Inquiry Is Better than Insinuation

Rabbi Gary Creditor wrote an essay in the Richmond Times-Dispatch on the subject of circumcision, laws, and anti-Semitism. The title assigned is “Circumcision ban is veiled anti-Semitism.” The premise is absurd because it accepts no nuance into the discussion. It’s possible (and common) to oppose non-therapeutic child circumcision and anti-Semitism. The former can be expressed in clear principle without the latter. If Rabbi Creditor will make an effort to look, he will find examples.

Instead, this, after significant buildup:

Throughout history, those who sought to destroy the Jewish people always forbade brit milah, usually upon penalty of death. They thought that if they could eradicate the sign of the covenant, they could eliminate the covenantal people. They failed.

To the extent that I can (i.e. intellectually), I understand his concern. But this is not that. There is no effort to destroy Judaism or Jewish people. Any male may consent to circumcision when he is able. The proposed law would’ve set the age he could consent at 18, but I do not believe that is required. At whatever age he could consent, that would be acceptable. The focus is consent.

The proposed law would’ve established criminal penalties. That makes sense given that the fact involved is that non-therapeutic circumcision is (well-intentioned) battery, which violates the rights of the child. We criminalize female genital cutting on minors that causes less damage. There is nothing abhorrent about the proposed penalties. They would’ve very rarely, if ever, been enforced. That’s politics. But to connect a proposed year of imprisonment with capital punishment is inexcusably unfair.

That’s Rabbi Creditor’s premise. He exposes the flaw in his reasoning that demonstrates the principle of human rights and bodily integrity with his next paragraph (emphasis added):

That is the issue that reverberates these days in San Francisco with the attempt through legislation to ban all circumcision. It is a thinly veiled attack upon Judaism and the Jewish people. Anyone who objects to this ritual has the democratic right not to participate in it. Yet as parents with a religious persuasion, we make decisions on behalf of our children. One of those is the perpetuation of the faith. This is how we do it. This attack is not new — just its method. It violates core American principles.

I had a right not to participate in circumcision. I would exercise that right if I still had my choice. My parents (and the doctor) violated my right and my body when they circumcised me without medical need. Every human, male or female, possesses that basic right. Rabbi Creditor is mistaken. Society incorrectly fails to protect that right for male children, which violates core American principles. The core American principle is individual liberty, not collective “liberty” to permanently impose one’s beliefs on the physical body of another.