Infant Circumcision

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Infant Circumcision

Postby sourmìlk » Sun Dec 18, 2011 12:05 am UTC

What are your views on male circumcision? Is it morally permissible, slightly harmful, or downright genital mutilation?

Here's my opinion:

One of the primary arguments against circumcision is that it decreases sensitivity, leading to sexual dysfunction. However, the data do not conclusive support this conclusion. Studies and anecdotes give contradictory reports, suggesting (to me, at least) that there isn't a really significant difference. It's also claimed that circumcision causes psychological harm, but again the data are not clear on that point. Circumcision, when performed on infants, has very low complication rates and lowers the rate of STDs (substantially in countries without sanitation). As such, the health benefits (in first-world countries) are also minimal. It's essentially an aesthetic change.

The other argument made is that it violates the rights of the child. I see this as a valid point, though not one I particularly agree with. So long as the parents are not harming the child (and, for why they're not, see above), I think parents have control over the bodies of their children. They can tell them not to get tattoos, they can make them eat certain things etc. I don't see circumcision as an exception to that rule, as no harm is done.

So considering all that, I see no problem with male circumcision. What are your incorrect views on the matter?
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Re: Male Infant Circumcision

Postby DJGreen » Sun Dec 18, 2011 12:42 am UTC

So should parents be allowed to tattoo their babies too?

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Re: Male Infant Circumcision

Postby sourmìlk » Sun Dec 18, 2011 12:44 am UTC

Arguably yes. But I actually view tattooing an infant as more damaging than circumcising an infant: you're not going to lose any job opportunities because you lack a foreskin.
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Re: Male Infant Circumcision

Postby yurell » Sun Dec 18, 2011 12:45 am UTC

Even if the rest of your statement were true concerning no loss of sensitivity (it was pretty well discussed in the previous thread to be untrue and that there is a loss of sensitivity), the "It's essentially an aesthetic change" argument simply does not fly.

Hacking off a child's earlobes is essentially an aesthetic change, does that mean we should do it? Ritual scarification is an aesthetic change, does that mean we should be allowed to cut children? Laser hair removal is an aesthetic change, so should we be allowed to make the children bald? Tattooing is an aesthetic change, so should we be allowed to have the child tattooed in whatever way we want?

I'm sorry, but permanent body alterations that are not a medical necessity are up to the individual to decide, not other people.
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Re: Male Infant Circumcision

Postby DJGreen » Sun Dec 18, 2011 12:49 am UTC

sourmìlk wrote:Arguably yes. But I actually view tattooing an infant as more damaging than circumcising an infant: you're not going to lose any job opportunities because you lack a foreskin.

Well I see tatooing as significantly less damaging, as it is relatively easy to undo. Out of interest, at what age do the parents stop being able to mutilate their children? I'm 17 right now, should my parents be allowed to circumcise me?

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Re: Male Infant Circumcision

Postby sourmìlk » Sun Dec 18, 2011 12:52 am UTC

yurell wrote:Even if the rest of your statement were true concerning no loss of sensitivity (it was pretty well discussed in the previous thread to be untrue and that there is a loss of sensitivity), the "It's essentially an aesthetic change" argument simply does not fly.

In lieu of reading through 20 pages, would you mind showing me what conclusively indicates that there's a loss in sensitivity? The studies I find that indicate a loss in sensitivity are a) contradicted by other studies and b) apply to adults who have had foreskins their whole lives and were then circumcised.

Hacking off a child's earlobes is essentially an aesthetic change,

I don't know how physically damaging that is.
does that mean we should do it? Ritual scarification is an aesthetic change, does that mean we should be allowed to cut children?

Circumcision is essentially ritual scarification. So, assuming you're not hurting the child, arguably yes.
Laser hair removal is an aesthetic change, so should we be allowed to make the children bald?

Arguably yes. Also perhaps the cultural notions attached to baldness make it so that this specific aesthetic change actually is harmful.
Tattooing is an aesthetic change, so should we be allowed to have the child tattooed in whatever way we want?

Arguably yes, but the cultural notions attached to tattooing are such that it might be considered harmful.

I'm sorry, but permanent body alterations that are not a medical necessity are up to the individual to decide, not other people.

The individual, in this case, is non-sentient and under the control of the parents. If you suggest waiting, it should be noted that circumcision is much more dangerous in adults.

DJGreen wrote:Well I see tatooing as significantly less damaging, as it is relatively easy to undo. Out of interest, at what age do the parents stop being able to mutilate their children?

Parents should never be allowed to mutilate their children. I never made that argument. And tattooing costs thousands of dollars to undo. I don't think that regrowing the foreskin costs more. And you can generally see the outline of the tattoo after removal.
I'm 17 right now, should my parents be allowed to circumcise me?

The complications of circumcision at age 17 might be different. Assuming they are the same as they are in an infant, then I don't think it would be unreasonable to suggest that your parents require you get circumcised. I know that they can require you to get other operations. Although at 17 you might be able to sign a contract legally under some circumstances and in some areas, in which case maybe not. It's a bit unclear at your age, but assuming that a person is in such an age where he does not have the capacity to make legal decisions concerning his own body, I see no problem with circumcision.
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Re: Male Infant Circumcision

Postby DJGreen » Sun Dec 18, 2011 1:07 am UTC

sourmìlk wrote:Parents should never be allowed to mutilate their children. I never made that argument. And tattooing costs thousands of dollars to undo. I don't think that regrowing the foreskin costs more. And you can generally see the outline of the tattoo after removal.

Merriam-Webster wrote:Mutilation - to cut up or alter radically so as to make imperfect.

Can you explain how that differs from circumcision?
Looking at a variety of sources here in the UK, tattoo removal seems to cost between around £200-£1000 and the 'outline' is usually only mild discolouration and is normally not seen at all. Foreskin reconstruction is around $2000, doesn't usually reproduce the foreskin perfectly and can lead to complications.


sourmìlk wrote:The complications of circumcision at age 17 might be different. Assuming they are the same as they are in an infant, then I don't think it would be unreasonable to suggest that your parents require you get circumcised. I know that they can require you to get other operations. Although at 17 you might be able to sign a contract legally under some circumstances and in some areas, in which case maybe not. It's a bit unclear at your age, but assuming that a person is in such an age where he does not have the capacity to make legal decisions concerning his own body, I see no problem with circumcision.

I'm pretty sure my parents can't require me to get elective cosmetic surgery. If I were a girl, should/could my parents be able to force me to get breast implants?

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Re: Male Infant Circumcision

Postby LaserGuy » Sun Dec 18, 2011 1:11 am UTC

sourmìlk wrote:The individual, in this case, is non-sentient and under the control of the parents. If you suggest waiting, it should be noted that circumcision is much more dangerous in adults.


If this were the case, parents would also have the right to euthanise their infant children. There are some people who argue that this should be the state of affairs, but most people, and most civilized countries recognize that infants are entitled to human rights the moment that they are born.

On a more general note though, I don't know why you're talking about benefits versus harm by circumcision. It's irrelevant. Nobody chooses to circumcise their children for these reasons: Circumcision is a religious practice. People circumcise their children because God told them that they have to. Even if circumcision caused significant harm, Jewish parents would still do it because it is part of their religion. Ignoring this issue is missing the forest for the trees.

sourmilk wrote:Parents should never be allowed to mutilate their children. I never made that argument. And tattooing costs thousands of dollars to undo. I don't think that regrowing the foreskin costs more. And you can generally see the outline of the tattoo after removal.


Reversing circumcision costs thousands of dollars, and has a much higher risk of complications than tattoo removal.

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Re: Male Infant Circumcision

Postby sourmìlk » Sun Dec 18, 2011 1:14 am UTC

DJGreen wrote:
sourmìlk wrote:Parents should never be allowed to mutilate their children. I never made that argument. And tattooing costs thousands of dollars to undo. I don't think that regrowing the foreskin costs more. And you can generally see the outline of the tattoo after removal.

Merriam-Webster wrote:Mutilation - to cut up or alter radically so as to make imperfect.

Can you explain how that differs from circumcision?

First: I hate Merriam-Webster. I tend to use the princeton definitions (they're the first result in Google for define: [word]). But anyways, the two inapplicable words are "radically" and "imperfect."

As circumcision does not qualitatively decrease one's genitalia, it cannot make something more or less perfect than it is.
As far as radically goes, considering that there is no function change, and considering the localization of the change and the fact that people don't usually see it anyways, I would not consider the change radical.

Looking at a variety of sources here in the UK, tattoo removal seems to cost between around £200-£1000 and the 'outline' is usually only mild discolouration and is normally not seen at all. Foreskin reconstruction is around $2000, doesn't usually reproduce the foreskin perfectly and can lead to complications.

I don't see those as substantially different.

LaserGuy wrote:If this were the case, parents would also have the right to euthanise their infant children. There are some people who argue that this should be the state of affairs, but most people, and most civilized countries recognize that infants are entitled to human rights the moment that they are born.

I said that parents have a right to the body of their children so long as they aren't doing harm. You all need to stop ignoring that.

Ignoring this issue is missing the forest for the trees.

Not when we're arguing about the morality of circumcision.

I'm pretty sure my parents can't require me to get elective cosmetic surgery. If I were a girl, should/could my parents be able to force me to get breast implants?

Considering the degree to which that affects your appearance (and thus people's perception of you) and the invasiveness of the surgery and the fact that I'm not sure of the extent of the side effects, no, almost certainly not. Please take into account everything I've said: the change has to be non-harmful.
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Re: Male Infant Circumcision

Postby LaserGuy » Sun Dec 18, 2011 1:21 am UTC

sourmìlk wrote:Considering the degree to which that affects your appearance (and thus people's perception of you) and the invasiveness of the surgery and the fact that I'm not sure of the extent of the side effects, no, almost certainly not. Please take into account everything I've said: the change has to be non-harmful.


Breast augmentation is probably a net benefit, I would suspect... There are substantial benefits to being more attractive.

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Re: Male Infant Circumcision

Postby sourmìlk » Sun Dec 18, 2011 1:23 am UTC

First, that doesn't counteract the invasiveness of the surgery. Second, due to the fact that breast implants often look unnatural, do we know that they actually make people significantly more attractive?
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Re: Male Infant Circumcision

Postby yurell » Sun Dec 18, 2011 1:30 am UTC

sourmìlk wrote:In lieu of reading through 20 pages, would you mind showing me what conclusively indicates that there's a loss in sensitivity? The studies I find that indicate a loss in sensitivity are a) contradicted by other studies and b) apply to adults who have had foreskins their whole lives and were then circumcised.


To steal a post or two from that page (note: posts are in neither response nor proximity to one another):

On the subject that a significant minority, if not a majority, have decreased sensitivity:
Spoiler:
yurell wrote:
Izawwlgood wrote:Fine, here's a paper that surveyed 150 men and found increased and decreased sensitivity and satisfaction. Here's anotherthat surveyed 123 men and found increased and decreased sensitivity and satisfaction. Again, you can find studies that find significant changes either way, happy or unhappy either way .


You do realise that that shows a significant minority, if not a majority, of people have decreased sensitivity, right? In fact, that first paper shows that a full third of men weren't satisfied with being circumcised.


That the surgery itself is risky:
Spoiler:
arcticfox.sq wrote:Everyone agrees that circumcision is a surgery though, right?

Does nobody care that any surgery carries significant risk of infection? Especially when the area being operated on is bundled into a diaper the vast majority of the time? Even if we assume that circumcision has no long term detriments or benefits, why is having an infant go through a completely unnecessary surgery a good idea? Suppose we left religion out of this for the time being; and focus on the parents who do this because everyone else is doing it. I personally don't think parents should be allowed to have any surgical procedure performed on their infant without either a medical reason OR to correct a significant disfigurement. As in, sure fix the kid's cleft palate, but please don't surgically alter their ears to look like elf ears, or give them a nose job, or cut off a nipple. (Earlobe) Piercings I look at differently because they are not a surgical procedure, they are actually quite reversible, and carry much less inherent risk. I don't mean long term risk like reduced sensation or increased stress, but the immediate risk of complication from surgery. This website describes some common risks to this specific surgery (one of which is phimosis, isn't that ironic), the more serious of which is haemorrhage, blood clots, sepsis, etc. Also, any time a drug is introduced to the body (in this case an anesthetic), there is a chance of allergic reaction, which can be as mild as hives, or as serious as anaphylactic shock leading to death. I haven't been able to find a non-biased source for death rate from infant circumcision in North America (a conservative estimate was around 115 deaths per year in the USA), but everything I've found is higher than 0%. Actively choosing for an infant to get a surgical procedure with no proven medical benefit, and is not correcting a congenital or acquired disfigurment, and carries ANY rate of complication or death is unacceptable to me. Add this on top of post-operative pain (assuming that there was no pain during because a local anesthetic was used and it actually worked), and lack of consent from the individual affected, and the irreversibility of the procedure - I'd say it should be up to doctors to refuse to perform this procedure, they should know better.

Some sources that I read while typing this up (sorry I'm too lazy to cite each statement when I'm writing papers for school, I'm certainly not going to do it for an internet debate).

http://www.examiner.com/family-health-i ... -accidents

http://www.icgi.org/2010/04/infant-circ ... ear-in-us/
^Same source article as the first link

http://www.examiner.com/family-health-i ... d-go-wrong

http://www.circumstitions.com/Complic.html

http://www.medicinenet.com/circumcision ... /page3.htm

http://www.cirp.org/library/complications/
NSFW - pictures

http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2490/10/2

Anyways, I've always thought that surgery was something to be avoided unless necessary, and this was especially true with neonates. I don't see why an exception should be made for circumcision.

Also, out of curiosity, how is the procedure performed in a Jewish or Muslim religious setting? The the person doing it trained for that one procedure or do they have some other medical background? Is surgical aseptic technique used, complete with sterile field, sterile gloves and instruments? Are there medical professionals on hand to deal with complications like haemorrhage or shock?

Edit to include reply to Cheesewhiz:
Cheezwhiz Jenkins wrote:Female Genital Mutilation is nothing like circumcision in males.


No. As it was previously stated in this thread, it depends on what type of FGM. Removal of the clitoral hood is very much analogous to removal of the foreskin. Their basic function is the same: to protect the glans. But without it, people are still pretty much ok. What most of us take issue with is that there is no good reason to force the removal of it on an infant. As I said, it is a surgical procedure carrying the same risks as any other type of minor surgery. Infants should not be subjected to these risks unnecessarily.


To steal shamelessly from nitePhyrre, in order to show that circumcision is not harmful, or at least only cosmetic, all you need to do is provide:
nitePhyrre wrote:1) A study that shows the circumcision and healing process are painless [and reversible].
2) That the foreskin itself has no nerves -or- that there is no way to pleasurably stimulate the foreskin -or- that the removal of the foreskin has no effect on the foreskin.


sourmìlk wrote:
Hacking off a child's earlobes is essentially an aesthetic change,

I don't know how physically damaging that is.


Here's a hint -- people regularly force sharp pieces of metal through it / stretch it with large gauge rings. It's definitely not more harmful than removal of the foreskin.

sourmìlk wrote:
does that mean we should do it? Ritual scarification is an aesthetic change, does that mean we should be allowed to cut children?

Circumcision is essentially ritual scarification. So, assuming you're not hurting the child, arguably yes.


Not hurting the child? Forgive me, I'm not a guy, but I was under the impression that cutting off one's foreskin would be a painful experience?

sourmìlk wrote:
Laser hair removal is an aesthetic change, so should we be allowed to make the children bald?

Arguably yes. Also perhaps the cultural notions attached to baldness make it so that this specific aesthetic change actually is harmful.

Tattooing is an aesthetic change, so should we be allowed to have the child tattooed in whatever way we want?

Arguably yes, but the cultural notions attached to tattooing are such that it might be considered harmful.


Great, so I'm free to customise my child permanently without their permission? I don't ever want my daughter to 'dress like a slut', so I'll tattoo her midriff purple so she can't ever show it in public.

sourmìlk wrote:
I'm sorry, but permanent body alterations that are not a medical necessity are up to the individual to decide, not other people.

The individual, in this case, is non-sentient and under the control of the parents. If you suggest waiting, it should be noted that circumcision is much more dangerous in adults.


I do suggest waiting. How would you feel if the state mandated that every child had to have their earlobes removed? Be ritually scarified? You would object strongly, I should hope. But when it's parents mutilating a child that is placed under their protection, suddenly it's fine? And if it's non-sentient, how do you address things like sexual abuse? So long as the child is not harmed, is it okay for parents to use their infants as sex toys?

DJGreen wrote:Foreskin reconstruction is around $2000, doesn't usually reproduce the foreskin perfectly and can lead to complications.


Foreskin reconstruction can't restore the erogenous nerve endings or the band that holds the foreskin in place closed about the penis, either, which makes the circumcision only superficially reversible.

Edit:
sourmìlk wrote:As circumcision does not qualitatively decrease one's genitalia


What? You can measure it with a bloody ruler.
Last edited by yurell on Sun Dec 18, 2011 1:34 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Male Infant Circumcision

Postby Josephine » Sun Dec 18, 2011 1:33 am UTC

sourmìlk wrote:First, that doesn't counteract the invasiveness of the surgery. Second, due to the fact that breast implants often look unnatural, do we know that they actually make people significantly more attractive?

I'm not going to get too involved in this conversation, but I see a systemic nitpicking of analogies around here, and to me that just gives an impression that you have nothing else to go on. Presumably, the assumption here is that the implants would make the person more attractive.
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Re: Male Infant Circumcision

Postby sourmìlk » Sun Dec 18, 2011 1:36 am UTC

Josephine wrote:
sourmìlk wrote:First, that doesn't counteract the invasiveness of the surgery. Second, due to the fact that breast implants often look unnatural, do we know that they actually make people significantly more attractive?

I'm not going to get too involved in this conversation, but I see a systemic nitpicking of analogies around here, and to me that just gives an impression that you have nothing else to go on. Presumably, the assumption here is that the implants would make the person more attractive.


I nitpick anyways. But invasiveness is most certainly not a nitpick: if it's invasive, it's harmful. Or at least has a high probability of being harmful. Circumcision is neither of those things. Medically, there is a large difference between being circumcised and getting breast implants.
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Re: Male Infant Circumcision

Postby DJGreen » Sun Dec 18, 2011 1:37 am UTC

sourmìlk wrote:But anyways, the two inapplicable words are "radically" and "imperfect."

I think you missed the 'or' in the definition - 'Cut up or change radically'. I don't think you can deny circumcision is cutting up :P
sourmìlk wrote:As circumcision does not qualitatively decrease one's genitalia, it cannot make something more or less perfect than it is.

Well, I assume we are using 'perfect' to mean the natural state of the body, else the definition is meaningless. In which case there is a clear qualitative change, that of a loss of foreskin.
sourmìlk wrote:I don't see those as substantially different.

You don't see a substantial difference between a risk-free procedure that leaves little to no discernable negative effects (certainly not enough to be discriminated against when looking for work, to use your example) and a surgery that costs twice the price, can cause serious problems and frequently leaves the patient dissatisfied with the result?
sourmìlk wrote:Considering the degree to which that affects your appearance (and thus people's perception of you) and the invasiveness of the surgery and the fact that I'm not sure of the extent of the side effects, no, almost certainly not. Please take into account everything I've said: the change has to be non-harmful.

What about forcing them to have their tonsils or appendix removed? They could arguably be seen as beneficial, but personally I don't think a parent should be able to force a child to have a non-necessary operation.

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Re: Male Infant Circumcision

Postby yurell » Sun Dec 18, 2011 1:38 am UTC

sourmìlk wrote:Circumcision is neither of those things [invasive or harmful]


You keep asserting this. Evidence pls.
Last edited by yurell on Sun Dec 18, 2011 1:38 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Male Infant Circumcision

Postby Josephine » Sun Dec 18, 2011 1:38 am UTC

sourmìlk wrote:I nitpick anyways. But invasiveness is most certainly not a nitpick: if it's invasive, it's harmful. Or at least has a high probability of being harmful. Circumcision is neither of those things. Medically, there is a large difference between being circumcised and getting breast implants.

My error at not removing part of the quote. I was only talking about the second part.
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Re: Male Infant Circumcision

Postby sourmìlk » Sun Dec 18, 2011 1:51 am UTC

DJGreen: your definitions don't work. If we allow any cutting up to equate to mutilation, then a paper cut is mutilation. If you want to assert that a paper cut is mutilation, then I'm going to say that mutilation isn't all that bad. If you define "not at its natural state" as imperfection, then mutilation has also lost all meaning. Haircuts are mutilation, makeup is mutilation, manicures are mutilation. If we define those words by necessitating that they have a radical change, circumcision does not qualify.

DJGreen wrote:What about forcing them to have their tonsils or appendix removed? They could arguably be seen as beneficial, but personally I don't think a parent should be able to force a child to have a non-necessary operation.

My knowledge is that those procedures are more invasive. For one thing, they have to put you entirely under to do them. Appendectomies require stitches and incisions through multiple layers of the abdominal wall, it's a whole big thing. If you want to go for an analogy, try something that's medically close to circumcision.



yurell wrote:You keep asserting this. Evidence pls.


Okay. From the wikipedia:
Moses et al. (1998) state that "scientific evidence is lacking" for psychological and emotional harm, citing a longitudinal study which did not find a difference in developmental and behavioural indices.


Hirji et al. (2005) state that "Reports of [. . .] psychological trauma are not borne out in studies but remain as an anecdotal cause for concern."

The American Academy of Pediatrics points to a survey (self-report) finding circumcised adult men had less sexual dysfunction and more varied sexual practices

In January 2007, The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) stated "The effect of circumcision on penile sensation or sexual satisfaction is unknown. Because the epithelium of a circumcised glans becomes cornified, and because some feel nerve over-stimulation leads to desensitization, many believe that the glans of a circumcised penis is less sensitive. [. . .] No valid evidence to date, however, supports the notion that being circumcised affects sexual sensation or satisfaction."


Now, there are other studies there that show different results. But, without clear evidence, the proper thing to do is assume the null hypothesis, in this case that a given action is not harmful.
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Re: Male Infant Circumcision

Postby yurell » Sun Dec 18, 2011 1:55 am UTC

But, without clear evidence, the proper thing to do is assume the null hypothesis, in this case that a given action is not harmful.


Are you sure that's how it works in medicine?
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Re: Male Infant Circumcision

Postby sourmìlk » Sun Dec 18, 2011 1:56 am UTC

I'm pretty sure that's how it works in morality. The burden of proof is different in medicine because you have to show efficacy.
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Re: Male Infant Circumcision

Postby DJGreen » Sun Dec 18, 2011 2:05 am UTC

sourmìlk wrote:DJGreen: your definitions don't work. If we allow any cutting up to equate to mutilation, then a paper cut is mutilation. If you want to assert that a paper cut is mutilation, then I'm going to say that mutilation isn't all that bad. If you define "not at its natural state" as imperfection, then mutilation has also lost all meaning. Haircuts are mutilation, makeup is mutilation, manicures are mutilation. If we define those words by necessitating that they have a radical change, circumcision does not qualify.

It isn't either/or. I can't tell if you're intentionally misrepresenting what I said or if you just didn't parse the sentence correctly; in case it's the latter, mutilation is [cutting or radical change] that results in imperfection. Now that is a fairly loose definition, but not one that includes makeup, haircuts or manicures.

sourmilk wrote:My knowledge is that those procedures are more invasive. For one thing, they have to put you entirely under to do them. Appendectomies require stitches and incisions through multiple layers of the abdominal wall, it's a whole big thing. If you want to go for an analogy, try something that's medically close to circumcision.

Tonsillectomies can be done with only local anaesthetic.

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Re: Male Infant Circumcision

Postby Cleverbeans » Sun Dec 18, 2011 2:17 am UTC

sourmìlk wrote:I'm pretty sure that's how it works in morality. The burden of proof is different in medicine because you have to show efficacy.


In medicine however the rule is generally "first, do no harm" meaning if something has no clear benefit you shouldn't do it in case it does cause harm. I think this would equally apply to removing parts of someone's body without their consent as well...
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Re: Male Infant Circumcision

Postby yurell » Sun Dec 18, 2011 2:24 am UTC

sourmìlk wrote:I'm pretty sure that's how it works in morality. The burden of proof is different in medicine because you have to show efficacy.


Ummmm, no. I can't, in good conscience, feed you a chemical without knowing whether it will do harm or not. First it needs to be demonstrated that it does no harm.

And in the case of circumcision, I have linked you to studies showing (at least) a significant minority are harmed for this otherwise cosmetic surgery. What's an acceptable rate of harm for a 'cosmetic' surgery like this?
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Re: Male Infant Circumcision

Postby sourmìlk » Sun Dec 18, 2011 2:47 am UTC

DJGreen wrote:
sourmìlk wrote:DJGreen: your definitions don't work. If we allow any cutting up to equate to mutilation, then a paper cut is mutilation. If you want to assert that a paper cut is mutilation, then I'm going to say that mutilation isn't all that bad. If you define "not at its natural state" as imperfection, then mutilation has also lost all meaning. Haircuts are mutilation, makeup is mutilation, manicures are mutilation. If we define those words by necessitating that they have a radical change, circumcision does not qualify.

It isn't either/or. I can't tell if you're intentionally misrepresenting what I said or if you just didn't parse the sentence correctly; in case it's the latter, mutilation is [cutting or radical change] that results in imperfection. Now that is a fairly loose definition, but not one that includes makeup, haircuts or manicures.

If your definition of "imperfection" is "not completely natural" then yes, it does include makeup, haircuts, and manicures.

sourmilk wrote:My knowledge is that those procedures are more invasive. For one thing, they have to put you entirely under to do them. Appendectomies require stitches and incisions through multiple layers of the abdominal wall, it's a whole big thing. If you want to go for an analogy, try something that's medically close to circumcision.

Tonsillectomies can be done with only local anaesthetic.

That's cool, I didn't know that. Unfortunately, it's still much more invasive than a circumcision, and more harmful. Assuming the circumcision is done anesthetized, I don't think people complain about the pain for days after. Babies often don't notice.

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Ummmm, no. I can't, in good conscience, feed you a chemical without knowing whether it will do harm or not. First it needs to be demonstrated that it does no harm.

Without looking it up, tell me all the side-effects of red dye #4, sodium benzoate, and the differences in how your body digests sucrose and maltodextrin. You feed yourself and parents feed their children chemicals they know nothing about all the time. You only assume it's harmless because you haven't noticed effects in other people. And if that's the standard we're using, circumcision meets that.

And in the case of circumcision, I have linked you to studies showing (at least) a significant minority are harmed for this otherwise cosmetic surgery. What's an acceptable rate of harm for a 'cosmetic' surgery like this?

And I've linked you to studies showing that they aren't hurt. Rather than arbitrarily assuming only your studies are correct (which wouldn't matter then as they're mostly irrelevant, most being specific to adult circumcision), how about we accept that no judgment can be made as to the harm that circumcision can do, and simply assume the null hypothesis.

Cleverbeans wrote:In medicine however the rule is generally "first, do no harm" meaning if something has no clear benefit you shouldn't do it in case it does cause harm. I think this would equally apply to removing parts of someone's body without their consent as well...

I know, but I'm not making an argument for recommending this as a medical procedure. If I were a doctor in a first world country, I would not recommend circumcision as the benefit is minimal and there is insufficient evidence to conclusively say there is no harm involved. However, given the lack of conclusive evidence showing that circumcision is harmful, I would also not say that circumcision is bad.

Now, the CDC is considering promoting universal circumcision, but as their job is mainly disease control and, whatever the effects of circumcision are, we know it helps slow the rate of disease, their opinion should not necessarily be taken as the end-all for ruling on the morality and medical benefit of circumcision.
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Re: Male Infant Circumcision

Postby yurell » Sun Dec 18, 2011 3:02 am UTC

sourmìlk wrote:And I've linked you to studies showing that they aren't hurt. Rather than arbitrarily assuming only your studies are correct (which wouldn't matter then as they're mostly irrelevant, most being specific to adult circumcision), how about we accept that no judgment can be made as to the harm that circumcision can do, and simply assume the null hypothesis.


What? So everyone who answered that they did indeed experience a decrease in sensitivity were just lying were they? I call bullshit.
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Re: Male Infant Circumcision

Postby lutzj » Sun Dec 18, 2011 3:24 am UTC

Regarding loss of sensitivity: Isn't that a reason for administering circumcision as soon as possible?

Let's suppose it does occur in cases where circumcision happens soon after birth (and, as sourmilk said, most studies demonstrating a loss of sensitivity only examine adult circumcision, and it's virtually impossible to qualitatively compare experiences among people). If you don't have any memory of foreskin-level sensitivity, then any loss will be pretty much irrelevant, because it's still the most sensitive part of your body and "better than having your glans touched" will be pretty much unimaginable. Furthermore, the more-important sensations of orgasm, or the emotional qualities of sex, still aren't changed at all. There probably isn't a meaningful sexual detriment to circumcision as long as you do it early enough, while the health benefits are demonstrable, so obviously we should circumcise infants to grant them those benefits while sparing them the experience of losing sensitivity in their penis.
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Re: Male Infant Circumcision

Postby yurell » Sun Dec 18, 2011 3:28 am UTC

... what? If you remove someone's eyes when they're infants they'll have no memory of being able to see, either. A loss is a loss, just because you can't remember what it was like to have the thing that was stolen from you doesn't mean that it's okay.

Loss of sensitivity is a reason to not administer it at all unless they want it, not some weird justification for depriving someone of something they needn't be deprived of earlier so that they can't experience what it's like to not be deprived of it.
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Re: Male Infant Circumcision

Postby lutzj » Sun Dec 18, 2011 4:06 am UTC

yurell wrote:... what? If you remove someone's eyes when they're infants they'll have no memory of being able to see, either. A loss is a loss, just because you can't remember what it was like to have the thing that was stolen from you doesn't mean that it's okay.


But you're not removing the sense completely. It's more analogous to making the color blue somewhat less vibrant. You don't care, because blue still is blue and it still goes up to 100% vibrancy.
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Re: Male Infant Circumcision

Postby LaserGuy » Sun Dec 18, 2011 4:12 am UTC

lutzj wrote:
yurell wrote:... what? If you remove someone's eyes when they're infants they'll have no memory of being able to see, either. A loss is a loss, just because you can't remember what it was like to have the thing that was stolen from you doesn't mean that it's okay.


But you're not removing the sense completely. It's more analogous to making the color blue somewhat less vibrant. You don't care, because blue still is blue and it still goes up to 100% vibrancy.


In other words, it's more like removing one eye than removing both?

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Re: Male Infant Circumcision

Postby CorruptUser » Sun Dec 18, 2011 4:14 am UTC

But circumcised men last longer. Depending on the study.

So circumcision helps women. Maybe.

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Re: Male Infant Circumcision

Postby yurell » Sun Dec 18, 2011 4:16 am UTC

I'm sorry, perhaps I'm misunderstanding you lutzj, but did you seriously just try to justify harming someone a little bit because it's better than harming them a lot? What about, harming them not at all?
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Re: Male Infant Circumcision

Postby sourmìlk » Sun Dec 18, 2011 4:18 am UTC

yurell wrote:What? So everyone who answered that they did indeed experience a decrease in sensitivity were just lying were they? I call bullshit.

I didn't say that. But without evidence that sensitivity is a universal or even really common thing, those answers are anecdotes and completely irrelevant to the discussion.

It is neither like removing both eyes or one eye. Even assuming a technical loss of sensitivity, what a circumcised person would experience is, from their perception, identical to what an uncircumcised person would experience from his perception. If both their perceptions are the same, then no falsifiable harm has been done. In the case of somebody having one eye or somebody having no eyes, his perception of reality differs from a sighted person. Even if sensitivity is lost, a circumcised person will have the same perception of sex as an uncircumcised person. And according to some studies, and even better perception.

The data are totally inconclusive regarding the risks of circumcision. If the data are inconclusive, we should not by default override parental discretion. If you want to override parental discretion, the burden of proof is on you to show what they're doing is harmful.

CorruptUser wrote:But circumcised men last longer. Depending on the study.

Yeah, this is another one of those things that data aren't clear on. There are studies saying they last longer, others that they last shorter. Again, we should assume the null hypothesis.

yurell wrote:I'm sorry, perhaps I'm misunderstanding you lutzj, but did you seriously just try to justify harming someone a little bit because it's better than harming them a lot?

No. He's saying that the perception of reality of the "harmed" person is identical to the perception of the unharmed person, and as such, no measurable harm has actually been done. After all, if both circumcised (in infancy) and uncircumcised males report the same pleasure during sex, does it matter that, technically, less nerve endings are being stimulated in the circumcised male?
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Re: Male Infant Circumcision

Postby lutzj » Sun Dec 18, 2011 4:25 am UTC

LaserGuy wrote:In other words, it's more like removing one eye than removing both?


No,

lutzj wrote:It's more analogous to making the color blue somewhat less vibrant. You don't care, because blue still is blue and it still goes up to 100% vibrancy.
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Re: Male Infant Circumcision

Postby LaserGuy » Sun Dec 18, 2011 4:30 am UTC

lutzj wrote:
LaserGuy wrote:In other words, it's more like removing one eye than removing both?


No,

lutzj wrote:It's more analogous to making the color blue somewhat less vibrant. You don't care, because blue still is blue and it still goes up to 100% vibrancy.


A person with one eye is not deprived of the sense of vision. They merely have a reduction in their ability to see. Anyway, I would argue that an elective surgery that would make your child partially colorblind, as you are suggesting, would be equally horrendous and immoral.

That said, glancing at the other threads linked previously, I don't think it likely that this discussion is going to cover any new ground, so I'm just going to leave it there before the mods descend on us.

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Re: Male Infant Circumcision

Postby sourmìlk » Sun Dec 18, 2011 4:35 am UTC

LaserGuy wrote:A person with one eye is not deprived of the sense of vision. They merely have a reduction in their ability to see. Anyway, I would argue that an elective surgery that would make your child partially colorblind, as you are suggesting, would be equally horrendous and immoral.

Somebody who doesn't perceive blue as vibrantly, in lutzj's example, wouldn't have a reduced ability to see. He could still distinguish all the colors, and blue would look just as vibrant to him as it does to others, even if fewer cone cells were stimulated in his retinae by blue (or however that vision thing works). Really though, analogies are very dangerous in a thread like this. I think that gist of what lutzj is saying is that, if perceptions between two people are identical, it doesn't matter how their physiology gives them those perceptions.

That said, glancing at the other threads linked previously, I don't think it likely that this discussion is going to cover any new ground, so I'm just going to leave it there before the mods descend on us.

The other thread was about a specific article on a different forum. I thought that the discussion would be better suited here.
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Re: Male Infant Circumcision

Postby lutzj » Sun Dec 18, 2011 4:39 am UTC

And reducing the saturation of a color is not "partial colorblindness," especially since we're talking about, say, a 10% reduction in sensation. My assertion is that a moderate decrease in the intensity of a specific sensation, caused at or shortly after birth, will be virtually unnoticeable to a person. You might only see colors at 10% the saturation of everyone else, or you might perceive what I perceive as "blue" as "red" and vice-versa, but you have no way of knowing without something else to compare your perception to, and so it doesn't affect you adversely at all, except possibly in your aesthetic preferences.
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Re: Male Infant Circumcision

Postby yurell » Sun Dec 18, 2011 4:47 am UTC

sourmìlk wrote:
yurell wrote:What? So everyone who answered that they did indeed experience a decrease in sensitivity were just lying were they? I call bullshit.

I didn't say that. But without evidence that sensitivity is a universal or even really common thing, those answers are anecdotes and completely irrelevant to the discussion.


No it's not,especially when it's from a significant minority. Each of them knew how much pleasure they had before hand, and how much afterward. In lieu of an ability to actually test pleasure directly, this is the only measure we have. It doesn't have to decrease pleasure in all cases, even a small amount of people who are being robbed of sensitivity is a huge issue. According to you, how much of the population of circumcised people would have to experience loss of sensitivity before it became an issue? One in a thousand? One in a hundred? All of them? At what point does it become wrong?
Also, how are we supposed to tell if someone has a loss of sensitivity besides asking them? Please tell me this, since you're so willing to dismiss the personal testimonies as anecdotes.

Quite apart from this, there is the issue of psychological damage -- there are numerous reports of people feeling violated at having their body altered without their consent. By carving up their genitals for fun what you are doing is no better than rape, and I say that unapologetic. You are violating people in some of the most intimate ways possible without their permission, and then have the audacity to justify the act by saying 'oh, there's no conclusive evidence that it harms everyone, and even if it does you're not going to be able to experience the loss of sensitivity since you have no standard of comparison.'

How the hell is that a justification? What significant benefit does circumcising bring compared to the possible harm it can cause? You're the one taking the active stance (cutting someone's penis instead of leaving it alone), justify why you're doing this especially since you've conceded it's mostly aesthetic.

sourmìlk wrote:It is neither like removing both eyes or one eye. Even assuming a technical loss of sensitivity, what a circumcised person would experience is, from their perception, identical to what an uncircumcised person would experience from his perception. If both their perceptions are the same, then no falsifiable harm has been done. In the case of somebody having one eye or somebody having no eyes, his perception of reality differs from a sighted person. Even if sensitivity is lost, a circumcised person will have the same perception of sex as an uncircumcised person. And according to some studies, and even better perception.


'It's okay because they don't know what they're missing'. The same argument can be and has been made for slavery and any other number of abhorrent practises. Just because they don't know they've lost sensitivity doesn't mean they've not been harmed. If, say, I remove your ability to feel ecstatically jubilant, but left your ability to feel glad, you would still think you're having the right intensity of emotion but that doesn't make the fact that I've tinkered with your brain for no benefit acceptable.

sourmìlk wrote:The data are totally inconclusive regarding the risks of circumcision. If the data are inconclusive, we should not by default override parental discretion. If you want to override parental discretion, the burden of proof is on you to show what they're doing is harmful.


What do you mean inconclusive regarding the risks of circumcision? The risks of circumcision are quite conclusive — in fact, I provided a quote in an earlier post discussing the risks attached to the surgery, and these are well documented. 115 people die per year as a result of complications arising from circumcision in North America, and 100% of those could have been avoided if the parents didn't turn to each other and say "Do you know what would make the act of bringing a new life to this world more poetic and beautiful? Hacking off the end of its cock."

Quite apart from that, even though the consequences of circumcision may be debated, but why should that mean nothing about overriding parental discretion? I'm pretty sure ritual scarification is illegal to perform on children, yet this has no more risk than that. The example of using the infant for sexual pleasure is illegal, even in cases where it does no harm. The former is an example of a cosmetic medical practice, demonstrating that something isn't 'legal until it's proved harmful', while the latter is one of something regarded as a violation of a person's dignity even though they cannot experience it.

Edit: So lutzj, you're saying it's okay for someone to harm someone else, so long as they never know it?
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Re: Male Infant Circumcision

Postby sourmìlk » Sun Dec 18, 2011 5:12 am UTC

yurell wrote:
sourmìlk wrote:
yurell wrote:What? So everyone who answered that they did indeed experience a decrease in sensitivity were just lying were they? I call bullshit.

I didn't say that. But without evidence that sensitivity is a universal or even really common thing, those answers are anecdotes and completely irrelevant to the discussion.


No it's not,especially when it's from a significant minority.

Just because a significant minority of studies show that people lose sensitivity does not mean that a significant minority of people lose sensitivity. Unless you really think that the differences in study results are due purely to who was sampled and had nothing to do with methodology. This is my whole point about the studies. Not that those people were lying, but that the number of studies that report a loss in sensitivity does not correlate to the number of people who lose sensitivity. Otherwise all we'll end up doing is counting the number of studies support each of our points of view until one of us shouts "I win!"

Quite apart from this, there is the issue of psychological damage -- there are numerous reports of people feeling violated at having their body altered without their consent.

And there are reports of people who are uncomfortable with their foreskins. Again, anecdotes.
By carving up their genitals for fun what you are doing is no better than rape, and I say that unapologetic.

My parents did not rape me. Do not say that what they did was as bad as rape.
You are violating people in some of the most intimate ways possible without their permission, and then have the audacity to justify the act by saying 'oh, there's no conclusive evidence that it harms everyone, and even if it does you're not going to be able to experience the loss of sensitivity since you have no standard of comparison.'

Yes, I expect that, when people perform an action, they get to use "there's no evidence that it hurts anybody" as justification for performing that action.

How the hell is that a justification? What significant benefit does circumcising bring compared to the possible harm it can cause? You're the one taking the active stance (cutting someone's penis instead of leaving it alone), justify why you're doing this especially since you've conceded it's mostly aesthetic.

If there is no upside to doing it and now downside to doing it (and the null hypothesis, which is what we're assuming here based on inconclusive evidence, is that that there is no downside) then either choice is reasonable. Your definition of "possible harm" isn't useful if you define "possible harm" as "harm not explicitly ruled out as possible." Assuming a lack of studies on the effects of eating red dye #4, would you consider it immoral to have your children eat food with red dye #4 in it because it could theoretically cause their head to explode?

'It's okay because they don't know what they're missing'. The same argument can be and has been made for slavery and any other number of abhorrent practises.

Man, it's a good thing I'm not making that argument. I'm actually making the argument of "it's okay because they're not missing anything." Their perception of sex is exactly the same circumcised or uncircumcised. The same cannot be said of, for example, slavery.

What do you mean inconclusive regarding the risks of circumcision? The risks of circumcision are quite conclusive — in fact, I provided a quote in an earlier post discussing the risks attached to the surgery, and these are well documented. 115 people die per year as a result of complications arising from circumcision in North America, and 100% of those could have been avoided if the parents didn't turn to each other and say "Do you know what would make the act of bringing a new life to this world more poetic and beautiful? Hacking off the end of its cock."

Considering that the vast majority of American males are circumcised, I'd consider that far too insignificant to override parental discretion. More have died from drowning, should parents all forbid their kids from swimming? And not only that, but that could easily be counteracted by the slower spread of STDs.

Quite apart from that, even though the consequences of circumcision may be debated, but why should that mean nothing about overriding parental discretion? I'm pretty sure ritual scarification is illegal to perform on children, yet this has no more risk than that.

This basically is ritual scarification. If anything, it's the least bad form as the scar is almost never visible.

The example of using the infant for sexual pleasure is illegal, even in cases where it does no harm. The former is an example of a cosmetic medical practice, demonstrating that something isn't 'legal until it's proved harmful', while the latter is one of something regarded as a violation of a person's dignity even though they cannot experience it.

you're making a legal argument, not a moral one.

Yurell, you cannot make any claim that circumcision has any significant risks because the data do not support it. The question of circumcision as a harmful activity is off the table: it hasn't been proven that it's harmful. And unless you're going to require that overriding parental discretion puts the burden of proof on the parents, you need to prove its harmful, not the other way around.

Also, to make a general point, >0 risk isn't sufficient to override parental discretion. Rock climbing has a >0 risk, I know of no laws forbidding parents from having their kids rock climb. Swimming has a >0 risk, there are no laws against giving your child swim lessons.

So, given that the health of circumcision is about neutral to our knowledge, given that the risk is negligible and much smaller than other things parents have their children do that we accept, and given that infant circumcision does not affect a person's life, what is wrong with circumcising one's child?
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Re: Male Infant Circumcision

Postby Torchship » Sun Dec 18, 2011 6:33 am UTC

My primary problem with modern circumcision is that it is performed in a needlessly risky and cruel manner, for both religious and non-religious reasons. Brit milah (Jewish circumcision), for example, is typically performed without anaesthetic by a mohel, "most" of which have been certified as having received medical training for the procedure in a non-sterile environment without immediate access to emergency aid if anything goes wrong.

The Islamic procedure is similar, but the fact that the procedure is non-ritualised means that far more operations are performed at hospitals wherever possible.

Even non-religious procedures have significant problems, since only 45% of doctors used pain relief for the procedure, despite the fact that "There is considerable evidence that newborns who are circumcised without analgesia experience pain and physiologic stress.".

sourmìlk wrote: Medically, there is a large difference between being circumcised and getting breast implants.


Urm, not particularly. For example, the complication rate for circumcision is commonly reckoned to be somewhere between 2 and 10%, while the complication rate for aesthetic breast surgery is approximately 2.5% and tattoos 10-20%. These complication rates of these are comparable (on the order of a few percent, with the possible exception of tattoos). While certainly all of these complication rates include rather minor complications (minor bleeding and the like in the case of circumcision, and minor benign bacterial infection in the case of tattoos and breast surgery), but also include incredibly major complications such as necrosis or implant rupture.

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Re: Male Infant Circumcision

Postby yurell » Sun Dec 18, 2011 6:44 am UTC

sourmìlk wrote:Just because a significant minority of studies show that people lose sensitivity does not mean that a significant minority of people lose sensitivity. Unless you really think that the differences in study results are due purely to who was sampled and had nothing to do with methodology. This is my whole point about the studies. Not that those people were lying, but that the number of studies that report a loss in sensitivity does not correlate to the number of people who lose sensitivity. Otherwise all we'll end up doing is counting the number of studies support each of our points of view until one of us shouts "I win!"


If you have a problem with the methodology to select those people, state it. We can't interview every single person who has been circumcised and has the ability to tell whether there's been any loss of sensitivity. How large a study of randomly-chosen people would it take for you to accept the results?

sourmìlk wrote:And there are reports of people who are uncomfortable with their foreskins. Again, anecdotes.


And there we have it! People who are uncomfortable with their foreskins can choose to have them removed. Those who have theirs sliced off can't choose to have it reattached. So why should we assume that everyone would be okay with having their foreskin removed in an irreversible procedure when we can just wait to find out?

sourmìlk wrote:My parents did not rape me. Do not say that what they did was as bad as rape.


Your mastery of the English language continues to impress me, although perhaps you missed the part where saying something "is as bad" as something else is not the same as saying "is identical in every respect". No, your parents did not rape you, I take your word for that, however, what is wrong with my analogy? If you object to it so vehemently, why don't you explain why it's bad instead of whinging at me to stop using it?

sourmìlk wrote:Yes, I expect that, when people perform an action, they get to use "there's no evidence that it hurts anybody" as justification for performing that action.


There's no evidence that not cutting off people's foreskins is hurting anyone, now they both have the same justification! So clearly "there's no evidence that it hurts anybody" is not useful as the sole justification.

sourmìlk wrote:If there is no upside to doing it and now downside to doing it (and the null hypothesis, which is what we're assuming here based on inconclusive evidence, is that that there is no downside) then either choice is reasonable. Your definition of "possible harm" isn't useful if you define "possible harm" as "harm not explicitly ruled out as possible." Assuming a lack of studies on the effects of eating red dye #4, would you consider it immoral to have your children eat food with red dye #4 in it because it could theoretically cause their head to explode?


There are downsides to doing it, though, such as infections, pain, death, mental anguish, irreparable bodily damage, loss of sensation ...

sourmìlk wrote:Their perception of sex is exactly the same circumcised or uncircumcised.


You were just saying that whether or not there is a loss of sensation is disputed, and now you're assuming there's definitely not a loss of sensation? You're the one who's so fond of refusing to allow the opposition to use an argument that you don't concede, so where the hell do you get off on this double-standard?

sourmìlk wrote:Considering that the vast majority of American males are circumcised, I'd consider that far too insignificant to override parental discretion. More have died from drowning, should parents all forbid their kids from swimming? And not only that, but that could easily be counteracted by the slower spread of STDs.


And when does one tend to get STD's? When they're old enough to consent to sex. Wait, the ability to consent, this seems familiar ...

sourmìlk wrote:This basically is ritual scarification. If anything, it's the least bad form as the scar is almost never visible.


So you think it's alright to cut a child just for aesthetics? I disagree most strongly on a moral level.

sourmìlk wrote:Yurell, you cannot make any claim that circumcision has any significant risks because the data do not support it. The question of circumcision as a harmful activity is off the table: it hasn't been proven that it's harmful. And unless you're going to require that overriding parental discretion puts the burden of proof on the parents, you need to prove its harmful, not the other way around.

Also, to make a general point, >0 risk isn't sufficient to override parental discretion. Rock climbing has a >0 risk, I know of no laws forbidding parents from having their kids rock climb. Swimming has a >0 risk, there are no laws against giving your child swim lessons.


Unless you're being deliberately obtuse, you were the one who suggested that it must be shown to be harmful to be banned, so I was giving examples of things which are banned but not proven to be harmful, thereby demostrating that it does not need to be positively proven to be harmful to be banned.

sourmìlk wrote:So, given that the health of circumcision is about neutral to our knowledge, given that the risk is negligible and much smaller than other things parents have their children do that we accept, and given that infant circumcision does not affect a person's life, what is wrong with circumcising one's child?


All the arguments that I've made thusfar, and perhaps a little thing known as 'right to bodily autonomy'.
cemper93 wrote:Dude, I just presented an elaborate multiple fraction in Comic Sans. Who are you to question me?


Pronouns: Feminine pronouns please!


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