Sunday, July 15, 2012


Rabbis call for overturning a court ruling.
Rabbis Avichai Apel and Pinchas Goldschmidt called on the German government to overturn a court ruling banning religious circumcision. (Stephanie Pilick / EPA / July 13, 2012)

Two of my favorite writers, Andrew Sullivan and the Washington Post’s Charles Lane, have been blogging recently about a German court ruling that circumcision shouldn’t be performed on boys too young to give consent.
Basically, Sullivan (who was born in England, where circumcision isn’t as common as it is here) describes  the medical-cum-cultic procedure as “infant male genital mutilation” and scoffs at the idea that a ban would violate the religious liberty of Jews and Muslims. (The court in Cologne ruled in a case involving the botched circumcision of a 4-year-old Muslim boy.)  A Jew or Muslim, Sullivan says, "can get his genitals mutilated later as a sign of his religious commitment -- when he is old enough to be able to make such a choice of his own free will."
For Lane, the decision was an affront to the rights of Jews –not Muslims– to honor a millenniums-old divine command. –Religious belief– 
“What this remarkable judge does not grasp -- or does not care about –How does an American corporate mouthpiece –one that is writing a political control piece– know what a German judge 'cares' about?–-- is the fact that a father cannot be a Jew in good standing unless he circumcises his son at eight days,” –I've heard four days, also between four and ten days, which is beside the point. The concept of being "a Jew in good standing" is both an arbitrary and relative view. Judaism, (like all the multi-national religions) isn't one universal thing, it is, a group of factions that view the same thing markedly differently to each other. This may be an example of the corporate press trying to control & frame a debate, and therefore, their viewers opinions. Of course, the fact that German judicial precedent has no bearing whatsoever on the American judiciary is conveniently overlooked.  Lane wrote.
This week a spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel engaged in some damage control, promising that religious circumcision “carried out in a responsible manner must be possible in this country without punishment.” –notice how the word 'responsible' is employed, that is a vague judgement that needs to be applied by someone.
So that ends the Sullivan-Lane debate -- except that Lane made another point that transcends the circumcision issue:
“The Cologne court’s sloppy legal balancing act –no doubt because the corporate mouthpiece disagrees with it–-- kids' physical integrity vs. parents’ religious interests –the real juice here is what right does any court have to make decisions about any child that interferes with the parents desire to embed their children with the values of the parent–-- completely ignores the nature of religious tradition–emotional bullshit until every religion practices circumcision and remember, this corporate mouthpiece is happy to play the 'divide & conquer' game when it advances his agenda–, which is that it is transmitted from parents to children. To posit a world in which the parents have their religion, and kids choose theirs, when they’re old enough, is to imply that even sending one’s child to a religious school -- or making him prepare for a bar mitzvah -- might be a form of brainwashing. –which is fundamentally what it is. Parents brainwash their children and that is fine. It is called nurturing & teaching.
If so, it’s constitutionally protected brainwashing–funny how the corporate mouthpiece's wheel out the Constitution when it suits the advancement of their agenda–. In a landmark 1925 case affirming parents’ right to send their children to a private or religious school,  U.S. Supreme Court said: “The child is not the mere creature of the state; those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right, coupled with the high duty, to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations.” What are these "additional obligations"? Why does the corporate mouthpiece make a scientology joke about these "additional obligations"? Even an obligation (assuming the parents agree, unlike Tom and Katie) to Scientology.
Of course, it’s easier to renounce a childhood faith than to reclaim a foreskin. Even so, parents are given the opportunity even in this individualist culture to do their best to shape the minds and, yes, the bodies of their children. The alternative -- making the kids “creatures of the state” -- is an ugly one, as Germans found out. Always lovely to read an emotionally charged last sentence to an article, and great irony given that children are already "creatures of the state".

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