Part of what makes life especially meaningful is being associated with change and reform. Call it “purpose.” Wasn’t it Horace Mann who said, “Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity”? Imagine a life of just going along with however things are.
I have enjoyed a rich life of being associated with non-profit organizations that work to better the lives of others, but I find great meaning in work for justice that seeks an end to cruel and uncivilized practices. One reason I am never accused of being a conservative is I cannot accept that the status quo is worthy of keeping. I am especially thankful that I have chosen to select certain injustices and made ending them my passion. About 15 years ago, I really zeroed in on the crazy and perverse practice of circumcision. Amputating a healthy structure from another human who cannot defend himself nor speak for himself is unconscionable in a civilized society. It is blatant sexual assault.
Why working to end circumcision and not hunger or the marginization of women or the repression of gay people — all of which I have also consistently spoken out against? I determined long ago that circumcision is one of those absurd practices that could be ended because truth, facts and pure human empathy would defeat it. Stopping circumcision is doable because it is so repulsive that seemingly anyone with compassion would recognize it. Surely the headway made in ending smoking in the workplace, sexual harassment in the office or child labor give hope that something like circumcision can be ended through tactics like shame, ostracizing and grassroots outrage.
My writings against circumcision go back to the early 1970s. When our son was born in 1975, I got a special sense of triumph when we could flatly tell the doctor that he was unwelcome in his offer to hack off the newborn’s foreskin. In the Midwest 35 years ago, it was less often that circumcisers were spurned.
In just the past two years, the Internet and especially Facebook have brought together thousands of anti-circumcision people (we are called intactivists) to share information, news stories, blogs, YouTube commentaries and strategies to fight circumcision. More than that, Facebook has provided us the simple means to share our feelings about circumcision with our regular Facebook friends who otherwise have never been exposed to the controversy. That we can also link them to the numerous news stories, commentaries and film clips where circumcision has been discredited and debunked allows us to win still more allies as well as make future parents aware, perhaps for the first time, that circumcision is just plain wrong and unjust.
We have to counter the garbage of the circumcisers and apologists for foreskin amputation. Last week, the daytime medical show “The Doctors” revisited circumcision and the four of them waded into the controversy. Three of them continually made ridiculous statements to try to justify the procedure, especially the lone female physician, Dr. Lisa Masterson. Only Dr. Jim Sears raised the crucial issue: No adult should have the right to order the excising of healthy body parts from a non-consenting human. Never mind that these doctors are totally clueless to the reasons why there are foreskins on mammals — male and female.
Thankfully, FreedomOSpeech.org took that segment of “The Doctors” and dissected it as the four made their statements. Each comment was analyzed against the facts.
The Web is crawling with the growing public outrage against circumision. On Jan. 13, the Globe and Mail newspaper in Toronto, Canada, wrote about the effort in San Francisco for a legal ban on circumcision. The article, “Should circumcision be outlawed? Intactivists think so,” was met with 456 comments written comments to date. It was a fair article that talked about the decline of circumcisions in the U.S. (to 32 percent) as the public becomes better educated and more sensitized to the real cruelty and unethical nature of cutting foreskins.
And so it goes. Just do a Google of “YouTube” and “circumcision” and see the countless commentaries by men and women raging that doctors still shamelessly cut the prepuce from helpless baby boys while their parents are too cowardly to watch the bloody mess.
Given the relentless links and comments posted on Facebook against circumcision, we need to bring all the forces together as one loud, united voice to bombard the circumcision industry, especially the American Academy of Pediatrics and other medical organizations, to put them on notice that the sexual abuse performed on minors absolutely cannot be tolerated and must end. Thanks to groups like IntactAmerica.org and Nocirc.org, some of that coalition-building is happening. Should the AAP or others take the wrong-headed position to officially recommend foreskin-cutting to parents and the medical field, we must be prepared to hammer them, as was done last year when the AAP first called for allowing “nicking” of girls’ pubic areas to placate parents from Africa and elsewhere where female circumcision is practiced. It was believed that allowing such blood flowing would satisfy parents who otherwise would send their daughters overseas for the wholesale removal of the clitoris, labia and other parts of female privates to meet ancient cultural practics. Female genital mutilation was outlawed in 1996 by Congress, and the AAP miscalculated when it sought to allow he nicking. The outrage that followed forced the AAP to reverse itself.
A great double standard continues to allow male circumcision while regarding female cutting as illegal, unethical and repugnant. Fortunately in 17 states, Medicaid funding of circumcisions has ended on the grounds that they were cosmetic and not medically necessary. I have long boycotted hospitals and witheld charitable donations until they terminate the dirty little surgeries on the helpless. Hospital administrators never respond to our letters.
That parents still allow their boys to be cut to satisfy traditions, family patterns, visual preferences or other pretexts is not acceptable. Circumcision belongs on the great dung heap of human practices. It is loathsome that doctors still get away with it.