who was passionate and outspoken, and at times even aggressive, about educating parents and protecting baby boys. She was such an invaluable resource for my entire pregnancy and labor/delivery and continues to be a good friend. She truly gave me strength. There were times when I may have given in to my husband and others pressuring me, but this woman gave me strength. She made me realize that it IS a BIG DEAL. No baby deserves to suffer through a needless surgery like circumcision. Thank God for her. She sparked something in me, and now here I am trying to pass it on to you.

The full post has a lot to offer. I recommend it.


Comparing Genital Cutting

Posted: July 30th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Ethics, FGM | No Comments »

I agree with the gist of Neil Lyndon’s call yesterday for a proper debate on circumcision. I’d express it differently than he did, without the needless attacks, but here he’s right:

Another part of the reason it doesn’t register on anybody’s list of outrages and abuses is that ritual male genital mutilation is inflicted, sanctioned, tolerated and even encouraged not just by people who might be like us – but by our very selves. It’s not some remote, alien barbarism: it’s intrinsic to our own domestic lives.

The argument is “We don’t practice female genital cutting because it’s bad. Circumcision can’t be bad because we practice it. And it isn’t male genital cutting. It’s circumcision.” Cognitive dissonance is powerful.

Such common and unquestioned practice leads people to bluster about circumcision in the same callous tones that old blunderbusses used to talk about the caning of boys at school before it was outlawed: “Never did me any harm. Can’t see what all the fuss is about. What a sensitive plant you must be if you care about such a trivial matter.”

Anyone who has argued against non-therapeutic child circumcision has heard that bluster almost word-for-word.

Today, Simon Hochhauser, Co-Chairman of Milah UK, responds with “Don’t compare male circumcision with FGM“. He is wrong.

FGM, which involves the partial or complete removal of the genitalia, is a crime because it is abhorrent by any measure. It subjugates women, makes intercourse extremely difficult and painful, and can be the cause of a number of serious medical complications, including not only haemorrhage but also urinary retention, urinary infection, wound infection, and septicaemia. Sadly, in the countries where it is most widely performed, hygiene is poor, and thus both hepatitis and tetanus have also resulted.

That’s generally the case, but it isn’t the only case. The relevant comparison isn’t to start (and end) with differences in practice, but to look at similarities in practice and principle. At its most concise, they’re both non-therapeutic genital cutting on an individual who does not consent. The applicable law in the UK (and 18 U.S. Code § 116 in the United States) prohibits cutting any part of the healthy genitalia of a female minor, just as the WHO defines FGM. It isn’t just genital cutting more extreme than male circumcision. The focus is on the rights and how imposing non-therapeutic surgery on a child violates her rights. The same principles apply to male minors.

Consider this quote from the Girl Summit conference in London Mr. Hochhauser cites:

“A girl is a human being and she should be respected,” [Malala Yousafazi] tells the crowd. “A boy has the right to live his life the way he wants and a girl should too. The best solution is educate the girls. Let’s educate her and make her independent. When a girl gets independent she realises she’s a person. She’s a human being, she has equal rights like men have. She’s not only a wife and daughter – she’s a woman too.”

She’s right because the principle is human rights, not girl rights or boy rights. We have equal rights. Girls have the right to not have their genitals cut without need or their consent. Boys have the same right not to have their genitals cut without need or their consent. It’s preposterous to think of the right involved as the right to be free from female genital cutting.

Continuing:

Contrary to what Neil Lyndon wrote yesterday in Telegraph Men, none of this is comparable to the practice of male religious circumcision. Mr Lyndon would have us believe that the practice – known as ‘Brit Milah’ in the Jewish community – should be considered in the same light as FGM. It’s a bizarre argument to make, rather like comparing ear piercing with sawing off a person’s entire ear with a rusty hacksaw.

Comparing genital cutting to genital cutting isn’t a bizarre argument. The introductory list of questions Mr. Lyndon asked contains some of the same problems in the rest of his piece. However, it’s clear he was getting at the principle shared between the two acts of genital cutting. It’s like comparing genital cutting with harm to genital cutting with generally more severe harm.

Brit Milah is a minor procedure. When carried out by a trained practitioner in a clean environment it has no recognised negative impact on the child or on the rest of his life. Of course there are risks associated with any such procedure. …

It’s important to consider the environment where the procedure takes place, which isn’t regulated in the United States, at least. But that doesn’t resolve the human rights issue. There are recognized harms (i.e. negative impact). Circumcision is surgery, which always constitutes harm. The question of net harm is separate, and subjective to the individual circumcised. But there are always costs, including loss of the foreskin, damage to the nerve endings, scarring, and various risks of further harms. We recognize in law and principle that any non-therapeutic injury to the genitals of a female minor constitutes a negative impact. The same is true of genital cutting on males.

The facts speak for themselves. According to the World Health Organisation, circumcision of male babies results in “a very low rate of adverse events, which are usually minor (0.2-0.4%)”. These figures would no doubt be much lower still if they referred only to properly regulated and responsibly carried out circumcisions.

If we grant this as an accurate reflection of the risk of adverse events, and we ignore that every circumcision involves direct harm, that 0.2-0.4% involves humans with rights. The adverse events don’t have to be death to demonstrate that circumcision inflicts harm.

Mr Lyndon’s suggestion is that, while a third of the male population of the planet is circumcised, the practice is not challenged in the same way as FGM has been because culturally we are not ‘comfortable’ taking issue with it. I would like to offer a slightly different explanation: we’re very happy! There are no international movements calling for an end to circumcision because the billions of men around the planet who have been circumcised have not experienced any negative effects. In fact, the religious and cultural significance of the practice means that, to them, it is an overwhelmingly positive event. Put simply, circumcision has not had an adverse impact on their lives.

Mr. Hochhauser assumes too much. To summarize, “Heads I win, tails you lose.”

Maybe there are some people who do consider it to have been a negative experience and who feel that they would have liked to have had the choice. But I would contend that there would be many, many more people who would feel much more aggrieved if they had been prevented from undergoing the procedure as an infant, as mandated by their faith.

To summarize again, “Heads I win, tails you lose.”

I consider it a negative experience and want my choice. Many men throughout the world, including Jewish and Muslim males, oppose circumcision and wish they hadn’t been circumcised. Human rights aren’t based on what the majority values. And I’m guessing Angelo Ofori-Mintah and Goodluck Caubergs would like their choices back. (Those two were performed badly, but the question begins with whose choice it is, not how it’s done.)

Nevertheless, both groups of people have rights which must be respected, so how should we reconcile them?

Normal practice, where there is a question about the religious and/or physical well-being of an infant, is to defer to their parents, who we tend to assume have the best interests of their child at heart. Parents don’t always get it right – hence the campaigns against FGM – but any equivalent campaign against male circumcision would have to be accompanied by an overwhelming body of objective scientific evidence that demonstrated significant harm to the child. As far as circumcision goes, there is no such evidence. Some scientists even claim that it is medically beneficial.

Mr. Hochhauser keeps stacking the deck in his favor. This time it’s “an overwhelming body of objective scientific evidence that demonstrated significant harm to the child.” We already have overwhelming objective scientific evidence. Circumcising a child removes his foreskin, a normal body part. That is harm. The alleged challenge is in demonstrating that this removal amounts to “significant” harm. But that criterion is subjective and meaningless. That correctly isn’t the standard applied to female genital cutting. The focus is rights. The burden of proof rests on the imposition of genital cutting, not the withholding of genital cutting. The child’s body belongs to herself. The child’s body belongs to himself.

Mr Lyndon dismissively characterises the view that male religious circumcision isn’t comparable to FGM as “nitwit feminism in which males are of no consequence at all”. I disagree entirely. … it is deeply irresponsible to attribute the different treatment of these topics as some sort of underhanded feminist conspiracy. To do so threatens simultaneously to generate unwarranted attacks on religious practice, and undermine the important campaign against FGM.

I agree with everything I didn’t remove in that paragraph. But the comparison is not false because the messenger botched the delivery.


Mike Gatto has fans. Mike Gatto is still wrong about circumcision.

Posted: July 30th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Ethics, FCD | 6 Comments »

I’m still convinced he’s probably doing nothing more than a form of weird trolling, but I’m still fascinated by what Daulton Gatto is doing with this. Yesterday I got two posts, including my promised addition to the “enemies” list. It’s as ridiculous as I expected. Awesome.

First, BREAKING NEWS: Mike Gatto Has a New Enemy, and His Name Is, uh, “Tony”:

Our blog’s loyal readers will be familiar with the antics of “Tony,” another incoherent babbling lunatic who lives in a bizarre fantasy world where Mike Gatto supports genital mutilation. Well, as you can see in the next two links, Tony insists on posting cowardly pingbacks to my brilliant and devastatingly well-reasoned critiques of his stupid arguments which claim to show that Mike Gatto likes to cut up baby boys’ wieners with surgical instruments.

Daulton:

My earlier points about ad hominem apply again, above and on the “enemies” list post. What I really enjoy, though, is that my “stupid arguments claim to show” something I have not written or implied. I do not believe “Mike Gatto likes to cut up baby boys’ wieners with surgical instruments.” Why do you state my claim as something unconnected to what I’ve written? Is it poor reading comprehension? Is it willful misrepresentation? Maybe it’s just lazy trolling? I’m curious and don’t want to assume an answer, but there is an explanation for why you’re punching a strawman. What is it?

With AB768, Mike Gatto introduced legislation stating that male circumcision in California can only be regulated at the state level. AB768 protects the practice of male circumcision and the exercise of parental authority to have a child circumcised for any reason throughout California. I stated that he believes male minors do not have the same rights to their bodies as every other citizen of California. I don’t even assume that he and his wife would have any sons circumcised. Maybe they would, maybe they wouldn’t. But he incorrectly believes he and every other parent has the valid authority to choose, and, in his capacity as a legislator, to protect that authority in law.

The flaw is easy enough to understand. AB768 does not include critical information about the risks, harms, and ethics of non-therapeutic child circumcision. The practice of male circumcision involves individual human rights. If this parental authority to impose non-therapeutic genital cutting were legitimate, it would apply to their daughters, as well. California already prohibits this, correctly. AB768 permits the violation of human and constitutional rights of California citizens. Mike Gatto should not have introduced it. No one should’ve voted for it. Gov. Brown should not have signed it.

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True to his word, he added me to his enemies list. The last paragraph introduces an amusing assumption about what I believe based on what I wrote.