German court: circumcising a child is bodily harm

Parental Prerogative is Manifest Destiny on a family level. No one here is saying that parents should no longer be able to practice their culture, or that cannot make choices for their children. We are saying that they should not be allowed to perform medically unnecessary and irreversible surgery on their children.

Stengah wrote:

Parental Prerogative is Manifest Destiny on a family level. No one here is saying that parents should no longer be able to practice their culture, or that cannot make choices for their children. We are saying that they should not be allowed to perform medically unnecessary and irreversible surgery on their children.

I think it says a lot about your position that you equate parental prerogatives with Manifest Destiny. Needless to say, I hold them to be superficially similar, but profoundly different.

Maybe it's also affecting the conversation that "surgery" to you guys is "horrible, disfiguring, scary, arcane crap that goes on in hospitals," and to me it's "something you do on a Sunday morning."

LarryC wrote:
Stengah wrote:

Parental Prerogative is Manifest Destiny on a family level. No one here is saying that parents should no longer be able to practice their culture, or that cannot make choices for their children. We are saying that they should not be allowed to perform medically unnecessary and irreversible surgery on their children.

I think it says a lot about your position that you equate parental prerogatives with Manifest Destiny. Needless to say, I hold them to be superficially similar, but profoundly different.

Maybe it's also affecting the conversation that "surgery" to you guys is "horrible, disfiguring, scary arcane crap that goes on in hospitals," and to me it's "something you do on a Sunday morning."

The key words were unnecessary and irreversible. Not surgery.

I think Stengah nailed it, but just because I'm surprisingly lucid today, I want to point out the two areas where you're not understanding, Larry.

First, in the relationship between babies and parents, you have one powerful group mutilating the genitals of a powerless group against their permission. That dynamic of the strong hurting the weak without their representation is what's analogous to Spain and the Phillipines.

Second, I see you've clearly intimated the fundamental difference between our points of view; you are talking explicitly about religious freedom, and I am talking explicitly about child abuse. It is clear we agree that one of those concepts transcends the other, we just fall on opposites sides of that coin.

LarryC wrote:
CheezePavilion wrote:
LarryC wrote:

It may be the case that your cultural peers are making more appealing and powerful-sounding arguments because they appeal to your inherent biases, whereas I am unfamiliar with idiom, and I am espousing a strange point of view.

It may be that you are incapable of understanding the appeal and power of the the arguments of his cultural peers because your own point of view is prejudiced by your negative experiences with similar sounding arguments.

It might help to phrase it differently. Perhaps you could do so?

We are talking here about interfering with cultural and religious expression in the name of what is being made out to be "good" and "moral" and "decent." It won't do to convince me that these points actually ARE "good" and "moral" and "decent" because that's normally where a lot of these justifications entail. Christianity is good for your culture, blah, blah, blah. Let's stamp out your native alphabet, literature, and language; it'll be good, you'll see.

Why do you think you'll be able to convince a person like that of the value of your "cultural sovereignty" position?

LarryC wrote:

Jonman:
That would make more sense if we were protecting people who didn't want their children circumcised from religiously motivated Muslims and Jews from imposing it on them and their families. However, in the case here, the reverse is happening. They are being prevented from practicing their beliefs within their families and communities by an external power with an unsympathetic and unrepresentative agenda.

No-one is being stopped from being Jewish, or being Muslim. Neither religion turns people away if they have a foreskin. We're not talking about practicing beliefs, we're talking about a tradition that is common to people who practice those beliefs. No-one is being imprisoned for going to synagogue here, for crying out loud.

It's important in this argument to delineate beliefs from practices. No beliefs are being infringed here, no-one is being punished for religious thought-crime.

LarryC wrote:
Stengah wrote:

Parental Prerogative is Manifest Destiny on a family level. No one here is saying that parents should no longer be able to practice their culture, or that cannot make choices for their children. We are saying that they should not be allowed to perform medically unnecessary and irreversible surgery on their children.

I think it says a lot about your position that you equate parental prerogatives with Manifest Destiny. Needless to say, I hold them to be superficially similar, but profoundly different.

I think is says a lot about your position that you would allow parents to cut off parts of their children's bodies for purely cultural reasons.

I don't think that they're 100% equivalent either, but they're more than superficially similar.

LarryC wrote:

Seth:

First, in the relationship between babies and parents, you have one powerful group mutilating the genitals of a powerless group against their permission. That dynamic of the strong hurting the weak without their representation is what's analogous to Spain and the Phillipines.

That's the part where it's superficially similar. If that's the only dynamic you see in the parent-child relationship, you've got really messed up families in your locality.

Second, I see you've clearly intimated the fundamental difference between our points of view; you are talking explicitly about religious freedom, and I am talking explicitly about child abuse. It is clear we agree that one of those concepts transcends the other, we just fall on opposites sides of that coin.

See, I don't even see circumcision as child abuse, and it wouldn't be in any culture where circumcision is normal; I'm assuming that it's not in the US as well. So it's not that I'm on this side of the coin; I'm not even seeing an issue.

Whereas circumcision is not clearly beneficial, it's also not clearly harmful; unlike purely cosmetic surgery which has little to no medical benefits. We must stop representing it as such, or else go on the record as saying that we choose not to believe what medical taskforces tell us about medical issues.

Circular logic.

"I don't consider rape to be abuse, and it wouldn't be in any culture where rape is considered normal."

You have to step away from the culture to decide if it's abuse or not.

Seth:

First, in the relationship between babies and parents, you have one powerful group mutilating the genitals of a powerless group against their permission. That dynamic of the strong hurting the weak without their representation is what's analogous to Spain and the Phillipines.

That's the part where it's superficially similar. If that's the only dynamic you see in the parent-child relationship, you've got really messed up families in your locality.

Second, I see you've clearly intimated the fundamental difference between our points of view; you are talking explicitly about religious freedom, and I am talking explicitly about child abuse. It is clear we agree that one of those concepts transcends the other, we just fall on opposites sides of that coin.

See, I don't even see circumcision as child abuse, and it wouldn't be in any culture where circumcision is normal; I'm assuming that it's not in the US as well. So it's not that I'm on this side of the coin; I'm not even seeing an issue.

Whereas circumcision is not clearly beneficial, it's also not clearly harmful; unlike purely cosmetic surgery which has little to no medical benefits. We must stop representing it as such, or else go on the record as saying that we choose not to believe what medical taskforces tell us about medical issues.

Jonman:

Alright. Granted. You're not prevented from believing that Jesus is God; you're just not allowed to go to Mass and pray.

Would that be acceptable?

CheezePavilion:

That's actually an excellent question. Seth and I have come to an understanding about our differences on that score, I think.

Stengah:

And again, I have to say that if parental prerogatives were Manifest Destiny, I think you guys might have cultural family unit issues. The way I see it done locally, it's not similar except superficially.

LarryC wrote:

CheezePavilion:

That's actually an excellent question. Seth and I have come to an understanding about our differences on that score, I think.

That's great for you and Seth, but I have not come to that understanding. How exactly is an argument about "cultural sovereignty" going to stop people who have no regard for different cultures in the first place?

Considering the penis bleeds when the foreskin is cut off, and the baby cries in pain, I don't understand how you can say it's not harmful. It's not life threatening (when done correctly in a sterile environment), but it still inflicts harm.

SixteenBlue:

I disagree. You can't step away from any culture; all you're doing is stepping away from one and into another. It is this illusion that "I am Normal and Objective and Infallible, because I Made The Effort," is what leads to Manifest Destiny.

It is possible to quantify the harm of rape and evaluate it as abuse even in cultures where it is commonplace.

Just so we're clear on the point you quoted:

In that statement, I am not arguing for whether circumcision is child abuse or not. I'm just saying that it isn't considered so; and why I don't consider it so (because the law and tradition don't label it that way).

If you want to contravene the taskforce and qualify the procedure as medically harmful, feel free to make your case.

LarryC wrote:

Seth:

First, in the relationship between babies and parents, you have one powerful group mutilating the genitals of a powerless group against their permission. That dynamic of the strong hurting the weak without their representation is what's analogous to Spain and the Phillipines.

That's the part where it's superficially similar. If that's the only dynamic you see in the parent-child relationship, you've got really messed up families in your locality

Maybe it's the only dynamic I see in the Spain-Phillipines relationship. Kidding, but sometimes I'm snarky after someone insults me directly. I'll accept that you just don't understand me and are lashing out because of it.

Second, I see you've clearly intimated the fundamental difference between our points of view; you are talking explicitly about religious freedom, and I am talking explicitly about child abuse. It is clear we agree that one of those concepts transcends the other, we just fall on opposites sides of that coin.

See, I don't even see circumcision as child abuse, and it wouldn't be in any culture where circumcision is normal; I'm assuming that it's not in the US as well. So it's not that I'm on this side of the coin; I'm not even seeing an issue.

Whereas circumcision is not clearly beneficial, it's also not clearly harmful; unlike purely cosmetic surgery which has little to no medical benefits. We must stop representing it as such, or else go on the record as saying that we choose not to believe what medical taskforces tell us about medical issues.

That's fine that you don't see cutting off a part of a penis as child abuse, we've already gotten into heated discussions over what you do/do not consider child abuse. I should point out that it's already been stated in this thread that circumcision remains a very popular choice for American parents, though.

Pain to an infant is rarely medically necessary. My tendency is to support - indeed, coerce - the painless option if an infant procedure is neither helpful nor harmful. It's clear that you do not.

CheezePavilion wrote:
LarryC wrote:

CheezePavilion:

That's actually an excellent question. Seth and I have come to an understanding about our differences on that score, I think.

That's great for you and Seth, but I have not come to that understanding. How exactly is an argument about "cultural sovereignty" going to stop people who have no regard for different cultures in the first place?

The hope is that talking about cultural sovereignty and warfare and abuse will make it more apparent to the powerful who don't think about the results of their words and actions.

Stengah:

I believe that the pain part of it is considered in the taskforce evaluation. In general, we give anesthetics so the baby generally doesn't cry when the cut is made.

FWIW, infant circumcision is actually uncommon in my locality. It's generally reserved for late childhood and/or teens as a rite of passage into adulthood. We use anesthetics there, too.

LarryC wrote:
CheezePavilion wrote:
LarryC wrote:

CheezePavilion:

That's actually an excellent question. Seth and I have come to an understanding about our differences on that score, I think.

That's great for you and Seth, but I have not come to that understanding. How exactly is an argument about "cultural sovereignty" going to stop people who have no regard for different cultures in the first place?

The hope is that talking about cultural sovereignty and warfare and abuse will make it more apparent to the powerful who don't think about the results of their words and actions.

You don't need a "cultural sovereignty" argument to accomplish that.

Seth:

Maybe it's the only dynamic I see in the Spain-Phillipines relationship. Kidding, but sometimes I'm snarky after someone insults me directly. I'll accept that you just don't understand me and are lashing out because of it.

I'm very sorry! I did not mean to insult you. What I said was meant quite literally. The only negative content is in that I vehemently disagree with your assumptions; but that was it.

Pain to an infant is rarely medically necessary. My tendency is to support - indeed, coerce - the painless option if an infant procedure is neither helpful nor harmful. It's clear that you do not.

I'm actually an anesthesiologist by trade, so it's rather my business to make sure that it's as painless as possible, if the option is taken. I study pain as a matter of business and interest.

There are degrees of pain and it's not all physical. Given that our techniques are as powerful as they are, much of the suffering in the pediatric population is rather psychological, which doesn't make it less important or less real. We address those concerns as well, as much as we can.

The core concern is, how much of consent can we really give to the parents, and how much of that should we reserve for the state? In my locality, the state is a power-hungry group of individuals who are out for themselves, so we'd rather not give them any more power than they already have. I don't know how it is with you.

Moreover, children under the age of consent also undergo a variety of surgical procedures not related to religious concerns wherein we charge the parents with responsibility - skin tag removals, wart removals, and various other things. Often, it's at the children's instigation, and we leave the parent to decide whether or not the child will come to regret it later, though it's rare than someone complains about a wart removal; and they're often just looking to cash in via legal suit.

Interestingly enough, Cheeze's article about "Mature Minors," was just such a case.

LarryC wrote:

Rezzy above (and many in other posts) are essentially trying to justify how their view is objectively good and "superior," as Seth might say.

I should be offended, but I'm just tired.
So I concede the point. Tradition trumps all. Carve your faith into those that will replace you and revel in the irony that it is the laws written to protect religious freedoms that you are breaking. Who could ever foresee that children would be Germans too? The sly and malicious Germans, that's who.
I wonder if they will modify the Grundgesetze(Articles 2, 4, 6) or just silently exempt children.
I finally tracked down a decent English translation of the GG, so I linked the two relevant protections and the Article that reserves the right of the state to over-rule parental rights.

I was under the impression that the majority of circimcisions are done without anesthetic. Is this not the case? While I would not change my stance on the topic, I would approach it with less gusto if anesthetic were a regular part of the procedure.

Seth wrote:

I was under the impression that the majority of circimcisions are done without anesthetic. Is this not the case? While I would not change my stance on the topic, I would approach it with less gusto if anesthetic were a regular part of the procedure.

I can't say, but if it's done by an MD in the recommended manner, it has to be done with an anesthetic. It's more comfortable for the patient, and safer for everyone all around, since suturing is involved. Way harder and much more dangerous to suture a patient that's squirming from pain. I understand that the traditional Jewish and Muslim practitioners may not use anesthetics.

There's also a difference in technique. The local way is to just nick the dorsal ("upper") part of the foreskin to expose the head, and then to leave the skin on the penis; no skin is actually cut off, though it's still called "circumcision." Amusingly enough, it's known locally as a "German cut."

Seth wrote:

I was under the impression that the majority of circimcisions are done without anesthetic. Is this not the case? While I would not change my stance on the topic, I would approach it with less gusto if anesthetic were a regular part of the procedure.

It is important to remember that there are 3 ways this procedure is performed:
1) Least objectionable: Medical staff 100% of the way. In a surgery, by doctors.
2) Somewhat objectionable: Some medical staff overseeing the procedure by a religious official who sometimes has medical training. Odds are even that facilities are sterile and equipped to deal with complications.
3) 'Traditional': A family member, or religiously appointed pinch-hitter, do their best to approximate a surgery.

Rezzy:

Not contradicting, just sharing. Mainly local flavor and perhaps another view of my perspective.

Spoiler:

There's a 4th way, but it's probably just local variety. In Philippine communities, there is often a shortage of MDs due to various tragic factors. Traditional healers often take the place of medically trained primary care givers, using a mix of whatever information comes their way. "Hilot" or "Arbularyo" are two traditional healer positions that could be involved in a traditional circumcision; one being essential a chiropractor and the other a herbal medicine specialist.

A person who takes over the job of circumcision generally does it for the entire community, usually for decades and/or after apprenticeship. DIYs are generally not performed. Materials are questionably sterilized with an emphasis on local materials and means. The modified procedure is made to be quick to minimize pain. Complications are handled by referral to the local hospital.

You can't imagine how much this irritates us MDs, but since we can't very well go out and circumcise everyone who wants, we just do what we can and accept the rest as the tragic necessities of reality.

LarryC wrote:

Jonman:

Alright. Granted. You're not prevented from believing that Jesus is God; you're just not allowed to go to Mass and pray.

Would that be acceptable?

No. Far from.

Using your analogy, you can go to Mass and pray, but the Church can't charge you an entrance fee to Mass that's paid the flesh of an infant.

Interesting. I would classify that under my 3. A pinch-hitter doing their best to approximate a surgery and punting any complications to the actual medical system.

Jonman:

But were we not arguing belief and practice? That was your core objection to the statement, was it not? That's not an analogy but a direct attack on the statement, which I acknowledged was valid. So, yes, the ruling doesn't affect belief, but it does affect practice. Is it acceptable for the government to dictate religious practice? Going to Mass is a religious practice. That's not an analogy. That's a specific example that the principle would affect.

Pinch-hitter, yes. Religiously appointed, no. Also, generally not a family member. Split the difference? Say, 3.5?

LarryC wrote:

Jonman:

But were we not arguing belief and practice? That was your core objection to the statement, was it not? That's not an analogy but a direct attack on the statement, which I acknowledged was valid. So, yes, the ruling doesn't affect belief, but it does affect practice. Is it acceptable for the government to dictate religious practice? Going to Mass is a religious practice. That's not an analogy. That's a specific example that the principle would affect.

Absolutely it's acceptable for the governement to dictate religious practice, just as it is for them to dictate many other non-religious practices.

If The Church of The Almighty Pruitt requires it's adherents to punch a baby in the face three times a week, I think we'd all agree that it would be just fine for a government to say that that's not acceptable, and to punish any adherents that follow that practice, no?

There's your analogy, pal.

LarryC wrote:

Pinch-hitter, yes. Religiously appointed, no. Also, generally not a family member. Split the difference? Say, 3.5? ;)

Absolutely, if you can rule out any religious motivations for these circumcisions. What is the drive for this flood of males demanding circumcisions that requires a dedicated provider in the community?
Although it might be easier just to remove 'religiously appointed' from my hasty outline of the third method. 'Culturally approved' may be a better fit in any case.

Rezzy:

Probably.

The Church remains scrupulously aloof from the circumcisions locally; probably because it doesn't want to be put in a position where it has to fund them. I found it weird when I found out that there were actually religiously appointed practitioners who only did circumcisions and other religious stuff. Major mind blow.

Locally, circumcision is viewed as a coming-of-age ritual for males; kind of like jumping off of a 5 storey building with nothing but vines to save your life, I suppose. Having the decisiveness and the will to go through the procedure and care for yourself well is considered a mark of manhood (though younger children often opt for it for various reasons). As such, there's strong peer pressure to have been circumcised once you reach 12 or 13; the usual age these days is something like 8-12.

So it's not that it's religious or hygenic (though often used as rationale) that's driving the demand. The practitioners themselves are generally not official church parties, and can be stongly iconoclastic.

Jonman:

I would say that it depends. It's highly unlikely for a practice of that sort to develop as a major cultural touchstone, as its adherents go against biological imperatives, and would likely die out within a generation or so. Theoretically, if babies were so hardy that the practice actually survives, I still say that we ought to leave it to its devices and let its practitioners as they will. Those babies are theirs, not ours; it's infringing on the family unit to interfere.

I'm not saying this just to be contrary. Some of our (my) cultural traditions were expunged on the basis of "seeing to our well-being." I'm very wary of enforcing such sentiments aggressively through force.

Many such dangerous festivals and traditions remain in Japan and probably in your culture as well. You won't see me telling you to knock it off with the business end of a gun.

LarryC wrote:

I'm not saying this just to be contrary. Some of our (my) cultural traditions were expunged on the basis of "seeing to our well-being." I'm very wary of enforcing such sentiments aggressively through force.

Many such dangerous festivals and traditions remain in Japan and probably in your culture as well. You won't see me telling you to knock it off with the business end of a gun.

Right, but is that only because of your belief in "cultural sovereignty" or is it because of something else about you? In other words, anyone likely to be convinced by a "cultural sovereignty" argument is going to be convinced to not do all the bad things you keep bringing up as examples anyway by some other argument. You keep trying to scare us with results that just aren't going to happen.

I believe you experience has not just made you wary, but made you unnecessarily wary, so that you've adopted a belief that is far more extreme than you need to avoid the things you fear.

LarryC wrote:

Many such dangerous festivals and traditions remain in Japan and probably in your culture as well. You won't see me telling you to knock it off with the business end of a gun.

Indeed they do. However, as they say over here, "your freedom to swing your arms around ends where my nose begins."

I'm all for adults consenting to dangerous things FOR THEMSELVES. Hell, I do it myself all the time.

I am an enormous proponent of self-determination. Your religion thinks it's best for you to go without a foreskin? Awesome, when you're old enough to consent to it, you go right ahead and get your foreskin removed.

LarryC wrote:

Those babies are theirs, not ours; it's infringing on the family unit to interfere.

So babies are property, and there is no place for a society to limit what one can do with/to their own children? By this logic, child prostitution is just dandy as long as it's the family that's pimping them out?

But seriously, don't defend that point - I know from your previous postings that that's not your position, I'm just spit-balling to show the holes in that line of reasoning.