This fall, voters in San Francisco will decide whether to ban circumcision. Such efforts are beginning to pick up steam throughout California. While I expect that they will fail, this is San Francisco, so you can never know for sure. It’s certainly possible.
I should begin by saying that I’m generally supportive of these efforts. I don’t think that babies should have irreversible surgery performed on their genitals, period. So although male circumcision does not amount to the moral evil of female genital mutilation, it is still wrong. A botched circumcision can lead to scarring at best, and serious deformations at worst. And no one really knows how often this happens, because they don’t get reported, and men with botched circumcisions oftentimes won’t realize it until much later in life. And when they do, most don’t or can’t do anything about it, anyway.
All that being said, it’s disheartening to see such obvious and vile anti-Semitism driving the effort. The “intactivists,” as they call themselves, produce a comic in which Foreskin Man – a blond Aryan looking kind of guy – rescues helpless babies from monsters and villains like Monster Mohel, pictured above. His description reads: “Nothing excites Monster Mohel more than cutting into the penile flesh of an eight-day-old infant boy… They will have to pry the scissors from his cold, dead hand.”
When you look at these images and read the subtext – or even the explicit text! – you see an old message: blood libel. These monstrous, inhuman Jews want to harm and take the blood from babies, and only a Nordic Superman can kill him and save us all. The campaign is vile enough that it makes me want it to lose. There is also no religious exception in the proposed language. If put on the spot, I would advocate the following policy:
– Circumcision should always be opt-in. The default choice should be not to permanently alter babies’ genitals via surgery.
– A religious exception can be made, and would require written consent from both parents.
– Both parents would have to agree on it. If one didn’t, the law should favor not performing the surgery.