Sunday, January 28, 2007

First, Do No Harm

Pen and Teller have a funny* take on circumcision. Caution: adult words and images, so view accordingly.

Humor aside, it is singularly difficult to find any rational explanation why this medical procedure is not accorded the same respect we reserve for female mutilation. The prophylactic effects are iffy, and even if taken at their maximum face value, would dictate that we also proactively remove appendixes.

Further, circumcision reeks of something that would never be invented if it didn't exist. Considering the scorn heaped upon unnecessary medical procedures, why does this one persist?

* Your humorage may vary. That, and I may have self diagnosed the refined, erudite, sense of humor possessed by your garden variety 12-yrd old boy.

Full Disclosure. I was cirumcised when I was four, in conjunction withing getting a cast on my broken arm. Near as I can figure, my parents must have gotten some sort of two-fer discount. So I remember the stitches, but, even so, don't give it any more thought than the broken army that presumably landed me in the hospital in the first place.

When we found out we were going to have a son, my wife and I faced the same dilemma as Krystal and her husband in the video.

She for, I against. She wanted him to be like all the other boys, and I wanted to avoid a procedure with no apparent medical justification.

Like all happily married men, I eventually caved.

His circumcision went awry, though, and required a painful redo to put this right.

In almost all cases, caving to my wifes wishes has been the smart thing to do. This caving, though, I still regret.


Blogger Peter Burnet said...

Boy, are you ever out of date.

January 29, 2007 2:51 AM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...


I know about that study.

If my son was African, or gay, than that would be a good material reason to get circumcised.

But for all those American boys who aren't African, then wouldn't it make a heck of a lot of sense to wait to find out who is gay to do circumcisions, than cut the whole lot of them?

January 29, 2007 6:07 AM  
Blogger Peter Burnet said...

Oh sure, that will sell well. "We recommend immediate circumcision for all African men for proven material reasons, but decline to impose the barbaric custom on ourselves." Get out much, Skipper?

I think any pediatrician will tell you later-life circumcision is far riskier and more painful than the newborn variety.

Are you just musing on good parenting or are you suggesting there is a public interest in this?

January 29, 2007 6:17 AM  
Blogger Brit said...

Let's see....Recent topics: The precise logistics of interplanetary colonisation, porno and circumcision.

I wonder why it is we don't get any women on these blogs?

January 29, 2007 7:55 AM  
Blogger Duck said...

Don't forget the guns.

January 29, 2007 9:53 AM  
Blogger Oroborous said...

"We recommend immediate circumcision for all African men for proven material reasons, but decline to impose the barbaric custom on ourselves."

Just a statement of fact.
You shouldn't drink tap water in Africa, either, due to the same dynamics that cause them to benefit from routine circumcision.

If they'd make the effort to fix their broken cultures, then they too could say with pride that routine circumcision is unnecessary, just as it is in the countries that matter.

Like Skipper, I don't see any medical reason to circumcise in America. Cut guys get fewer infections, uncut guys get less penile cancer, it evens out.

One non-medical reason is that young women like the look of cut guys, according to surveys.
So a son might benefit when he hits his teens.

On the other hand, that might be a good reason to leave him whole, so that it reduces the probability of teenage parenthood.

January 29, 2007 9:55 AM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...


Oroborous said what I was going to say.

Here in the US, does the procedure convey a statistically measurable health benefit?

If so, what is it?

If not, why the heck do we do it?

Other than for aesthetic reasons, that is, which probably owe more to conditioning than anything.

January 29, 2007 4:18 PM  
Blogger Peter Burnet said...

If not, why the heck do we do it?

I dunno, maybe because lots of people think you're wrong?

January 29, 2007 5:41 PM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...


Wrong about what?

January 29, 2007 7:55 PM  
Blogger TLC Tugger said...

Give-away condoms for Africa cost less than 3 cents each. How many would a Western-style circumcision buy?

Every mammal on earth evolved a foreskin before there was surgery or soap. The foreskin is protective, not a breeding ground for infections.

80% of the world is intact and suffers no unusual health, hygiene, or social problems. In Malawi, Rwanda, Ghana, Lesotho, Tanzania, and Cameroon, HIV is more common among the cut than among the intact. In non-cutting Japan, AIDS is more rare than in 95%-cut Israel. The US (3/4 of sexually active adults cut) has 3 times more HIV than Europe (where intactness is the norm). 450,000 US men who were circumcised at birth have died of AIDS.

Circumcision does not prevent AIDS.

Circumcision removes about 15 square inches of wonderfully sensitive adult tissue. It leaves the glans and skin above the circ scar vulnerable to drying and abrasion so that it desensitizes. It eliminates the exquisite frictionless rolling/gliding mode of stimulation for a man and his partner.

You can undo some of these effects through non-surgical foreskin restoration, and you can purge your heart of anger over your mutilation by working against routine circumcision.

January 29, 2007 9:46 PM  
Blogger Peter Burnet said...


You are developing creeper-like debating habits. Fascinating questions, but as you have indentified no public interest here, your "Why's?" earn you my "Why not's?"

Isn't America great?

January 30, 2007 2:27 AM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...


In all honesty, you have me completely mystified.

There seems to me to be an unanswerable case that the procedure has no worthwhile measurable medical benefit.

Which leaves the question on the table: why do we do it?

Never mind the consequent apparent hypocrisy of widespread male genital mutiliation in the US, while the US simultaneously makes an issue over female genital mutiliation.

I'm sure you mean some sort of criticism with "creeper-like," but it isn't clear to me what it is. I thought he did a respectable job taking on the most intellectually dishonest person I have ever known.

January 30, 2007 5:02 AM  
Blogger Peter Burnet said...

Got your Orrin-bashing fix of the day in, did you? Tell us, is it a hobby or an addiction?

January 30, 2007 5:15 AM  
Blogger Brit said...

Now boys, calm down. Come on Peter, Skipper is nowhere near creeper territory.

But come on Skipper, too: creeper was a pest. He never seemed to learn that Orrin did not actually owe him sensible answers to the endless, endless, endless questions on his own blog.

January 30, 2007 9:14 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

Do you know that Orrin ranks 66th among reviewers?

And that he reviews dozens of what appear to be sentimental novels?

I dunno what that has to do with circumcison, but his name came up.

January 30, 2007 12:53 PM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...


Point taken.

January 30, 2007 2:39 PM  
Blogger Oroborous said...

Someone mentioned the Amazon thing a couple of years ago, over at Orrin's place. Apparently, being a tireless reviewer is part of Orrin's business strategy.

It seems like a potentially successful, low cost way to collect a customer base.

January 30, 2007 2:51 PM  
Blogger Duck said...

Well,how many people will tirelessly write book reviews for no pay? Orrin definitely found a niche.

I wonder if his blog revenues are doing much better than the DD? I hope someone is making money at this game.

January 30, 2007 3:19 PM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

I write book reviews for no pay, although in the past I have made a little from them.

I do it as part of self-education. As a forum where I can be freer than in news stories. And to get free books.

But I don't do sentimental novels, and I am not nearly as tireless as Orrin. My rank is somewhere in the 25,000s.

If you want to be humbled, write some Amazon reviews, get a ranking, then see who else shares the same rank.

January 30, 2007 4:00 PM  
Blogger Brit said...

About these sentimental novels... are they, by any chance... um...

rape fantasies?

January 31, 2007 1:44 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

He'll deny it.

January 31, 2007 5:31 PM  

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