Monday, September 22, 2014

Regulating Religious Circumcision - Who's Oppressing Who?

There is always a lot of turmoil around religious issues when they overlap with governmental regulation.  It always seems that religious people (or at least their spokesmen in conflict) have the idea that freedom of religion means free to ACT in any way if the motivation for that action comes from their religious belief system.  If the law of the land lies (or is trying to, but doesn't yet) over their activities, they cry foul and claim unfair treatment.  They don’t see that non religious people are also restrained under the rules.  They seem to intentionally avoid the realization that freedom of religion is not carte blanche to DO whatever you want to do, or whatever people have been doing.  Freedom of Religion is freedom of thought, and freedom of expression within the lawnot an excuse to break the law or violate others.

Circumcision is barely regulated by the fraudulent medical communities that claim to have children's health as their first priority.  But for religious circumcision: ANYTHING GOES.  There's a step that a small number of Orthodox Jews take after a circumcision where the mohel (circumciser) actually SUCKS with his MOUTH on the baby's wounded penis.  It's called metzitzah b'peh.  As you might predict, this can, and sometimes does lead to the infant being infected with herpes.  It's not that bad of a disease for an adult, but herpes in an 8 day old is extremely dangerous and painful. It can cause brain damage, blindness, and death; and it has.  

In New York, where this is going down, you might expect the government to simply say 'sorry, you can't risk a child's life and well being like that (the way they might if ANYONE cut a kid's healthy penis and then sucked on it risking deadly disease WITHOUT god on their mind) so, you have to A. use a glass tube, or B. don't suck on the penis.'  But NO.  For some reason, ideas about not allowing it to happen gave way to simply having the parents sign a form that says they know that this oral suction will occur, and what the risks are.  Can't imagine having a problem with that regulation, can you?  Well, there is a problem.  If press coverage is the voice, there is SCREAMING from the rooftops about "religious oppression" over simply educating people about risks.  This is after the (apparently immense) resistance to the idea of any other form of restriction of the practice occurred within the government.

It takes extreme active bias to twist your mind around to a position of 'educating people of deadly risk = religious oppression by haters'.

If a doctor is performing circumcision (no doctor worth their oath {Primum Non Nocere - First Do No Harm - meaning: if it ain't broke, don't fix it} amputates healthy tissue from a non-assenting patient) he has to get informed consent.  There's no exception to this.  This isn't because the government just wants to control people, but because people have RIGHTS.  For every governmental "oppression" there's a right being protected (unless it's a true oppression, then there's a pocket being lined).  In the case of informed consent, a patient's right to be fully informed of the situation they are entering is what is being protected.  It's not the government going "Gee, what trouble can we cause today? Oh, I know, let's make people read and write."  SO ABUSIVE!  If a person went to a doctor, and the doctor's plan was to expose their baby to a potentially deadly, lifelong disease: it probably wouldn't be allowed, but if it were, you know someone would be required to read and write.  Demanding the same of people engaging in the same activity, but with religious motivations, is simply equality.  So the question is: why would you actively pursue keeping a parent from KNOWING the risks of a diseased person sucking on their child's freshly wounded penis?  Afraid they won't?

Now that's the outer layer to this absurdity.  Let's go deeper.  Religious freedom is really, really important.  Not just because religion has value, but because freedom from religious oppression is key to a free society, and is one of the main reasons a lot of people have come to live here.  Your religious freedom is important, but that's not actually where it stops. EVERYONE'S religious freedom is important!  It's not just freedom to practice, it's freedom not to have to practice too.  In order to secure religious freedom for one person, you have to prevent others from violating it with prevention OR force.  Infants and children cannot decide what they think about esoteric adult philosophies on questions that have no proof: they have no religion.  Permanently marking them with yours, violates their freedom to decide whether they WANT to be marked.  The idea of consent is not one designed to take someone's religious freedom away, but to grant it.  So the question is: why would you actively pursue keeping a person from being able to CONSENT to a religious sacrifice?  Afraid they won't?

The fact is, educated people make better decisions.  That's why grassroots activism is so effective: it involves a lot of education.  It doesn't take governmental regulation to end a bad habit (unless someone's making money) if you have educated people; it will just end.  

Another fact is that consent prevents oppression.  Resistance to education, and resistance to consent are OPPRESSOR'S TOOLS.  So who's really restricting religious freedom here?


  1. This is well reasoned and thought out article. Thank you so much for saying what must be said and speaking out about it.

  2. Wow great article! Written very well! Many good points.

  3. Well said! If we won't stand up for helpless children, who will?