German court: circumcising a child is bodily harm

Rezzy:

Given that they have a history of disliking Jews, and an even more current history of a cultural divide against the Muslim underclass, I have no difficulty believing whatsoever that many German citizens want to make life harder for those kinds of people that they don't like and believe are "taking over their country."

LarryC wrote:

Rezzy:

Given that they have a history of disliking Jews, and an even more current history of a cultural divide against the Muslim underclass, I have no difficulty believing whatsoever that many German citizens want to make life harder for those kinds of people that they don't like and believe are "taking over their country."

LarryC:
This effectively ends our conversation.
Rule of Law (except when inconvenient) is no law at all.

I want to bind my daughters feet, to reflect her mixed Chinese heritage and improve her appearance. She is not allowed any say in the matter, even those the process takes many years, because I am in charge. Is that just fine with those who support forced circumcision?

Laws that prevent unnecessary, involuntary body modification are not anti-semitic, anti-Muslim, or anti-whatever. If they are, then logically murder laws are simply a manifestation of your anti-Aztec bias.

LarryC wrote:

Rezzy:

Given that they have a history of disliking Jews, and an even more current history of a cultural divide against the Muslim underclass, I have no difficulty believing whatsoever that many German citizens want to make life harder for those kinds of people that they don't like and believe are "taking over their country."

If the ruling had come from Iceland, would it still be wrong?

Kraint wrote:

I want to bind my daughters feet, to reflect her mixed Chinese heritage and improve her appearance. She is not allowed any say in the matter, even those the process takes many years, because I am in charge. Is that just fine with those who support forced circumcision?

Laws that prevent unnecessary, involuntary body modification are not anti-semitic, anti-Muslim, or anti-whatever. If they are, then logically murder laws are simply a manifestation of your anti-Aztec bias.

Murder is unlawful killing. Supposedly, an Aztec sacrificial ritual would be completely legal in an Aztec country, so there wouldn't be any murder.

Characterizing Aztec rituals as inherently unlawful, even in a fictional Aztec nation amply demonstrates the amount of ethnocentricism going on, I think.

If the ruling had come from Iceland, would it still be wrong?

It would depend on whether or not there would be Icelandic Jews or Muslims who would be severely persecuted by the ruling.

LarryC wrote:
Kraint wrote:

I want to bind my daughters feet, to reflect her mixed Chinese heritage and improve her appearance. She is not allowed any say in the matter, even those the process takes many years, because I am in charge. Is that just fine with those who support forced circumcision?

Laws that prevent unnecessary, involuntary body modification are not anti-semitic, anti-Muslim, or anti-whatever. If they are, then logically murder laws are simply a manifestation of your anti-Aztec bias.

Murder is unlawful killing. Supposedly, an Aztec sacrificial ritual would be completely legal in an Aztec country, so there wouldn't be any murder.

Characterizing Aztec rituals as inherently unlawful, even in a fictional Aztec nation amply demonstrates the amount of ethnocentricism going on, I think.

If you have to invent a fictional nation to support yourself, you've already lost the argument. In any real, existent country with the rule of law, someone who conducted involuntary human sacrifice would rightfully be guilty of murder. Your right to practice your religion/beliefs doesn't extend to harming others in any sane society.

I'm still interested in hearing the views of the pro-circumcision crowd on the topic of foot-binding and other involuntary body modifications of children(branding, ritual scarification, tattoos, piercings, lip plates, neck rings, etc.).

Kraint:

My apologies! I had thought that your bringing up of the Aztecs was necessarily fictional since I know of no large present Aztec cultural contingent who currently are invested in sacrificial killings as a cultural touchstone.

If you have to invent a fictional nation to support yourself, you've already lost the argument. In any real, existent country with the rule of law, someone who conducted involuntary human sacrifice would rightfully be guilty of murder. Your right to practice your religion/beliefs doesn't extend to harming others in any sane society.

I would argue that that's mistaken. Humans are sacrificed for the interests of the nation state in the current milieu in several countries, in some cases, notably involuntarily. Modern nations have not thoroughly divested themselves of the need for capital punishment; and that's a sacrifice of human life in the interest of the nation state.

We don't think of it as alien and bad because it's normal and historical. If the Aztecs had been a world-wide continental power, I'd say that modern nation states would have religious ritual sacrifices, still. In effect, your rationale is borne of the lack of any cultural power that has necessitated legalizing the practice, not because it's inherently inhuman.

I'm still interested in hearing the views of the pro-circumcision crowd on the topic of foot-binding and other involuntary body modifications of children(branding, ritual scarification, tattoos, piercings, lip plates, neck rings, etc.).

Might as well go whole hog.

I don't believe in the eradication of cultural groups and in cultural tyranny. I have good grounds for this as my culture has been a rather thorough victim of cultural warfare. It still hurts.

My stance on it is that we ought to let cultures and nations develop organically and grow out of practices we deem abhorrent; rather than force them to change their culture to match ours on the tip of a sword. It is only fair to stipulate that any who subscribe to cultural tyranny be the first to accept its fairness when their own cultural values are slaughtered by force.

LarryC wrote:

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,

I still don't understand what you're trying to say. What do you mean 'accept a diametrically opposed decision'? How can you accept something you are diametrically opposed to?

CheezePavilion:

The implication is that the practice is agreed upon as a majority decision or as a negotiated position. It should be equally acceptable to have the opposite rule in effect should the situation change. You might say that it's like an election - you support your candidate and so on, but once the opposite wins, the contract is that you'll get behind and in line and work diligently until the next opportunity to express your views and wants.

Another way to say it is that acceptance of the opposite as a possible outcome is a proof of solidarity.

To argue otherwise would be to say "My values are better than yours, and I will force you to abide by them because I have the gun and you don't."

LarryC wrote:

CheezePavilion:

The implication is that the practice is agreed upon as a majority decision or as a negotiated position. It should be equally acceptable to have the opposite rule in effect should the situation change. You might say that it's like an election - you support your candidate and so on, but once the opposite wins, the contract is that you'll get behind and in line and work diligently until the next opportunity to express your views and wants.

Another way to say it is that acceptance of the opposite as a possible outcome is a proof of solidarity.

To argue otherwise would be to say "My values are better than yours, and I will force you to abide by them because I have the gun and you don't."

Well yeah--that's exactly what is being said: my values are better than yours. I would not say, though, that you are being forced to abide by them *because* I have the gun, I would add that it's because I think my values are better in a certain way that justifies picking up a gun to force them on other people.

LarryC wrote:

My stance on it is that we ought to let cultures and nations develop organically and grow out of practices we deem abhorrent; rather than force them to change their culture to match ours on the tip of a sword. It is only fair to stipulate that any who subscribe to cultural tyranny be the first to accept its fairness when their own cultural values are slaughtered by force.

It's not overwhelming yet, but that sort of growth has already started.

Especially here in the US, where nearly all boys were routinely circumcised at birth until recently (most women my age have never seen an intact guy out in the wild), this isn't so much a purely Jewish question as a general cultural one. But of course, non-Jews have less cultural baggage to sort through if they decide to leave the practice behind.

People's feelings about the territorial integrity of children fall on a spectrum... from complete female genital excision, to male circumcision, to infant ear piercing, to forcing your child to give a hug or kiss to someone to be "polite". Most people see one or more of these things as barbaric, but not all, depending on their cultural lens. So where should the legal line be drawn with respect to children owning their bodies?

I think LarryC does bring up a salient point, one that should be addressed: where does parental authority end?

For instance, if your child somehow obtains the money to amputate his or her leg and wishes to do so, would you allow him to go through with the surgery? On the surface, this seems like a silly question, but it's an important one; where does a parent's authority over a child end? Obviously, parents must exert a certain authority over children, lest they be hurt by their own inexperience. At some point however, the state must decide where that line must be drawn. If the state decides that children cannot be circumcised due to their parents' wishes, then you are implicitly infringing upon parental authority, which by some forms of governance, is a sacred right--i.e. the family is the most basic unit of society, in which the parents reign supreme.

I personally don't believe the family unit should be held sacred; that philosophy has yielded a lot of suffering for individuals. However, parental authority is not something to be dismissed outright, because I doubt anyone will agree that children should be accorded every single right an adult possesses.

(I think clover is asking a similar question too; I didn't mean to infringe upon your post!)

Grubber788 wrote:

I personally don't believe the family unit should be held sacred; that philosophy has yielded a lot of suffering for individuals.

I'd even add that some of this reverence for the family is itself a product of patriarchal cultures, which is important in this case. Many cultures do not have a good track record when it comes to the 'minorities' of women and children.

However, parental authority is not something to be dismissed outright, because I doubt anyone will agree that children should be accorded every single right an adult possesses.

I think the place to start is with reversing the roles, as so often happens in real life: the parent has a stroke or gets dementia, and the adult child must now take care of the elderly parent. What do the rights look like in that case?

Grubber788 wrote:

I personally don't believe the family unit should be held sacred; that philosophy has yielded a lot of suffering for individuals. However, parental authority is not something to be dismissed outright, because I doubt anyone will agree that children should be accorded every single right an adult possesses.

(I think clover is asking a similar question too; I didn't mean to infringe upon your post!)

No worries, I think our questions are coming at the center from both directions:

1) To what extent should parents be allowed to physically impose upon their children?
2) To what extent should children allowed to make decisions about their bodies without parental intervention?

Medical and non-medical issues are hard to separate here. Should a teenager be allowed to receive prescription birth control without the consent (or knowledge) of the parents? Should Christian Scientist or similar parents be allowed to refuse potentially life-saving treatment of their children? Should parents be allowed to remove terminally incapacitated children from ventilators? At what age is body piercing allowed to be the choice of the individual? How many physical decisions should a minor be allowed to make for themselves? Is it only about permanent alteration, or temporary, or does it extend to forcing children to do things they want to do? Some people see spanking as discipline, others as child abuse. Etc.

LarryC wrote:

I would argue that that's mistaken. Humans are sacrificed for the interests of the nation state in the current milieu in several countries, in some cases, notably involuntarily. Modern nations have not thoroughly divested themselves of the need for capital punishment; and that's a sacrifice of human life in the interest of the nation state.

We don't think of it as alien and bad because it's normal and historical. If the Aztecs had been a world-wide continental power, I'd say that modern nation states would have religious ritual sacrifices, still. In effect, your rationale is borne of the lack of any cultural power that has necessitated legalizing the practice, not because it's inherently inhuman.

I think you've missed the point I was trying to establish with my initially-flippant remark. My assertion was that laws with valid social purpose that happen to affect religious practices are not inherently anti-[semitic|Muslim|Christian|Aztec|whatever]. You seem to hold the opposite point-of-view, where a law that infringes on a religion's desired practices is automatically in violation of religious freedom.

On the point Clover/Grubber bring up: should parental authority to control their children extend beyond the point where they reach adulthood? That is why I personally draw the line at permanent body modification. It isn't the parents' body part to cut off. Otherwise, their is a nigh-infinite gray area that must be hashed out. That is why I bring up things like foot-binding, branding, scarification, tattooing, neck rings, tooth-filing, lip plates, and all of the other things that can be done to a person for cultural reasons.

Grubber788 wrote:

For instance, if your child somehow obtains the money to amputate his or her leg and wishes to do so, would you allow him to go through with the surgery?

Assuming this is for a purely cultural reason, of course not, and it's not even close to equivalence to circumcision, one decision is preventing your child from harming themselves, the other is harming them for your own cultural reasons.

I don't have the same debating skills that everyone else in the thread does so I can't word things as eloquently, but it's clear to me that protecting children from harm is more important than cultural traditions, parental authority or protection of the family unit.

Kraint wrote:

That is why I bring up things like foot-binding, branding, scarification, tattooing, neck rings, tooth-filing, lip plates, and all of the other things that can be done to a person for cultural reasons.

As someone who is uncircumcised, and grew up in culture that views that as perfectly normal, I see circumcision slide in nicely with the rest of Kraint's examples as outdated and barbaric practices that no longer fit into modern society. The unmodified body is the status-quo, making the decision to mess that status-quo on another person without their consent for reasons of culture and tradition are unacceptable. If you want to change that status-quo on your own body as an adult, go for it, but other people's bodies are out of bounds.

CheezePavilion:

At this juncture, we have come to an impasse. I cannot agree with the assumption that forcing other peoples and other cultures to adhere to one's own morality on the supposition that it is superior to be of any good whatsoever. The wasteland of native Philippine culture stands as mute testament of the ravages of cultural warfare. It is well enough to be on the imposing side of it; but I can't respect your perspective as being egalitarian in this case, because I cannot imagine that you know what it's like to have a vast hole where your history should be because some yahoo with a gun decided to wipe your librariels and force your people to become culturally Japanese perforce.

It's been a good discussion!

Kraint:

I agree that laws that are enacted with other purposes are not necessarily an artifact of cultural war; but I cannot agree that this is the case here, even though it's being made to be that way. Germans cannot fail to know how this will impact their Jewish and Muslim enemies, with whom they live in close proximity. Whatever other rationale was given, circumcision is not a big enough deal that it warrants criminalization of important cultural rituals.

Grubber788:

Thanks for bringing it up! I wanted that to be part of the discussion. It's been good so far, but I have no time right now! I'm looking forward to hearing all your thoughts vis a vis the limitations of family unit powers and parental authority!

LarryC wrote:

CheezePavilion:

At this juncture, we have come to an impasse. I cannot agree with the assumption that forcing other peoples and other cultures to adhere to one's own morality on the supposition that it is superior to be of any good whatsoever.

The wasteland of native Philippine culture stands as mute testament of the ravages of cultural warfare. It is well enough to be on the imposing side of it; but I can't respect your perspective as being egalitarian in this case, because I cannot imagine that you know what it's like to have a vast hole where your history should be because some yahoo with a gun decided to wipe your libraries and force your people to become culturally Japanese perforce.

Well let's remember what we're talking about here: the issue of whether an infant can even be considered a part of a culture in the same way an adult can and whether you can compare libraries being wiped out (I assume that's what that word was) to parents wanting to modify the anatomy of their infant children. I think you are invoking fears that are unwarranted in and using examples that are not applicable to this situation. And that's even assuming you are accurate in your characterization of the Philippines as a cultural wasteland, and even so, if that can be attributed to cultural warfare.

CheezePavilion:

Well let's remember what we're talking about here: the issue of whether an infant can even be considered a part of a culture in the same way an adult can and whether you can compare libraries being wiped out (I assume that's what that word was) to parents wanting to modify the anatomy of their infant children.

I'm not sure if you can appreciate it, but the flippancy with which you freely characterize children as fair game for any culture powerful enough to stake its claim irrespective of parental and group interests strikes me with abject horror. Your children are not yet part of your culture Cheeze, but I will respect your desire to induct them so. I won't force you to teach them Swahili instead of English using blunt force.

This is not logical nor universal. I am aware that it is the norm for some cultures to move aggressively to attack others. I'm against that.

And yes, expunging cultural touchstones is on the same level as wiping out libraries.

And that's even assuming you are accurate in your characterization of the Philippines as a cultural wasteland, and even so, if that can be attributed to cultural warfare.

You don't need to take my word for it. Read up the history (or lack thereof) if you wish. The kind of cultural warfare waged by the Spanish and then the Americans on Philippine soil wasn't exactly subtle. I can't prove that a people whose history and culture were systematically extinguished leads to a lack of history and relative lack of native culture, but it seems logical.

I'd even add that some of this reverence for the family is itself a product of patriarchal cultures, which is important in this case. Many cultures do not have a good track record when it comes to the 'minorities' of women and children.

I'll contest that. Family units and reverence for the family unit is strong even in matriarchal cultures. My own culture is not particularly strongly patriarchal, but we have a strong regard for the household (not necessarily coincident with what you might term "family"). It may seem that reverence for the family stems from reverence for the male, but that's only true in patriarchal cultures. In other kinds of cultures, it may flow from reverence for the pair-bond or reverence for the female.

clover:

I'd parse the questions a little more differently.

1) To what extent should parents be allowed to physically impose upon their children?
2) To what extent should children allowed to make decisions about their bodies without parental intervention?

1) To what extent can we presume to interfere in the parenting of people at large, and which parenting cultural mores will we impose on the population at large?
2) How do we schedule the granting of rights and concomitant responsibilities to children in their transition to adulthood?

I think we need to get back to basics here. I'll use Grubber788's ideas as a jump point for my thoughts.

I personally don't believe the family unit should be held sacred; that philosophy has yielded a lot of suffering for individuals. However, parental authority is not something to be dismissed outright, because I doubt anyone will agree that children should be accorded every single right an adult possesses.

I am of the opposite view. As the most basic sociopolitical and functional procreative unit, I think the family (or household) should be front and center in all dealings related to it, and all such dealings should be considered with regard for how it affects the family's powers, internal and external interactions, and dynamics.

The family unit should be regarded as a microcosm of the state, and the parents as implicit standing deputies. A weakening of the family unit weakens not only its powers and integrity, but all attendant functions. A parent who is less powerful in a sociopolitical sense will also be correspondingly less powerful in his or her role as educator, socializer, and warden.

Every individual should have rights accorded to him; but let's not forget that in the original Western documents and concepts associated with "the individual," the family was probably considered an extension of "the individual," by "individual," we mean married men; children, women, and slaves being essentially nonentities.

A slightly more egalitarian take on the family and state sociopolitical structure can be found in Confucian teachings, which are more philosophies on social order than they are religious concepts. In these, the women and the children are not ignored - they are also part of the state and are recognized as such; but they have subordinate roles to the male household masters.

A holistic view of the problem must account for how we ought to order the state from top to bottom; a premium on self-sufficiency and self-contained systems is desirable so as to have fewer points of failure. In other words, each family ought to be able to self-regulate and function without the input of the state, as much as possible; though each pair or group of leaders in the household are themselves to be taken as "children" in the larger sense of the state.

Getting long and wordy. I'll stop here for now, though I'm just barely getting started.

It's an interesting point of view, Larry. As a person who clearly affirms the superiority of some cultures over others - I believe, for example, that cultures that treat women as property are inherently inferior to those who treat them as humans - I don't see this ruling as bad. Cultures that mutilate infants are worse than cultures that do not, in reference to that specific aspect.

I would characterize this ruling as part of the organic growth out of our naturally barbaric nature to which you referred on the last page, but I understand there's room for disagreement there.

I do respect the manner in which you've elucidated your commitment to the family unit over the governing body, though, even in the face of extreme examples like circumcision. You make a passionate and moving case for cultural relativism, albeit ultimately unconvincing to me.

LarryC wrote:

CheezePavilion:

Well let's remember what we're talking about here: the issue of whether an infant can even be considered a part of a culture in the same way an adult can and whether you can compare libraries being wiped out (I assume that's what that word was) to parents wanting to modify the anatomy of their infant children.

I'm not sure if you can appreciate it, but the flippancy with which you freely characterize children as fair game for any culture powerful enough to stake its claim irrespective of parental and group interests strikes me with abject horror.

I disagree. I see no flippancy whatsoever. Clarity and directness, sure, but no--no flippancy.

Your children are not yet part of your culture Cheeze, but I will respect your desire to induct them so. I won't force you to teach them Swahili instead of English using blunt force.

When did I ever say that I would not respect your desire to teach your children their native language? How did you jump from "you cannot cut off the foreskin of an infant" to "you cannot teach your child your native language"?

This is not logical nor universal. I am aware that it is the norm for some cultures to move aggressively to attack others. I'm against that.

And I am not as against that as you are--why are there no degrees in your understanding of this? Why is this starting to remind me of a discussion with a Libertarian about how taxes are slavery? We've even had the whole "gun" thing brought up...

And yes, expunging cultural touchstones is on the same level as wiping out libraries.

No, it isn't. Requiring circumcision to be delayed until adult is not nearly the same as wiping out libraries when it comes to the transmission of culture. They're Jews, not Protheans.

Really, this is the heart of the discussion: you're trying to use the consequence of a cultural wasteland to argue against intervention by a nation into the families of minorities. However, you haven't shown the link between ALL interventions and the prevention of the transmission of culture. Infant circumcision is important in Jewish culture, but it is totally irrelevant to the transmission of Jewish culture.

And that's even assuming you are accurate in your characterization of the Philippines as a cultural wasteland, and even so, if that can be attributed to cultural warfare.

You don't need to take my word for it.

Well I am--right off the top of my head, you're always telling us about how you forget a person's race. That's a pretty significant cultural accomplishment.

Read up the history (or lack thereof) if you wish. The kind of cultural warfare waged by the Spanish and then the Americans on Philippine soil wasn't exactly subtle. I can't prove that a people whose history and culture were systematically extinguished leads to a lack of history and relative lack of native culture, but it seems logical.

Well, now we're moving the goalposts. A lack of history and relative lack of native culture does not necessarily make for a cultural wasteland. The kind of cultural warfare practiced by the English in Ireland or those same Spanish in Mexico did not make for a cultural wasteland: in fact, the novel that is often called the best in the English language? Ulysses--a book edit: considered English literature (as it's arguable that it's actually 'english' : P ) by an Irishman set in Dublin based on a Greek myth. Mexican culture certainly isn't a wasteland. I'm not as familiar with Philippine culture (and whether it even counts as 'native' given the history of the region even before the arrival of the Spanish), but it's clear that cultural warfare does not necessarily lead to cultural wastelands.

In fact, the worst victims of cultural warfare are African-Americans. Pulled from the homelands, denied their heritage to the point of even being stripped of their ancestral names, they went on to invent the blues, jazz, and rap.

Getting back to Judaism, the form we see today is a result of the religion and culture having to deal with the destruction of the Temple by the Romans--Rabbinic Judaism is a direct product of cultural warfare.

I'd even add that some of this reverence for the family is itself a product of patriarchal cultures, which is important in this case. Many cultures do not have a good track record when it comes to the 'minorities' of women and children.

I'll contest that. Family units and reverence for the family unit is strong even in matriarchal cultures. My own culture is not particularly strongly patriarchal, but we have a strong regard for the household (not necessarily coincident with what you might term "family"). It may seem that reverence for the family stems from reverence for the male, but that's only true in patriarchal cultures. In other kinds of cultures, it may flow from reverence for the pair-bond or reverence for the female.

That does not actually contest what I said. Also, let's remember what the Spanish and American cultures you are talking about were like. They had much less regard for the rights of children than what we are talking about here. They do not make for good comparisons to this situation.

Trust Larry to hose down the core point with layers of tangentially related arguments. The way I see it, it boils down to this:

The children in question are German citizens, and come under German law. This is not superseded by the family unit or the parents religion, no matter how much you pretend that it is.

It is against their laws to cut the foreskin off another person without their permission, it is harming them, for no provable medical reason, because the parents wish it to be that way despite what the child may want.

It's that simple. The Germans were absolutely in the right here.

Like others above mentioned, I believe the German Jewry should be asking themselves a question of not "why are the persecuting our culture", but "why does our culture cling so vehemently to rites this backwards and barbaric?"

A comment I saw on Metafilter, which permanently set my mind in the anti-circumcision camp, if it wasn't there already:

Oneironaut on Metafilter[/url]]And as a circumcised male, I can tell you--I am not mutilated. I have been modified, sure, but not mutilated. I accept it as an initiation into a long tradition. And even if I didn't accept it--too bad. I'm Jewish, I was born Jewish, and I have an obligation to all my fellow Jews to acknowledge my identity, even if I never practice my religion. Circumcision means that identity is inescapable. Good. Some things are bigger than individual choice.

Nobody should be able to do that to someone else without their adult, informed consent. No one.

In many ways, the arguments in support of circumcision remind me strongly of the Catholic Church's current desire to deny contraception to women. Somehow removing choice for others is becoming a Judeo-Christian and Muslim tenet.

(boring, hand waving clarifications that I'm not referring to 100% of all Christians, Jews, and Muslims, ever.)

I have to comment on LarryC's comment that it is an anti-Semitic decision.

I disagree with this 100%.

Anti-Semitic, by almost every usage definition I have seen, has a "deliberately done to target jewish people" angle to the action. Hate speech, laws, etc. In this case, based on my (limited) understanding, the fact that jewish men are circumcised has *nothing* to do with it. It has everything to do with a decision by the court that *any* religious custom which results in body-modification on an infant who is not able to (a) decide if they want to have the procedure done on them; and (b) decide if they even *want* to be part of the religion, is considered to be bodily harm.

Does anyone else have any more articles that discuss the medical implications of circumcision? I've seen a couple of vague articles so far, with evidence in support of circumcision (e.g. reduced transfer rates for HIV) and against (e.g. reduced sexual pleasure).

I think discussions of cultural relativism might be a little premature in advance of a better discussion of the physical effects of the procedure and/or mutilation.

clover wrote:
Grubber788 wrote:

I personally don't believe the family unit should be held sacred; that philosophy has yielded a lot of suffering for individuals. However, parental authority is not something to be dismissed outright, because I doubt anyone will agree that children should be accorded every single right an adult possesses.

(I think clover is asking a similar question too; I didn't mean to infringe upon your post!)

No worries, I think our questions are coming at the center from both directions:

1) To what extent should parents be allowed to physically impose upon their children?
2) To what extent should children allowed to make decisions about their bodies without parental intervention?

Medical and non-medical issues are hard to separate here. Should a teenager be allowed to receive prescription birth control without the consent (or knowledge) of the parents? Should Christian Scientist or similar parents be allowed to refuse potentially life-saving treatment of their children? Should parents be allowed to remove terminally incapacitated children from ventilators? At what age is body piercing allowed to be the choice of the individual? How many physical decisions should a minor be allowed to make for themselves? Is it only about permanent alteration, or temporary, or does it extend to forcing children to do things they want to do? Some people see spanking as discipline, others as child abuse. Etc.

These are the questions I find most of interest here. This issue is all about defining a new boundary at which societal preferences/opinions trump parental authority, and while I don't personally care about the specific banning of circumcisions, I do wonder whether other actions that a societal majority consider parental "abuse" could be banned in a similar fashion. Spankings, smoking around children, poor diets, homeschooling, the instilling of certain unpopular conservative religious beliefs...depending on the person, the term "abuse" could cover a whole lot of things. What one person sees as a slippery slope often turns out to be just paranoia, though, so only time will tell whether there's a real reason for concern here.

Grubber788 wrote:

Does anyone else have any more articles that discuss the medical implications of circumcision?

Fire in the hole.

Two infants died and two have brain damage since 2000 because tradition demands that herpes-infected rabbis have to suck the wounds they inflict on babies. And, yes, it's exactly as creepy and gross as you imagine. But, hey, god commands that you do sh*t that would get you locked up as a psycho pedophile.

In the past, such delights were considered too western and were banned. But now they're endorsed by the party. "These facilities are eternal gifts to the people by our great leader," state TV reported.

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The only times women had been allowed to wear pants were when they were working in factories or in the fields. Any women walking the streets in pants were subject to a police warning or a penalty.

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"If caught, sometimes they would cut your pants right there in public to make it into a skirt," said Park Ye-Kyong who defected to the South in 2004. But even when the tough restrictions applied, women did not stop pursuing fashion, including getting their hair permed or dyed.

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North Korean women spotted wearing skinny jeans and earrings often make news in South Korean media because such items were known to be confiscated in the name of being too capitalist. But the trend has been visible in the past few years, and now platform shoes are in demand.

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Platforms ranked second out of 10 most popular items in North Korean society last year, according to analysis by the Samsung Economic Research Institute. The study is based on what average North Koreans acquired using information from defectors, press and other sources.

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"The international media tends to show the privileged in Pyongyang, or the hunger-stricken poor in the northern regions. But our standard in choosing what's hot there was strictly focusing on daily realistic lives of average families," explained Dong.