The Conservative Case in Favor of San Francisco’s Proposed Ban on Male Circumcision

Letters
Vol. 9
No. 1
Carl Augustsson
Wed, 06/01/2011
Intactivists holding SF MGMBill petitions
Jonathon Conte, left, after collecting 7,000 signatures to get the SF MGMBill on the ballot. The ballot was later removed by an emergency action by a pro-circumcision lobby group.

San Francisco can be a pretty nutty place.  With a ban on Happy Meals, purposely refusing to enforce federal immigration laws, and constantly sending Nancy Pelosi back to Congress, it is easy to see why people would think that anything that comes out of San Francisco must be crazy.  However, when this Tea Party Patriot first heard about San Francisco’s proposed ban on male circumcision, I found myself saying something I thought I never would: BRAVO SAN FRANCISCO!!!

However, I soon read online comments by some of my fellow Conservatives denigrating this ballot initiative as being more lunacy from San Francisco.  I found this quite unfortunate, as the Intactivist movement—like the Men’s Movement in general—is actually nonpartisan and has supporters from the Left, the Right and everything in between.  It is for this reason that I decided to write an article to my fellow Conservatives (I actually consider myself to be a Conservative/Libertarian hybrid) in support of San Francisco’s ballet initiative and Intactivism in general.

First, let me begin with a brief history of circumcision in the US.  I truly believe that if everyone simply knew the history of circumcision in the US, that alone might be enough to bring this barbaric procedure to an end in this otherwise civilized country.  Circumcision began in the US and other countries of the Anglosphere during the sexually oppressive Victorian Era towards the end of the 19th century as a way to prevent or “cure” masturbation, which was wrongfully believed to be sinful at the time.  Prior to that time, circumcision was quite rare in the US.  Unfortunately, by the time that most of society got beyond this absurd fear of masturbation, the practice had sadly become institutionalized.  It was at this point, that all kinds of myths about it being cleaner and healthier began to set in, myths which sadly continue to the present day. 

There is nothing dirty or unhealthy about intact penises, and I for one highly resent being called dirty and unhealthy.  Quite the contrary, the foreskin plays an important function in the health of the penis.  The glans is supposed to remain moist and the foreskin helps to keep it that way, making the foreskin roughly analogous to the eyelid.  It also protects the glans.  Likewise, far from being dirty, smegma acts as a natural lubricant and actually contains anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties.  Besides, smegma is only occasionally present and women have smegma as well.  Therefore, it is intact penises which are healthier.  In the end, if intact penises are dirty, than vaginas must be filthy.  I, however, think that both intact penises and vaginas are perfectly clean.

At this point, though, I wish to begin the main point of this article: why Intactivism should be of high appeal to Conservatives.
1) It’s American
This point may seem strange at first glance.  After all, the majority of American men are circumcised.  However, as I just pointed out, circumcision did not begin in the US until the last few decades of the 19th century.  That means that the original settlers in places like Jamestown and Plymouth, along with the Founding Fathers, the Revolutionary War veterans, the pioneers moving westward, the Civil War veterans, and the cowboys of the Old West were almost all intact.  I challenge anyone to tell me that these men weren’t real Americans.  More recently, a number of prominent American men from different of walks of life are intact.  These include baseball players like Hank Aaron, football players like Joe Namath, NASCAR drivers such as Richard Petty (source: www.circumstitions.com).  What could be more American than baseball, football, and NASCAR?  Moreover, there are numerous good Conservative men who are intact, including Ronald Reagan and Marco Rubio (source: www.circumstitions.com).  Finally, the American public is increasingly becoming more informed about this and it is estimated that the circumcision rate amongst newborns in the US has fallen to 33%.  As circumstitions.com points out: “The role of infant circumcision in the United States of America is mysterious. The US is the only country in the world where the majority [perhaps it has recently become the minority!] of baby boys have part of their penises cut off for non-religious reasons. Yet this extraordinary custom is very much taken for granted. If it were being introduced today, it would certainly be rejected as barbaric and un-American.” http://www.circumstitions.com/USA.html.  Therefore, being intact is what is actually American.  

2)  It’s Certainly Western
In addition to having a strong sense of national pride, we on the Right are also proud of the Western Civilization heritage of the US.  Indeed, while we realize that other civilizations have contributed to humanity as well (and we also realize that the West has had some unsavory moments in history), we are often rightly proud of the many contributions that the United States of America has made to this fabulous civilization.  As a citizen of three Western countries—to all three of which I feel I strong sense of national pride—I am especially proud of Western Civilization and the numerous contributions that it has made towards humanity, from the city-states of Ancient Greece to the present day.  With the exception of the US and other English speaking countries since the late 19th century, circumcision has never been practiced within Western Civilization.  As for the other Anglosphere countries, they have all either dropped circumcision altogether (such as the UK and New Zealand) or have rates that have now fallen below 20% of male newborns today (such as Australia and Canada).  I am therefore confident that the US and the other countries of the Anglosphere will once again be like the rest of civilized Western Civilization where this barbaric procedure is almost unheard of.      

3)  It’s Christian
Many people mistakenly think that circumcision is a part of the Christian faith.  While it is true that circumcision is mentioned in the Old Testament and that Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ was circumcised, it is not true that it is a part of the Christian faith.  After all, many things that are mentioned in the Old Testament, such as the Passover meal and kosher food laws, are also not a part of the Christian faith.  Indeed, there are numerous passages in the New Testament which mention that circumcision is not necessary for Christians.  There are other New Testament passages which even condemn it.  “For whether or not a man is circumcised means nothing; what matters is to obey God’s commandments” (I Corinthians 17:19).  “Watch out for those who do evil things, those dogs, like cutting the body.  It is we, not they, who have received the true circumcision, for we worship God by means of his Spirit and rejoice in our life in union with Christ Jesus.  We do not put any trust in external ceremonies” (Philippians 3:2-3).  There are numerous other examples of such quotes throughout the New Testament.  For Christians, baptism replaced circumcision.

With the notable exception of parts of Africa, the United States is one of the few countries in the world in which Christian men are circumcised.  Indeed, to many people in other parts of the world, it is shocking that Christian men in the US are circumcised.  In many parts of the world (such as the Balkans, Caucasus, and parts of Asia) where Christianity meets Islam, being intact, along with eating pork and drinking alcohol, is one of the characteristics which distinguishes the Christian men from the Muslim ones.  Here in the Caucasus, the Christian Georgian, Armenian, and Russian men are intact, whereas the Muslim Turks, Azeri, Kurdish, Iranian, Chechen, and Dagestani men are cut.  Therefore, most Christian men (except for certain parts Africa) in other parts of the world are intact.  In fact, the Catholic Church actually forbad circumcision in 1442 (source: http://www.historyofcircumcision.net/index.php?option=com_content&task=v...).  Therefore, it is being intact that is a part of the Christian identity.  I myself strongly value my Christian faith.                     
   
4) It’s Pro Individual
We on the Right have always valued the individual and his/her right to make his/her own decisions.  Therefore, shouldn’t males be allowed to decide for themselves whether they wish to be circumcised?  I hasten to emphasize that the proposed ban in San Francisco only applies to those under 18 and therefore does not affect adult men who wish to be circumcised.  I recently attended an Intactivist rally in Washington where I held a sign which stated the strongest argument we Intactivists have: “his penis, his choice, let your son decide”.  

5)  It’s Not Government Interference     
We on the Right have always rightfully been concerned about government interference in our lives.  Indeed, it often upsets us when we see how many other people fail to recognize the dangers of excessive government interference.  However, banning male circumcision is not an example of government interference in the lives of private citizens.  After all, parents are not allowed to beat their children or to have any other form of cosmetic surgery or body modification (such as tattooing) done to their children.  Circumcision is purely elective cosmetic surgery, as the health claims are dubious at best and have to be weighed against stronger health and sexual reasons for leaving the penis intact.  Therefore, it is not big brother government intrusion to ban male circumcision on minors.        
    
6)  It’s Pro Equality
We on the Right are often accused of being anti-equality, even in favor of discrimination.  However, the truth is that we Conservatives are the ones who actually believe in equality.  After all, the Left’s concept of equality is basically, “the absence of discrimination against any group that we feel has historically been oppressed”.  The Left is at best indifferent about reverse discrimination, or examples of discrimination against a group that they believe to have always been privileged.  By contrast, we on the Right believe that two wrongs don’t make a right.  As a result, we believe that racial discrimination against White people is just as wrong as racial discrimination against Blacks and other non-white peoples.  Likewise, discrimination against men is just as wrong as discrimination against women.  The law rightfully forbids all forms of genital cutting of girls.  This includes a variant in which only the clitoral hood is removed.  In fact, the law even forbids a symbolic pinprick of the labia in order to draw one drop of ceremonial blood, regardless of the religious or cultural heritage of the parents.  Clearly male circumcision is more intrusive and more damaging than either of these two above-mentioned examples.  For one thing, it certainly isn’t any less intrusive or damaging.  Therefore, if those two examples of female genital cutting are both illegal, than shouldn’t male circumcision also be illegal?  If girls are entitled to genital integrity—and they certainly are!—than why are boys, in the spirit of equality, not also entitled to genital integrity?  

7)  It Leads to Increased Sexual Pleasure
We on the Right are often wrongly thought of as being uptight with human sexuality.  While there are certainly uptight prudes on our side, it is we Conservatives who are actually the ones who are more open with sexuality, as the Left has been infected with the anti-sexual views of Feminists.  That being said, if we Conservatives are the ones who are pro-sexuality, than we should oppose circumcision since it leads to decreased sexual pleasure in both men and their female partners.  Let’s not forget that the only reason circumcision began in the US was to prevent or “cure” masturbation, which was wrongfully seen as being sinful at the time.  It was therefore designed to reduce sexual pleasure.  While there is no question that circumcised men do indeed enjoy sex, it is clearly not as pleasurable for them as it is for intact men.  One man who was circumcised as an adult describes the difference as going from color television to black and white.  
Some proponents of circumcision have made the ridiculous argument that American women would reject intact men.  This argument is both ridiculous and insulting to American women.  Millions of American women are happily married to intact men, both foreign born and domestic born.  Millions of American women have fallen in love with and end up dating or even marrying European and Latin American men who are mainly intact.  After all, think of all the college coeds who do study abroad every year, hoping to date a local guy (who, depending on the country, would almost certainly be intact) while overseas.  Likewise, millions of intact men—myself included—have been intimate with at least one American woman in our lifetimes.  Many American women, after having experienced an intact man for the first time, find that they prefer it.  Indeed, a number of studies of women who have been with both cut and intact men clearly show that women prefer intact penises.  This is not surprising, as the gliding motion of the foreskin during sex offers additional pleasure to both the male and his female partner.  As a result, many American women who are married to cut men wished that their husbands had been left intact.  Therefore leave your son intact, not just for his pleasure, but also for the enjoyment of his future girlfriend/wife.            

8)  It’s Cost Effective
Every year, hundreds of millions of dollars (perhaps even billions) are wasted on circumcisions in the US, much of that at taxpayers’ expense through medicaid.  We on the Right are against such needless wastes of money.  How outrageous to be wasting such a huge amount of money on brutal cosmetic surgery with health claims that are dubious at best.    

9)  It’s anti-Junk Science
We on the right are often accused of being anti-science.  However, skepticism against junk science is actually what is pro-science.  Claims that circumcision reduces the risk of AIDS infection are based on highly flawed studies carried out in Africa by people who were in favor of circumcision before the studies even began.  These studies were designed to reach the conclusion that circumcision is beneficial, and not to find out whether it is beneficial.  Besides, note the obvious piece of evidence against this conclusion: the US has the highest rate of circumcision in the developed world and one of the highest rates of AIDS in the developed world.  So much for that hypothesis!  In short, this is the same junk science that gave us the hoax of global warming which we on the Right are now fighting so hard against. 

There is so much more to say about this topic, but I have probably gone on too long already.  I suggest that all of you log on to some great websites were you will find the truth about circumcision:  www.nocric.org, www.circumstitions.com, www.intactamerica.org, www.cirp.org, www.noharmm.org, and www.doctorsopposingcircumcision.org, amongst other great sites.  If only everybody in the US would log on to these sites, this needless, destructive cruelty would come to an immediate end.

To my fellow Conservatives: just because this initiative is from San Francisco does not automatically mean that it is an example of left-wing lunacy.  After all, a broken clock is right twice a day.  Besides, this effort was initiated by the good people of San Francisco, unlike the ban on Happy Meals which was passed by their nutty city council.  Intactivism is actually nonpartisan and, as I have pointed out, is what is most logical from a Conservative point of view.  Since Intactivism is nonpartisan, perhaps a fellow Intactivist who is left-leaning should write a companion article to this one.

To San Franciscans: the next time you go out and do something crazy like banning Happy Meals—and I’m sure you will (I actually say that affectionately in this context)—realize that I will always have a soft spot in my heart for you after this.  I promise to try to erase “San Fransicko” from my vocabulary.  I will also state for the record that I had the pleasure of visiting your beautiful city back in 2003 and I enjoyed it.

To Rush Limbaugh personally: whenever I am in the US, I often listen to your radio show.  Indeed, I first started listening to you at the age of 14 back in 1991.  While I usually agree with what you say, you have on occasion made fun of the fabulous Intactivist group NOCIRC.  I find this unfortunate.  I have spoken with the leadership of NOCIRC and they tell me that they would love to talk to you.  I know for myself personally it would be a huge honor to talk to you.

I am myself proud to be an intact Conservative/Libertarian Republican Christian American/Western happily married man.  There is absolutely nothing contradictory about any of that.  In fact, that is what is actually most logical.          

Carl Augustsson was born in the US to a mother originally from the US and a father originally from Sweden.  His wife is from the Republic of Georgia.  He is a citizen of all three countries.  He currently teaches English and Political Science at Caucasus University in Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia.