Infant Circumcision

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Re: Male Infant Circumcision

Postby Tomo » Mon Dec 19, 2011 2:54 pm UTC

sourmìlk wrote:
Tomo wrote:In my view, this isn't sufficient to overcome any possibility of harm, however remote. As explained a few pages ago.

You never explained it, you asserted it. Are you ready to explain that view?


Not sure what you want here. I think an action is morally wrong if it carries the possibility of hurting another at a benefit to yourself. That's a pretty solid definition of morally wrong in my opinion.
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Re: Male Infant Circumcision

Postby sourmìlk » Mon Dec 19, 2011 2:55 pm UTC

Tomo wrote:Not sure what you want here. I think an action is morally wrong if it carries the possibility of hurting another at a benefit to yourself. That's a pretty solid definition of morally wrong in my opinion.

Yes, and I explained why that doesn't work in terms of parental discretion for any harm > 0. You just restated your opinion, you need to defend it.
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Re: Male Infant Circumcision

Postby Tomo » Mon Dec 19, 2011 2:56 pm UTC

sourmìlk wrote:
Tomo wrote:Not sure what you want here. I think an action is morally wrong if it carries the possibility of hurting another at a benefit to yourself. That's a pretty solid definition of morally wrong in my opinion.

Yes, and I explained why that doesn't work in terms of parental discretion for any harm > 0. You just restated your opinion, you need to defend it.


I have not seen a satisfying explanation for that whatsoever.
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Re: Male Infant Circumcision

Postby Deep_Thought » Mon Dec 19, 2011 2:57 pm UTC

@Sourmilk: "Because they want to" is not really a reason. It's a statement of their desire. I'm after why they want to do that, because that's the illuminating bit.

sourmìlk wrote:To be clear, you recognize that there is not sufficient evidence showing that a significant portion of people (in the West, at least) really regret being circumcised as an infant?

Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Considering the volume of anecdotal evidence that is beginning to accumulate, it would be damned helpful if a psychology department somewhere got of their collective backsides and actually conducted such a study.

As to the sensitivity argument - which again was covered in the previous thread quite well - you do realise the foreskin itself actually contains a whole bundle of nerves? They're quite pleasurable in their own right, before you begin to get into the interaction with the glans. Any male who has had their foreskin removed has less nerve endings than they would have if they still had their foreskin. Luckily the rest of the penis is also pretty sensitive, otherwise I suspect your feelings on the topic would be plenty different.

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Re: Male Infant Circumcision

Postby LaserGuy » Mon Dec 19, 2011 3:00 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:
LaserGuy wrote:I'll point to this one in particular as an indication that infant circumcision does appear to cause a demonstrable increased sensitivity to pain (and mention in passing that the journal, the Lancet, is considered one of the top journals in the medical field):


For the immediate future; they're looking at pain response for vaccinations weeks or months later. Furthermore, it's in response to circumcisions done without anesthesia, and would seem to suggest that while there is a short response to the pain (with no long term followup), that using agents to reduce the pain response would abrogate this issue. Not surprisingly, a bris is performed by dabbing the infants gums with wine or whiskey, and in a hospital circumcision, local anesthesia can be used.


Since a significant proportion of circumcisions are done without anesthesia (including bris...), I would say that it is a fairly significant concern. The situation does seem to be improving; I can't find a more recent source indicating how common it is. If the infants are still traumatized by the experience weeks or months later, that's a pretty significant effect. Admittedly, a follow-up with the same patients at a later age would have also been very interesting.

sourmilk wrote:I addressed those arguments just about a post before that, LaserGuy.

My argument is that there is not a moral problem with circumcising your child, and that it should not be banned, as any possible harm actually part of the scientific consensus is minimal or very unlikely.


Uh, no you didn't.

I'll throw in this latter claim as an aside. Whether or not circumcision is moral, immoral, or amoral does not necessarily imply, one way or the other, that it should be banned. There are plenty of things that are generally considered immoral (racism or lying, say), but that, except in rather extraordinary circumstances, are not punishable by law because in order to ban such practices broadly enough to be effective, we risk sweeping up a whole bunch of other things (free speech) that we want. The argument for legally banning requires a higher standard of proof (which, I agree with you, as certainly not present at this stage), but that doesn't mean that there aren't cogent arguments for its immorality.

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Re: Male Infant Circumcision

Postby The Great Hippo » Mon Dec 19, 2011 3:01 pm UTC

I really don't understand why we're interested in a benefit-versus-cost analysis of circumcision, particularly when the pros and cons are so clearly relative from person to person. The point here is that it's a modification against your will performed for aesthetic or cultural purposes. So is that important? Should we ban all aesthetic/cultural/cosmetic surgeries on infants?

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Re: Male Infant Circumcision

Postby sourmìlk » Mon Dec 19, 2011 3:02 pm UTC

Deep_Thought wrote:@Sourmilk: "Because they want to" is not really a reason. It's a statement of their desire. I'm after why they want to do that, because that's the illuminating bit.

sourmìlk wrote:To be clear, you recognize that there is not sufficient evidence showing that a significant portion of people (in the West, at least) really regret being circumcised as an infant?

Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Considering the volume of anecdotal evidence that is beginning to accumulate, it would be damned helpful if a psychology department somewhere got of their collective backsides and actually conducted such a study.

Agreed, I'd like some conclusive data. I did not claim that absence of evidence constituted absence of evidence. But, if you want to ban circumcision, the burden of proof is on you to show significant harm or risk for harm.

As to the sensitivity argument - which again was covered in the previous thread quite well - you do realise the foreskin itself actually contains a whole bundle of nerves? They're quite pleasurable in their own right, before you begin to get into the interaction with the glans. Any male who has had their foreskin removed has less nerve endings than they would have if they still had their foreskin. Luckily the rest of the penis is also pretty sensitive, otherwise I suspect your feelings on the topic would be plenty different.

But it is either unproven or unverifiable that there is, from the perception of the circumcised person, a loss in sensation. Studies comparing circumcised and uncircumcised adults are largely inconclusive.
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Re: Male Infant Circumcision

Postby P3t3r » Mon Dec 19, 2011 3:19 pm UTC

sourmìlk wrote:But it is either unproven or unverifiable that there is, from the perception of the circumcised person, a loss in sensation. Studies comparing circumcised and uncircumcised adults are largely inconclusive.


In that case it is also unproven or unverifiable that female circumcision leads to a loss in sensation. How could you prove it ? The loss of sensation is so subjective that it can never be proved to be true.
The main raison people think FGM destroys sexual pleasure is because of the loss of nerves endings. Btw the foreskin has also 20,000 nerve endings.
Also just google foreskin restoration, some forums have more than 10,000 members so it's not just a couple of anecdotal evidence but thousands of cut men who restored their foreskins and clearly noticed major difference. These guys don't need proof, they do know the difference from their personal experience.
Last edited by P3t3r on Mon Dec 19, 2011 3:20 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Male Infant Circumcision

Postby Torchship » Mon Dec 19, 2011 3:19 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:So we should consider genitals more important because people consider them more important? I believe in respecting people and what is important to them, but I don't, by necessity, respect the actual things they value--just the fact that they value them. I'm not going to build my morality based around other people's values--and neither should you.


In this case, yes. Violating the genitals is "more" (term defined incredibly vaguely, since I dislike the concept of an ordering to violation though it is occasionally a necessary concept) serious a violation than violating the shoulder (or whatever) because people (in general; I am speaking of the average person here) view the former as a more serious violation than the latter, and violation is defined by perceived violation (more or less; there are some edge cases where I don't feel this strictly holds). Rubbing someone's crotch is a far more serious offence (in both the eyes of the law, and in the "things that are reasonable to complain about on the internet" sense) than rubbing their shoulder precisely because the victim feels such, and no other reason. If you feel that we should not punish crimes based on the severity of the violation perceived by the victim, then the entire concept of rape and other sexual crimes is eliminated. Sexual assault is now normal old assault, since the sexual component counts for precisely nothing. This, I suspect, is not something that you'd support, so I believe there is some sort of miscommunication going on.

The Great Hippo wrote:Is there evidence that a significant number of the circumcised population regrets having gone through with the procedure? These problems tend to be self-correcting; people who regret being circumcised aren't very likely to circumcise their children.


There are a respectable number of links to studies in both this thread and the last one detailing precisely that. In my view, the rate these studies suggest is sufficiently significant to warrant banning aesthetic or religious circumcision (or strongly limiting), so the rates for other aesthetic surgeries would need to be similar or worse to warrant banning.

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Re: Male Infant Circumcision

Postby The Great Hippo » Mon Dec 19, 2011 3:29 pm UTC

P3t3r wrote:The main raison people think FGM destroys sexual pleasure is because of the loss of nerves endings. Btw the foreskin has also 20,000 nerve endings.
Also just google foreskin restoration, some forums have more than 10,000 members so it's not just a couple of anecdotal evidence but thousands of cut men who restored their foreskins and clearly noticed major difference. These guys don't need proof, they do know the difference from their personal experience.
Could you actually cite some numbers rather than relying on membership in a forum as evidence?
Torchship wrote:In this case, yes. Violating the genitals is "more" (term defined incredibly vaguely, since I dislike the concept of an ordering to violation though it is occasionally a necessary concept) serious a violation than violating the shoulder (or whatever) because people (in general; I am speaking of the average person here) view the former as a more serious violation than the latter, and violation is defined by perceived violation (more or less; there are some edge cases where I don't feel this strictly holds). Rubbing someone's crotch is a far more serious offence (in both the eyes of the law, and in the "things that are reasonable to complain about on the internet" sense) than rubbing their shoulder precisely because the victim feels such, and no other reason. If you feel that we should not punish crimes based on the severity of the violation perceived by the victim, then the entire concept of rape and other sexual crimes is eliminated. Sexual assault is now normal old assault, since the sexual component counts for precisely nothing. This, I suspect, is not something that you'd support, so I believe there is some sort of miscommunication going on.
I think we're getting off topic. My point is that, for an infant, genital mutilation and foot mutilation may as well be equivalent; the infant probably wouldn't see much of a distinction.

If your metric for how wrong something is consists of how seriously people take it (I.e., sexual abuse is more wrong than abuse, because victims feel more violated, and because we take sex more seriously), circumcision isn't much of a problem, is it?--infants probably don't take circumcision more seriously than any other form of mutilation, and most of our society certainly doesn't care.
Torchship wrote:There are a respectable number of links to studies in both this thread and the last one detailing precisely that. In my view, the rate these studies suggest is sufficiently significant to warrant banning aesthetic or religious circumcision (or strongly limiting), so the rates for other aesthetic surgeries would need to be similar or worse to warrant banning.
Wait, I haven't seen any studies of "People who regret receiving circumcisions"--just "Ways in which circumcision may reduce your quality of life".
Last edited by The Great Hippo on Mon Dec 19, 2011 3:30 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Male Infant Circumcision

Postby P3t3r » Mon Dec 19, 2011 3:29 pm UTC

an eyelid has almost the same function as the foreskin ; it's a mobile skin protecting your eyes.
Should parents be allowed to remove eyelids from their babies ? Why not ? Why stop at the foreskin ?

Normally surgery is used as the last resort when all other treatments have failed. A diagnostic made by doctors (and not the parents) is required to perform surgery. Circumcision, it seems, is the only surgery performed without diagnostic, just because the parents want it that way.
Considering the foreskin is a normal body part, there's no decision to make.

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Re: Male Infant Circumcision

Postby sourmìlk » Mon Dec 19, 2011 3:31 pm UTC

P3t3r wrote:
sourmìlk wrote:But it is either unproven or unverifiable that there is, from the perception of the circumcised person, a loss in sensation. Studies comparing circumcised and uncircumcised adults are largely inconclusive.


In that case it is also unproven or unverifiable that female circumcision leads to a loss in sensation. How could you prove it ? The loss of sensation is so subjective that it can never be proved to be true.

It's not that subjective. Both circumcised and uncircumcised males report sufficient pleasure during sex. I seriously doubt you'll see that data with females whose genitalia have been mutilated. For them, it's not just potentially reduced sensitivity, it's the loss of an entire thing. It would be like removing the head of the penis. It's not that it's just less sensitive, it's that you can no longer feel it. At all.
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Re: Male Infant Circumcision

Postby The Great Hippo » Mon Dec 19, 2011 3:32 pm UTC

P3t3r wrote:an eyelid has almost the same function as the foreskin ; it's a mobile skin protecting your eyes.
Should parents be allowed to remove eyelids from their babies ? Why not ? Why stop at the foreskin ?
Because that would lead to blindness?
P3t3r wrote:Circumcision, it seems, is the only surgery performed without diagnostic, just because the parents want it that way.
Considering the foreskin is a normal body part, there's no decision to make.
Confirming that children have a foreskin is a diagnosis; if a child was born without foreskin, circumcision would not (I hope) be performed.

How is this any different than correcting webbed toes?

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Re: Male Infant Circumcision

Postby yurell » Mon Dec 19, 2011 3:35 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:I think we're getting off topic. My point is that, for an infant, genital mutilation and foot mutilation may as well be equivalent; the infant probably wouldn't see much of a distinction.



You do realise this infant later becomes an adult who may see a difference, right? And you aren't absolved by saying that the infant can see no difference when you know that someday he will.
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Re: Male Infant Circumcision

Postby Izawwlgood » Mon Dec 19, 2011 3:36 pm UTC

LaserGuy wrote:Since a significant proportion of circumcisions are done without anesthesia (including bris...), I would say that it is a fairly significant concern. The situation does seem to be improving; I can't find a more recent source indicating how common it is. If the infants are still traumatized by the experience weeks or months later, that's a pretty significant effect. Admittedly, a follow-up with the same patients at a later age would have also been very interesting.

But all this argues for is using anesthesia during the procedure, and points to the pain response as being the only tangible issue that has been raised by circumcision.
P3t3r wrote:In that case it is also unproven or unverifiable that female circumcision leads to a loss in sensation. How could you prove it ? The loss of sensation is so subjective that it can never be proved to be true.

Since we're on the topic of mincing terms: FGM is strikingly different from male circumcision. As sourmilk already pointed out, what you are trying to compare is the equivalent of cutting off the entire head of the penis.
P3t3r wrote:Also just google foreskin restoration, some forums have more than 10,000 members so it's not just a couple of anecdotal evidence but thousands of cut men who restored their foreskins and clearly noticed major difference. These guys don't need proof, they do know the difference from their personal experience.


There are currently over 600 MILLION men who are circumcised. Forums that have thousands or tens of thousands of men who found an improvement in their penile function or sensitivity after foreskin restoration surgery doesn't mean that uncircumcised penises are less sensitive, just that a handful of men who had surgery on their penis got what they wanted from the surgery.

But you've now moved onto eyelids; if you can't see why this is a pretty idiotic argument, I think I'm done pointing out to you why you're being irresponsible and unreasonable in this conversation.
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Re: Male Infant Circumcision

Postby The Great Hippo » Mon Dec 19, 2011 3:39 pm UTC

yurell wrote:You do realise this infant later becomes an adult who may see a difference, right? And you aren't absolved by saying that the infant can see no difference when you know that someday he will.
I don't know he someday will. I grew up into a person who doesn't see a difference.

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Re: Male Infant Circumcision

Postby Torchship » Mon Dec 19, 2011 3:40 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:I think we're getting off topic. My point is that, for an infant, genital mutilation and foot mutilation may as well be equivalent; the infant probably wouldn't see much of a distinction.

If your metric for how wrong something is consists of how seriously people take it (I.e., sexual abuse is more wrong than abuse, because victims feel more violated, and because we take sex more seriously), circumcision isn't much of a problem, is it?--infants probably don't take circumcision more seriously than any other form of mutilation, and most of our society certainly doesn't care.


It's not the infant that we care about, but the adult with associated personality that it will likely one day become. The infant has no sense of self, nor can it comprehend the significance of any actions performed on it, and would not care about circumcision (or any procedure, no matter how vile, that you would care to subject it to) besides the fact that it hurt. The adult, however, has a sense of self and sometimes resents the violation of that sense of self (exacerbated by the fact that genital violations are viewed as more significant), which is what we should consider significant and work to minimise.

EDIT:
The Great Hippo wrote:I don't know he someday will. I grew up into a person who doesn't see a difference.


I believe you missed the rather significant word 'may'. Some percentage of people will grow up to regret the procedure performed on them, and the fact that you did not means precisely nothing to this.
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Re: Male Infant Circumcision

Postby P3t3r » Mon Dec 19, 2011 3:41 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:Because that would lead to blindness?

No, removing your eylids don't lead to blindness.

The Great Hippo wrote:Confirming that children have a foreskin is a diagnosis; if a child was born without foreskin, circumcision would not (I hope) be performed.

How is this any different than correcting webbed toes?


Confirming that chidren have a foreskin is a diagnosis ? Are you drunk ? A diagnosis refers to the process of attempting to determine or identify a possible disease. The foreskin isn't a disease, most men in the world are intact and they are just fine. Females have also a foreskin, called clitoral hood and they are fine too. All mammals evolve with a foreskin. Do you know that circumcision was introduced in the US to decrease sexual pleasure thinking it would prevent masturbation ? It had nothing to do with medecine.

You should realize that the foreskin is a normal body part. It's not corrective surgery, you aren't correcting anything by removing it. It's not extra extra skin, it's part of the package.
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Re: Male Infant Circumcision

Postby Izawwlgood » Mon Dec 19, 2011 3:45 pm UTC

P3t3r wrote:No, removing your eylids don't lead to blindness.

Yes, it will. The eyelid provides a rather important function. Eyes, they're kind of sensitive. While it's been pretty well demonstrated that removing eyelids will result in the scratching and eventual destruction of eye surfaces, the same cannot be said for the foreskin.
P3t3r wrote:Confirming that chidren have a foreskin is a diagnosis ?

Are you daft? You must be. Looking at a kid with webbed toes/cleft palate/birthmarks/crooked teeth/foreskin is sufficient diagnosis to say 'they have webbed toes/cleft palate/birthmarks/crooked teeth/foreskin and cosmetic surgery will remove that'. So you can prattle all you want about diagnosing things, but the procedure is being performed for the visible and obvious observation.
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Re: Male Infant Circumcision

Postby The Great Hippo » Mon Dec 19, 2011 3:48 pm UTC

Torchship wrote:It's not the infant that we care about, but the adult with associated personality that it will likely one day become. The infant has no sense of self, nor can it comprehend the significance of any actions performed on it, and would not care about circumcision (or any procedure, no matter how vile, that you would care to subject it to) besides the fact that it hurt. The adult, however, has a sense of self and sometimes resents the violation of that sense of self (exacerbated by the fact that genital violations are viewed as more significant), which is what we should consider significant and work to minimise.
Specific genital violations--in this case, circumcision--are not viewed as more significant. Frankly, what people view as significant and insignificant doesn't concern me; I don't derive my morality from consensus.

That being said, I agree with you, but probably disagree as to the extent that this is actually a problem. People are free to their own narratives; if a man tells me that he parses his circumcision as a life-shattering event and a violation of the deepest sort, I'm willing to believe him. That doesn't mean my behavior is going to change, or that I'm not going to circumcise my own children; that would depend on factors such as the likelihood that my children would grow up to feel similar (or, at the very least, feel uncomfortable) about their own circumcision. If I don't think that's the case, then I don't care.

@P3t3r: What Izawwlgood said. Also, you realize that men are occasionally (albeit rarely) born without foreskin? It's a condition called Aposthia.
Torchship wrote:
The Great Hippo wrote:I don't know he someday will. I grew up into a person who doesn't see a difference.


I believe you missed the rather significant word 'may'. Some percentage of people will grow up to regret the procedure performed on them, and the fact that you did not means precisely nothing to this.
Reread the post I quoted. The words 'you know' were used.

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Re: Male Infant Circumcision

Postby yurell » Mon Dec 19, 2011 4:02 pm UTC

My apologies, that should read 'may' like the previous sentence. That should really have been obvious from context, but I guess not.
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Re: Male Infant Circumcision

Postby P3t3r » Mon Dec 19, 2011 4:06 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:Yes, it will. The eyelid provides a rather important function. Eyes, they're kind of sensitive. While it's been pretty well demonstrated that removing eyelids will result in the scratching and eventual destruction of eye surfaces, the same cannot be said for the foreskin.


Yes the same can be said for circumcision. The foreskin does have functions : protective (keeping the glans protected and moist) and sexual.
Circumcision makes a foreskin dry, hard and keratenised. It's bizarre that the only people claiming the foreskin is useless seem to be the ones who lost it at birth.


Izawwlgood wrote:Are you daft? You must be. Looking at a kid with webbed toes/cleft palate/birthmarks/crooked teeth/foreskin is sufficient diagnosis to say 'they have webbed toes/cleft palate/birthmarks/crooked teeth/foreskin and cosmetic surgery will remove that'. So you can prattle all you want about diagnosing things, but the procedure is being performed for the visible and obvious observation.


Webbed toes, cleft palate etc. are abnormalities. The foreskin isn't. It's normal and healthy body part.

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Re: Male Infant Circumcision

Postby The Great Hippo » Mon Dec 19, 2011 4:11 pm UTC

yurell wrote:My apologies, that should read 'may' like the previous sentence. That should really have been obvious from context, but I guess not.
Judging by some of the stuff you've said in this thread--and some of the hairs you've been splitting--I'm not prepared to give you the benefit of the doubt.

Either way, what I said to Torchship applies. If I'm reasonably convinced my children will feel the same way about their circumcision that I feel about it, then I don't care.
P3t3r wrote:Webbed toes, cleft palate etc. are abnormalities. The foreskin isn't. It's normal and healthy body part.
What is this called, again? Naturalistic fallacy? Or is there another name for it? It's the same thing people use to describe why homosexuality is an abberation ("Heterosexuality is a normal and healthy activity! Clearly, since homosexuality doesn't produce children...").

Anyway, yeah, no, this is an irrelevant point. 'Abnormalities' are an abstract that we've created based on how we feel humans should look and function.

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Re: Male Infant Circumcision

Postby Izawwlgood » Mon Dec 19, 2011 4:13 pm UTC

P3t3r wrote:Yes the same can be said for circumcision. The foreskin does have functions : protective (keeping the glans protected and moist) and sexual.
Circumcision makes a foreskin dry, hard and keratenised. It's bizarre that the only people claiming the foreskin is useless seem to be the ones who lost it at birth.

Oh boy, you are daft.
Ok, look, you should read over the discussion that's being had on penile sensitivity. You should also consider the functional difference between a blinded eye, and a circumcised penis. When you grasp why the two are not analogous to one another, you will understand why your posed comparison is absurd.
P3t3r wrote:Webbed toes, cleft palate etc. are abnormalities. The foreskin isn't. It's normal and healthy body part.

Abnormalities? Defined by what? Unintended development? Cleft palates affect 1 in 700 kids. Polydactyly is approximately 1 in 1000. Are birthmarks abnormalities too?
This discussion has been had already. You posting this only underlines the fact that you cannot read the ongoing discussion.
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Re: Male Infant Circumcision

Postby P3t3r » Mon Dec 19, 2011 4:18 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:Abnormalities? Defined by what? Unintended development? Cleft palates affect 1 in 700 kids. Polydactyly is approximately 1 in 1000. Are birthmarks abnormalities too?
This discussion has been had already. You posting this only underlines the fact that you cannot read the ongoing discussion.


Defined by the fact it is a very rare condition (around 0,1%). 100% of boys are born with a foreskin not 1 in 700 or 1000.

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Re: Male Infant Circumcision

Postby Izawwlgood » Mon Dec 19, 2011 4:20 pm UTC

Yup. You need to read this thread more closely if you want to participate in the debate.
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Re: Male Infant Circumcision

Postby The Great Hippo » Mon Dec 19, 2011 4:26 pm UTC

Hey, how many people are born with an attraction to the same gender? Is it comparable to the number born with webbed toes? I guess that means homosexuality is an abnormality?

What about green eyes? How many people are born with those? Less than 10%? I guess that's an abnormality...

Etc, etc.

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Re: Male Infant Circumcision

Postby lutzj » Mon Dec 19, 2011 4:27 pm UTC

P3t3r wrote:Yes [sic] the same can be said for circumcision. The foreskin does have functions : protective (keeping the glans protected and moist) and sexual.
Circumcision makes a foreskin dry, hard and keratenised. It's bizarre that the only people claiming the foreskin is useless seem to be the ones who lost it at birth.


Most of those functions are redundant with modern adaptations like underwear. For most modern people, the foreskin is basically vestigial; the fringe benefits are comparable to those of wisdom teeth, tonsils, or appendices, which we remove from children all the time. On the other hand, the foreskin harbors sweat and smegma and is prone to chafing or infection when not cleaned carefully and regularly. This explains 1) why so many ancient people decided to just do away with the thing around the time boys start wearing clothes and 2) why circumcision has demonstrable health benefits such as reduced risk of HIV transmission.
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Re: Male Infant Circumcision

Postby yurell » Mon Dec 19, 2011 4:31 pm UTC

lutzj wrote:Most of those functions are redundant with modern adaptations like underwear. For most modern people, the foreskin is basically vestigial; the fringe benefits are comparable to those of wisdom teeth, tonsils, or appendices, which we remove from children all the time.


When was the last time you had your tonsils and appendix removed for no reason? I think you'll find they tend to be extracted when there's a medical need, and not as a matter of course.

lutzj wrote:On the other hand, the foreskin harbors sweat and smegma and is prone to chafing or infection when not cleaned carefully and regularly.


Okay, maybe this is jut a girl thing, but don't you clean your genitals regularly?

lutzj wrote:why circumcision has demonstrable health benefits such as reduced risk of HIV transmission.


You know condoms do too, right? And they don't involve mutilating someone else's genitals without their consent. In fact, I think you'll find condoms do a better job at HIV reduction that circumcision, but feel free to correct me if that's wrong.
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Re: Male Infant Circumcision

Postby LaserGuy » Mon Dec 19, 2011 4:34 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:
LaserGuy wrote:Since a significant proportion of circumcisions are done without anesthesia (including bris...), I would say that it is a fairly significant concern. The situation does seem to be improving; I can't find a more recent source indicating how common it is. If the infants are still traumatized by the experience weeks or months later, that's a pretty significant effect. Admittedly, a follow-up with the same patients at a later age would have also been very interesting.


But all this argues for is using anesthesia during the procedure, and points to the pain response as being the only tangible issue that has been raised by circumcision.


Well, as I said later in the post, as far as legal action is concerned, I don't think there is enough evidence to go much farther. I don't think regulating the procedure to require it to ensure it is done by a medical professional using anesthetic is remotely unreasonable, and it is unconscionable that this isn't already the case. I am inclined to say that for most purposes, I would consider the procedure immoral, but do not consider it to be sufficiently so as to require substantial government intervention.

To be honest, I don't know where to draw the line. I can think of a lot of examples along these lines that squick me a lot more than circumcision that are unavoidably legal--should parents be allowed to force their children to give blood? If parents have a set of twins and one needs a bone marrow transplant, can they get it from the other? What about a kidney?

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Re: Male Infant Circumcision

Postby Whimsical Eloquence » Mon Dec 19, 2011 4:38 pm UTC

Great Hippo, you said you'd no problems with an act that had no lasting consequence. So, some form of drugged rape scenarios are fine by you? I mean that's not far-fetched, it's a common enough occurrence. The mere non incidence of a bad effect for the individual doesn't remove the moral element; a person's control over themselves and their body is of significant moral relevance - it's what makes the concepts of choice or freedom hold any sway.

If you're going to permanently cut off a piece of a child's body for no medical reason, the onus is on you - even as a parent - to demonstrate the benefit. Obviously parents have a great effect on what happens to their children, that's a consequence of the system we all broadly agree to be good. We generally try to minimise the random arbitrary elements of that which will permanently effect the child, not say that their mere existence means anything goes - like cutting off bits of them for funsies. The only comparable situations of relevance are webbed toes or a cleft lip, in these cases I can think we can recognise that the public nature of these bodily aberrations, less so the latter, create justification to ensure the child has a public aesthetic that won't seriously impact on their socialisation. That doesn't mean we afford parents a broad entitlement to physically cut off bits of their body to their aesthetic liking - especially if that would impact their socialisation.
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Re: Male Infant Circumcision

Postby Izawwlgood » Mon Dec 19, 2011 4:43 pm UTC

LaserGuy wrote:Well, as I said later in the post, as far as legal action is concerned, I don't think there is enough evidence to go much farther. I don't think regulating the procedure to require it to ensure it is done by a medical professional using anesthetic is remotely unreasonable, and it is unconscionable that this isn't already the case. I am inclined to say that for most purposes, I would consider the procedure immoral, but do not consider it to be sufficiently so as to require substantial government intervention.

Given the risk of anesthesia complications being higher than the risk of circumcision complications, my guess is most people just assume that the procedure is quick and safe enough to do without anesthesia. Someone should assess the efficacy of topical anesthesia in terms of blocking subsequent pain response, and disseminate that information.
As for the immorality not requiring intervention, I think that's a good way of putting it.
LaserGuy wrote:To be honest, I don't know where to draw the line. I can think of a lot of examples along these lines that squick me a lot more than circumcision that are unavoidably legal--should parents be allowed to force their children to give blood? If parents have a set of twins and one needs a bone marrow transplant, can they get it from the other? What about a kidney?

I wonder what medical ethics has to say about those situations. My guess is it's entirely at the parents discretion. If you had two kids, and one was sick, why would it be unethical to get a blood or bone marrow sample from the healthy one, simply because the procedures can cause pain? I wager it's not even terribly uncommon for, say, if you have a sick child, to have another child with the hope that it'll be healthy and can donate blood or such. I don't personally feel that blood or bone marrow donations are unreasonable to ask of one child to save another, but would have to soul search more on a kidney transplant. That said, I don't think kids under the age of, say, ballpark, 12, are really capable of forming their own opinions on matters not impinged by parental influence.
Whimsical Eloquence wrote:If you're going to permanently cut off a piece of a child's body for no medical reason, the onus is on you - even as a parent - to demonstrate the benefit.

Aesthetics. Community. 'Because I fucking felt like it and it didn't hurt them'. Parental discretion: it belongs to the parents so long as they aren't harming their children.
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Re: Male Infant Circumcision

Postby The Great Hippo » Mon Dec 19, 2011 4:47 pm UTC

Whimsical Eloquence wrote:Great Hippo, you said you'd no problems with an act that had no lasting consequence. So, some form of drugged rape scenarios are fine by you? I mean that's not far-fetched, it's a common enough occurrence.
Oh, for fuck's sake. Do we seriously have to keep going here?

My opposition to evil is not based on the revulsion I feel from the act; it is based on the consequences which the act carries. Victimless crimes are not crimes; if no one is harmed--if no one cares--if no one even gives a fuck--then yes, I don't give a fuck. Your proposed scenario is ignorant of the reality (these sort of crimes are not without consequence, and even if they were, we would only know that through some ridiculous form of omniscience--omniscience we don't have. SURPRISE! We respond to reality based on what we know, and what we can predict), and nothing more than magical wankery, but yes, if you were to use magic to somehow create rape without any harm, I would not give a fuck.

If a tree falls in the woods and through the power of Greyskull no one gives a damn, neither do I. Can we now move the fuck on?
Whimsical Eloquence wrote:The only comparable situations of relevance are webbed toes or a cleft lip, in these cases I can think we can recognise that the public nature of these bodily aberrations, less so the latter, create justification to ensure the child has a public aesthetic that won't seriously impact on their socialisation.
How the hell do webbed feet interfere with socialization?

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Re: Male Infant Circumcision

Postby Whimsical Eloquence » Mon Dec 19, 2011 5:05 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:
Whimsical Eloquence wrote:Great Hippo, you said you'd no problems with an act that had no lasting consequence. So, some form of drugged rape scenarios are fine by you? I mean that's not far-fetched, it's a common enough occurrence.
Oh, for fuck's sake. Do we seriously have to keep going here?

My opposition to evil is not based on the revulsion I feel from the act; it is based on the consequences which the act carries. Victimless crimes are not crimes; if no one is harmed--if no one cares--if no one even gives a fuck--then yes, I don't give a fuck. Your proposed scenario is ignorant of the reality (these sort of crimes are not without consequence, and even if they were, we would only know that through some ridiculous form of omniscience--omniscience we don't have. SURPRISE! We respond to reality based on what we know, and what we can predict), and nothing more than magical wankery, but yes, if you were to use magic to somehow create rape without any harm, I would not give a fuck.

If a tree falls in the woods and through the power of Greyskull no one gives a damn, neither do I. Can we now move the fuck on?


Eh, no, we can't. Because indignation, hyperbole and curses don't close a line of argumentation. Just to be clear if I drug someone, rape them and they wake up in the morning with no memory of the event this isn't morally problematic? I agree victimless crimes are bad - but this isn't victimless, it has a victim the person whose bodily autonomy you're denying.

The greater part of the vice of punching someone in the face isn't that they feel pain, it's that you're acting on their body in a serious way without their consent. Do you have a problem with slavery or only because the enslavement may cause harm? Furthermore, don't give we "the revulsion I feel from the act", your concept of harm is based on such subject revulsion to a particular kind of consequence which you label harm.

Whimsical Eloquence wrote:The only comparable situations of relevance are webbed toes or a cleft lip, in these cases I can think we can recognise that the public nature of these bodily aberrations, less so the latter, create justification to ensure the child has a public aesthetic that won't seriously impact on their socialisation.
How the hell do webbed feet interfere with socialization?


I'm not sure if they do. It depends, if it was just small membranes of skin between their toes I'd argue for leaving it at least until the child is capable of having some input into the conversation. If they're significant and very visible they will significantly impact on his peer socialisation with the child's peers - then there's a case to be made.
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Re: Male Infant Circumcision

Postby The Great Hippo » Mon Dec 19, 2011 5:17 pm UTC

Whimsical Eloquence wrote:Eh, no, we can't. Because indignation, hyperbole and curses don't close a line of argumentation. Just to be clear...
Just to be clear, this is not a thread about rape.
Whimsical Eloquence wrote:...if I drug someone, rape them and they wake up in the morning with no memory of the event this isn't morally problematic?
If letting you get away with this will lead you to raping more people, does that mean it's without consequence? If there's a more-than-zero chance that the victim will remember later, does that mean it's without consequence? If there's actual physical trauma, does that mean it's without consequence? If pregnancy or an STD occurs, does that mean it's without consequence? If it leads to you adopting more aggressive, sexually exploitative behaviors, does that mean it's without consequence?

Right, so now that we've checked all those boxes off and modified the situation accordingly, remind me: Are we talking about reality or just your magical fantasy bullshit scenario?
Whimsical Eloquence wrote:The greater part of the vice of punching someone in the face isn't that they feel pain, it's that you're acting on their body in a serious way without their consent.
No, it's that I'm changing their body in a serious way without their consent. If I punched you and my fist passed right through your head because you're a goddamn ghost--or it just bounced off your nose because you're Superman--then who cares? Maybe it's important that I tried to violate your bodily autonomy and failed, because that indicates that I might try to violate someone else's and succeed--but that's it.
Whimsical Eloquence wrote:I'm not sure if they do. It depends, if it was just small membranes of skin between their toes I'd argue for leaving it at least until the child is capable of having some input into the conversation. If they're significant and very visible they will significantly impact on his peer socialisation with the child's peers - then there's a case to be made.
And can't you make the same case with Jewish boys who will grow up into Jewish men and have sexual relations with other Jews who might be horrified at the realization that their significant other is uncircumcised? Socialization is vastly complicated and unpredictable. Outside of very clear cases, it's not a reliable metric.

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Re: Male Infant Circumcision

Postby Malice » Mon Dec 19, 2011 5:58 pm UTC

Can you guys seriously cut it out with the whole rape thing? Besides being offensive, it's just a shitty argument. You're magicking away all of the hypothetical consequences, leaving nothing but the taboo concept itself, and then trying to declare victory when the consequentialists (who ascribe no importance to taboos) go, "Oh, well, that's okay then too." It's nothing more than a "clever" word game which solves nothing and in the process makes light of something terrible. And it suggests only that the non-consequentialists may be arguing against circumcision based on irrational beliefs that have nothing to do with reality. Find a better argument.
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Re: Male Infant Circumcision

Postby Zarq » Mon Dec 19, 2011 6:04 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:And can't you make the same case with Jewish boys who will grow up into Jewish men and have sexual relations with other Jews who might be horrified at the realization that their significant other is uncircumcised? Socialization is vastly complicated and unpredictable. Outside of very clear cases, it's not a reliable metric.


They're some argument to be made about reversibility here. Kid wants to be circumcised but isn't? Possible to fix. Kid wants to have cleft palate but doesn't have? Possible to fix. Kid doesn't want to be circumcised but isn't? Partly possible, but more difficult, and only partly.
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Re: Male Infant Circumcision

Postby The Great Hippo » Mon Dec 19, 2011 6:19 pm UTC

@Malice: Thank you. Several times, I've felt like I should just post "Oh crap! You caught me red-handed! I totally support sexual abuse when you magic away all of its consequences!". I also don't think the parallel is at all useful; sexual abuse and mutilation are two different things, and equating the two serves no purpose but creating manipulative moral rhetoric. There are plenty of forms of mutilation that we can talk about that are actually on-topic.
Zarq wrote:They're some argument to be made about reversibility here. Kid wants to be circumcised but isn't? Possible to fix. Kid wants to have cleft palate but doesn't have? Possible to fix. Kid doesn't want to be circumcised but isn't? Partly possible, but more difficult, and only partly.
I can see your point, but consider the example of webbed toes (which I consider to be the best equivalency to circumcision)--its reversibility is similar to circumcision.

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Re: Male Infant Circumcision

Postby Zarq » Mon Dec 19, 2011 6:25 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:
Zarq wrote:They're some argument to be made about reversibility here. Kid wants to be circumcised but isn't? Possible to fix. Kid wants to have cleft palate but doesn't have? Possible to fix. Kid doesn't want to be circumcised but isn't? Partly possible, but more difficult, and only partly.
I can see your point, but consider the example of webbed toes (which I consider to be the best equivalency to circumcision)--its reversibility is similar to circumcision.


I'd put those in the same group as circumcision.
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Re: Male Infant Circumcision

Postby P3t3r » Mon Dec 19, 2011 6:26 pm UTC

lutzj wrote:Most of those functions are redundant with modern adaptations like underwear. For most modern people, the foreskin is basically vestigial; the fringe benefits are comparable to those of wisdom teeth, tonsils, or appendices, which we remove from children all the time. On the other hand, the foreskin harbors sweat and smegma and is prone to chafing or infection when not cleaned carefully and regularly. This explains 1) why so many ancient people decided to just do away with the thing around the time boys start wearing clothes and 2) why circumcision has demonstrable health benefits such as reduced risk of HIV transmission.



These functions aren't redunctant with modern adaptation ; it's the exact opposite. With easy access to water and soap, circumcision becomes needless. I fail to see how underwear can keep your glans moist and sensitive. Appendices aren't removed all the time, they are removed when it is required, it can be become a life or death issue if not removed. How many people have died because of their foreskins ? Nobody.

The foreskin isn't vestigal, the only ones claiming the foreskin is useless are those who lost it at birth. They don't have a foreskin, know nothing about it but at the same think it serves no purpose. How do they know ?

Any part of your body can be infected if not cleaned carefully, it's not a reason to remove them. Just wash it. The US is the only industrialized country cutting babies at birth. There’s no reason to do it besides false claims of non-cleanliness. How the rest of the world has done just fine without lobbing off baby penis, I don’t know. Maybe their kids can clean themselves?

These HIV studies are very debatable. The benenfits of circumcision don't manifest into the real world : the US has the highest rate of circumcision among industrialized countries and has also the highest rate of HIV.
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