German court: circumcising a child is bodily harm

Funkenpants wrote:
CheezePavilion wrote:

Why not? If human rights are only a social creation, then the threshold for imposing your version of human rights on religious minorities is itself only a social creation.

Exactly.

Hmm, that makes me think you don't know what I'm getting at.

There are two socially created morality systems co-existing in the same space- one is held by the vast majority of people who write the laws. The other is held by a religious minority. Working through the conflict is part of modern society, particularly in the case of religious judiasm, whose morality overlaps with modern enlightenment morality in many areas.

We can certainly have a society in which religious minorities have no rights. In fact, we've had such societies in the past. For now, that approach has been rejected.

What do you mean by "that approach has been rejected"? Obviously it hasn't in Germany, or at least, the kind of society *you* are in favor of have been rejected. You think religious minorities should have these rights. Germany does not. If human rights are just social creations, on what basis are you criticizing them? What they created is different from what you have created--why do you think we should believe you're right and they're wrong?

CheezePavilion wrote:

You think religious minorities should have these rights. Germany does not. If human rights are just social creations, on what basis are you criticizing them?

I don't see any reason not to criticize social creations, but that's beside the point. What we have here is two rights in conflict- the rights of religious freedom of parents and the right of the state to protect the foreskin of a resident minor from removal. This kind of conflict is not unusual in a modern secular society, and people often disagree about the outcome of the balancing test used to resolve those conflicts. That's where we are.

I've explained my views. Other people have explained their views. I'm not sure where else to go with this that doesn't get into points that have already been made in the thread.

Doesn't the child get any rights?

Needless snark removed.

Funkenpants wrote:
CheezePavilion wrote:

You think religious minorities should have these rights. Germany does not. If human rights are just social creations, on what basis are you criticizing them?

I don't see any reason not to criticize social creations, but that's beside the point. What we have here is two rights in conflict- the rights of religious freedom of parents and the right of the state to protect the foreskin of a resident minor from removal. This kind of conflict is not unusual in a modern secular society, and people often disagree about the outcome of the balancing test used to resolve those conflicts. That's where we are.

I've explained my views. Other people have explained their views. I'm not sure where else to go with this that doesn't get into points that have already been made in the thread.

Where you can go is to not try to shoot other people's views down with "human rights are social creations." You can engage them and make your point that they're wrong about the balancing test and you're right by addressing the factors that go into the balancing test, not by dismissing the factors on their side of the balancing test with a criticism that sauces your goose the same as their gander (unless like I said, you want to present an argument as to why one is different from the other, but you're not doing that, either)

Also, this is not about the religious freedom of parents, because the discussion isn't about consenting adults. The discussion is about the rights of children vs. the rights of parents to involve their children with the religion of those parents. I think that's a good, neutral way to describe the issue.

CheezePavilion wrote:

Where you can go is to not try to shoot other people's views down with "human rights are social creations."

If you do not agree that human rights are social creations, then okay. We disagree, and disagreement over basic issues is where these threads usually end up.

OK Funken, if human rights are a social construct, which I'm not necessarily refuting, how should said social constructs address the rights of those incapable of being social, i.e. an infant?

Funkenpants wrote:
CheezePavilion wrote:

Where you can go is to not try to shoot other people's views down with "human rights are social creations."

If you do not agree that human rights are social creations, then okay. We disagree, and disagreement over basic issues is where these threads usually end up.

I don't just disagree--I don't see how if human rights are social creations you have any ground on which to criticize the social creations of Germany.

Personally, I find the social construct stuff interesting but irrelevant.

The central question is: Is it OK to modify the body of those unable to consent to it?

That formulation leaves out the word mutilation on purpose, since it has baggage.

Funken, first, thanks for handing the piling on you are getting.

Second, What do you think about that question?

Maybe I missed where you said it but my reading of your position is that you never addressed it. You were mostly addressing the ability of the German's to make such criticisms. Am I right?

There are many questions here, but Funkenpants addresses something that Westeners typically don't even consider. I confess that I found that heartening. When the Spainiards came over and burned down or destroyed every cultural artifact, mores, and tradition that they could get their hands on, not one of them thought to ask whether or not the locals had a say in it. Fast forward to today and my people still acutely suffer from this setback in our cultural development.

Too, there's the problem of parental autonomy. It's easy enough to want the government to take "those parents" to task when they're doing something you personally find offensive. The true test of that is how willing you are to have the government reach in and have a say in how you raise your own children. If the government somehow decides that it's negligent for you to teach your child anything other than Shinto Buddhist religious beliefs (or whichever cultural artifact you violently hate), how would you take that?

LarryC wrote:

Too, there's the problem of parental autonomy. It's easy enough to want the government to take "those parents" to task when they're doing something you personally find offensive. The true test of that is how willing you are to have the government reach in and have a say in how you raise your own children.

I think you misunderstand: this is not about something people personally find offensive or cultural artifacts people violently hate--or at least, it's not *just* about that, at least for enough people for my point to matter. It's about things people consider morally wrong, whatever their personal issues.

Too, there's the problem of parental autonomy. It's easy enough to want the government to take "those parents" to task when they're doing something you personally find offensive. The true test of that is how willing you are to have the government reach in and have a say in how you raise your own children. If the government somehow decides that it's negligent for you to teach your child anything other than Shinto Buddhist religious beliefs (or whichever cultural artifact you violently hate), how would you take that?

The same way I would take it if the government somehow decides that it's negligent for people to teach their children anything other than Cheeze's Big Book of Life and Stuff: even if my own beliefs were the cultural artifact, I still wouldn't be willing to have the government reach in and impose all of them on people.

CheezePavilion:

People considering circumcision of children under their parents' authority morally wrong is as much of a cultural artifact as people who think that it is morally right. The question is, if the shoe were on other foot, would the same people consider allowing the government to mandate forced circumcision on everyone?

Methinks not. That constitutes an oppressive double standard in my view.

LarryC wrote:

CheezePavilion:

People considering circumcision of children under their parents' authority morally wrong is as much of a cultural artifact as people who think that it is morally right. The question is, if the shoe were on other foot, would the same people consider allowing the government to mandate forced circumcision on everyone?

Methinks not. That constitutes an oppressive double standard in my view.

I'm not sure what's the shoe and what's the foot here.

Rezzy wrote:

Also the women-folk find a smooth head ultra-sexy, while having those flappy skin-things repulses almost everyone.

IMAGE(http://i3.kym-cdn.com/entries/icons/original/000/006/026/futuramafry.jpg)
Not sure if serious, or just joking.

But if serious:
What people define as ultra-sexy is whatever they initially identify as the ideal sexing appendage. It's 100% social conditioning.

Calling uncircumcised penises repulsive is like calling natural vulvae repulsive because it hasn't had cosmetic labial reduction surgery to fix the flappy skin-things. That's hardly fair.

Spoiler:

Girth and the head-to-shaft ratio is the ultra-sexy part anyway. Oh, and whomever it's attached to. Foreskin doesn't take away from that at all. If anything, it's an improvement. (+1 to that which cannot be named in polite company). What makes genitals sexy is what you can do with them. Certainly not what they look like, gah. Genitals. That sh*t is a mess.

Very anti-circumcision here, glad to hear lots of parents are eschewing this troublesome practice. As it has been stated many times already, it's wrong to mutilate children.

Amoebic wrote:
Rezzy wrote:

Also the women-folk find a smooth head ultra-sexy, while having those flappy skin-things repulses almost everyone.

IMAGE(http://i3.kym-cdn.com/entries/icons/original/000/006/026/futuramafry.jpg)
Not sure if serious, or just joking.

I believe Rezzy was talking about the other head.

CheezePavilion:

The decision in this case was to interfere with parents' prerogatives to have their children circumcised on the morality of it being wrong. Clearly, those who support this morality would have absolutely no problems with having their preferences imposed on others. The true test of acceptability would be if they were to accept that a diametrically opposed decision (forced circumcision for all) would be equally acceptable.

Since it is not, this constitutes the imposition of morality from the dominant culture to the less powerful one essentially at the tip of a sword. I find that offensive, but I have biases about that sort of thing.

Put simply, "I'm right and since I'm the majority, I reserve the right to force you to do like I say."

There are times when that sort of thing can be necessary, but I propose that parental transmission of culture within the family unit constitutes an objectionable boundary.

Stengah wrote:

I believe Rezzy was talking about the other head.

Yup! Ears are gross.
(EDIT3 (last one, I swear!) I lied. I had to come back for the closing Parenth.)

Spoiler:

<--- See! Ultra Sexy!

But since foreskins were mentioned... this was one of those things I was constantly told while I was an uncut young man living in a cut world. 'Foreskin' might as well have been an STI the way American women shuddered at the mention of one.

LarryC wrote:

The decision in this case was to interfere with parents' prerogatives to have their children circumcised on the morality of it being wrong.

Incorrect. The decision in this case was to uphold the laws that prevent unnecessary, painful, and potentially life-threatening surgeries from being perpetrated on German Citizens without the necessary faculties to understand or consent to the procedures. The religious significance in this case is recognized, however deemed secondary to the rights of the individual. The German Government considers children as citizens. Citizens of Germany have a constitutionally protected right of Self-Determination. The ceremony of circumcision has been shown to serve no immediate medical benefit for an infant and has in many cases endangered the patient.

The true test of acceptability would be if they were to accept that a diametrically opposed decision (forced circumcision for all) would be equally acceptable.

Absurd. Many religions call for the death of heretics and non-believers, and in many cultures 'disobedient' children are still killed. Should the banning of that practice by a secular body be 'tested' by putting everyone to the sword? One does harm, one prevents harm. Unless you consider unnecessary, non-consensual surgery harmless.

If the main argument is the religious prerogative of the parent, can anyone explain to me how a religious ceremony removing a part of a body is functionally different from carving "Property of God" into a child's forehead? A similar 'tradition' that, given a transcription error or enthusiastic paraphrasing of a fervent priest in the formative days of the faith, could be in common practice today. If we all agree that Children are Citizens and granted protections by their government through constitutions and laws... how can any self-respecting governing body turn a blind eye to the basic right of self-determination to their must vulnerable members, especially given the medical risks and consequences of this practice?

Edit: Hahahaha maybe it's the Vodka, but I was just thinking about the hilarity of sodomy laws! "The true test of acceptability would be if they were to accept that a diametrically opposed decision (forced sodomy for all) would be equally acceptable."

Edit: Also, Citrus flavored Vodka + CranApple Juice + .75L CamelbakSippy bottle = rambling, probably offensive post. Sorry for calling you out like that LarryC, but either I'm missing a larger point or everything is permissible as long as it is 'tradition.'

Incorrect. The decision in this case was to uphold the laws that prevent unnecessary, painful, and potentially life-threatening surgeries from being perpetrated on German Citizens without the necessary faculties to understand or consent to the procedures. The religious significance in this case is recognized, however deemed secondary to the rights of the individual. The German Government considers children as citizens. Citizens of Germany have a constitutionally protected right of Self-Determination. The ceremony of circumcision has been shown to serve no immediate medical benefit for an infant and has in many cases endangered the patient.

I object to the restatement of the former argument with favor.

"Prevent unnecessary, painful, and potentially life-threatening surgeries from being perpetrated on German Citizens without the necessary faculties to understand or consent to the procedures," is simply a long way of saying "circumcision of children is wrong!" Restatement of the rationales behind that morality without equal treatment of the opposing position is obviously biased, and misrepresentative.

Since you restated my presentation exactly the same only with bias, I have to ask where my statement was incorrect, other than it was not biased.

In this case, you're arguing for the minute involvement of the state in what used to be parental prerogative. The reasons for this could be anything you wish; it doesn't change the fundamentals. Removing a prerogative parents used to enjoy is what's going on. That it's stated that it is for the interest of the individual is immaterial - the reason could be anything; what's happening doesn't change.

Absurd. Many religions call for the death of heretics and non-believers, and in many cultures 'disobedient' children are still killed. Should the banning of that practice by a secular body be 'tested' by putting everyone to the sword? One does harm, one prevents harm. Unless you consider unnecessary, non-consensual surgery harmless.

That is unnecessary. The killing of heretics and non-believers has long since been taken over as a prerogative by the state. It is absolutely overriding a prior power parents used to have over their children and constitutes an extension of the state into family affairs. The current ruling constitutes a further extension of this power; I do not believe that it is neutral. It looks strongly like a cultural warfare move.

If the main argument is the religious prerogative of the parent, can anyone explain to me how a religious ceremony removing a part of a body is functionally different from carving "Property of God" into a child's forehead? A similar 'tradition' that, given a transcription error or enthusiastic paraphrasing of a fervent priest in the formative days of the faith, could be in common practice today. If we all agree that Children are Citizens and granted protections by their government through constitutions and laws... how can any self-respecting governing body turn a blind eye to the basic right of self-determination to their must vulnerable members, especially given the medical risks and consequences of this practice?

Let's take the last one first.

The relative risk of competently done circumcision is small. It is not zero, but let's not field rhetoric implying that it's causing a 40% mortality rate or some such. There is no call to exaggerate.

Secondly, a governing body must regard policies and standards concerning the needs of their constituents according to the manner in which they organize themselves and live.

The right to self-determination of children is almost universally subsumed and given over to parents in the interest of the family unit and to enable parents to perform their putative educational and socialization functions. A parent who is held to be a completely equal citizen to a minor will not be able to perform his or her social functions effectively. It is in the interest of the state to uphold the sanctity of the family unit thereby - a weak family unit in society can easily lead to all manner of mischief.

Thus, we do not agree that children are equal citizens under the law to adults. Adults clearly are more powerful legal and social entities, and it is so by design.

The banning of circumcision in this case is being spun as if it were a child protection issue. It is actually a family policy issue, and reeks strongly of a cultural warfare issue.

A stronger policy along the same lines would forbid parents from teaching their children anything other than the national language, the nationally approved religion (or belief system, if the nation is secular), and other cultural touchstones.

Also, Citrus flavored Vodka + CranApple Juice + .75L CamelbakSippy bottle = rambling, probably offensive post. Sorry for calling you out like that LarryC, but either I'm missing a larger point or everything is permissible as long as it is 'tradition.'

My bad. I should have known that I'd be calling down that particular cultural trope (or is it meme)? I'm not arguing that. Not at all.

Circumcision is an important cultural touchstone for Jews, as it appears to me. It is not simply tradition, but a carrier of cultural identity - like language, but perhaps of lesser importance. Interfering with the transmission of culture from generation to generation feels like cultural war to me.

Of course, if our goal is to eradicate the culture of a particular group, then interfering in this fashion is just the thing.

Hahahaha maybe it's the Vodka, but I was just thinking about the hilarity of sodomy laws! "The true test of acceptability would be if they were to accept that a diametrically opposed decision (forced sodomy for all) would be equally acceptable."

I'm actually for that. It would only make sense to be willing to ban sodomy as a majority prerogative, if it were equally acceptable to force sodomy should the majority change.

I think that in my country 99.9% of males were circumcised either after birth (Jews) or later (Muslims). I still don't think it's obligatory in Judaism despite being a basic rite . The ritual itself is usually done at home and the party is usually postponed until the baby is 1 month old. If Im not mistaken ritual circumcision (aka Brit Mila) have been performed for about 4000-5000 years. It's related to Abraham's pact with god.

As far as i heard female circumcision is a custom practice by a few tribal societies in the Middle East and Africa.

The only thing that's important is weather or not the Germans would chose to enforce their laws on citizens or on their sovereign land. If circumcision won't be allowed on German soil people can get out of Germany to perform the ritual. If it won't be allowed for German citizens then the Jews and Muslim would either break the law and risk prosecution or get out Germany .

There was also a problem with ritual sla-ughter but that can be circumvented by importing Kosher meat. I think there was an agreement that if the animal won't die after 40 second after slaughtered it should be shot and sold as non-kosher meat.

Despite the fact there are many secular Jews the religion is still widely practiced and circumcision is one of the most practiced rule. I still live in a predominantly Jewish country (there aren't many ) so everything you might think is tabu like circumcision and Kosher slaughter is common practice. It might be true things may change because despite the fact Judaism frowns (death by stoning) homosexuality Israel is considered a country where homosexuals have a lot of rights and protections . It's still very unlikely for a movement to outlaw circumcision in Israel.

I'd like to call attention to Niseg's post above. As an Israeli, I think he's in a uniquely authoritative position to predict how the ruling will affect devout Jews.

Note that the ruling doesn't "protect" anyone, even though it's worded to make it seem as if this were the foundational value of the ruling. The Jews and Muslims who were inclined to circumcise for religious reasons will find a way to do it anyway. This ruling was made to make life harder for the religious who want to practice their rituals; it is specifically aimed at Jews (and possibly Muslims?) as circumcision isn't a particularly strong cultural item for other groups.

To put it succinctly, the ruling is anti-Semitic, even though it's worded to seem otherwise.

Restatement of the rationales behind that morality without equal treatment of the opposing position is obviously biased, and misrepresentative.

Restatement of the rationales was done to accurately reflect the facts of the case that triggered this decision by the courts. This reasoning was not reached in a vacuum. Note my use of "in this case." The ruling came after a four year old boy was admitted to a hospital due to complications of a religiously motivated surgery requested by his parents. The hospital contacted the authorities, as was their responsibility. The authorities examined the case and brought charges against the doctor for causing harm, as was their responsibility. The courts considered the case, as was their responsibility. The courts after considering the evidence exonerated the doctor but found that the practice of infant/child circumcision falls under the umbrella of child abuse.

The court could reach no other decision after examining the evidence. The laws are very clear as to what can be done to a person without consent, even by their guardians. Having the bravery to stand by the rule of law in the face of tradition is something I wish more societies could stomach.

Spoiler:

Half of America's government would be incarcerated if America had the courage to live by the rule of law.

The relative risk of competently done circumcision is small. It is not zero, but let's not field rhetoric implying that it's causing a 40% mortality rate or some such. There is no call to exaggerate.

I didn't. So your opinion is that unnecessary surgery on children is permissible as long as it only rarely results in death?

Let me try to cut to the point...
In Germany, Children are protected by laws. The protections invoked in this caseare not new.
Some groups in Germany have, unknowingly, been breaking these laws for many years.
A non-zero amount of Children have died, been grievously hurt, or in the best case irrevocably altered as a result of these groups breaking the laws.
At what number of Children should the court decide to apply to laws of the land?

The only way you can claim that the laws protecting children are not being broken is to show the court that:
1) Circumcision is necessary and beneficial to the child.
2) It does not violate the protections afforded to Citizens of Germany.

A dedicated group of experts, theologians, interested parties, lawyers, and doctors could not demonstrate that circumcising a child is a medically necessary surgery.

Niseg wrote:

The only thing that's important is weather or not the Germans would chose to enforce their laws on citizens or on their sovereign land. If circumcision won't be allowed on German soil people can get out of Germany to perform the ritual. If it won't be allowed for German citizens then the Jews and Muslim would either break the law and risk prosecution or get out Germany .

My understanding is that the person charged in these cases would be the doctor, leading me to believe that the devout will have an 'out.'

LarryC wrote:

To put it succinctly, the ruling is anti-Semitic, even though it's worded to seem otherwise.

Yes, by definition the ruling is anti-Semitic since Jewish traditions are affected.

Niseg wrote:

It might be true things may change because despite the fact Judaism frowns (death by stoning) homosexuality Israel is considered a country where homosexuals have a lot of rights and protections . It's still very unlikely for a movement to outlaw circumcision in Israel.

How could Isreal have Anti-Semitic Laws? Gasp.

I'm not usually one to offer personal information of this nature, but I will admit that I am uncircumcised. I was born premature and my mother refused, as she puts it, "To put you through anymore suffering". Even though she grew up Catholic, she expressly admits that the act is one of barbarism. I have a son and before he was born I had the conversation with my wife on whether or not we should have it done. I couldn't find any information stating that circumcision provided any actual health benefit. Then I asked myself if I would do it now as an adult. Hell NO!!! So, my son and I are uncircumcised males who might one day regret not doing it but I doubt that.

Rezzy:

I am not conversant in modern German law. Let's cut to the chase. What are the laws and policies surrounding the German family unit, and how long has it made outlaws of religious Jews?

EDIT:

It seems that we are in agreement. My main objection to the ruling was that it was persecutory - in this case anti-Semitic. If that was the point of German legislation, then the law and the ruling are doing exactly as they were designed to do.

LarryC wrote:

Rezzy:

I am not conversant in modern German law. Let's cut to the chase. What are the laws and policies surrounding the German family unit, and how long has it made outlaws of religious Jews?

Do you mean as it relates to guardians having unnecessary selective surgery performed on the minors under their protection?
Seems self-evident to me.
How is the 'trivial' nature of the surgery any different than branding their father's name into their hides?

Allow me to better phrase what I was trying to get at;

Were it not a traditional and cultural norm to modify the bodies of those who are unable to legally consent solely on the basis of personal belief would you endorse the start and spread of such a practice?

It also occurs to me that we no doubt have parents here whom have had their male child(ren) snipped which perhaps renders this an especially sensitive issue as the implication of having harmed their child is surely something most parents would want to avoid and mentally distance themselves from. I don't think that means we can't or shouldn't discuss it but as we generally try to be decent folk to each other here it's perhaps something to bear in mind when presenting our points.

*All of which ignores the specific issues of this case such as the German court simply being anti-Semitic.

LarryC wrote:

My main objection to the ruling was that it was persecutory - in this case anti-Semitic.

Incorrect to the point of absurdity. The ruling came due to the complications caused by a doctor circumcising a four year old at the request of his Muslim parents. If ANYTHING the ruling is Anti-Muslim.

Rezzy:

There is no difference. If that practice were a major cultural touchstone for a major American religion, I suspect that your laws would legalize it.

Make no mistake, this is cultural war. "Standing by the rule of law against tradition," makes no sense, especially as those two words are often synonymous. The rule of law stands for tradition - and in some cases, is used by the dominant culture to quash the practices and traditions of rival cultures. You cheer it on because you agree with it in this case, but I have to wonder how well you'd cheer if it was your culture and beliefs being trampled.

Anti-Muslim

It probably is, but I wasn't sure.

Larry, the only relevant question is whether or not those unable to express their preferences to exercise their right to retain or relinquish their foreskins are being protected.

LarryC wrote:

Make no mistake, this is cultural war.

Do you honestly believe that Germany, of all countries, wants this particular 'culture war?'
It's just lucky that the young boy suffered complications from the circumcision his parents demanded. Otherwise Germany could have gone years before having a valid excuse to uphold the law making unnecessary surgery on people that can't decide for themselves illegal. Or actually enforcing the protections of their citizens outlined in their constitution, guidelines really. I mean, if you can't ignore a few of them when politically expedient then what good are they, really?