Good morning. Ms. Sharpie here. I wanted to post about a little thing I saw online Wednesday, before the Supreme Court came down with their ruling on Obamacare and that took over EVERYTHING!
What am I talking about, you ask? What else is there than what dominates the air waves?
Well, I tell ya, if you live in Germany, the German court came down with a very powerful ruling on Wednesday. One that shocked this American.
Germany’s regional court in Cologne outlawed circumcision for any reason but medical reasons.
Yes, the court in Cologne basically told the Jews and Muslims that their religious customs were so much poo under their shoe and that they should not be practiced fully.
“The body of the child is irreparably and permanently changed by a circumcision,” the court said. “This change contravenes the interests of the child to decide later on his religious beliefs.”
Now, before we start screaming about how the German court is stepping all over a person’s right to practice their religion, let me tell you how this case came about. A young Muslim boy was circumcised, as called for by their religion, and was taken back to the hospital a few days later because he was bleeding heavily. The doctor that performed the circumcision was charged with causing grievous bodily harm to the child.
It snowballed from there. The doctor was found not guilty, but the court took up the issue of circumcision and came down with its ruling on the 26th of June.
The court stated that the “fundamental right of the child to bodily integrity outweighted the fundamental rights of the parents,” stating, as well, that, “the religious freedom of the parents and their right to educate their chld would not be unacceptably compromised, if they were obliged to wait until the child could himself decide to be circumcised.” (All quotes pulled from the AFP wire)
This story caused me to do a little research. There are a lot of places out there that consider circumcision, for any reason other than medical, genital mutilation on par with female circumcision. I can’t say that I disagree with the fact that it is mutilation, but I didn’t realize that it was such a huge cause for so many.
History of Circumcision
I started looking at statistics from all kinds of different places and I started reading up on the history of circumcision. It’s fascinating how the idea of circumcision has changed over the years and how many people have practiced this procedure throughout history.
Traditionally, circumcision was a rite of passage into puberty. Some of the earliest proof of circumcision goes back to 10000 BCE in Australia. It wasn’t until 600 BCE, when the Torah was compiled that it became a religious rite. The Greeks were taken aback by the Egyptian practice of circumcision, with Herodotus (a noted Greek philosopher) making the following statement about the Egyptian priests, “They [even] practice circumcision for the sake of cleanliness, considering it better to be clean than handsome.” The comment was made to prove how backwards the Egyptians were, as the Greek influence has already caused the Phoenicians to abandon their practice of circumcision.(1)
Now the world bumped along for awhile with the Greeks trying to outlaw the practice and the Jews trying to keep it in place. The Romans rose to power and the Jews rose in power, too. But, like many cultures that are being overtaken by another, the Jewish community wanted to keep their own traditions and didn’t want their people to be influenced by the Roman ways (which were, admittedly, pretty darn decadent – Caligula, anyone?). Around 140 CE (AD), the Mishnah, the commentary on the Torah, was written down giving details of radical circumcision. It is generally accepted that this became the norm so that it would keep Jews from participating in Greco-Roman social life, to include Greek athletic contests which were done in the nude.(2)
Fast forward a few thousand years, and you bump into circumcision around the world. Doctors around the world, starting in the early 1900s, called for early infantile circumcision (makes you wonder if these doctors went and got circumcised as adults….somehow, I think not). The reasoning for circumcision ran the gamut from it helped prevent the spread of STDs to helping to stop masturbation.
Just an aside here: why are authority figures so worried about everyone else’s genitals? A thought for you to ponder while you drink your coffee this morning.
As the rate of circumscision was falling around the world in the 1940s, America was seeing a rise in the procedure. The reason? World War II.
What? How is that possible???
Well, American soldiers and sailors were a horny bunch. The rate of syphillis and other STDs was amazing throughout the American military. It was a national security issue, because if your battle buddy was laid up with the effects of an STD, then he couldn’t be watching your back in the trenches. The US military used this as a reason to popularize the thinking of the time – circumcisions would help prevent STDs. They started pushing the procedure on their folks and, when they landed in South Korea in 1950, 6 years after the end of WWII, they brought the procedure to a country that had never practiced it before.
Reversing its Stance
All of this leads to today. The medical profession is reversing its stance on circumcision for males and saying that there is no reason, outside of rare medical reasons, to circumcise male children. Most of the first world is following this now, with circumcisions reaching historic lows everywhere but the United States. This website has a terrific chart on how many circumcisions were performed by state in 2009, the last year there were statistics available.
But what shocked me, what made me take a second look at this article, was the fact that a governing body had decided that religious freedom wasn’t as important as the child’s right to not have a medical procedure. For the Jewish and Muslim faithful, this is quite a blow to their practices. The fact that this ruling came out of Germany shocked me even more, considering their history with the Jewish religion.
So, the question that I pose to you, dear reader is this: Could you see this ruling coming down in America, especially in light of the intense interest that seems to be being paid to the genitals of all Americans these days? Do you think that the government would rule in favor of pushing aside sacred religious practices for a debated medical practice?
Let the discussion begin!
1. Chronology of the foreskin and Circumcision, Dr. Robert Darby, Australia (all facts in this paragraph)
2. Chronology of the foreskin and circumcision, Dr. Robert Darby, Australia (all facts in this paragraph)