Banning circumcision would be the first step in undermining religious freedom in Finland

by , under Enrique

Why is it that anti-immigration parties and politicians are usually making a case or drafting legislation to outlaw circumcision of boys or ban Muslim women from wearing burkas? Is it because they have a soft spot for Muslim or Jewish children and women?

Take a whiff of their arguments and you will find an obvious red herring. The real issue why they are interested in attacking these rights is their  loathing of Muslims.

It is therefore no surprise that an anti-immigration and especially anti-Islam party like the Perussuomalaiset (PS) is so keen to outlaw circumcision of under fifteen-year-old boys. The PS MP spearheading the new law is Vesa-Matti Saarakkala, who doesn’t hide his disdain for Muslims.

Only 21 out of 39 PS MPs have endorsed the draft bill. Some names worth mentioning are Counterjihdists Jussi Halla-aho, Olli Immonen, James Hirvisaari and Juho Eerola.

What the PS MP won’t tell you is that this first measure, to outlaw circumcision, is one of many steps to infringe upon the civil and human rights of different religious groups in Finland.

Saarakkala could learn a lot from the German government, which recently backed new legislation that aims at ending a long legal dispute over circumcision, reports BBC.

The new law, which will be voted on by the end of the year, will make circumcision legal as long it is done by trained experts and that the parents are informed of any medical risks.

Writes the BBC: “The row over circumcision began in June when a court in Cologne said that the ritual circumcision of a four-year-old Muslim boy, in accordance with his parents’ faith, had caused the child bodily harm. The case came to court after a doctor carried out the circumcision, and it led to medical complications.”

After this case, the German Medical Association told doctors in Germany to stop circumcising boys.

The recommendation by the German Medical Association forced Jewish and Muslim groups to challenge the ruling, which they considered “an affront [to] their basic religious and human rights.”

  1. Yossie

    Why do you have a soft spot for this?

    Is it really “Religious freedom” to have someone else to decide on doing permanent bodily alterations on a person that has absolutely no say on the matter?

    What makes this right? Can atheist parents decide on tattoing their kids on what ever they feel like is good? Or maybe even more serious stuff. Does it make it right because its “religious order”?

    Frist step? But for what? Next its the “religious freedom” to decide my daughters must wear veil right? Then its “Religous freedom” that they are not allowed to leave home unaccompanied? Maybe next thing its the “Religious freedom” to have my neighborhood follow sharia law and ban music, alcohol and gender mixing in there for all. Its in my religion right!?

    • Mark

      Yossie

      Is it really “Religious freedom” to have someone else to decide on doing permanent bodily alterations on a person that has absolutely no say on the matter?

      The parents should decide the matter. There are many instances when a child recieves ‘cosmetic’ treatment, both surgical and otherwise, while the child is young, including ears pinned back, body piercings, and even cosmetic alteration of features. We let the parents decide. 160,000 kids had cosmetic surgery in the US last year, for example. The merits of it are up for debate, but the basic freedom of the parents to make decisions on behalf of their children is well-established and accepted within society.

      What makes this right? Can atheist parents decide on tattoing their kids on what ever they feel like is good?

      Ah, back to those Muslims again, eh? Except that it’s Jews as well this time.

      A tattoo is rather different to male circumcision. And in this case too, it’s not an open ended question as to what is done to the child. The end result is the same regardless. A tattoo could come out any number of ways.

      Anyhow, I guess you forget that Egypt’s Christians (Coptics) tattoo their children, and they are by no means the only ones. It is a long-standing tradition.

      Does any parent have the right to impose their own culture and traditions on their children? Most people would say yes, they do.

      Next its the “religious freedom” to decide my daughters must wear veil right?

      Again, parents often choose what their children wear, though kids will decide to some extent as they get older, much to the chagrin of many a parent, I’m sure. The issue about the veil though is whether a woman who is an adult has the right to choose. You can speak about the husband’s right to impose the veil on a woman and most people would agree that a husband does not have that right. But what about the woman herself, does she have the right to choose?

      they are not allowed to leave home unaccompanied?

      One thing is for certain, a veil ban will mean many women will not leave the home, except in darkness, crouched in the back of a taxi. Right or wrong, the veil ban does not help these women.

      Maybe next thing its the “Religious freedom” to have my neighborhood follow sharia law and ban music, alcohol and gender mixing in there for all.

      The vast majority of cultures following Sharia do not ban music. Some cultures ban western music because they think it is polluting their culture, much like you think that the veil is polluting your culture. I guess you two should sit down in a room some time and sort out your differences.

      Finland has enjoyed its own ban on alcohol in the past and many would still like to see it banned again. Certainly, if it was a new drug entering the market today, it almost certainly would not get a license because of its vast negative effects.

      And Finland has its own share of gender segregation too. Just as a simple example, take a walk into the local toy shop Yossie, and you’ll find the boys’ aisle and the girls’ aisle. Muscles and monster trucks on one side, fluffy pink cuddly things, babies, dollies, prams, and ironing boards on the other. I suppose you are opposing these too in your quest for equality?

      Its in my religion right!?

      Most of what you talk about has little to do with religion, actually.

  2. Enrique Tessieri

    Yossie, thank you for raising those important points. However, religion is not the only reason. In the United States, about 60% of circumcisions are carried out for health reasons. In a culturally diverse society we can make lifestyle choices. Does another group have the right to impose their lifestyle values on other groups?

  3. Yossie

    Enrique

    Health reasons are obviously health reason and not the matter of debate here.

    Does it really fall under “lifestyle choice” that someone else chooses to perform permanent operation on you when you have no say in the matter? You can argue that people should have the lifestyle choice of having the operation done on you, when you can make the informed decision (at the age of 15). No one is trying to take this away right?

    How would you limit (or would you limit at all) this right of parents to make permanent “lifestyle choices” on their children?

    • Mark

      Yossie

      How would you limit (or would you limit at all) this right of parents to make permanent “lifestyle choices” on their children?

      Well, you could start by looking at whether the practices in question are part of a thousand year old tradition and older and how integral it is to their identity. Removing the practice can easily be seen as an attack on their religious and ethnic identity. That’s not the end of the matter, but it has to be taken into account. The other issue is the effect on the child, both from a point of view of the consequences and the practice itself.

      Nowadays, the practice is carried out with anaesthetic and the effects have been shown to be quite positive in terms of health. That certainly tips the scales in my view. The same cannot be said for female circumcision, which is why most sensible people object to that, even while defending male circumcision.

  4. match

    I am with Yossie on this one.

    Freedom of religion is never the right to impose your views on other people. Sharing genes with the person who would impose these views on you is not an adequate reason to permit it.

    The parents should decide the matter. There are many instances when a child recieves ‘cosmetic’ treatment, both surgical and otherwise, while the child is young, including ears pinned back, body piercings, and even cosmetic alteration of features.

    Not in Finland. Also, Finnish law explicitly states, that surgery can be done on unconsenting individuals only if it has immediate health concerns.

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    A tattoo is rather different to male circumcision. And in this case too, it’s not an open ended question as to what is done to the child. The end result is the same regardless. A tattoo could come out any number of ways.

    How is it different? The point is, what is allowed to be done unto other people? Why restrict it to circumcision to your own offspring? Why not allow it to be done to complete strangers off the street without their consent?

    And before you go all slippery-slope on me, I realize it’s an unlikely scenario, but the line has to be drawn and when you permit bodily harm to be inflicted on other your children, the line can be moved beyond that. For instance, are you allowed to circumcise adopted children? How old does the adopted child have to be in order for circumcision to not be ok?

    Anyhow, I guess you forget that Egypt’s Christians (Coptics) tattoo their children, and they are by no means the only ones. It is a long-standing tradition.

    The world is full of barbaric rituals. Their existence is no reason to make adopt them in other parts of the world. Witches are still burned in some parts of Africa. It’s a long-standing tradition.

    The point is, so what?

    Does any parent have the right to impose their own culture and traditions on their children? Most people would say yes, they do.

    It depends on the issue at hand. In Finland you aren’t allowed to slap your child if they misbehave. You should, however, be allowed to cut off bits of their bodies?
    The fact is, no one can guarantee that circumcision would be done because of religious reasons. What if someone’s kid misbehaves so much, and since they can’t be spanked, parents resort to surgery because it’s allowed by law? The point is, this aspect has to be considered. How religious do you have to be in order to be allowed circumcise people? On a scale from 1 to 10, what is good enough? Or is it enough to just convert to something and voilá, you can exact physical harm on your offspring?

    Telling your children about your culture and traditions is quite different from branding them for life like cattle. Don’t tell me you can’t make this distinction.

    Imposing your views and your culture on your kids is something that can’t be stopped. However, this doesn’t have anything to do with ritual mutilation.

    In the United States, about 60% of circumcisions are carried out for health reasons. In a culturally diverse society we can make lifestyle choices. Does another group have the right to impose their lifestyle values on other groups?

    If circumcision is deemed to be medically relevant, there is no reason why not to perform this. However, it is medically unsound to make this judgement on infants. Tight foreskins are spotted when you are way older and even then surgery isn’t necessary..

    Also, these circumcisions are performed by medical professionals. Not clergy.

    Well, you could start by looking at whether the practices in question are part of a thousand year old tradition and older and how integral it is to their identity

    And I personally know many atheist former-muslims, who are extremely pissed off because some third party says it’s ok for their parents to impose these “traditions” (religious views) on them.

    The identity-argument is no argument at all. It leads off with the assumption, that you belong to whatever group you were born into for the rest of your life. Hogwash! I was born a christian, if you came up to me and told me it’s a part of my identity (how would YOU know a goddamn thing about me?) I’d tell you to fuck-off.

    Nowadays, the practice is carried out with anaesthetic and the effects have been shown to be quite positive in terms of health

    There are as many studies against this ritual for health reasons as there are for it.

    Why, also, is it necessary for these religious nuts to start bringing in health concerns in the first place?

    If circumcision has positive health effects, then why is it that not a single doctor or medical association recommends circumcision across the board? Should these effects benefit only religious people, why?

    Also, I’d like to point out, that circumcision isn’t only done on muslims and jews. In many parts of the U.S. it’s considered normal practice even among christians.

    Nowadays, the practice is carried out with anaesthetic and the effects have been shown to be quite positive in terms of health.
    The same cannot be said for female circumcision, which is why most sensible people object to that, even while defending male circumcision.

    If female genital mutilation were done with an anaesthetic, would you get on board?

    It also has positive health effects, just as male circumcision.

    Also, surgical removal of the lips has been shown to reduce the risk of gingivitis.

    Male genital mutilation causes erectile dysfunction, lack of sex-drive, impotence, subjects to a risk of infection…

    The so-called “positive effects” usually concern STD’s and prostate cancer. Neither of which are a feasible risk for infants. So circumcision has more negative effects than positive health effects on those who have to withstand it without their consent.

    The fact is, there is no reason to permit circumcision, because it’s already illegal to harm your child. Circumcision has no health benefit and surgery should never be done without a sound medical reason. Unnecessary surgery places children at unnecessary risk. Just last year a child died in Norway because of an infection he got from this unnecessary operation. No tradition is worth this.

    Let’s make the world a little less barbaric by getting rid of barbaric customs. It’s a bad argument to do something just because it’s been done before.

    Civilized society does not institutionalize or sanction the infliction of bodily harm on any of its members, and certainly not on those who are not capable of defending themselves.

    I can also talk about the so-called “positive effects” circumcision has with the transmission of the HIV-virus.

    Some studies claim that circumcision is a feasible protection against contracting HIV. This is complete bullshit, because the figures they show are anything from 50% upwards. If this were the case, we would see a DRAMATIC decrease in the vectors of transmission of HIV in regions where most people are circumcised, instead, we have the exact opposite.

    In contrast, the polio vaccine is only about 70% effective and the virus does NOT require intimate contact in order to transmit. The polio vaccine still managed to effectively eradicate the disease within a generation.

    I repeat, if the numbers provided by these studies are true, then we should see a dramatic decrease in the vectors of transmission of the HIV-virus in regions where most people are circumcised. Even more so, because it requires intimate contact to transmit.

    Also, prostate cancer is a disease of old men, not infants. We don’t remove everyone’s appendixes either. Guess why?

    I’d like for assholes justifying ritual mutilation with health reasons to can it. It pisses me off to no end, and the “data” usually comes from clergy and has absolutely nothing to do with medicine whatsoever.

    You can, however, argue your identity-aspect. Leave medicine out of it.

    • Mark

      match

      Sharing genes with the person who would impose these views on you is not an adequate reason to permit it.

      Be realistic for just one second, parents all the time impose their culture, traditions and ideas on their children, even if their idea is NOT to pass on any knowledge, that is still THEIR idea. So, as a first principle, this is a non-starter. We might as well accept that parents want and DO in fact attempt to pass on the traditions of their culture onto their children, and we see this heritage and legacy as mostly being positive, though sometimes negative too.

      How is it different?

      It is different in that the outcome is unknown, other than an ink drawing would be left on the skin. With circumcision, the outcome is known, and so it is more open to a judgement on its merits.

      Why restrict it to circumcision to your own offspring? Why not allow it to be done to complete strangers off the street without their consent?

      Two things there. First, you are free to ‘advocate’ to have all male offspring circumcised, that is your democratic right, even if you cannot persuade everyone on its merits. Second, we are talking about a custom that fits to a religious and ethnic identity, though clearly the boundary between the two in this case is somewhat blurred.

      when you permit bodily harm to be inflicted on other your children, the line can be moved beyond that.

      As a first principle, this is a non-issue. Doctors already have the permission of parents to perform operations (‘bodily harm’) that are to a large extent cosmetic on children. One of my children had his the skin under his tongue snipped, with no anaesthetic when only a couple of days old, to avoid being ‘tongue tied’ later.

      I don’t know the exact laws in Finland, and though you quote them, I’m not sure they are totally relevant to this, because as far as I know, circumcision is legal in Finland, and so other laws must also come into play here.

      The world is full of barbaric rituals. Their existence is no reason to make adopt them in other parts of the world. Witches are still burned in some parts of Africa. It’s a long-standing tradition.

      Barbaric from whose perspective? If the issue is one of consent, then it’s not the practice of tattooing per se that is barbaric. Painful, yes? But piercing your ear is painful, as is smashing your sledge into a tree at the bottom of the snowy hill, but still doesn’t stop you buying a sledge. Indeed, by referring to other people’s traditions as ‘barbaric’ pretty much shows how superior you think yourself to other traditions.

      Their existence is no reason to make adopt them in other parts of the world. Witches are still burned in some parts of Africa. It’s a long-standing tradition.

      And the vast majority of people condemn such practices, myself included. I just don’t see this as ‘barbaric’.

      You should, however, be allowed to cut off bits of their bodies?

      If your argument is so strong, why do you have to present it in such vague and seemingly horror-laden terms? Let’s stick to the issue here, we are not talking cutting off random ‘bits of bodies’, we are talking about cutting off a part of the foreskin on the penis. Actually, having your ears pinned back (which happened to both my sisters when they were 6 years old) is much more of an ‘operation’.

      The fact is, no one can guarantee that circumcision would be done because of religious reasons. What if someone’s kid misbehaves so much, and since they can’t be spanked, parents resort to surgery because it’s allowed by law?

      Wow, that’s some imagination you have. Well, why doesn’t it happen now, because circumcision is legal in Finland, no?

      The point is, this aspect has to be considered.

      Hardly!

      How religious do you have to be in order to be allowed circumcise people? On a scale from 1 to 10, what is good enough?

      Well, perhaps you should do a survey in the US, where many parents are not religious and yet still prefer to have it done to their boys. I’m pretty sure it’s isn’t to do with punishment though, so good luck with that argument….

      Also, these circumcisions are performed by medical professionals. Not clergy.

      CPR is often performed by ‘lay people’, would you like that banned too? Still, the issue here is perhaps one of licensing, to ensure that whoever carries it out adheres to proper hygiene standards.

      There are as many studies against this ritual for health reasons as there are for it.

      I would dispute this, just from my own research. If it is as you say, then it’s an issue that is undecided medically, meaning that whatever consequences observed tend to be slight and affecting small numbers, otherwise the research would be more unequivocal.

      And I personally know many atheist former-muslims, who are extremely pissed off because some third party says it’s ok for their parents to impose these “traditions” (religious views) on them.

      I know many aetheists who are pissed off about a lot of things their parents did to them personally in the name of religion, and which society continues to do in the name of religion. In fact, I would guess that the potential negative psychological effects of some religious thought is much more of an issue (take the Catholic guilt trips…) than the consequences of circumcision. As someone who is himself ‘naturally’ circumscised (as my birthing doctor described it to my mum), then I don’t see too many drawbacks, though I do recognise I ‘look’ different to some other men. I look different in many other ways too, so it’s not really something I can do much about. I doubt we’ll ever all be exactly the same.

      The identity-argument is no argument at all.

      Well, it isn’t if you pay it absolutely no attention and completely dismiss the rights of religious people to their own identity even before we’ve started the discussion. Now who is imposing on who?

      If female genital mutilation were done with an anaesthetic, would you get on board?

      It also has positive health effects, just as male circumcision.

      No, I would not get on board. The simple fact of the matter is that female circumcision is a far more open and shut case. There are no positive health effects of female circumcision that any doctor has tried to argue in peer reviewed journals. You are welcome to try and find some. The same cannot be said of male circumcision.

      Trying to create equivalence between male and female circumcision is just intellectually lazy. And seeing as you are not lazy in typing words on this page, I would say that you are more towards trying to maintain some kind of self-deception on this issue rather than merely being lazy.

      Also, surgical removal of the lips has been shown to reduce the risk of gingivitis.

      Wow, you are so clever, let’s all bow down and worship the amazingness of ‘match’ who pulls these zingers out of thin air! When you’ve found a peer-reviewed article that discusses removal of lips for the sake of reduced risk of gingivitis, let me know.

      Male genital mutilation causes erectile dysfunction, lack of sex-drive, impotence, subjects to a risk of infection…

      Sources please. Also, as you use the word ’causes’, I’m assuming some kind of control studies, and not merely regression analysis studies of cohorts, where confounding factors in a population size are notoriously difficult to control for. Speaking as someone who has very little foreskin, I cannot say that I’ve ever hd erectile dysfunction. In fact, if anything, it’s a little too sensitive at times, without the skin covering. And I have also noticed that risk of infection in most studies on this issue has been associated with possession of a foreskin and not absence of it.

      Still, you can pull whatever argument you like out of your arse, it’s very clear you take an ideological stand here, and not one based on knowledge or experience, or even one that begins by respecting traditions, ethnic or religious, wherever at all possible. It’s not all ‘always’ case scenario for me, so don’t go down that ‘slippery slope’ match. Oh, you did already!

      I can also talk about the so-called “positive effects” circumcision has with the transmission of the HIV-virus.

      Interesting that you choose the absolute weakest hypothesis in regard to positive benefits of circumcision. Now why would you do that?

      The fact is, there is no reason to permit circumcision, because it’s already illegal to harm your child.

      Not in your world perhaps, where I’m assuming these traditions have no meaning. And of course, good little democrat that you are, you are not trying to impose your world view on others, are you? OH, you ARE?! The idea that it’s ‘illegal to harm your child’ is vague and relates to absolutely no specific law on the statute. The point is that circumcision is legal in Finland and therefore provision for it is made in law, I assume.

      I repeat, if the numbers provided by these studies are true, then we should see a dramatic decrease in the vectors of transmission of the HIV-virus in regions where most people are circumcised

      Only an idiot would advocate for circumcision on the basis that it would stop HIV or Polio. Yes, I know there are idiots in the world.

      I’d like for assholes justifying ritual mutilation with health reasons to can it. It pisses me off to no end, and the “data” usually comes from clergy and has absolutely nothing to do with medicine whatsoever.

      Of course, you would. Life would be so much simpler if people were just more like you, wouldn’t it? Now where have I heard that before?

      And don’t pretend that you are some kind of medical person, because I can clearly see that you are not. You simply have ‘Google’ at your disposal. If you really value science and objectivity, as most doctors and medical professionals do, you would have done a damn sight better job in presenting us with a proper medical review of the literature.

      Ear piercing is ‘ritual mutilation’. Do you object to that equally strongly? I didn’t think so.

  5. match

    It is different in that the outcome is unknown, other than an ink drawing would be left on the skin. With circumcision, the outcome is known, and so it is more open to a judgement on its merits.

    The outcome is not guaranteed. It’s an unnecessary risk-laden operation where plenty can and does go wrong.

    . Second, we are talking about a custom that fits to a religious and ethnic identity, though clearly the boundary between the two in this case is somewhat blurred.

    Honor-violence can be considered a part of religious and ethnic identity. You still can’t beat your kids even if they socialize with members of other ethnicities.

    As a first principle, this is a non-issue. Doctors already have the permission of parents to perform operations (‘bodily harm’) that are to a large extent cosmetic on children. One of my children had his the skin under his tongue snipped, with no anaesthetic when only a couple of days old, to avoid being ‘tongue tied’ later.

    This is a medical operation with a medical basis. It has absolutely zero to do with circumcision.

    For the record, my tongue was snipped too when I was little. It wasn’t done in order to make me feel more a part of some community or out of tradition. It also was done by a medical professional, not a cleric.

    Barbaric from whose perspective? If the issue is one of consent, then it’s not the practice of tattooing per se that is barbaric. Painful, yes? But piercing your ear is painful, as is smashing your sledge into a tree at the bottom of the snowy hill, but still doesn’t stop you buying a sledge. Indeed, by referring to other people’s traditions as ‘barbaric’ pretty much shows how superior you think yourself to other traditions.

    Their existence is no reason to make adopt them in other parts of the world. Witches are still burned in some parts of Africa. It’s a long-standing tradition.

    And the vast majority of people condemn such practices, myself included. I just don’t see this as ‘barbaric’.

    And the fact that you don’t consider burning other people barbaric shows your utter disregard for human life and suffering.

    See? I can resort to making personal comments, too. I don’t stick around for these kinds of remarks as my doctor tells me I have to stay away from stressful situations and I don’t take internet name-calling well. I’d like to be able to continue this discussion, but if these remarks are what I can expect, then I won’t.

    I’d ask we refrain from personal remarks as we’ll soon be engaged in infantile name-calling at the expense of the issue.

    If your argument is so strong, why do you have to present it in such vague and seemingly horror-laden terms? Let’s stick to the issue here, we are not talking cutting off random ‘bits of bodies’, we are talking about cutting off a part of the foreskin on the penis.

    I’m trying to point out, that it might as well be random bits of the body. For some reason the penis is something you can operate on, but not other parts of the body. There is no reason why it is so, other than tradition. But you could argue anything and everything with tradition- therefore I personally consider it a lousy argument.

    Well, perhaps you should do a survey in the US, where many parents are not religious and yet still prefer to have it done to their boys. I’m pretty sure it’s isn’t to do with punishment though, so good luck with that argument….

    As I pointed out in my earlier post, this is considered normal practice in America. Again, no medical basis for the operation itself.

    CPR is often performed by ‘lay people’, would you like that banned too? Still, the issue here is perhaps one of licensing, to ensure that whoever carries it out adheres to proper hygiene standards.

    CPR? You would compare circumcision to CPR?

    As someone who is himself ‘naturally’ circumscribed (as my birthing doctor described it to my mum), then I don’t see too many drawbacks, though I do recognise I ‘look’ different to some other men. I look different in many other ways too, so it’s not really something I can do much about. I doubt we’ll ever all be exactly the same.

    Again, this has nothing whatsoever to do with circumcision.

    It would, if at birth your doctor would have put you into some kind of cosmetic surgery to “undo” your natural birth state.

    Well, it isn’t if you pay it absolutely no attention and completely dismiss the rights of religious people to their own identity even before we’ve started the discussion. Now who is imposing on who?

    Religious people have the right to be religious. Again, freedom of religion is not the freedom to inflict bodily harm (that’s exactly what it is, regardless of a succesful surgery or not) on other people without their consent. You can do whatever you want to yourself when you’re old enough. An infant is not.

    When you’ve found a peer-reviewed article that discusses removal of lips for the sake of reduced risk of gingivitis, let me know.

    And as I stated before, there are as many scientific studies for and against circumcision. Again, if the medical aspects are so beneficial, then why do no medical associations or doctors recommend circumcision for everyone?

    Sources please.

    http://newborns.stanford.edu/CircComplications.html
    Stanford school of medicine.

    Oh right, I forgot!

    I would dispute this, just from my own research.

    Silly me!

    On a more serious note, I’ll admit I just ran a quick google. Feel free to do the same. The problem is, as I stated, there are as many for circumcision as there are against.

    Interesting that you choose the absolute weakest hypothesis in regard to positive benefits of circumcision. Now why would you do that?

    I jumped the gun on this, that’s why. I’m glad to see, though, that you’re not arguing it. Kudos for that! You have no idea how often I’ve run into this one. However, I do apologize. I had a previous misconception of you being one of said idiots.

    And don’t pretent that you are some kind of medical person, because I can clearly see that you are not

    You’re right. I’m not a medical person. I find it paradoxical, though, that I would have to be a medical person in order to talk about circumcision, but I don’t have to be a medical person in order to perform it. However, as you asked:

    If you really value science and objectivety, as most doctors and medical professionals do, you would have done a damn sight better job in presenting us with a proper medical review of the literature.

    Lakiluonnos on ristiriidassa lääkärin etiikan ja Suomen perustuslain turvaaman yksilön koskemattomuuden kanssa. Lasta ei tule altistaa riskejä sisältävään leikkaustoimenpiteeseen, josta ei koidu terveydellistä hyötyä. Uskonnollisen rituaalin suorittaminen ei kuulu lääkärin virkatehtäviin. Poikien uskonnollisista tai kulttuurillisista syistä tapahtuvat ympärileikkaukset eivät kuulu julkisen terveydenhuollon tehtäviin eikä niitä tule kustantaa sen varoin.

    http://www.laakariliitto.fi/uutiset/kannanotot/ymparileikkaus.html

    Granted, the Finnish lääkäriliitto is opposed to having circumcision done on taxpayers expense, but they also make it clear that children should not be placed under an unnecessary, risky operation.

    Ear piercing is ‘ritual mutilation’. Do you object to that equally strongly? I didn’t think so.

    Don’t argue straw-men. I object to every unnecessary surgery done on unconsenting people. If piercing the ears of a new-born were the issue at hand, then I’d fervently be against that too.

    Don’t make me out as somekind of an islamophobe or anti-semite. I can see that’s where you’re trying to take this with that argument and I won’t go there.

    • JusticeDemon

      It’s an unnecessary risk-laden operation where plenty can and does go wrong.

      Linnanmäki Amusement Park comes to mind immediately. So does ice hockey.

      Perhaps the European Union should ban ice hockey on grounds of health and safety. Or perhaps it would be enough simply to confine this risk-laden activity to consenting adults. 18 is a good age to start playing ice-hockey. Turn pro at 30, retire at 50.

      This is a medical operation with a medical basis. It has absolutely zero to do with circumcision.

      For the record, my tongue was snipped too when I was little. It wasn’t done in order to make me feel more a part of some community or out of tradition. It also was done by a medical professional, not a cleric.

      What is the specific medical reason and justification for this procedure? I can see plenty of social reasons why it might be desirable not to have a style of speech that is significantly different from the norm, but how do these social aspects create any medical justification for a surgical procedure? Should not the Finns instead modify their language so that no children need to be mutilated in order to speak it?

      As a fairly commonplace, painful and radical procedure in paediatric medicine that is often conducted purely on social and cosmetic grounds, orthognathic surgery takes some beating. Is this really necessary, given that Lady Gaga has managed to turn the buck-toothed look into a fashion statement? People lived entirely fulfilled lives long before malocclusion was identified as a problem that required someone to cut into your mouth.

      See? I can resort to making personal comments, too. I don’t stick around for these kinds of remarks as my doctor tells me I have to stay away from stressful situations and I don’t take internet name-calling well. I’d like to be able to continue this discussion, but if these remarks are what I can expect, then I won’t.

      A splendid new twist on the standard strategy of synthetic outrage. Let’s bear in mind that your overlong opening contribution to this discussion ended with this explosion of entirely gratuitous stress-generation:

      I’d like for assholes justifying ritual mutilation with health reasons to can it. It pisses me off to no end

      So basically you are doing what so many have done before you. Barging in to express contentious opinions, getting battered and bettered in debate and then coming over all offended like. The only difference now is that you are also pretending to be some poor sensitive soul who can’t take the heat in a kitchen of your own design.

  6. match

    Linnanmäki Amusement Park comes to mind immediately. So does ice hockey.

    So you’re saying that going to the amusement park and ice hockey are the same thing as having your foreskin surgically removed without your consent?

    That is a rather poor analogy. Again, it would be feasible if you forced your kids to go to Linnanmäki or play ice hockey against their will and they’d get hurt. Try putting your kid kicking and screaming on a roller-coaster and tell me the engineer had no qualms with it. Someone will call the police and you will be charged. Social services would also come-a-calling.

    Perhaps the European Union should ban ice hockey on grounds of health and safety. Or perhaps it would be enough simply to confine this risk-laden activity to consenting adults. 18 is a good age to start playing ice-hockey. Turn pro at 30, retire at 50.

    Again, if you’d read my original post you’d see that the law prohibits surgery without immediate health benefits for uncensenting individuals.

    What is the specific medical reason and justification for this procedure?

    “Ankyloglossia can affect feeding, speech, and oral hygiene[3] as well as have mechanical/social effects.”

    If there were a risk of death or serious injury with this operation, then there would be more discussion on it.

    In no way comparable to circumcision. Again, I’d like to point out, that just last year in Norway an infant died because of herpes he contracted while being circumcised. Go ahead and google the death toll with ankyloglossia, then let’s discuss that.

    getting battered and bettered in debate

    This is rich! So far I’ve produced what the law says on unnecessary surgery, the Finnish lääkäriliitto’s statement on what medical professionals in Finland think about circumcision, and a detailed list of the very real complications of circumcision.

    Here’s what you’ve produced:

    I would dispute this, just from my own research.

    You really tore me a new one!

    • JusticeDemon

      Both Linnanmäki Amusement Park and junior ice-hockey expose children to risks. Neither of these activities is in any respect essential, and so these risks are unnecessary. Children are the principal target of Linnanmäki Amusement Park and considerable advertising, parental and peer pressure is brought to bear to persuade children to attend. Many are taken in the company of older siblings. Ice hockey and skating sports in general are often included in school activities. If your criterion for lack of consent is “kicking and screaming” before the activity in question, then how does this apply to circumcision in the sense of Gen. 17:9-14?

      The point is that activities like active contact sport deliberately put children in harm’s way, often at an age when they are unable to give informed consent based on an appraisal of hazards and potential consequences. A mother who sends her children to ice-hockey practice or allows them to be indoctrinated by adult propaganda into believing that there is any value or merit in this dangerous activity is taking a far greater risk with their lives than is involved in any ceremony whereby an 8-day old infant is formally welcomed into a five thousand year-old tradition embodying the core convictions and moral orientation of millions of people.

      By this reasoning ice hockey should obviously be made unlawful for children. This could be implemented first in England (as it is obvious that children should play cricket instead), and once the principle has been established, then we must force the Finns to abandon their barbaric and dangerous practices. Arguments about the national heritage and character obviously carry no weight when some kid could lose a tooth or break an arm.

      We can also outlaw the practice of dismissing analogies without examining them.

      You were asked for a specific medical reason and justification for a surgical procedure performed at birth that is intended solely to discourage the development of an unusual style of speech. All you can offer is a clumsily cut and pasted (right down to the dangling footnote marker) generality about all of the possible drawbacks of this condition including extreme cases. To throw your own objection back at you:

      it is medically unsound to make this judgement on infants

      What tests were made on you at birth to determine the impact on “feeding”?

      No doubt you would have faced a comparable risk if the procedure had been conducted with a rusty razor blade, but you are trying to argue that a 5,000 year-old religious ceremony is wrong even when performed under medically approved conditions. If this was the case for your Norwegian example, then we must also ban the operation that was performed on you and on Mark entirely for aesthetic reasons.

    • Mark

      match

      This is rich! So far I’ve produced what the law says on unnecessary surgery, the Finnish lääkäriliitto’s statement on what medical professionals in Finland think about circumcision, and a detailed list of the very real complications of circumcision.

      I’m sure that’s how you see it. I guess you forgot to cut and paste the Lääkäriliitto’s statement on the matter, though please don’t, as it’s long and easily accessible on the net. A couple of points I want to make about the Lääkäriliitto statement:

      1) their objection is based they say on ‘medical ethics’ alone. In other words, the broader ethics of ‘religious freedom’ carries little weight. Indeed, they specifically cite the WWII Nuremberg trials and the subsequent World Medical Association’s right to follow medical ethics at all times even when in conflict with local laws and customs, which was an attempt to avoid medicine ever again being used to experiment inhummanely on humans, as done by the Nazis.

      By medical ethics, they mean to consider the issue entirely from a strict appraisal of any potential risks to the child and any well proven health benefits. As the evidence on health benefits is not conclusive, they cannot be taken into the ethical consideration, while the risks will include also those risks were the practice to be done in a backstreet barber’s shop with a filthy shaving blade. On the basis of such strict medical ethics alone, ear piercing, cosmetic surgeries, even some dental procedures would likewise be banned, as carrying risk and no proven ‘health’ benefit.

      I think Lääkäriliitto have made an unusually narrow interpretation of medical ethics and indeed of ‘health’. Health should and normally does include mental health, though this aspect is only considered by them from the point of view of the potential negative experiences of living with male circumcision and not from any postive social aspects such as identity and familial affirmation.

      It’s worth pointing out that medical ethics in the general sense seeks to establish whether there is sufficient justification for a procedure or experiment involving humans, but they are not always justified on the basis of ‘additional’ health benefits alone. Social and economic aspects are quite normally part of the deliberations of ethics committees. A new drug that replaces an existing drug may bring no greater expected health benefit. Likewise, an ethics committee may give consent for a clinical trial in order to establish ‘no risk’, while itself being a risky procedure. It is clearly misleading to give the impression that medical ethics starts from a position that ‘no health benefit’ requires there to be ‘no risk’ to be sufficiently justifiable, at least in principle.

      2) although they claim to approach the matter purely from the point of view of medical ethics, they do seek support from the Finnish constitution and various other international rights frameworks. They therefore interpret the right to ‘integrity’ to mean physical integrity in a very strict sense, and interpret circumcision to be a violation of that integrity. They even go so far as to refer to the removal of ‘healthy flesh’.

      However, I would say that it is stretching the concept of ‘integrity’ to suggest a smaller foreskin constitutes a breaking of the fundamental integrity of the human form. Removing a leg, maybe, or an eye, or a clitoris, but not a part of the covering of the penis, which, even by natural design, often comes in varying lengths anyway. I recognise that this is open to interpretation, but as someone who lives naturally with almost no foreskin by natural design, perhaps I’m biased in thinking that it’s no big deal (excuse my frankness).

      Taking their point to its logical conclusion would reveal even more inconsistencies. In many ‘cosmetic’ surgeries, carried out legally on children by health professionals, healthy flesh or body tissue is likewise removed, from jaw bone to subcutaneous fat. Indeed, even giving a blood sample can, using the same strict criteria, be considered to be a similar unjustifiable risk in some instances.

      But most significantly, under this criteria, abortion would be condemned as unethical.

      In abortion for social reasons, perfectly healthy tissue is removed from the woman without the ‘consent’ of the fetus at the sole request of the parent.

      If the lääkärilitto wish to go down this road in their strict interpretation of medical ethics, then it should surely come out in opposition to abortion. Many of the related issues are indeed similar, in that the greater and potentially fatal medical risks of abortion come when the practice is carried out away from medical settings. Also, the vast majority of abortions are carried out in Finland for ‘social reasons’ at the request of the patient and not on strict doctor’s advice.

      This glaring inconsistency in its position might well come back to haunt the Lääkäriliitto.

      3) part of the objection is that medical procedures should not be part of religious ceremonies. That argument in itself is circular, as it automatically precludes circumcision regardless of any other considerations.

      4) they are concerned that allowing the practice to be done under a medical jurisdiction implies the doctor has called for the procedure and the parents are merely consenting, and also, importantly, that the costs (and insurance I imagine) of the procedure are therefore borne by the health care system. Clearly this is not so much a question of ethics but of economics.

      5) They suggest religious communities be persuaded to abandon the practice, but that in the meantime, a compromise may be to postpone the procedure until the boy is able to give consent. A difficulty with this though is that the older the boy, the more expensive the procedure and also the more necessary it will be for the procedure to be done within a health setting. Likewise, clearly compared to infants, young boys are much more likely to find the procedure distressing, both through anticipation and possible discomfort. Likewise, the psychological impact could be far greater if carried out under social pressure when the boy is in the 6-10 age range.

      I do think that one argument that lääkäriliitto bring up has some merit to it. They call for further study into the social effects, particular negative, for men who have undergone the procedure. I think that if there is a debate to be had, and if religious communities were to develop some flexibility over this practice, then it will perhaps find its social justifications through the testimonies of the men affected by it. It is interesting that lääkäriliitto point out that by allowing the practice to be performed within medical settings will likely lead to further entrenchment of the practice. Indeed this is the case with secular circumcision in the US.

      What also needs to be considered within the ethical debate, in addition to any strict or loose interpretation of medical ethics (and I don’t blame doctors for erring on the side of strictness, especially in this day and age of medical costs and medical insurance) is a fuller debate about the ethics of religious freedom, as and of itself in today’s society. Doctor’s as respected ‘experts’ should not be viewed as giving a complete picture of the ethics involved. As JD rightly points out, a doctor seeks to diminish risks to health, while much of society seeks to experience risk for entertainment value alone. Issues of identity should not always be considered to be always subsumed to medical ethics. It’s not about closing our ears to what doctors have to say, but rather, opening our ears to what the people affected by such any proposed change also have to say. At some point we have to balance the right of one portion of society to tell another portion of society how they should act.

      What I absolutely object to in this debate is that it’s often forwarded by political activists on the Far Right who also happen to have, as if by accident, an anti-Muslim, and historically, an anti-Semitic agenda, both of which groups would most obviously be affected by any change in policy. An accident? Yeah, right….

      We have to be extremely skeptical towards such manipulations of this debate. Indeed, if these parties or individuals are going to be consistent, then I suppose they will also oppose abortion on the same grounds. Let them come out and say exactly that in black and white, if it’s merely a matter of being consistent in our medical ethics and not part of their broader anti-multicultural agenda.

  7. khr

    The point is that circumcision is legal in Finland and therefore provision for it is made in law, I assume.

    I don’t think there’s any particular law allowing it (JD likely knows better), but traditionally it has not been prosecuted. And when ending in court, it has not resulted in a punishment because it has not been considered a crime in the past (a little bit of common law like judgement – those are somewhat unusual in Finland).

    (Personally I consider it a human rights violation. Just because it’s not among the worst atrocities people inflict on each other should not be enough of a reason to legalise it using tradition or religion as the excuse).

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