Monday, July 16, 2012

Strange Bedfellows

Wow.  What a complex set of issues.  Article on German attempt to restrict, or effectively outlaw, circumcision.

Some points occur to me.

1.  Why are we so concerned about preventing "back alley abortions" but not "back alley circumcisions"?  That is, one of the core arguments in favor of keeping abortion legal is that, regardless of the moral merits, people will get the operation anyway.  Along those lines, the German court in Cologne actually says, "the right of parents to raise their children in a religion does not override the right of a child to bodily integrity."  Really?  You can legally ABORT the child (presumably violating its bodily integrity pretty seriously), but you can't cut off a little fold of skin in an operation that two major religions have required for well over a thousand years? (More like three thousand for Jews).

2.  The medical evidence on (male) circumcision is mixed.  It is certainly not OBVIOUS that circumcision has no medical benefits. The only reason the practice is being singled out is that Jews and Muslims do it, and Germans find religion primitive and disgusting.  From the article:  “The often very aggressive prejudice against religion as backward, irrational and opposed to science is increasingly defining popular opinion,” said Michael Bongardt, a professor of ethics from Berlin’s Free University who added that the ruling reflected a profound lack of understanding in modern Germany for religious belief.  "Lack of understanding"?  I don't think so.  It is a rejection of personal autonomy so that Germans can construct the hive-state many of them secretly dream of.  Difference, disagreement, individual choices....come the revolution, we won't be needing no stinkin' "choices."  An Arab view (not THE Arab view, just one view)

3.  The article notes that there are 100,000 Jews and 4 million Muslims living in Germany.  Wow.

4.  On the other hand, contra my own views of private choice and personal autonomy for parents, what practices would be so harmful that I would change over and advocate state action?  Where is the line?  Female circumcision, for example:  That should be illegal, and aggressively prosecuted.  So what is my principle, here?  My own judgments?  Medical evidence?  If so, what is the presumption:  do we favor private choice, unless there is evidence it should be stopped?  Or start with thinking of what should be permitted?

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Do you have suggestions on where we could find more examples of this phenomenon?