German Court Rules Religious Circumcision An Assault On Boys

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German Court Rules Religious Circumcision An Assault On Boys

Postby Iulus Cofield » Thu Jun 28, 2012 1:57 am UTC

Huffington Post: German Court Rules Religious Circumcision An Assault On Boys

BERLIN -- A German court has ruled that circumcising young boys on religious grounds amounts to bodily harm even if parents consent to the procedure.

Cologne state court said the child's right to physical integrity trumps freedom of religion and parents' rights, German news agency dapd reported Tuesday.

The case involved a doctor accused of carrying out a circumcision on a 4-year-old that led to medical complications. The doctor was acquitted, however, and prosecutors said they won't appeal.

The president of Germany's Central Council of Jews, Dieter Graumann, called the ruling "unprecedented and insensitive," urging the country's parliament to clarify the legal situation "to protect religious freedom against attacks."

...


So...there's that.

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Re: German Court Rules Religious Circumcision An Assault On

Postby natraj » Thu Jun 28, 2012 2:11 am UTC

rad. i hope they extend this to other unnecessary cosmetic procedures (if they aren't already illegal) on people who can't consent, although probably other ones are not so common and contentious as to come to litigation.

also that other places follow suit.
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Re: German Court Rules Religious Circumcision An Assault On

Postby Ceron » Thu Jun 28, 2012 2:12 am UTC

Well-intentioned but potentially damaging law. If doctors can't perform it in a safe and regulated way, what's to stop the parents from going to a back alley circumcision-performer? To Jewish parents (and others, I guess?), it's not an issue of physical integrity but of fulfilling a covenant with their god.

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Re: German Court Rules Religious Circumcision An Assault On

Postby curtis95112 » Thu Jun 28, 2012 3:04 am UTC

Ceron wrote:Well-intentioned but potentially damaging law. If doctors can't perform it in a safe and regulated way, what's to stop the parents from going to a back alley circumcision-performer? To Jewish parents (and others, I guess?), it's not an issue of physical integrity but of fulfilling a covenant with their god.


So hopefully there will be good follow-up to catch and stop this kind of thing.
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Re: German Court Rules Religious Circumcision An Assault On

Postby Qaanol » Thu Jun 28, 2012 3:13 am UTC

Ceron wrote:Well-intentioned but potentially damaging law. If doctors can't perform it in a safe and regulated way, what's to stop the parents from going to a back alley circumcision-performer?

Probably the knowledge that if anyone ever found out, say a doctor, or someone in the locker room at school, or even one of their kid’s friends, then those parents could easily be facing child abuse charges. You know, for deliberately and intentionally mutilating the genitals of their infant.

Ceron wrote:To Jewish parents (and others, I guess?), it's not an issue of physical integrity but of fulfilling a covenant with their god.

Yeah, well, bodily autonomy trumps religious tradition. Heck, even if they waited until the kid was 13, and only performed the procedure with the consent of the boy and his legal guardian(s), then letting them do it alongside the Bar Mitzvah would be a whole lot better than forcing this on a baby that can’t even protest.

Seriously, think about it. Imagine the outcry if some parents tried to force their 13-year-old son to get circumcised against his will. That would clearly and unambiguously be gross assault and abuse. Doing the same thing to a child who cannot possibly consent is equally abhorrent.

On the other hand, if a 13-year-old wants to enter into the alleged covenant with the alleged God, and decides to get circumcised, and his parents are okay with it, I don’t see a problem with that. So, somewhere between the ages of newborn and 13 there comes the ability of a person to make decisions about his or her own body. Permanent decisions, but with parental consent. I would argue that making people wait until 18 is rather absurd if the person and the guardians want the same thing, but making them wait until, say, 12 or 13 is good for protecting young children from their parents.
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Re: German Court Rules Religious Circumcision An Assault On

Postby Ghostbear » Thu Jun 28, 2012 3:21 am UTC

Ceron wrote:If doctors can't perform it in a safe and regulated way, what's to stop the parents from going to a back alley circumcision-performer?

I would presume it's the same integrity of law that prevents people from frequently getting other operations on significant parts of the body from unlicensed people.

Ceron wrote:To Jewish parents (and others, I guess?), it's not an issue of physical integrity but of fulfilling a covenant with their god.

Why should somebody who is incapable of believing in that god have to do anything for it?

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Re: German Court Rules Religious Circumcision An Assault On

Postby lutzj » Thu Jun 28, 2012 3:23 am UTC

natraj wrote:rad. i hope they extend this to other unnecessary cosmetic procedures (if they aren't already illegal) on people who can't consent, although probably other ones are not so common and contentious as to come to litigation.

also that other places follow suit.


How would you feel about parents that have their infant undergo surgery to fix minor (i.e., not debilitating) cleft lip? It's cosmetic, it's not strictly necessary, but it seems like a no-brainer to me.
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Re: German Court Rules Religious Circumcision An Assault On

Postby Telchar » Thu Jun 28, 2012 3:25 am UTC

Ghostbear wrote:Why should somebody who is incapable of believing in that god have to do anything for it?


Why should someone who is incapable of comprehending gender have anything to do with gender assignment surgery in cases of sexual mosiacism?

I don't particularly care either way, but boiling it down to issues of consent (clearly irrelevant as precedent says legal guardians can give consent for minors) and dismissive religious remarks does everyone a disservice.
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Re: German Court Rules Religious Circumcision An Assault On

Postby Iulus Cofield » Thu Jun 28, 2012 3:27 am UTC

Ceron wrote:Well-intentioned but potentially damaging law. If doctors can't perform it in a safe and regulated way, what's to stop the parents from going to a back alley circumcision-performer? To Jewish parents (and others, I guess?), it's not an issue of physical integrity but of fulfilling a covenant with their god.


This is what concerns me about this kind of ruling. You're not going to effect real change on an insular community from outside, especially on a ritual that has been practiced for millennia, because it's going to be seen as an attack on that group. But it's really not okay to just keep turning a blind eye to it. I guess we'll just see what happens in Germany, assuming lobbyists don't convince politicians to overturn this.

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Re: German Court Rules Religious Circumcision An Assault On

Postby Ghostbear » Thu Jun 28, 2012 3:48 am UTC

Telchar wrote:Why should someone who is incapable of comprehending gender have anything to do with gender assignment surgery in cases of sexual mosiacism?

My quick search has only gotten me a broad range of what that could mean, so I'm going to answer that question with the same question: why should they?

Telchar wrote:I don't particularly care either way, but boiling it down to issues of consent (clearly irrelevant as precedent says legal guardians can give consent for minors) and dismissive religious remarks does everyone a disservice.

This I disagree with strenuously. If the reason for doing it is "because it's important to our religious practice", then it's entirely wrong to force such a (effectively permanent) procedure on someone before their brain has even developed enough to understand what the word religion means. I think the freedom to choose your own religion is seen as rather important around here; if the only defense for it is religious, then you are forcing your religion upon someone before they have even an idea of what it is. I would not consider the medical procedures at all equal, but the logic would be just as bad to condone severing an arm at birth for the sake of religious practice. The only person making permanent choices for you on purely religious grounds should be yourself.

There are other arguments in favor of it, I'm fairly certain, but purely religious ones are garbage in any state that is not bound by that religion.

EDIT: I also made no mention of consent, by purpose. It might be a similar idea, but I do not think someone who does not practice a religion (in this case, because they are completely incapable of such) should be bound by its doctrines.

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Re: German Court Rules Religious Circumcision An Assault On

Postby Telchar » Thu Jun 28, 2012 3:55 am UTC

Ghostbear wrote:This I disagree with strenuously. If the reason for doing it is "because it's important to our religious practice", then it's entirely wrong to force such a (effectively permanent) procedure on someone before their brain has even developed enough to understand what the word religion means. I think the freedom to choose your own religion is seen as rather important around here; if the only defense for it is religious, then you are forcing your religion upon someone before they have even an idea of what it is. I would not consider the medical procedures at all equal, but the logic would be just as bad to condone severing an arm at birth for the sake of religious practice. The only person making permanent choices for you on purely religious grounds should be yourself.

There are other arguments in favor of it, I'm fairly certain, but purely religious ones are garbage in any state that is not bound by that religion.


Though experiment: If after this ruling takes effect we find that 95% of those whose circumsision this prevented as an infant go on to be circumsiced at age 13, and we know that it is an extremely painful procedure, would this change your opinion? Is the substantially increased suffering worth it?

Perhaps your answer is no, and that's fine, but dismissing the religious argument as quackery is too much for me.
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Re: German Court Rules Religious Circumcision An Assault On

Postby The Mighty Thesaurus » Thu Jun 28, 2012 3:59 am UTC

Why? Religion IS quackery
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Re: German Court Rules Religious Circumcision An Assault On

Postby Qaanol » Thu Jun 28, 2012 4:02 am UTC

Telchar wrote:Though experiment: If after this ruling takes effect we find that 95% of those whose circumsision this prevented as an infant go on to be circumsiced at age 13, and we know that it is an extremely painful procedure, would this change your opinion? Is the substantially increased suffering worth it?

Perhaps your answer is no, and that's fine, but dismissing the religious argument as quackery is too much for me.

Thought experiment: if after this ruling takes effect we find that 5% of those whose circumcision was prevented as an infant go on to choose never to be circumcised, would your opinion stay the same? Is forcibly and irreversibly cutting off the foreskin of those 5% who would never choose it of their own free will, an acceptable side effect of possibly reducing the temporary pain of the others who will eventually want the procedure?

Perhaps your answer is yes, and that’s fine for you, but dismissing the rights of the innocent to bodily autonomy as being necessary collateral damage for what is ultimately a personal religious decision is too much for me.
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Re: German Court Rules Religious Circumcision An Assault On

Postby Ghostbear » Thu Jun 28, 2012 4:05 am UTC

Telchar wrote:Though experiment: If after this ruling takes effect we find that 95% of those whose circumsision this prevented as an infant go on to be circumsiced at age 13, and we know that it is an extremely painful procedure, would this change your opinion? Is the substantially increased suffering worth it?

In order: no, yes. Those 95% of people would get to make their own permanent religious decisions for themselves. Would my earlier example of forced arm severing be any more acceptable if 95% of people would later on decide to voluntarily have their arm severed, despite the pain, or would the 5% of people that didn't want their arm severed be a higher priority here? If this wasn't an effectively permanent procedure then I could perhaps be swayed by the increasing suffering argument. That's not the case however. I consider those 5% of false positives to be unacceptable in this case, especially because of that.

Telchar wrote:Perhaps your answer is no, and that's fine, but dismissing the religious argument as quackery is too much for me.

I'm not dismissing it as "religious quackery"; I'm dismissing it on the grounds that people should be able to make their own religious choices for themselves. I find it just as poor an argument as those saying that gays shouldn't be able to marry because of the religion of other people; you should never be able to force your religion on anyone. Since the person is inherently incapable of being a member of that religion when that decision is made for them by someone else, I consider the religious argument in favor of it to be garbage.

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Re: German Court Rules Religious Circumcision An Assault On

Postby Telchar » Thu Jun 28, 2012 4:19 am UTC

Ghostbear wrote:
Telchar wrote:Though experiment: If after this ruling takes effect we find that 95% of those whose circumsision this prevented as an infant go on to be circumsiced at age 13, and we know that it is an extremely painful procedure, would this change your opinion? Is the substantially increased suffering worth it?

In order: no, yes. Those 95% of people would get to make their own permanent religious decisions for themselves. Would my earlier example of forced arm severing be any more acceptable if 95% of people would later on decide to voluntarily have their arm severed, despite the pain, or would the 5% of people that didn't want their arm severed be a higher priority here? If this wasn't an effectively permanent procedure then I could perhaps be swayed by the increasing suffering argument. That's not the case however. I consider those 5% of false positives to be unacceptable in this case, especially because of that.


Yes, because removing someones arm and foreskin are equivalent. This same argument gets brought up in every circumcision debate and it's just as ludicrous as ever. It's like not being able to distinguish between an individual mandate of healthcare and an individual mandate of broccoli. The hyperbolic nature of it does little to convince me of it's usefulness as an analogy.

Telchar wrote:I'm not dismissing it as "religious quackery"; I'm dismissing it on the grounds that people should be able to make their own religious choices for themselves. I find it just as poor an argument as those saying that gays shouldn't be able to marry because of the religion of other people; you should never be able to force your religion on anyone. Since the person is inherently incapable of being a member of that religion when that decision is made for them by someone else, I consider the religious argument in favor of it to be garbage.


Your objection on religious freedom grounds is also odd. Does cutting ones foreskin influence later religous belief in a way that, say, taking one to mass every Sunday does not? Contrary to your point, people are still able to freely choose their religion/lack thereof with or without a foreskin. Religiosity might be the impetus for the procedure, but it is certainly the least of culprits in determining religion later in life.

Qaanol wrote:Thought experiment: if after this ruling takes effect we find that 5% of those whose circumcision was prevented as an infant go on to choose never to be circumcised, would your opinion stay the same? Is forcibly and irreversibly cutting off the foreskin of those 5% who would never choose it of their own free will, an acceptable side effect of possibly reducing the temporary pain of the others who will eventually want the procedure?

Perhaps your answer is yes, and that’s fine for you, but dismissing the rights of the innocent to bodily autonomy as being necessary collateral damage for what is ultimately a personal religious decision is too much for me.


No, and no. Is your assertion that parents don't already violate bodily autonomy? This court simply placed a line which parents can cross at a different point, but bodily autonomy is not the sacrosanct right you seem to believe it to be.
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Re: German Court Rules Religious Circumcision An Assault On

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Thu Jun 28, 2012 4:31 am UTC

Qaanol wrote:the rights of the innocent to bodily autonomy

Infants lack bodily autonomy anyway, so that concept doesn't really apply here. (No, I don't mean that infants do not have a moral right to make decisions about their bodies. I mean that they are not able to make decisions about their bodies. What they do have is an interest in their well-being — but Telchar's point is precisely that circumcision may promote someone's well-being, especially if, say, he is going to be raised in a Jewish family.)
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Re: German Court Rules Religious Circumcision An Assault On

Postby Ghostbear » Thu Jun 28, 2012 4:31 am UTC

Telchar wrote:Yes, because removing someones arm and foreskin are equivalent.

I would like to highlight my full sentence when I brought up the example: "I would not consider the medical procedures at all equal, but the logic would be just as bad to condone severing an arm at birth for the sake of religious practice." Extra emphasis added.

So, congrats on missing the point. The concept was "permanent decisions made for you by somebody else on purely religious grounds". Permanent is a big focus here, and you don't appear to be giving it much thought. Hell, it doesn't need to be a severed arm at all. What about a tattoo, or even more comparable: a tattoo on the genitals? Should someone be able to give their kid a complete non-removable neon pink tattoo of Jesus on his penis because it fits with the parents' religious belief?

Telchar wrote:Your objection on religious freedom grounds is also odd. Does cutting ones foreskin influence later religous belief in a way that, say, taking one to mass every Sunday does not? Contrary to your point, people are still able to freely choose their religion/lack thereof with or without a foreskin. Religiosity might be the impetus for the procedure, but it is certainly the least of culprits in determining religion later in life.

It's not religious freedom, it's freedom from and of religion; hence why I used the example of gay marriage as well. You should be free to not have someone else's religious practices forced on; I consider this critical. I oppose the religious arguments against gay marriage for the same reason: it's requiring someone else, aka not you, to abide by your religious decisions for your sake. It is inherently selfish and wrong.

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Re: German Court Rules Religious Circumcision An Assault On

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Thu Jun 28, 2012 4:43 am UTC

Is it really plausible to say that something should not be forced on someone simply because the motivation is religious? Suppose, as a not-even-terribly-implausible example, that most people in a given country who oppose murder (or theft, racial discrimination, or …) think that morality ultimately boils down to a religious code. For them, the belief that murder is wrong and should be legally prohibited is an article of faith. Is it wrong of them, just because it's religious, to impose that on people?

Coming at it the other way, suppose (in this case less realistically) that a substantial number of non-religious people were to oppose marriage equality on non-religious grounds (due to a revival in Greek philosophy, say). Would it be any less objectionable to enforce this view simply because it is non-religious?

Suppose we have what we both agree is a sound argument for prohibiting some behavior, with premises that we ground in some non-religious moral philosophy. Now suppose that someone else comes along and agrees with our argument, but grounds her acceptance of the premises in a religious moral philosophy. Would it be objectionable for her to enforce her view, but not objectionable for us to enforce ours? If so, what makes the religious grounds intrinsically objectionable where the non-religious grounds are not?
Last edited by TheGrammarBolshevik on Thu Jun 28, 2012 4:53 am UTC, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: German Court Rules Religious Circumcision An Assault On

Postby Telchar » Thu Jun 28, 2012 4:45 am UTC

Ghostbear wrote:I would like to highlight my full sentence when I brought up the example: "I would not consider the medical procedures at all equal, but the logic would be just as bad to condone severing an arm at birth for the sake of religious practice." Extra emphasis added.

So, congrats on missing the point. The concept was "permanent decisions made for you by somebody else on purely religious grounds". Permanent is a big focus here, and you don't appear to be giving it much thought. Hell, it doesn't need to be a severed arm at all. What about a tattoo, or even more comparable: a tattoo on the genitals? Should someone be able to give their kid a complete non-removable neon pink tattoo of Jesus on his penis because it fits with the parents' religious belief?


If circumcision carried the same social stigma a neon-pink jesus would then your argument may be relevant. For the same reason a parent can't name their child ESPN. Future social stigma, at least in the US, has been a part of numerous cases of similar parental rights issues. The more compelling argument in these debates has always been about the physical problem associated with circumcision as a whole but that would require discussing a complete ban that, apparently, no one is willing to do.

Even if I accept that the logical underpinnings would be the same, and I don't see how that is, the results are so dramatically different as to render the analogy mute. You cannot divorce the effects of the procedure from the procedure itself.

It's not religious freedom, it's freedom from and of religion; hence why I used the example of gay marriage as well. You should be free to not have someone else's religious practices forced on; I consider this critical. I oppose the religious arguments against gay marriage for the same reason: it's requiring someone else, aka not you, to abide by your religious decisions for your sake. It is inherently selfish and wrong.


Is there an outlined "freedom from religion" outlined anywhere in German law, or anywhere for that matter? Or is this your personal belief? If your objection is that religion is being forced on people then you are clearly misunderstanding the issue.

Regardless of what the intent of the action is, it's consequences are not religious, they are physical. As an example, I was circumcised when I was an infant and both my parents are Lutheran. I'm an atheist. This procedure has no effect on your freedom from or of religion.

Edit: fixed quote attribution.
Last edited by Telchar on Thu Jun 28, 2012 5:42 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: German Court Rules Religious Circumcision An Assault On

Postby Ghostbear » Thu Jun 28, 2012 5:06 am UTC

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:Is it really plausible to say that something should not be forced on someone simply because the motivation is religious?

If the motivation is purely religious, and that religion is not shared by the "someone" it is being forced upon, yes, it is definitely "plausible".

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:Suppose, as a not-even-terribly-implausible example, that most people in a given country who oppose murder (or theft, racial discrimination, or …) think that morality ultimately boils down to a religious code. For them, the belief that murder is wrong and should be legally prohibited is an article of faith. Is it wrong of them to impose that on people just because it's religious?

Then their reasoning is bad, but their conclusion is good. Someone else is capable of reaching the same conclusion from a non-purely religious angle -- we oppose murder (and much of the potential things contained with an "or ...") as well because we find that taking somebody's life is wrong, because we don't like the level of social injustice it would perpetrate, because we don't want the social chaos it would introduce, and so on. If people happen to also oppose it on religious grounds, great! That's not why it's a good reason to make it illegal though; it's because of the effects of it.

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:Coming at it the other way, suppose (in this case less realistically) that a substantial number of non-religious people were to oppose marriage equality on non-religious grounds (due to a revival in Greek philosophy, say). Would it be any less objectionable to enforce this view simply because it is non-religious?

I do not limit the realm of bad arguments for something to be something reserved solely to purely religious ones. That you can have other terrible reasoning to do something has no bearing on whether or not something else is terrible reasoning.

Telchar wrote:If circumcision carried the same social stigma a neon-pink jesus would then your argument may be relevant. For the same reason a parent can't name their child ESPN. Future social stigma, at least in the US, has been a part of numerous cases of similar parental rights issues. The more compelling argument in these debates has always been about the physical problem associated with circumcision as a whole but that would require discussing a complete ban that, apparently, no one is willing to do.

Even if I accept that the logical underpinnings would be the same, and I don't see how that is, the results are so dramatically different as to render the analogy mute. You cannot divorce the effects of the procedure from the procedure itself.

Are you intentionally missing my point? "The concept was 'permanent decisions made for you by somebody else on purely religious grounds'. Permanent is a big focus here, and you don't appear to be giving it much thought." Please respond to that, because you're focusing on the minute details and missing the actual argument being made in its entirety.

Telchar wrote:If your objection is that religion is being forced on people then you are clearly misunderstanding the issue.

Regardless of what the intent of the action is, it's consequences are not religious, they are physical. [...] This procedure has no effect on your freedom from or of religion.

No, you are clearly misunderstanding my argument. It is forcing your religious practices on someone else. That does not force them to be that religion, but you are forcing them to abide (at least in part) by the rules and beliefs of that religion. Again, I'm going to reiterate my example of people opposing gay marriage on purely religious grounds. Does their decision to do that magically transform all gay people in the US into christians? No, of course it doesn't. It just makes society (in most states and on a federal level) abide by those religious doctrines even if they don't believe in it. It's wrong for the same reason: you are requiring someone else to be bound by your religious belief that they do not share. In the case of circumcision, it is permanent as well; they can not later choose to no longer be bound by that doctrine, because it is not something that can feasibly be undone.

(Also, you're miss-attributing my quotes to yourself, could you fix that?)

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Re: German Court Rules Religious Circumcision An Assault On

Postby LaserGuy » Thu Jun 28, 2012 5:35 am UTC

Telchar wrote:If circumcision carried the same social stigma a neon-pink jesus would then your argument may be relevant. For the same reason a parent can't name their child ESPN. Future social stigma, at least in the US, has been a part of numerous cases of similar parental rights issues. The more compelling argument in these debates has always been about the physical problem associated with circumcision as a whole but that would require discussing a complete ban that, apparently, no one is willing to do.


Do you feel the same about "female circumcisions" (FGM)? I mean, it is certainly a cultural, if not religious, practice in many societies as well...

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Re: German Court Rules Religious Circumcision An Assault On

Postby poxic » Thu Jun 28, 2012 5:40 am UTC

LaserGuy wrote:Do you feel the same about "female circumcisions" (FGM)? I mean, it is certainly a cultural, if not religious, practice in many societies as well...

Different situation. Men who were circumcised are capable of sexual pleasure.
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Re: German Court Rules Religious Circumcision An Assault On

Postby Telchar » Thu Jun 28, 2012 5:41 am UTC

Ghostbear wrote:Are you intentionally missing my point? "The concept was 'permanent decisions made for you by somebody else on purely religious grounds'. Permanent is a big focus here, and you don't appear to be giving it much thought." Please respond to that, because you're focusing on the minute details and missing the actual argument being made in its entirety.


So you also object to parents giving children polio vaccines? If permanence, rather than results, is your issue then it would seem we are at an impasse.

Telchar wrote:If your objection is that religion is being forced on people then you are clearly misunderstanding the issue.

Regardless of what the intent of the action is, it's consequences are not religious, they are physical. [...] This procedure has no effect on your freedom from or of religion.


No, you are clearly misunderstanding my argument. It is forcing your religious practices on someone else. That does not force them to be that religion, but you are forcing them to abide (at least in part) by the rules and beliefs of that religion.


So you also object to parents participating in kosher/halal cleanliness traditions? You keep jumping back and forth from permanence to more general religious oppression arguments and it makes it confusing to sort through which you think is bad, children forced into religious tenants, or just those that are given irreversible religious tenants (I use given their as it's the best word I could think of, not to make light of the situation).

Again, I'm going to reiterate my example of people opposing gay marriage on purely religious grounds. Does their decision to do that magically transform all gay people in the US into christians? No, of course it doesn't. It just makes society (in most states and on a federal level) abide by those religious doctrines even if they don't believe in it. It's wrong for the same reason: you are requiring someone else to be bound by your religious belief that they do not share.


And, unless you live in another area of the world, those people getting married are consenting adults. Adults trying to force all adults to do things based solely on religious reasons=definitely suspect but not always bad. Adults forcing their children, not all children, to abide by religious rules=mostly okay. That boundary will always be somewhat arbitrary and this court decided to remove circumcision from that "mostly okay" category. Frankly, I agree but my agreeing has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with physical effects.

In the case of circumcision, it is permanent as well; they can not later choose to no longer be bound by that doctrine, because it is not something that can feasibly be undone.


Is being raised in a halal home less permanent? Am I able to recover those years in some fashion? Is your claim that a parents religion doesn't have permanent influence outside of ones genitals? Or are you just not comfortable regulating that? Yes, parents are allowed to make decisions that effect their kids permanently and some of those decisions, good or bad, may have religious genesis. That is not a reason to ban anything.

Put another way: My parents were Christian and decided to circumcise me. Is that okay because it wasn't religious for them? They weren't forcing a token of their religion on me permanently so does it meet your litmus test? Is their perhaps some other standard by which we should judge these things?

Also: Fixed the quote tag I found to be incorrect. May be more, but I apologize.
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Re: German Court Rules Religious Circumcision An Assault On

Postby CorruptUser » Thu Jun 28, 2012 5:48 am UTC

LaserGuy wrote:
Telchar wrote:If circumcision carried the same social stigma a neon-pink jesus would then your argument may be relevant. For the same reason a parent can't name their child ESPN. Future social stigma, at least in the US, has been a part of numerous cases of similar parental rights issues. The more compelling argument in these debates has always been about the physical problem associated with circumcision as a whole but that would require discussing a complete ban that, apparently, no one is willing to do.


Do you feel the same about "female circumcisions" (FGM)? I mean, it is certainly a cultural, if not religious, practice in many societies as well...


FGM isn't so much a cultural tradition so much as an attempt to eliminate "promiscuity" among women. The basic idea being that if women don't have the clitoris, they won't enjoy sex, and won't have any desire to "shame" their families. Honestly, it's something the Ministry of Love would come up with. Unlike FGM, Male circumcision isn't about eliminating sexual pleasure.

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Re: German Court Rules Religious Circumcision An Assault On

Postby Qaanol » Thu Jun 28, 2012 6:00 am UTC

Telchar wrote:The more compelling argument in these debates has always been about the physical problem associated with circumcision as a whole but that would require discussing a complete ban that, apparently, no one is willing to do.

The fact that something is harmful, is not a reason for the government to ban it. However, that is a great reason for the government to ban people from forcing it on others without consent.

For example, if you are an adult, you can choose to sit in a radon mine or inhale carcinogens or poison your brain or jump off an ocean cliff when the water has receded and there are bare rocks below you or hire someone to insert a needle into your eyeball. But you cannot force a child to do those things.

So, if circumcision (when not medically necessary) can be shown harmful, then a blanket ban on child circumcision would be entirely appropriate.
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Re: German Court Rules Religious Circumcision An Assault On

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Thu Jun 28, 2012 6:05 am UTC

Ghostbear wrote:Then their reasoning is bad, but their conclusion is good.

I don't think that's clear at all. For example, suppose someone thinks murder is wrong (and should be forcibly prevented) because it violates the Wiccan Rede. That's a religious reason, but it's hardly a bad one. Certainly more intuitive, for example, than claims about the final cause of humans, or maxims that can be willed as universal law, or the view from nowhere. I don't think I would fault someone for trying to base a legal system on this principle if it weren't religious. But it is religious, at least for some people. How can that fact alone make it into bad reasoning?

Just to be clear where I'm going with this, I don't see any principle behind your invocation of freedom of religion beyond the fact that you think all religions happen to be wrong and thus think that all reasoning that proceeds from religious premises is unsound. Your argument looks like this: (1) people shouldn't be allowed to impose things for poor reasons; (2) religious reasons are poor reasons; so, (C) people shouldn't be allowed to impose things for religious reasons. But in that case, (C) isn't so much a substantive principle as it is a special case of some more general principle, (1). As I see it, you're appealing to (C) as something that should be obvious, but it isn't obvious until you've established (1). So I wish you would argue for (1) instead of pretending that religion has some *special* unenforceability that everyone can agree on.

Qaanol wrote:So, if circumcision (when not medically necessary) can be shown harmful, then a blanket ban on child circumcision would be entirely appropriate.

If you're just looking at harm, how do you propose to deal with the inevitable dilemma where your policy either harms the people who would prefer to have been circumcised as infants or the people who would prefer to not have been circumcised as infants?
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Re: German Court Rules Religious Circumcision An Assault On

Postby LaserGuy » Thu Jun 28, 2012 6:14 am UTC

CorruptUser wrote:
LaserGuy wrote:
Telchar wrote:If circumcision carried the same social stigma a neon-pink jesus would then your argument may be relevant. For the same reason a parent can't name their child ESPN. Future social stigma, at least in the US, has been a part of numerous cases of similar parental rights issues. The more compelling argument in these debates has always been about the physical problem associated with circumcision as a whole but that would require discussing a complete ban that, apparently, no one is willing to do.


Do you feel the same about "female circumcisions" (FGM)? I mean, it is certainly a cultural, if not religious, practice in many societies as well...


FGM isn't so much a cultural tradition so much as an attempt to eliminate "promiscuity" among women. The basic idea being that if women don't have the clitoris, they won't enjoy sex, and won't have any desire to "shame" their families. Honestly, it's something the Ministry of Love would come up with. Unlike FGM, Male circumcision isn't about eliminating sexual pleasure.


The practice dates back to at least 500 BCE, and there are countries where over 90% of the population has had the procedure. It's as much a cultural tradition as male circumcision is. [cite, trigger warning]

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Re: German Court Rules Religious Circumcision An Assault On

Postby buddy431 » Thu Jun 28, 2012 6:18 am UTC

CorruptUser wrote:
LaserGuy wrote:
Telchar wrote:If circumcision carried the same social stigma a neon-pink jesus would then your argument may be relevant. For the same reason a parent can't name their child ESPN. Future social stigma, at least in the US, has been a part of numerous cases of similar parental rights issues. The more compelling argument in these debates has always been about the physical problem associated with circumcision as a whole but that would require discussing a complete ban that, apparently, no one is willing to do.


Do you feel the same about "female circumcisions" (FGM)? I mean, it is certainly a cultural, if not religious, practice in many societies as well...


FGM isn't so much a cultural tradition so much as an attempt to eliminate "promiscuity" among women. The basic idea being that if women don't have the clitoris, they won't enjoy sex, and won't have any desire to "shame" their families. Honestly, it's something the Ministry of Love would come up with. Unlike FGM, Male circumcision isn't about eliminating sexual pleasure.


What's really fascinating is that a couple of years ago the American Academy of Pediatrics decided that even using a clitoral prick in order to satisfy female circumcision traditions (a procedure with much less physical ramifications than male circumcision) is unacceptable. If I'm not mistaken, the AAP doesn't take a stand on male circumcision. To me, that screams cultural bias - we're OK with a procedure that is deeply ingrained in Western culture, but not one, even a much less impacting one, that is stereotypical practiced by "uncivilized savages".

I'd rather not wade into the larger debate here, but I just thought I'd remind people that there are strong cultural biases surrounding these issues, and even the most rational or impartial observer probably isn't.
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Re: German Court Rules Religious Circumcision An Assault On

Postby Ghostbear » Thu Jun 28, 2012 6:25 am UTC

Telchar wrote:So you also object to parents giving children polio vaccines? If permanence, rather than results, is your issue then it would seem we are at an impasse.

I would object to it if there were zero arguments in favor of polio vaccines that were not religious based. Fortunately, there are many arguments in favor of polio vaccines that are quite good; namely, health related arguments.

Telchar wrote:So you also object to parents participating in kosher/halal cleanliness traditions? You keep jumping back and forth from permanence to more general religious oppression arguments and it makes it confusing to sort through which you think is bad, children forced into religious tenants, or just those that are given irreversible religious tenants (I use given their as it's the best word I could think of, not to make light of the situation).
[...]
And, unless you live in another area of the world, those people getting married are consenting adults. Adults trying to force all adults to do things based solely on religious reasons=definitely suspect but not always bad. Adults forcing their children, not all children, to abide by religious rules=mostly okay. That boundary will always be somewhat arbitrary and this court decided to remove circumcision from that "mostly okay" category. Frankly, I agree but my agreeing has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with physical effects.
[...]
Is being raised in a halal home less permanent? Am I able to recover those years in some fashion? Is your claim that a parents religion doesn't have permanent influence outside of ones genitals? Or are you just not comfortable regulating that? Yes, parents are allowed to make decisions that effect their kids permanently and some of those decisions, good or bad, may have religious genesis. That is not a reason to ban anything.

The permanence is tied to it. Parents can not obligate a child to stick with those restrictions for their entire life. Parents can force a child to stick with circumcision for their entire life. Religious parents are going to do religious things in their household, but once you leave that household you are no longer bound by them, unless what they did was permanent. You cannot recover those years, but it is not a permanent restriction, because you can leave and never be bound by it ever again.

It's not just forcing them to abide by religious rules while the child is under their supervision, it's forcing them to abide by those religious rules while the child is alive. I still dislike the former, but I am not sure that there is any solution to it that is better than the issue itself. The later, however, does not have that problem; you can ban parents from forcing those permanent, irreversible, purely religious (I have used "purely religious" several times over this discussion intentionally) on their child. The child can later choose to accept that permanent restriction themselves at a later date, if they so choose.

Telchar wrote:Put another way: My parents were Christian and decided to circumcise me. Is that okay because it wasn't religious for them? They weren't forcing a token of their religion on me permanently so does it meet your litmus test? Is their perhaps some other standard by which we should judge these things?

Did they have reasons for it that weren't purely religious? Reasons wherein it might improve the quality of life for someone? If so, then it's completely incomparable to what I'm arguing against. "I'm going to do this permanent to my child, solely because my religion says so." is a terrible thing to do. "I'm going to do this to my child, because of [benefits xyz], and hey! My religion also thinks it's the bee's knees too!" is not a terrible thing to do.

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:I don't think that's clear at all. For example, suppose someone thinks murder is wrong (and should be forcibly prevented) because it violates the Wiccan Rede. That's a religious reason, but it's hardly a bad one.

Looking at the Wiccan Rede ("don't cause harm" as wikipedia has lead me to summarize it) there are easy arguments to be made for it being a good principal on its own. Just because people have also made it a religious principal does not change the fact that there are good, non-religious arguments for it. It is why I have tried used "purely religious" often in this discussion.

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:Just to be clear where I'm going with this, I don't see any principle behind your invocation of freedom of religion beyond the fact that you think all religions happen to be wrong and thus think that all reasoning that proceeds from religious premises is unsound.

To clarify, it's both freedom of and freedom from religion; both at the same time. I am fine with others having any religious belief system of theirs that can they are able to have. I am also very strongly against them imposing that belief on anyone other than themselves. I would not call that thinking that "all religions happen to be wrong" -- I would say it is highlighting the extent to which religion can be and often is a very personal thing, and how the structure for it ultimately relies on belief, which I do not see as a good cornerstone to be using for your decisions that will permanently and unalterably affect someone else that does not -- and specific for this discussion, currently can not -- share that belief.

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:Your argument looks like this: (1) people shouldn't be allowed to impose things for poor reasons; (2) religious reasons are poor reasons; so, (C) people shouldn't be allowed to impose things for religious reasons. But in that case, (C) isn't so much a substantive principle as it is a special case of some more general principle, (1). As I see it, you're appealing to (C) as something that should be obvious, but it isn't obvious until you've established (1). So I wish you would argue for (1) instead of pretending that religion has some *special* unenforceability that everyone can agree on.

I should have to establish that forcing something on someone else for a reason that is bad is not something you should be able to do? I'm not sure how you expect me to go about that in any detail, I would hope it would be obvious.

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Re: German Court Rules Religious Circumcision An Assault On

Postby The Mighty Thesaurus » Thu Jun 28, 2012 6:27 am UTC

Circumcision in the US was mostly about preventing masturbation
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Re: German Court Rules Religious Circumcision An Assault On

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Thu Jun 28, 2012 6:44 am UTC

Ghostbear wrote:Just because people have also made it a religious principal does not change the fact that there are good, non-religious arguments for it.

What differentiates a religious argument from a non-religious one? Why is it a morally relevant distinction?

Ghostbear wrote:I should have to establish that forcing something on someone else for a reason that is bad is not something you should be able to do? I'm not sure how you expect me to go about that in any detail, I would hope it would be obvious.

For example, most people who are circumcised due to Jewish law will grow up to be Jewish, and probably most of them will be glad they were circumcised as infants (both because their then-religion would prescribe it, and because they'd rather have the pain behind them). No, not everyone will feel this way, but at the very least it's not "obvious" that it would be wrong to circumcise them (say, if you were a non-religious, disinterested third party tasked with making this one decision before the kids are turned over to their parents for the rest of their upbringing). Now, you and I will agree that when the parents make that same decision on religious grounds, they're doing it for a bad reason. But if we haven't shown that the outcome itself is bad, it's really far from obvious that we have any grounds for forcing them not to pursue this bad line of reasoning.

Or, for a less murky example, suppose someone wants to get her son the chicken pox vaccine because she thinks it will make him immune to all forms of cancer as well as demonic possession. Terrible reasons for forcing a kid to get vaccinated. But there doesn't seem to be any point in preventing her from acting on it.
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Re: German Court Rules Religious Circumcision An Assault On

Postby Iulus Cofield » Thu Jun 28, 2012 6:51 am UTC

The Mighty Thesaurus wrote:Circumcision in the US was mostly about preventing masturbation


I would like to know more.

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Re: German Court Rules Religious Circumcision An Assault On

Postby paulisa » Thu Jun 28, 2012 6:57 am UTC

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:
Ghostbear wrote:Just because people have also made it a religious principal does not change the fact that there are good, non-religious arguments for it.

What differentiates a religious argument from a non-religious one? Why is it a morally relevant distinction?


A religious argument boiles down to "my god said so", which is something no one can argue against. This is a morally relevant distinction because if the conclusion is harmful to society, the negative effects are dismissed by the people making the argument because god trumps everything. Also, because of freedom of religion, religous people get to do things that would be illegal for others to do.

The thing is, the argument of the court did not touch the infants religion or non-religion or incapability of religion at all. The court decided that the infants right to bodily integrity trumps the parents' rights to religious expression.
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Re: German Court Rules Religious Circumcision An Assault On

Postby Ghostbear » Thu Jun 28, 2012 7:06 am UTC

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:What differentiates a religious argument from a non-religious one? Why is it a morally relevant distinction?

I think part of my prior post covers this: "[...] how the structure for [religion] ultimately relies on belief, which I do not see as a good cornerstone to be using for your decisions that will permanently and unalterably affect someone else that does not -- and specific for this discussion, currently can not -- share that belief." We can know from non-belief based sources that the polio vaccine is a positive (or negative) thing,

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:For example, most people who are circumcised due to Jewish law will grow up to be Jewish, and probably most of them will be glad they were circumcised as infants (both because their then-religion would prescribe it, and because they'd rather have the pain behind them). No, not everyone will feel this way, but at the very least it's not "obvious" that it would be wrong to circumcise them (say, if you were a non-religious, disinterested third party tasked with making this one decision before the kids are turned over to their parents for the rest of their upbringing). Now, you and I will agree that when the parents make that same decision on religious grounds, they're doing it for a bad reason. But if we haven't shown that the outcome itself is bad, it's really far from obvious that we have any grounds for forcing them not to pursue this bad line of reasoning.

Based on this, I feel it is necessary to highlight my first post in this thread that I have been arguing from. I was, and have been, arguing against the purely religious argument. If there are other factors -- such as the outcome(s) -- worth considering, then we should consider those factors on their own.

EDIT: On further thought... are you arguing that we can not conclude that the "imposed decisions on others for poor reasons" are not universally bad (not sure if 'bad' is the best word to use here), because the outcome/conclusion might be good because of other factors, e.g. the chicken pox vaccine example? If so, that might be valid, but since the start I've just been trying to highlight that if all you have is the purely religious argument for it, then you don't have a good reason for it. The potential existence of those other desirable/good outcomes should be the argument for it instead.
Last edited by Ghostbear on Thu Jun 28, 2012 7:51 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: German Court Rules Religious Circumcision An Assault On

Postby Outchanter » Thu Jun 28, 2012 7:26 am UTC

Welp, I'm sure the Jews and Muslims of Europe won't see this as an attack on their faiths in any way whatsoever.

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Re: German Court Rules Religious Circumcision An Assault On

Postby folkhero » Thu Jun 28, 2012 7:32 am UTC

natraj wrote:rad. i hope they extend this to other unnecessary cosmetic procedures (if they aren't already illegal) on people who can't consent, although probably other ones are not so common and contentious as to come to litigation.

also that other places follow suit.

Yikes, I hope not. I had an unnecessary cosmetic (according to the insurance company) procedure as a young child and I'm sure that my life is much better because of it. I'm glad that the decision was left up to my parents and doctors and not you some governmental officials.

The argument that circumcision is bad because it's permanent is one of the dumbest things I've heard argued for. Nearly every substantial parent's decision for their child is permanent. For example, my parents put me in a public school rather than a Catholic one for purely religious reasons. (As a compromise between my Catholic mother and Protestant father I went to Catholic Mass, but not Catholic school) Now this has had a profoundly larger impact on my life than the rather minor decision to have me circumcised, and surely the impact is just as permanent. I can't unmake my elementary school friendships (which are still among the richest friendships of my life) and replace them with the friendships I would have made at the Catholic school. I can't unlearn my lessons and learn the ones I would have learned in my counter-factual Catholic school world. Now all of these permanent effects are somewhat invisible because I literally have no idea what my life would be like in the Catholic school parallel universe. Whereas if I wasn't circumcised, I have a pretty good idea of what the difference in my life would be.

Also, does anyone else find it problematic that this arguably anti-Jewish legislation is coming from Germany?
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Re: German Court Rules Religious Circumcision An Assault On

Postby Ghostbear » Thu Jun 28, 2012 7:46 am UTC

folkhero wrote:The argument that circumcision is bad because it's permanent is one of the dumbest things I've heard argued for.

It's a damn good thing that the argument had more to it than that then, isn't it? You can make any position look dumb if you make it into a strawman, but that doesn't really say anything about the argument itself.

folkhero wrote:Also, does anyone else find it problematic that this arguably anti-Jewish legislation is coming from Germany?

I found it to be perhaps a touch ironic, but I don't really see how you could argue it is problematic -- from my (admittedly non-expert) understanding, Germany is about as ill-positioned to repeat its past mistakes as just about any developed nation.

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Re: German Court Rules Religious Circumcision An Assault On

Postby Steroid » Thu Jun 28, 2012 10:33 am UTC

If a circumcision on an infant is forcing religion, isn't banning circumcision on infants equally forcing? The only difference is that one is the status quo. Circumcision is not debilitating. Nor, strictly speaking, is it permanent. (Link NSFW)

Also, I'm sorry, but I have to do this:

buddy431 wrote:What's really fascinating is that a couple of years ago the American Academy of Pediatrics decided that even using a clitoral prick. . .


That's the weirdest case of hermaphroditism I've ever heard of.

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Re: German Court Rules Religious Circumcision An Assault On

Postby PeterCai » Thu Jun 28, 2012 10:38 am UTC

If smoking is a bad habit, isn't not smoking also a bad habit?

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Re: German Court Rules Religious Circumcision An Assault On

Postby Azuth » Thu Jun 28, 2012 11:36 am UTC

The issue is not about religious decisions of the parents impacting the future of the child (parents are allowed to make those decision and the government has no right to interfere), it's not about 'oh noes cosmetic surgery! (parents are allowed to make those with proper cause (my child will look pretty is proper cause, so no worries about cleft lip surgery and similar stuff)), it's about about physically endangering your child under what this particular court finds to be frivolous reasons. Germany allows parents to raise their children however they want as long as they follow a couple of basic rules. One of those rules is that no harm is to be done to the child, be it physical, psychological or mental (without proper cause). So in a country that doesn't allow you to insult or forcefully grab your child(unless you do it to protect the kid from danger), the decision to forbid parents to have minor surgical procedures performed on their children, with the only reason being 'a creature no one can see or hear told us so', that can lead to medical complications isn't all that strange or surprising.

To badly written didn't read: Not a religious issue, it's about protecting children from immediate harm.


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