The Huge Cost Of Male Genital Mutilation, Ctd

A reader counters my analysis of these numbers: On the issue of circumcision, you are biased and unbalanced. You call circumcision “male genital mutilation”. OK, that’s a bias you are entitled to. Attack circumcision as a moral abomination if you must, but eliminating circumcision will do little for healthcare costs. You cite its $1.8 billion … Continue reading The Huge Cost Of Male Genital Mutilation, Ctd

The Huge Cost Of Male Genital Mutilation

A new report (pdf) on operating room procedures in the US finds that the simple procedure of circumcision is still the second twentieth most costly procedure over all, largely because its prevalence makes it the second most common OR procedure in America (after cesarian section). There are, we discover, 1.1 million genital mutilations performed on infant … Continue reading The Huge Cost Of Male Genital Mutilation

Cologne’s Court Bans Infant Male Genital Mutilation, Ctd

Raphael Magarik defends male genital mutilation on religious grounds: Judaism, at its core, posits that the central facts of a person’s identity, a person’s core existential commitments, are not chosen. You don’t get to choose whether you’re Jewish. This flies against an American tradition of radical autonomy, one that dates, if not to Roger Williams, … Continue reading Cologne’s Court Bans Infant Male Genital Mutilation, Ctd

Cologne’s Court Bans Infant Male Genital Mutilation, Ctd

A reader draws a compelling parallel: One of my sons was done at birth, as were 90+% of baby boys at that time. Our younger son was not done because my husband and I had changed our minds about the procedure. (There was never a religious mandate.) Younger son now wishes he had been circumcised … Continue reading Cologne’s Court Bans Infant Male Genital Mutilation, Ctd

Cologne’s Court Bans Infant Male Genital Mutilation, Ctd

Walter Russell Mead objects to my use of "male genital mutilation" as a synonym for circumcision: Sullivan clearly has no idea what a nasty and hateful thing this is to say about a primary obligation of someone else’s faith and he would react strongly and justifiably against comparable slurs made either against his faith or … Continue reading Cologne’s Court Bans Infant Male Genital Mutilation, Ctd

Cologne’s Court Bans Infant Male Genital Mutilation, Ctd


Samuel Goldman defends a more subtle version of Walter Russell Mead's bloviation that Cologne "banned Judaism":

There’s no indication of specific hostility to Judaism here. Nevertheless, the ruling is the logical consequence of a concept of religion implied by Protestantism and articulated philosophically by Benedict Spinoza and John Locke. According to that view, religion is rooted in private belief. Associations and rituals are legitimate only to the extent that they are submitted to voluntarily by consenting adults, who can withdraw their consent at any time. And religious obligations can never trump the civil law.

There are good reasons that this position was appealing in the 17th and 18th centuries. Trouble is, we’ve forgotten not only that it doesn’t fit many older traditions, including Judaism and Roman Catholicism, but that it was specifically designed to exclude them. The understanding of religion’s legitimate sphere that informed the Cologne court’s ruling, in other words, is not theologico-politically neutral. It was, and remains, a polemical concept that elevates state over church, individual over community, consent over continuity in ways that traditional Catholics and Jews find hard to accept.

Oh, please. It was more appealing in the 17th and 18th centuries than now? And what's this about "traditional" Catholicism? Vatican II – the authoritative position – accepted the principle of individual conscience as the core of religious freedom. And do we really want to live in a world before Locke and Spinoza? Really? In a follow-up post, Mead makes related points:

Besides the circumcision controversy, and there are activists in the US who would also like to see the banning of child (male) circumcision, there is a movement in many countries to ban the methods of killing animals required to comply with Jewish and Islamic law.

Way to change the subject. Chuck Lane calls the law a "blatant affront to the Muslim and Jewish peoples," even though nothing of the kind was intended or stated in the ruling. In classic faux above-it-all tone, Chuck also accuses me of "ignorance" and "indecency" and a pattern of both that is so endemic that rebutting it would be "a full time job". Any substantiation for this? Of course not.  On this specific case, I did not get the law wrong; I did not infer anything incorrect from it; I did not mischaracterize its import. There are no errors of fact or logic in my post, and Lane should withdraw his unsubstantiated slur. Yes, I oppose the policies of the Netanyahu administration, and if he wants to engage my arguments on that, rather than throwing mere slurs, he's welcome. He has one decent point:

Cologne’s Court Bans Infant Male Genital Mutilation

Including for religious reasons. Walter Russell Mead’s response is beyond self-parody: To ban infant circumcision is essentially to make the practice of Judaism illegal in Germany; it is now once again a crime to be a Jew in the Reich … Perhaps those convicted of wrongful circumcision could be required to wear a yellow star? … Continue reading Cologne’s Court Bans Infant Male Genital Mutilation

Dissents Of The Day: Male Genital Mutilation


Vehement disagreement over my views on MGM has become a perennial feature of the Dish (I addressed the latest batch just last month). Another reader writes:

I was taken aback when you wrote:

I support a religious exemption for Muslims and Jews. But routine mutilation for no reason at all? Let a man decide when he's old enough to make the decision about his own body, and what others may do to it without his consent.

Two problems with this:  (1) there are compelling individual and public health reasons to encourage male circumcision; and (2) infant circumcision is significantly safer than adult circumcision.  (Both points are well documented in this fact sheet by the CDC.)  The risk-benefit calculus here is not unlike that in deciding whether to vaccinate a child.  In both cases, the need for "consent" is overridden by the parent's legitimate right to care for and protect his or her child.

Since children have no reason to fear any consequences from not being mutilated, this notion of protecting the child is bullshit. The analogy with vaccination is deranged. But if an adult man decides it would be in the interests of his health to cut off his foreskin, he should have every right to do so. Another:

I hate to keep harping on the same subject every time you mention it (she says as if you could possibly remember one of 2 million readers) but you keep not making sense.