Shouldn’t Atheists be doing something to stop infant circumcision?

Oct 14, 2013


Discussion by: Michael Austin

I didn't like religion, so I gave it up. It no longer affects my life. 

I hate being circumcised, and there's nothing I can do to reverse it. I'm stuck with a body that is less than whole through no choice of my own. 

I don't think I'm wrong when I say that we wouldn't be so forgiving of this obvious human rights violation if religion didn't have a hand in it. Every time I talk about banning circumcision, I'm labeled an anti-semite because I don't believe that Jews should be allowed to cut parts off their children's bodies without their consent. If an adult decides to become part of a religion that requires him to alter his genitals, that should be his decision. 

I think that this is an issue that we as Atheists are especially equipped to tackle. In the last decade alone, the conversation has completely changed on gay marriage, and I believe that Atheists are largely responsible for getting that off the ground in a way that religion couldn't possibly do. As Atheists, our political stances on these sensitive issues can be based entirely off of logic and that ultimately transcends religious identification when the conversation is heard in the media and in day to day conversation. How ridiculous does it sound now when a religious person claims that gays don't have the right to get married in our secular country because God doesn't like it? I think that forced circumcision objectively sounds equally ridiculous when religion is used to defend it. 

I know that most of the circumcisions in America aren't done for religious reasons, but every time the issue gets attention those who are against it are seen as against freedom of religion. I don't believe that Jews or Muslims have anymore right to forcibly circumcise their children than they have the right to stone me if I work on the Sabbath. When their religious rights interfere with another person's rights, they are in the wrong. 

 

In short, I think that America's circumcision problem is threefold:

1. Talking about banning the practice hurts people's religious sensibilities and the conversation is immediately shut down. 

2. Many uninformed christians (at least in the Midwest, where I live) are under the mistaken impression that Christianity requires circumcision. They seem to be completely unaware that most men, and presumably most christians, are intact. 

3. People just don't think about the issue. They circumcise their children just because they themselves are circumcised. It's a never-ending cycle of abuse. 

I think that Atheism, as a logical movement promoting open discussion, is uniquely qualified to tackle all three of these hurdles stopping this barbaric practice from taking its rightful place in the history of our species. 

75 comments on “Shouldn’t Atheists be doing something to stop infant circumcision?

  • The arguments for circumcision:

    1. it helps prevent the spread of AIDS
    2. it helps prevent premature ejaculation
    3. it makes hygiene easier.
    4. most people have a strong aesthetic preference one way or the other.

    Those are not arguments particularly for infant circumcision, particularly without anaesthetic.

    My ex has dedicated his life to this cause. I have it on my back burner. There are so many things screaming for attention of higher priority.

    The Jewish unsanitary ceremonies are the worst, and probably the most resistant to reform since they have such deep roots in time.

    The way it may be solved is for children (M+F) to sue parents.

    I am cool with circumcision, so long as it is done with consent.



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  • 2
    Michael Austin says:

    In reply to #1 by Roedy:

    The arguments for circumcision:

    it helps prevent the spread of AIDS
    it helps prevent premature ejaculation
    it makes hygiene easier.
    most people have a strong aesthetic preference one way or the other.

    Those are not arguments particularly for infant circumcision, particularly without anaesthetic…

    I don’t see how anyone could have a problem with adult circumcision. How does one sue their parents for circumcision? Is it usually successful? On what grounds?



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  • Yes! Everyone should. There is little that makes me despair more than state-sanctioned atrocities going on in otherwise civilized countries. Theft of body parts! This shameful practice being legal tarnish us all, and you’re right; someday we’ll be severely judged for tolerating it for so long.

    Of course, the people best equipped to tackle the issue are the circumcised men themselves. The people doing this are moral degenerates, but if you speak up, in considerable numbers, they can’t very well look you in the eye and say you never had any right to your own foreskin. (Can they??) Please don’t ever shut up about it. I won’t either.



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  • 4
    Jonathan Peel says:

    I am very glad that I was circumcised when I was a baby.
    (I also don’t like religion)
    I do agree that people might have a different view on it if it wasn’t considered a religious thing, but atheists also might view it different. It might be “hated” less by non-believers if it was not a religious thing.



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  • 5
    This Is Not A Meme says:

    In reply to #2 by Michael Austin:

    In reply to #1 by Roedy:

    I don’t see how anyone could have a problem with adult circumcision. How does one sue their parents for circumcision? Is it usually successful? On what grounds?

    If I may, those are the arguments. They are deeply flawed, but technically, logically valid (unlike religious arguments).

    What I find most interesting is the legal factor. Attitudes and policy concerning circumcision are relics of chattel laws. Children are property, owned by their parents. Despite being human, children have no human rights. Society/the State may intervene, but the threshold for this does not reflect a child’s rights. Bodily soveriegnty is a very important issue, and I am convinced denying a sense of this to children facilitates all manner of physical abuse.

    I have no problem with being an antisemite. I am anti-Xian, anti Islam, anti Nazi,etc. I am opposed to communism but anti-communist. It is my position as a rationalist that Judaism is a force for evil, and proponents and apologists for Judaism are culpable for this evil. No group has survived the level of persecution and slander (most of it false and mythical) that the Jews have, but this does not redeem such a harmful and intrinsically evil doctrine. YHWH is the only god to threaten geo-political stability, and the genocide of Europen Jews in internal result of their twisted doctrine. There are many noble aspects of Judaism, and I share Nietzsche’s great admiration for them, but nothing justifies the horrors perpetrated by their doctrine.

    Currently, Jews are suing over thier ‘right’ to suck on baby penises during the ritual, despite deaths and disfiguration caused by spreading herpes. This arogance is afforded by the potent charge of antisemitism. It is utterly irrational. Being a victim does not justify victimizing others, especially when talking about the victimization of one’s ancestors. The innability to question Zionism or the most barbaric, savage, and immoral practices is a continuation of the madness unleashed by the Nazis. We need to get past that, especially if it results in the disappearance of Judaism, which is what Jews claim banning involuntary circumcision would mean.



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  • 7
    Michael Austin says:

    In reply to #4 by Jonathan Peel:

    I am very glad that I was circumcised when I was a baby.
    (I also don’t like religion)
    I do agree that people might have a different view on it if it wasn’t considered a religious thing, but atheists also might view it different. It might be “hated” less by non-believers if it was not a religious thi…

    Why would you be happy that someone mutilated your genitals? That sounds woefully uninformed to me.



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  • 8
    Callinectes says:

    People who are circumcised and are unhappy with it need to be noisier. A lot of fathers in America have their sons circumcised not for any religion, but offer instead the rather perverse explanation of “I want my son’s penis to look like mine”.



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  • 9
    This Is Not A Meme says:

    In reply to #8 by Callinectes:

    People who are circumcised and are unhappy with it need to be noisier. A lot of fathers in America have their sons circumcised not for any religion, but offer instead the rather perverse explanation of “I want my son’s penis to look like mine”.

    Britain’s NHS did a good job analyzing the data in a fair way, and I think they are a model for discourse. They arrived at the conclusion that it would not be automatically offered because the very few deaths a year outweighed any potential health benefits, even giving the most charity possible to pro-circumcision arguments. It was a very rational conclusion. In America I’m confident most circumcisions are given very little thought at all and done for petty reasons, and only happen because doctors offer it and make it sound normal (which it’s not).



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  • lawsuit

    I have not heard of anyone doing it successfully. They could try on grounds of:

    1. mutilation
    2. branding with a hated religious symbol
    3. pain
    4. erectile dysfunction, made worse by circumcision (removes sensitivity)
    5. In some European countries circumcision is so rare, that anyone who has it is bullied.

    It might be done by a colluding parent-child pair hoping to set a precedent. It would not have to succeed to dissuade some parents.



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  • In reply to #6 by Nigel S:

    And being charged with anti-Semitism for wanting to protect Jewish children is beyond ridiculous. Do not stand for it.

    The State of Israel attacks anyone who disagrees with it as anti-Semitic as if they spoke and acted for all Jews. People are so nervous of that charge they usually back down and pretend to agree. We have no one to blame but ourselves for being such cowards.



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  • The thing about male circumcision that burns me up most is the unsanitary way Jewish tradition does this, risking herpes among other diseases, which can be fatal in infants.

    I have seen an ad in the yellow pages for a physician who says he will do painless circumcisions. Persumably these truly are sanitary and painless. How to get Jewish parents to use such methods.

    1. invent some ritual to introduce the doctor. Given him a Hebrew name. Give some archaic sounding names to his instruments and procedures. Make a special expensive costume for him to wear with gold threads. Give him an assistant with an archaic musical instrument.
    2. put on a course to train the mohels in the modern techniques.
    3. form an organisation who will foot the bill for a painless circumcision or give you $100 to leave the kid alone.
    4. charge a mohel, particularly one who botches the job, with practicising medicine without a licence.



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  • 13
    FrankMill says:

    I’ve long been impressed by the rational thinking employed by those who claim (a) that man is born in the image of their god and therefore represents biological perfection and (b) they need to snip off a bit of that perfection to please their god. By the same logic, people who rush to call their children Mohammed should in fact call them Hammed.

    PS: circumcision also prevents cancer of the foreskin — a plus not yet mentioned in this thread. What needs to be excised to prevent gross stupidity and slavish adherence to idiotic old rituals?



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  • 14
    Stuart M. says:

    I hear you loud and clear. It is a mystery to me why parents are allowed to permanently “mark” their boys in this way. I am not circumcised, but that fact didn’t help me much. I believed I was the only one who wasn’t for the longest time! I was very self-conscious about it, and I think it prevented me from participating in any sports that required communal showering. My parents were of European origin, but I grew up in Oklahoma. As with most children, I probably had an intense desire to fit in, but in this respect “couldn’t.” So I guess I am someone who was not literally but only figuratively scarred by the practice. Yes, it should be banned. I believe a court in Germany once ruled circumcision was illegal, but all the political parties fell over themselves passing special legislation to immediately legalize it again, mainly because Germans are hypersensitive to allegations of anti-semitism.



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  • 15
    vbaculum says:

    Yes, atheist are uniquely positioned to challange circumcision because:

    A: Like religion, homeopathy, astrology, etc., circumcision is based on psuedo-science.

    B: It’s a human rights violation that needlessly inflicts extreme amounts of suffering on infants,

    C: It’s religious roots make it taboo to challange. Thus courageous people are required to confronting it.



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  • Doing anything for religious reasons is nonsense. And the way the orthodox Jews do it is disgusting. But otherwise, if done by a medical person, what’s the big deal? At a year of age a boy has plenty enough consciousness to cry at length in real terror when getting his first haircut. When he is a week old, he cries loudly but briefly as a reflex because something is causing pain at the moment, an evolutionary response to summon his mother, Mutilation? Come on! Hitchens uses the term, but it is immensely overstated. A penis has four functions: To pass urine, to receive sexual pleasure, to give out sexual pleasure, and to pass semen. None of these is compromised by circumcision, and I can’t believe that anyone would seriously believe that it is. In my own circumcised case, the urine part is self-evident because otherwise I would have died a long time ago. My two childeren who bear a family resemblance to my side are also self-evident. As far as giving out sexual pleasure, my wife has registered no complaints (more to the contrary), and if I myself received any more pleasure from it, my brain would explode. So come off it! It is just about a non-event in a boy’s life.



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  • 17
    Michael Austin says:

    In reply to #17 by 78rpm:

    Doing anything for religious reasons is nonsense. And the way the orthodox Jews do it is disgusting. But otherwise, if done by a medical person, what’s the big deal? At a year of age a boy has plenty enough consciousness to cry at length in real terror when getting his first haircut. When he is a we…

    I believe that the pain associated with infant circumcision changes a baby’s pain threshold for life (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9057731) and that the neonatal trauma associated with infant circumcision increases rates of violent crime and suicide (http://www.bmj.com/content/317/7169/1346). The data haven’t spoken decisively on the issue yet, so I understand if you don’t accept those premises yet.

    However, ethically, pain still matters even if it isn’t remembered. If you had a drug that could make an adult forget what you did to him, things like rape and torture still wouldn’t be okay because of the nature of those acts. Strapping an infant to a table, forcibly prying the membrane attached foreskin from his glans and then cutting off normal tissue is obviously one of the acts in that category and a violation of that infant’s rights. It would still be a violation even if circumcision had no net effect on his body. As an aside, you probably agree with me that performing irreversible and unneeded modifications on a child’s body is ethically wrong. Consider, should parents have the choice to tattoo their infants?

    But, common sense would dictate that circumcision does have an effect on the sensitivity of that organ. Most believe that the foreskin protects and keeps the glans sensitive in addition to other functions, but let’s ignore that and look at it from a more obvious angle. When a circumcision is preformed, it removes tissue (quite a bit actually, that skin is on average 5.5 square inches on an adult man). That tissue is (highly) innervated. The only thing responsible for sensitivity is nerves. During a circumcision, nerves are removed and replaced with nothing. It can do nothing but reduce sexual sensitivity.

    The people who have advocated for circumcision throughout history have known this quite well. Look up the reason Moses Maimonides gave for the procedure on Jewish men and the reasons why John Kellogg thought it would be good for the western world. Both center on the fact that the penis as nature (or god in their cases) made it is a problem because of its sensitivity and circumcision helps to temper that problem.

    But like I said, even if circumcision has no effect, it would be like a tattoo or an ear gauging in the sense that it is almost entirely irreversible and the choice should be left to the adult to make.



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  • 18
    Red Dog says:

    In reply to #18 by Michael Austin:

    I believe that the pain associated with infant circumcision changes a baby’s pain threshold for life

    I would find that to be surprising. Given the pains that our hunter gatherer ancestors went through circumcision seems traumatic but not like a life changing event. But even if you are wrong I think the previous commenter was showing an incredible lack of empathy. It’s actually something I notice quite often, even in people who are otherwise educated, that when it comes to children some people seem to treat them as second class citizens, as if their pain meant less than an adult’s pain and as if by the nature of being children they give up any and all human rights to have some control over their own bodies.

    I challenge any guy who thinks getting circumcised is not a big deal to first prove it by filming themselves as they snip off a bit of their penis. This is what bothers me most about the whole circumcision debate, not that people are doing something stupid in the name of religion, I already know that happens all the time, but that people I know who otherwise will advocate very strongly for the right of gays to love whom they choose or the rights of women to get an abortion suddenly — and in the name of “tolerance” and “respect for religious beliefs” — will dismiss any claims an infant baby has to not want to be mutilated or caused undo pain.

    If you are correct and it is life changing so much the worse, but even if you are wrong and it’s just a serious one time trauma that doesn’t mean it is right. As I commented a while back to me this is very simple, anyone who wants to be circumcised should absolutely have that right at a decent age — logically since the worry is about STDs when they might be old enough to be sexually active. There is no reason it has to be done as an infant and the rational thing to do seems obviously to let the child decide for themselves.



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  • 19
    Ignorant Amos says:

    In reply to #19 by Red Dog:

    I challenge any guy who thinks getting circumcised is not a big deal to first prove it by filming themselves as they snip off a bit of their penis.

    My procedure, a few years back, was carried out under general anaesthetic. I can tell you that when I came around, the pain was excruciating and I was off work for a fortnight. Trust me, it hurts. To have it bit off because of some antiquated scribblings by some religious deviant is a bloody disgrace in this day and age.



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  • 20
    canadian_right says:

    Unsanitary circumcisions done without anesthetic should be banned, but it is still not clear one way or the other which is healthier for boys and men. There are pros and cons on both sides. As it is something that is very hard to undo I think parents should put more thought into the matter before making a decision.Being “traditional” is not a good reason to circumcise a child.



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  • 21
    Michael Austin says:

    In reply to #21 by canadian_right:

    Unsanitary circumcisions done without anesthetic should be banned, but it is still not clear one way or the other which is healthier for boys and men. There are pros and cons on both sides. As it is something that is very hard to undo I think parents should put more thought into the matter before m…

    It doesn’t matter which is healthier, the benefits don’t take effect until the man starts having sex, so consent is then possible. Circumcision is an unneeded cosmetic procedure, and like all procedures of that nature should be a matter of elective choice.



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  • 22
    Michael Austin says:

    In reply to #19 by Red Dog:

    In reply to #18 by Michael Austin:

    I believe that the pain associated with infant circumcision changes a baby’s pain threshold for life

    I would find that to be surprising. Given the pains that our hunter gatherer ancestors went through circumcision seems traumatic but not like a life changing even…

    But most pains that an infant would go through in the old times are nothing compared to circumcision.

    “First, the immaturity of sensory processing within the new- born spinal cord leads to lower thresholds for excitation and sensitization, therefore potentially maximizing the central effects of these tissue-damaging inputs. Second, the plasticity of both peripheral and central sensory connections in the neonatal period means that early damage in infancy can lead to prolonged structural and functional alterations in pain pathways that can last into adult life”
    -The Neurobiology of Pain:
    Developmental Aspects
    MARIA FITZGERALD and SIMON BEGGS1 Department of Anatomy & Developmental Biology University College London

    http://discuss.pediatricpainresearch.ca/resources/Fitzgerald-Beggs.pdf Source



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  • 23
    Red Dog says:

    In reply to #23 by Michael Austin:

    In reply to #19 by Red Dog:

    In reply to #18 by Michael Austin:
    But most pains that an infant would go through in the old times are nothing compared to circumcision.

    You are probably right. Just to clarify where I was coming from I’ve been reading books by anthropologists on religion and one thing they cover are some of the amazingly painful and down right bizarre things that people (mostly young men) do in primitive cultures to prove that they are true believers. Lots of things including penises get pierced and in ways that sound more painful to me than circumcision.



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  • 24
    debaser71 says:

    I’ve never heard anyone say this. But what IU have heard many times is that mothers want their son’s to have a penis that they are used to seeing. Even my mother told me that, if I were to have a son (I have daughters but no son) that we should get him circumcised otherwise his sex life will be difficult since women would be freaked over his odd looking penis. I imagine the fathers just go along with what the mother would prefer.

    In reply to #8 by Callinectes:

    People who are circumcised and are unhappy with it need to be noisier. A lot of fathers in America have their sons circumcised not for any religion, but offer instead the rather perverse explanation of “I want my son’s penis to look like mine”.



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  • 25
    Reckless Monkey says:

    There is also guilt, any time I express an opinion on it at work the people who argue the loudest are those that have quite often in very recent times done it to their own children. I suspect this is defensive in nature as they can not give me good reasons for doing so other than looking like Dad. I honestly don’t thing people consider it much and then feel bad if anyone criticises directly or indirectly. So the conversation is shut down.

    The problem in the West with female circumcision which is illegal seems to be ignored, why are doctors not reporting it and if they are why are these people not being convicted of child abuse?



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  • Circumcisions are no longer performed routinely in Australian hospitals. It’s possible to have it done, but the parents have to organise the procedure themselves after the birth. Most doctors strongly discourage the practice. Needless to say, most circumcisions performed today would be done so on religious grounds.



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  • 28
    Verticalling says:

    Unlike adults, when an infant suffers pain they don’t create a whole story around the event. There’s no self-conscious awareness that bemoans some perceived loss or unfairness. It’s only as one grows older that one begins to create personal myths (like religion, these are just stories) in order to make sense of whatever pain or suffering one experiences.



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  • 29
    Michael Austin says:

    In reply to #29 by Verticalling:

    Unlike adults, when an infant suffers pain they don’t create a whole story around the event. There’s no self-conscious awareness that bemoans some perceived loss or unfairness. It’s only as one grows older that one begins to create personal myths (like religion, these are just stories) in order to m…

    If that’s a defense of circumcision, it’s really quite terrible reasoning. Would it be okay to mutilate the genitals of an animal just because you like the look of them? They don’t make a story around the pain either.



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  • 31
    Mohamed Taqi says:

    Unfortunately it’s done, and I can’t reverse it either … at least, I wished raising in a hindu or buddhist family, to keep this part for me, I’m raised muslim.



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  • Genesis 17:11 And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you.

    Genesis 17:12 And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed.

    This despot makes unsolicited covenants with eight-days old infants. A less domineering tyrant would make covenants with adults who might, of their own free will, choose to be mutilated.



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  • 33
    OHooligan says:

    In reply to #29 by Verticalling:

    Unlike adults, when an infant suffers pain they don’t create a whole story around the event. There’s no self-conscious awareness that bemoans some perceived loss or unfairness. It’s only as one grows older that one begins to create personal myths (like religion, these are just stories) in order to make sense of whatever pain or suffering one experiences.

    Is that statement (which I’ll take, provisionally, at face value) meant to support the pro- or anti- infant circumcision case? I can’t tell which.



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  • 34
    OHooligan says:

    This is a unique discussion, as here we have people responding from at least two sides of the divide: those who have been cut, and those who haven’t. Neither side can fully empathise with the other. I can’t imagine how much better/worse/the same sex would be if I was the other way. Nor can anyone else. The scientific approach sets aside personal experience and does measurements, and surveys of other peoples reported experiences. First hand knowledge is ruled out. Though perhaps reports from women who have had sex with many men cut and uncut might be informative.

    So far we have heard from (a) I’m cut and it never done me no harm, what’s the big deal, (b) I’m not cut and I can’t imagine it being anything other than terrible, and (c) I had it done as an adult (with anaesthetic)

    To (a) – you’ll never know what you’re missing (if anything)

    To (b) – do you really want to find out? (it’s not reversible, and you will know what you’re missing).

    To (c), may I ask — why did you do it, and how have things changed since?

    Disclosure: I’m (b), and the answer to my own question above is: No.



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  • 35
    Michael Austin says:

    In reply to #35 by OHooligan:

    This is a unique discussion, as here we have people responding from at least two sides of the divide: those who have been cut, and those who haven’t. Neither side can fully empathise with the other. I can’t imagine how much better/worse/the same sex would be if I was the other way. Nor can anyon…

    You missed mine. I’m cut and absolutely hate it and would give literally anything to be intact.



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  • 36
    Pabmusic says:

    In reply to #14 by FrankMill:

    …PS: circumcision also prevents cancer of the foreskin — a plus not yet mentioned in this thread.

    I’ve only just noticed this. Commendable logic.

    Now if we remove babies’ hearts, it will prevent heart attacks. Or if we remove their brains they’ll never have strokes.



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  • In reply to #25 by debaser71:

    I’ve never heard anyone say this. But what IU have heard many times is that mothers want their son’s to have a penis that they are used to seeing. Even my mother told me that, if I were to have a son (I have daughters but no son) that we should get him circumcised otherwise his sex life will be difficult since women would be freaked over his odd looking penis. I imagine the fathers just go along with what the mother would prefer.

    Even though not widely practiced in my country I have heard a number of men talk about wanting their sons to look “like them” and seriously consider circumcision as an option for them (many of them sports men too). It’s mostly the mothers who say that it is not necessary – as the majority of women I know don’t want to inflict pain on their perfect child, made the way nature intended and secondly it makes no difference to us! Seriously but I’m not saying I’ve had all that much experience just that I’ve had enough and girls love to talk (as some of you may know).

    As Nitya said, Circumcision hasn’t been practiced in Australian hospitals since the early 70ies and most new parents to be are advised against it and many are given a pamphlet from Circumcision Information Australia: http://www.circinfo.org – (there are some great articles there). It still isn’t banned but certainly gets the opposition it deserves. Strangely I just thought many countries were the same. Watching your child have a Guthrie test and being immunized is hard enough but genital mutilation for god…? Utter child abuse.



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  • Bravo, Michael Austin! I agree 100%. Circumcision, which is really genital mutilation, is a violation of the right to bodily integrity that is not justified by health benefits as is, for example, a Guthrie test or immunization.

    Even though I would not choose a partner based on whether or not he has been circumcised, I can’t help but feel disappointment and pity for the man whenever I discover that a new partner is circumcised. I will never understand why more men don’t get angry about it. I know that if someone had done something to my genitals without my consent, I would be very angry about it and would never forgive that person or persons (even if they were my own parents).

    Some women say uncircumcised is ugly. Really! Have they never seen Michelangelo’s David?

    From a perspective of a woman, who has had sexual relations with both, circumcised and uncircumcised men, my unscientific opinion is that there is a difference in sensation. Uncircumcised seems more pleasurable because there seems to be less skin on skin friction, which can produce heat and a burning sensation. It seems logical to me that looser skin means less friction, but I wonder whether there have been any scientific tests done on this matter.

    For men who have been circumcised and are unhappy because of it, there is such a thing as foreskin restoration (look it up in Wikipedia).

    Generally I think atheism should be doing something to stop all forms of religious barbarism. The greatest victims of religion are children, women and animals. Cruelties done in the name of religion include: mutilation of genitals of children, honor killings of women, acid attacks on women, ritual slaughter of animals, Jewish Kaparot, polygamy, the refusal to provide medical treatment to children, etc. etc. The list of barbaric religious practices is very long.



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  • In reply to #14 by FrankMill:

    cancer of the foreskin

    There two questions: advisability of voluntary adult circumcision and advisability of infant forced circumcision without anaesthesia.

    Is this cancer a problem for adults or children? Is it a problem of insufficient sanitation?



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  • In reply to #31 by vbaculum:

    In reply to #20 by Ignorant Amos:

    In reply to #19 by Red Dog:
    My procedure, a few years back, was carried out under general anaesthetic. I can tell you that when I came around, the pain was excruciating and I was off work for a fortnight. Trust me, it hurts.

    My brother was circumcised as an adult. He assured me it was painful, especially if you get an erection. What a strange thing, this information in hand to assume it is painless to infants. Circumcision has routinely been done without anaesthetic, partly as a bravery test and because there were no anaesthetics.

    Circa 1950 in Canada it was universal, presumed necessary for sanitation.



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  • In reply to #39 by BaIB:

    Jewish Kaparot,
    A Jewish ceremony where a live chicken is swung by the feet overhead then has its throat slit. The theory is your sins move into the chicken — a sort of scapegoat.

    It strikes me as a bit messy for the dining room. It is crazy, but not as cruel as factory farming.



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  • Re: Cancer of the foreskin

    From Wikipedia:

    “Penile cancer is a rare cancer in developed nations. The annual incidence is approximately 1 in 100,000 men in the United States, 1 in 250,000 in Australia, and 0.82 per 100,000 in Denmark.”

    “…the American Cancer Society points to the rarity of the disease and notes that neither the American Academy of Pediatrics nor the Canadian Academy of Pediatrics recommend routine neonatal circumcision.”

    “Some studies show that circumcision during infancy or in childhood may provide partial protection against penile cancer…”

    Then why is there higher rate of this cancer in the U.S. where circumcision is more common than in Denmark, where is generally not practiced?
    There are many other risk factors, and Wikipedia lists them.



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  • 44
    David W says:

    In reply to #31 by vbaculum:

    In reply to #20 by Ignorant Amos:

    In reply to #19 by Red Dog:
    My procedure, a few years back, was carried out under general anaesthetic. I can tell you that when I came around, the pain was excruciating and I was off work for a fortnight. Trust me, it hurts.

    Anaesthetic? Lucky you. 96% of children…

    I wonder how many adult males would allow themselves to be circumcised without anaesthetic? And yet it’s done to children who are too young to speak up or protect themselves. It’s child abuse that is only allowed because it’s done in the name of religion.



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  • 45
    alexanderdavid says:

    I think its wrong for the parents to choose to do this to there children, never the less it is the choice of the parent to preform these choices for the younger generation and influence there early lives and it would be wrong for anyone to try and interfere with there right to choose for there children, even if it does seem completed unnecessary and cruel to a educated logical anti-religious mind. I don’t think it would be wise to make a direct attack on the parents of these children who seek to do this, yet educate them in a manner that will make them see otherwise.



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  • 46
    Michael Austin says:

    In reply to #46 by alexanderdavid:

    I think its wrong for the parents to choose to do this to there children, never the less it is the choice of the parent to preform these choices for the younger generation and influence there early lives and it would be wrong for anyone to try and interfere with there right to choose for there child…

    So you have admitted that circumcision is harmful, but you don’t think that we should stop it? Replace circumcision with any other painful and unneeded mutilation and realize of uncaring your comment sounds. Circumcision doesn’t get a pass just because it’s old.



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  • 47
    Seraphor says:

    In reply to #47 by Michael Austin:

    In reply to #46 by alexanderdavid:

    I think its wrong for the parents to choose to do this to there children, never the less it is the choice of the parent to preform these choices for the younger generation and influence there early lives and it would be wrong for anyone to try and interfere with t…

    I think it’s a bit of a stretch to say that male circumcision is ‘harmful’, given that it’s a routine medical procedure for phimosis and preputial adhesion’s, and many, including my partner, have had it and don’t experience any problems because of it and would even advocate it for hygienic reasons.

    It’s harmful if it’s not done with any anesthetic or in a sterile or aseptic environment, but apart from that I think the most you can say is it’s unnecessary. Still, from a perspective of bodily autonomy it’s not right to force this choice on a child, but then who in their right mind would consent to it as an adult if they didn’t have to? From that point of view it should only be done as an infant.
    It’s a bit like vaccines in that sense, that as adults we require consent, but for children its up to the parents, although the benefits are a bit more debatable.

    Of course if it’s done for purely religious reasons it’s completely unnecessary and most likely not done in a safe way and so it could be harmful.
    I think the arguments for religious circumcision and medical circumcision are completely different, and not always entirely separate. If we allow parents to circumcise their sons for medical reasons, what’s to stop Jewish parents from choosing to circumcise their sons for medical reasons? And how do you determine their motives?



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  • 48
    Markovich says:

    You hate being circumcised? I strongly suggest you consult a psychologist. I doubt that your having been circumcised is your most serious problem.



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  • 49
    Nunbeliever says:

    I find the issue of male circumcision, or male genital mutilation as it should be called, in USA fascinating. Mostly because it’s generally not a religious issue. At least that is my understanding. As someone else pointed out, in the rest of the world (except Muslims of course) we don’t circumcise our children unless there is a medical reason for it. Hence, I wonder if anyone could enlighten me with regard to the history of male circumcision in USA. How did this procedure become so common, even to the point that many physicians take for granted circumcision is the right way to go. To me it seem like it has more to do with culture than with rational arguments. But, at some point this tradition started. I can’t see any good reasons why Christians in USA would suddenly start circumcising children when it certainly wasn’t common practice in Europe and the other countries from which Americans emigrated. So, how did this tradition get started?



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  • 50
    Katy Cordeth says:

    In reply to #50 by Nunbeliever:

    You might find this article helpful:

    This Guy Has a Good Reason to be Anti-Circumcision

    Can you get into the industry of circumcision a bit?

    If there was no profit to be made in circumcision it would have been abandoned long ago. But Dr. Kellogg [a man who invented Corn Flakes because he thought “bland foods” could “curb passions” and allegedly thought circumcision could “cure” masturbation] realized he was making a fortune circumcising children—the parents were paying him to circumcise their children to prevent masturbation — so he taught, basically all the original doctors to perform circumcisions in the United States were trained by Dr. Kellogg. And you’ve got to realize he knew what he was doing. He was inducing sexual dysfunction because not only did he think that masturbation was evil but he also thought that sex itself was degrading. He advocated celibacy that sex was unhealthy as something evil, so he believed that rendering the penis dysfunctional was a good thing.

    Do you have any idea if he was circumcised?

    No idea. He probably circumcised himself. The guy was crazy enough to do that… So anyways, the industry grew up that discovered that foreskin is highly useful stuff. Actually from the 1980s on that it’s very useful for many, many products and so the profit is enormous to be made from this. So there’s a multi-billion dollar industry driving continued circumcision…



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  • 51
    Michael Austin says:

    Circumcision is a needless mutilation and there’s no reason why I shouldn’t hate it. Any objective person would. A part of my body was stolen from me, and I shouldn’t have to accept that anymore than if my parents had cut off my fingers.

    It is more delusional to accept a mutilation as fine, or even superior to what unmutilated people have. It leads to complacency, and that won’t be helpful to ending this barbaric practice.
    In reply to #49 by Markovich:

    You hate being circumcised? I strongly suggest you consult a psychologist. I doubt that your having been circumcised is your most serious problem.



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  • 52
    Skeptic says:

    In reply to #50 by Nunbeliever:

    At least that is my understanding. As someone else pointed out, in the rest of the world (except Muslims of course) we don’t circumcise our children unless there is a medical reason for it. Hence, I wonder if anyone could enlighten me with regard to the history of male circumcision in USA.

    Good question. I’m happy I was circumcised only because all my peers were. I’m quite certain none of my girlfriends had even seen an uncut penis and I’m not sure the stigma I would have suffered if I hadn’t.



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  • 53
    Timothy McNamara says:

    In reply to #52 by Michael Austin:

    Circumcision is a needless mutilation and there’s no reason why I shouldn’t hate it. Any objective person would. A part of my body was stolen from me, and I shouldn’t have to accept that anymore than if my parents had cut off my fingers.

    It is more delusional to accept a mutilation as fine, or even…

    This topic arose in a thread some months ago. My comments were similar to Michael’s although I spoke of my luck and maybe guilt related to being spared the mutilation in comparison to other faultless victims of this hideous custom. The thousands of nerves, the part of a human body arbitrarily amputated before consent is feasible let alone probable. The act based around, and popularly spread from, an ancient Abrahamic custom, which was derived primarily from the blunting of sexual pleasure.

    Watch ( 4:15 onward specifically ) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xx_ov2NiNo4

    “religion makes morally normal people say and do disgusting things.”



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  • 54
    Michael Austin says:

    In reply to #53 by Skeptic:

    In reply to #50 by Nunbeliever:

    At least that is my understanding. As someone else pointed out, in the rest of the world (except Muslims of course) we don’t circumcise our children unless there is a medical reason for it. Hence, I wonder if anyone could enlighten me with regard to the history of ma…

    I’m just making sure, you do know that when erect, it’s really hard to tell the difference most of the time? The foreskin retracts to become mobile shaft skin. The main way to tell the difference would be to look for scar tissue and a keratinized glans. Both of those difference aren’t really “sexy” and I doubt that a woman would reject you if those features were missing.

    Lots of Americans seem totally unaware of the anatomy of the intact penis, my parents were unfortunately among them.



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  • 55
    Skeptic says:

    In reply to #55 by Michael Austin:

    In reply to #53 by Skeptic:

    In reply to #50 by Nunbeliever:

    Lots of Americans seem totally unaware of the anatomy of the intact penis, my parents were unfortunately among them.

    I’ve seen plenty of European porn. I don’t feel I’m missing anything. I think there are plenty of other things to be pissed off about.



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  • 56
    KayneJack says:

    I often hear the argument, “I was circumcised at birth and I am happy it was done.”

    This sounds to me like a paralell to those who claim their religion is the correct one. Not realising that their religion is merely an accident of where they were born. Had they been born in a different place, then their religion would be very different.

    Had that circumcised man been born in Finland or Japan where circumcision is almost unheard of, then they would be just as happy retaining their foreskin.

    Breaking through the myths and misinformation surrounding circumcision requires a person who is willing to challenge the status quo, just as one needs to break through the myths and misinformation surrounding religion.

    Where circumcision has a slight advantage is that it has the appearance of science supporting it. These “scientific” claims, under scrutiny, hold about as much water as “Creation Science” does. It is psudoscience at it’s worst.

    However, let us leave behind the scientific argument for just a moment. Let us assume that removal of the foreskin does in fact prevent cancer, prevent HIV infections, reduce urinary tract infections, and all the other claims that are easy to prove false. Let us assume they are all 100% correct. Does it then follow that surgery to remove this body part MUST be done? Should healthy organs, tissues, or body parts ever be removed as a preventitive measue? What other healthy body parts are removed from healthy individuals for a preventative strategy?

    The answer is none.

    We could prevent far more life threatening maladies if we did. But we value the body and recognize that people have the right to live their lives in their own complete body.

    I delve into hyperbole here, but imagine if studies demonstrated that all common viruses are transmitted by contact with the hands. Further imagine that the study showed that people born with only one hand were 50% less likely to suffer from those common infections. Would we then undertake a program to remove the left hand of every child born? Keep in mind that merely washing your hands would have the same or greater effect than surgical amputation. Is surgery to prevent diseases still a good idea?

    Again, no it is not. But why the difference?

    The answer is values. We value an infant that retains both his hands. Just as we value an infant with two healthy eyes, all their toes, and all the other body parts there should be. Why don’t we value the natural form and function of the penis equally?

    The answer comes back to religion, and religious opression. Circumcision was introduced to Western nations during the height of the Victorian Era. Sexual Opression was rampant. Sex was considered unhealthy. The foreskin was removed fom children because it was well known that the foreskin contained the greatest amount of pleasure for the intact boy. It is a sensitive structure vital to the natural function of the penis. It could be removed without damaging the child’s ability to procreate, but it would reduce the pleasure and control they felt.

    Circumcision has always been used to reduce pleasure. It is why Judaism adopted the practice. It comes from a religious obsession with controlling sexual urges.

    In Western worlds, however, as we moved to more and more secular thinking, circumcision began to take on the mantle of “science” to justify its existance and continuation. Doctors have claimed any number of “scientific” reasons for its continuation. From cures for epilepsy, polio, paralysis, and a host of others. All of them have systematically been proven wrong. Every twenty years or so new reasons have needed to be invented to continue the “scientific justification” for circumcision. None of them stand up to scrutiny, yet the circumcision practice continues. The reason your grandfather might have been circumcised would be laughable to you today. The reason your father might have been circumcised would be equally ridiculous. The reasoning you might have to circumcise your son today will be shamefully comical in 20 years.

    I have also heard it said that it is safer to perform the surgery on infants because to do so on an adult would be much riskier. This is completely false. Think of a balloon. When it is small, and not inflated write your name on it, then blow it up to its full size. Does it still resemble your signature? No, because as it stretches and grows any slight flaw in your writing becomes magnified. The same happens with the scars on an infant’s penis. Any slight error the circumciser makes becomes magnified as the infant grows into a man. Most circumcision complications don’t arise until after puberty. Adult men do not die from their circumcision, but it is a very real risk for the infant. The adult man can be fully and properly anesthatised, but not so for the infant. The adult man is choosing for his own body. The child is not.

    Circumcision is an example of how religion spreads damage throughout the world. I believe for the modern athiest to be honest with his or herself then they must also oppose circumcision. It is a perfect example of how religious thinking left unchecked will deal damage to the human race for generations to come.



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  • 57
    Seraphor says:

    I still can’t help but feel that the cons to circumcision are being blown out of proportion, and that this whole debate is being polarized for ideological reasons. As is apparent by KanyeJack’s assertion that those who don’t hate their circumcised penis must be in denial and that they ‘should’ hate it.

    Of course purely religious circumcision in unsanitary conditions performed by someone who is not medically trained is a bad idea and places the infant under unnecessary risk, and there is obviously some kind of issue over the perceived violation of the circumcised individual who feels they have had a part of them ‘stolen’.

    However in my line of work in the NHS I’m acutely aware of the frequency of medical circumcisions. These are done to treat phimosis and preputial adhesions, and are often performed on young children around 2-5 years old, as well as some teens and adults. These are performed just as often as abortions or hip replacements, and could be compared to a tonsillectomy or an appendectomy.

    Now this could well be a gross generalization based on a very small sample, but in my experience these patients do not generally mourn their foreskin any more than those who have their tonsils removed, they are after all electing to have the procedure due to medical reasons.

    So what is the difference here? The motive behind the procedure?

    But surely the motive is still the same. To prevent morbidity. What’s different is the theory behind the motive, and the urgency of the treatment. Now you can debate the pros and cons and whether or not this sort of prophylactic measure should be performed, as with any prophylactic medical procedure, such as mastectomies or vaccines, or follow up chemotherapy. And it may well be that the benefits of circumcision do not warrant it being carried out wantonly at the whims of parents.

    But after all that the outcome is still the same.
    So why, if you were circumcised at a young age, would you let it slide if you were told it was a medical treatment, but become enraged and resentful if it was merely prophylactic? On an emotional level, what is the difference between your parents electing to have you circumcised in order to prevent you contracting a number of different diseases, and your parents electing to have you circumcised to treat one specific disease? Their concern is still the same, to protect you from disease. Why does this translate into a perceived violation of having a part of you ‘stolen’ in one scenario, but become an incidental trait in the other?

    Therefore, I don’t think circumcision itself is the driving force behind this vehement hatred of circumcision. Which means it probably stems from a more general hatred of religion and is a (at least partially) misplaced emotive response.
    I think we should be wary about this, about making the circumcised penis a religious symbol to be hated by atheists and secularists. This can only be a bad thing and will lead to discrimination. Much like how the head scarf has become a symbol of female oppression to be scorned by all those with an emotional hatred of Islam, regardless of the countless non-oppressed and even non-Muslim women who wear them.

    While unsafe religious practices should certainly be campaigned against for their risks, the focus should be on them being unsafe practices, and not on them being evil religious barbarities. This risks our atheism getting the better of our rationalism and a blanket rejection of ‘all’ circumcision, despite not all circumcisions being performed for religious reasons.



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  • 58
    thebluepill says:

    If we have outlawed female genital mutilation I fail to see how we can stop there and say that boys do not deserve equal treatment under the law. It is outrageous to me that somebody can believe it is perfectly ok to have boy circumcised for any reason other than a medical emergency. The foreskin protects the penis against injury and disease. It is also pleasant to have a foreskin and, lets just for one moment say that any person disagrees, then let them disagree but dont take away the rights of people to agree with me or disagree with me by forcing genital mutilation on people before they are old enough to decide for themselves. It is barbaric and immoral, not to mention horrific, in my opinion, to remove any part of a person’s body without their full and informed consent as an adult unless on the grounds of medical emergency.

    I have been talking a lot about this very subject to people I know, as we hear an awful lot in the press and on TV about female genital mutilation but absolutely nothing about male genital mutilation. In the UK, however, the politicians are completely spineless and do everything in their power to run away from issues that are confrontational to religious beliefs. Until I started questioning the whole idea of the right to impose circumcision on children by a religion I hadn’t, in fact, realised that anybody else was questioning it, and this is the first discussion of the subject on the web that I have seen. The media wont touch the issue as they have an agenda that is as spineless and corrupt as the politicians they serve. On numerous ocassions I have commented in the readers comments sections of several newspapers about the issue and only once, out of around 10 or 12 comments made, did one of the comments get published.



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  • 59
    thebluepill says:

    In reply to #5 by This Is Not A Meme:

    In reply to #2 by Michael Austin:

    In reply to #1 by Roedy:
    Children are property, owned by their parents. Despite being human, children have no human rights. Society/the State may intervene, >but the threshold for this does not reflect a child’s rights.

    Children do have rights under the Human Rights laws. Infact quite a lot of human rights laws deal with childhood issues



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  • 60
    KayneJack says:

    In reply to #58 by Seraphor:

    I still can’t help but feel that the cons to circumcision are being blown out of proportion, and that this whole debate is being polarized for ideological reasons. As is apparent by KanyeJack’s assertion that those who don’t hate their circumcised penis must be in denial and that they ‘should’ hated…

    This is not what I meant by my post. If a man is happy with his circumcised self, then it is his body, and his right to be happy with his condition. What I was decrying were those who use their self satisfaction with their circumcision as a reason to circumcise their child. It is a false reasoning, and there is no guarantee that the child will be as satisfied as the parent. This is a personal preference, and as such a healthy child should not be surgically altered to fit the parent’s whims and desires.

    As to the rest of your post, you are making a false analogy, and are under some nasty false assumptions about medical need.

    A child cannot be diagnosed with true phismosis, or penile adhesions until after puberty has been completed. A child of 3 to 5 years of age does not yet have a fully retractable foreskin. The leading cause of infections and foreskin problems at such an age is the parent or caregiver forcibly retracting the child’s foreskin before it is ready. This is a condition forced upon children due to the adult’s lack of understanding or education. In addition, the correct medical treatment is NOT circumcision, but steroidal creams, or gentle stretching.

    In the exceedingly rare case where circumcision IS medically necessary this is a world of difference from when a parent simply decides to have it preemptively removed. Your concept would be equivalent to a parent removing their child’s foot merely because the parent knew someone who had their foot amputated due to gangrene. The parent might honestly want to spare their baby from the horror and pain of the gangrene they watched their friend go through, not to mention the trauma of amputation later in life by having the baby’s foot removed at birth. (At a time when the operation would be much simpler, and the baby would be less likely to remember the pain. Not to mention that the baby wouldn’t lament the loss of something they would never know.)

    You are under a great many false assumptions that only seem to apply to the penis and foreskin.

    You clearly demonstrate the actual point of my original post. People feel free to discard and demonize the foreskin, merely on the basis of values. You have chosen not to value that particular body part. As you do not value it as you would any other body part it can be removed without any feeling of guilt.

    We need to value the WHOLE person. And, both routine infant circumcision and ritual childhood circumcision is a condemnation of the child’s right to experience their whole body and their right to self determination.



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  • 61
    Seraphor says:

    In reply to #61 by KayneJack:

    We need to value the WHOLE person. And, both routine infant circumcision and ritual childhood circumcision is a condemnation of the child’s right to experience their whole body and their right to self determination.

    And my last point addresses this exactly.
    What if we get to a stage where the foreskin is highly valued? Will people who have needed their foreskins removed for medical reasons be discriminated against, at least on a social level by potential partners?
    Is there a reason the foreskin should be so incredibly, highly valued and the tonsils or appendix should not?



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  • 62
    KayneJack says:

    In reply to #62 by Seraphor:

    And my last point addresses this exactly. What if we get to a stage where the foreskin is highly valued? Will people who have needed their foreskins removed for medical reasons be discriminated against, at least on a social level by potential partners? Is there a reason the foreskin should be so incredibly, highly valued and the tonsils or appendix should not?

    We no longer preemptively remove tonsils or the appendix. These are only removed for a pressing medical need. Even then, doctors attempt to do everything they can to avoid removal of organs and body parts, resorting to surgery only as a last resort when all other treatments have failed.

    My point is that we should value the foreskin as much as we value the tonsils, the appendix, a toe, an earlobe, etcetera. They should not be removed without a pressing medical need, and even then, only as a last resort. This is how modern medicine functions. Surgery is never the first option for a treatment of a condition. Surgery is not even considered on minors as a preventative strategy.

    Except the foreskin.

    The only reason for that exception is that we demonize our sexuality, and place not even as much value upon it as we do for the tonsils, or the appendix.

    Removal of healthy tissue for no medical reason is not a valid excuse to alter another person’s body without their consent.



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  • 63
    KayneJack says:

    In reply to #62 by Seraphor:


    Will people who have needed their foreskins removed for medical reasons be discriminated against, at least on a social level by potential partners?…

    Upon a second reading of your comment I am concerned. Are you suggesting that routine infant circumcision should continue to be practiced because you fear the 1 in a thousand boy who needed to be circumcised for a real medical condition will feel left out? Are you saying it would be acceptable to subject 999 children to unnecessary surgery so that 1 boy’s feelings won’t be hurt?

    That strikes me as a horrible rationale. It completely fails any logic or reasoning process that I am aware of.

    I hope that’s not what you meant.



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  • 64
    Seraphor says:

    In reply to #64 by KayneJack:

    In reply to #62 by Seraphor:


    Will people who have needed their foreskins removed for medical reasons be discriminated against, at least on a social level by potential partners?…

    Upon a second reading of your comment I am concerned. Are you suggesting that routine infant circumcision should c…

    Of course not. I’m not saying we should continue to perform circumcisions because those with circumcised penises would be discriminated. I’m saying we should be careful not to embark on a crusade against circumcision on religious or anti-religious grounds.

    As I said it my original post, it may well be that prophylactic circumcisions are not viable, I’m not contesting that. If it all pans out for legitimate medical reasons then so be it, and if that’s the case I can’t see that discrimination would be an issue. But if we campaign against circumcision as a religious barbarity rather than a medical concern, then it will become yet again a religious symbol with divisive connotations, and we have enough of those as it is.



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  • 65
    KayneJack says:

    In reply to #65 by Seraphor:

    Of course not. I’m not saying we should continue to perform circumcisions because those with circumcised penises would be discriminated. I’m saying we should be careful not to embark on a crusade against circumcision on religious or anti-religious grounds.

    As I said it my original post, it may well be that prophylactic circumcisions are not viable, I’m not contesting that. If it all pans out for legitimate medical reasons then so be it, and if that’s the case I can’t see that discrimination would be an issue. But if we campaign against circumcision as a religious barbarity rather than a medical concern, then it will become yet again a religious symbol with divisive connotations, and we have enough of those as it is.

    Then we appear to be in agreement.

    Routine and ritual infant and child circumcision is something to be opposed to because it fail the test of logic, reason, and science. Where it is not medically indicated it should be opposed. We do not stand against it because it is a religious rite, but because it is wrong in and of itself.

    Of course this should not stop atheists from voicing our concerns. Whether it is a religious ceremony or performed in a hospital setting it is an equal abuse of human rights.

    Atheists certainly have a stake in this fight because much of the reason governments are timid to attempt to ban male genital cutting as they have for female genital cutting is fear of offending those who practice the religious ritual. On this point atheists are uniquely equipped to take apart their arguments and expose the true motivations.



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  • I have to agree in the most part with the comments. Things are a little different in Australia. My first son was circumcised in 1973 as a matter of course. Howeverwhen my second son was born in 1989, the doctor advised that he would not circumcise and urged us to carefully consider the decision before going ahead (with another doctor). The result was that after considering the pros and cons we decided against the barbaric ritual. In short circumcision is not an isue even in the religious community. I guess I can be a little relieved that Australia has not yet become as fundamentalist as the US (although we have a record of being a decade behind you so who knows what will happen in the near future..). Great to be part of this forum and have the opportunity to exchange views with rational people.



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  • 67
    BenCarollo says:

    In reply to #4 by Jonathan Peel:

    I am very glad that I was circumcised when I was a baby.
    (I also don’t like religion)
    I do agree that people might have a different view on it if it wasn’t considered a religious thing, but atheists also might view it different. It might be “hated” less by non-believers if it was not a religious thi…

    Not trying to rain on your parade, but what logical reason whould you have for being glad about it? I mean it makes sex less plesurable. And it has no real scientifically proven or quantified benefit whatso ever, as a matter of fact the original reason for circumsizing people in the US came from Sigmund Freuds belief that it would make children not want to masturbate it was litterally the male equivelent of the clitorectamy, which believe it or not has been completely disregarded as being harm done without any benefit. The truth is it is fueled out of absured fear of sexual openness and was begun by people who prided themselves on not even having sex with their wives. The rreduction of the spread of AIDs is also laughable it stems from the same logic about masturbation. And about hygene is even more rediculous especially from an evolutionary standpoint, what evolutionary benefit could possibly be had by having a penis that frequently gets infected? NONE it would effectively kill the entire species and seeing aas how i am not dead it can be reasonably concluded that it does not pose a significant risk. But to put some comparative information out there, getting your foreskin infected is about equally as likely as getting the pit bettween you pinkey toe and it nneigbor infected. but i dont see people cutting off their toes, because now that we have the advanced technology that is the shower it should not be an issue in any western society and still similarly rare in non western countries but slightly more common. So now that all possible explainable benefits are gone what aside from the lack of choice associated with self imposed pleasure (Described by Dan Ariely in a study that showed lack of choice increased percieved pleasure) could possibly be the reason for being glad with it. That being said there are a significant amount of problems associated with not developing normal sexual behavior and giving people the psychological connection of sexual organs and pain is not really something that should be looked highly of. In fact there is worlds of research specifically describing how being circumsized at an early age lead to significantly higher chances of lower self image and believe it or not if that begins to inhibit sexual behavior then the less sex an individual has during their adolescence the more likely they are to grow up to behave violently. Indicating that circumsicion could be inflicting signiicant harm on not just the child but also any person his subsequent psychological disorders may harm . To bring it all around this practice of refusing bodily desire and mutilating children is nothing less than the pbarbaric torture of children and it is a shame to think that any medical proffesional would even allow this to go on. Religion or not there should be a legal limit to consent to religios practice just as there is a legal limit to drink and to choose to have sex. Because cas much harm as teenage pregnancy and ddrunk driving has cased nothing could possibly be more harmfull than the coultess generations of young people believeig that it is okay to mutilate their chilredn not to mention they way they are told to raise their children not sparing the rod and to make sure that anyone they encounter follow their religion or pay the price. I say lael it as an entirely cosmetic surgery and then make it the same aw as for all other cosmetic sugeries things that are only for adults who want to make an explicit choice about their developed body . Honestly Being glad about being circumsized as a child is comparable to being glad you were assaulted or raped because it is such a violent attack on someone who has no control . I doubt so many people would be so egar to circumsize themselves if they had to obey they law and wait until an age where they can decide for themselves when to permanently mutilate themselves.



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  • 68
    BenCarollo says:

    In reply to #14 by FrankMill:

    I’ve long been impressed by the rational thinking employed by those who claim (a) that man is born in the image of their god and therefore represents biological perfection and (b) they need to snip off a bit of that perfection to please their god. By the same logic, people who rush to call their ch…

    I think the reason people ommit that is because it prevents cancer of the foreskin in the same way that removing ones hand prevents carple tunnel.



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  • 69
    BenCarollo says:

    In reply to #17 by 78rpm:

    Doing anything for religious reasons is nonsense. And the way the orthodox Jews do it is disgusting. But otherwise, if done by a medical person, what’s the big deal? At a year of age a boy has plenty enough consciousness to cry at length in real terror when getting his first haircut. When he is a we…

    Do you realize the effect that implicit memory has on apersons life? Believe it or not you emotional memories of when you were a baby effect your every day behavior almost more so than your consious memories, because these memories litterally structure how every thing els get built into you So if you see your parents all happy giving you to the docotr who proceeds to cut one of the most sensitive parts of your body. I dont think you understand the nervous system very well because this kind of damage is neurologicall similar to being brutally assaulted or t9 having a limb cut off, although there are little statistic directly on this all it takes is a curory glance at a religious grou and a secular one and you can see clear behaviorl differencess even at very early ages and guess wwhat usually the religious ones tend to bbe more violent and it may have something to do with the fact that they could be lashing out due to this extreeme trauma. By your logic a woman should have equally no problem performing a clitorectamy then? As a matter of fact, chilren feel things more intensly than do adults perhaps your example of a child getting a hair cut crying stems from the childs lack of understanding and thus the parents lack of concern for the childs mental well being and lack of effort in educating the child properly and stimulating healthy and normal growth. Why not simply ask you child if he wants a hair cut? You have to remember that children are autonomous beings that have their own will and preferences and sso those types of conflict are more a lack of control and a feeling of the loss of self. Not just an over reaction to a simple hair cut, but a complete neglegence on the parents part to even consider their childs desire over their own



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  • 70
    BenCarollo says:

    In reply to #46 by alexanderdavid:

    I think its wrong for the parents to choose to do this to there children, never the less it is the choice of the parent to preform these choices for the younger generation and influence there early lives and it would be wrong for anyone to try and interfere with there right to choose for there child…

    I suppose you suggest we should allow parents the righ tto choose whether or not to sell their children as salves or to beat them as forms of punnishment or how about performing murders as religous practice. You see parents rights are the most offensive extension of property rights and violate the very humans right so many people fight to prottect. The child rights are above any mild preference that any parent has toward one way or another especially if it is something permenant and painfull. Just because they cannot speak for themselves does not mean that they should not have a say.



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  • 71
    protoplasm says:

    Absolutely, somebody should be doing something to stop infant circumcision. I am glad this came up. It’s been rolling around in my brain awhile and I’ve been wanting to put it in writing and bounce it off people. I will start from a biological perspective and end in the cultural effects of circumcision. I’m going to be crossing a few disciplines and attempt to complete a cohesive idea and do it quickly. First, every living thing seeks to replicate itself. By evolution and natural selection we have achieved the reproductive organs we have today. One function of foreskin is to provide an additional covering of the head of the penis which was useful when we were running around as naked monkeys. This covering shielded the head of the penis from incidental contact. Moving to the modern times where males are wearing pants. With circumcision, the head of the penis, the most sensitive part, is now in constant contact with undergarments, thereby desensitizing the head. In the vain of, “What is biological is psychological,” the potential psychological fulfillment of sex can not be fully realized as evolution has dictated because of the physical desensitizing of the penis head due to circumcision. I swear there were no puns intended in the previous sentence. What happens to animals who’s sexual desire is not satisfied. They get aggressive. Without belaboring the point, In a circumcised culture there’s a bunch of sexually less than fully satisfied males. Following this line of thought, I would expect the incidents of sex related crimes and general aggressiveness of the male population to be greater among a circumcised than cultures who do not have a large population of circumcised males. I think the female population would have to be ones who lead the way for this change. People still think you can’t have morals and be an atheist. I am a male. I wish I had my foreskin.



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  • No, no,no, it’s really simple. Human Being A has no right to violate the bodily integrity of Human Being B without the latter’s express consent – regardless of ‘tradition,’ ‘culture,’ gender politic, age difference, family relationship, or the ‘commands’ of invisible friends … or GWOT torture memos either.



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  • 73
    DistanceLeft says:

    It’s FGM for Males, or MGM. It’s straight up a rights violation and gbh towards children, end of. There was a case in Germany recently that classed FGM as so, it shouldn’t be too difficult to use the same argument.



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  • One of the first steps toward any human rights struggle is to document the harm done to the claimant community, in this case, men subjected to non-therapeutic circumcision as children without their consent. Concurrent with this is to empower and support that community in making their voices heard. A ‘Preliminary Poll of Men Circumcised in Infancy or Childhood’ was first published in 1999 in BJU International. In 2012 a followup survey – the Global Survey of Circumcision Harm (CircumcisionHarm dot org) – was conducted online that involved more than 1,000 men, 4% of whom were Jewish. They reported a wide array of long-term adverse physical, sexual, psychological and emotional/self-esteem damage done to them.

    This is not to say that ALL men circumcised as children are aware of their damage or regret what was done to them, anymore than ALL woman who had their genitals cut as girls suffer from, are aware of, or regret what was done to them. See these video interviews with circumcised Egyptian woman (CircumcisionHarm dot org slash denialvideos dot htm).

    The point is, in order for laws to be instituted to protect certain classes of people (African-Americans, women, LGBT, etc) it is not necessary for ALL of them to have experienced discrimination or harm, but it is necessary for SIGNIFICANT NUMBERS of them to share their stories and their lived experiences of harm in order to bring court cases and/or to extend laws to protect the entire class. In this case, that class would be vulnerable and defenseless male newborns and children.



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