Reply to: The War of the Words
"Male circumcision (the removal of the foreskin) and female circumcision, which involves the removal of the entire clitoris and often all of the labia as well, are in no way equivalent."
This obviously isn't the forum for a knock-down drag-out fight over this issue, but of course they're equivalent. The difference is one of degree, not of kind. Granted that male circumcision is usually -- that's usually! -- not as functionally damaging as the female mutilation you describe, it still constitutes mutilation by any reasonable definintion of that word.
Routine infant circumcision (RIC) as it's done in America --
* Is medically unnecessary and violates the first principle of humane medicine: First, do no harm.
* Is not recommended by any major medical society in the world. The closest thing it gets to a recommendation is the American Academy of Pediatrics' waffling statement that it offers "potential benefits," which translates as no benefit for the great majority of human males and only marginal benefit for most of the remainder. Some medical societies, e.g. the Royal Australian College of Physicians, expressly disparage it.
* Results in loss of the multitude of erogenous nerve endings in the inner foreskin and loss of sensitivity in the glans. Granted, that's not nearly as severe as the worst-case female mutilation you described, but it still constitutes damaged sexual function.
* Can cause complications ranging from mild to severe, even resulting in loss of the entire penis or, yes, death in rare cases. Can you tell me what "benefit" a dead child received that justified killing him?
* Violates the basic right of every human being to the integrity of the body s/he is born with.
* Is done mainly for cultural reasons (so he'll match his daddy; so he won't get teased in the locker room; because the in-laws expect it) with the dubious "medical benefit" as an excuse. The AAP sees no ethical problem in signing off on that, but what other body part are they willing to cut off a child for "religious, ethnic and cultural" reasons? None? Why not?
* Points up the double standard for women's versus men's rights in the U.S. FGM is rightly illegal, but MGM is not only legal but culturally favored. So why are a baby girl's genitals inviolable while a baby boy's are on the chopping block? What about the Fourteenth Amendment's guarantee of equal protection of the laws for everyone?The word "circumcision" is a comforting euphemism. It means "cutting around" but says nothing about what's getting cut or the consequences of the cutting. If you use the more verbose but descriptively accurate phase "cutting the foreskin off the penis," people get nervous -- "Why can't you just use the word that's given?"
You said, "Those who use the term 'genital cutting' rather than 'mutilation' clearly have no idea what they're talking about." With due respect, I think you'd do well to learn more about what you're talking about, too -- re-examine your understanding of "equivalence" at the very least.
Reply to: The War of the Words
At last someone tackles the issue. The American people should wake up from these mantras. If you read any speech or interview of a member of the Bush administration since 2002, you can spot at least three or four keywords or key expressions meant to hammer the "truth" inside the audience's brain. Sometimes it gets to the point the sentence doesn't have any sense. Anytime they are under attack, they reflexively dash to one of these safe spots. The audience may be brainwashed but at the top of the Administration everybody has been very well trained by their spin doctors. The expression "hijacking the language" mirrors the 9/11 attacks. The destruction cannot be compared and the ones who did it were the very pilots the people elected, but there is much violence out there too. Stephane MOT http://www.stephanemot.com PS : I also fully agree with the previous comment on "genital mutilation".
Reply to: Hiring Real Reporters for Fake News
I feel kindo weird : I wrote a short story fifteen years ago involving a "Virtual News Network" and that wasn't a nice story. But this takes the cake : controling the media coverage becomes such a key issue it has to be part of the exercise package. What kind of model democracy puts propaganda at the same level as security ? Regarding "mock terrorist exercise" : one of the 3 French former Guantanamo inmates was released yesterday - there was no charge to be found against him. It just took a couple of days to check it in France but 3 years were not enough in Guantanamo's Club Med. Stephane MOT http://www.stephanemot.com
Reply to: The War of the Words
Those who use the term "genital cutting" rather than "mutilation" clearly have no idea what they're talking about. Male circumcision (the removal of the foreskin) and female circumcision, which involves the removal of the entire clitoris and often all of the labia as well, are in no way equivalent. Females so mutilated are initiated into a lifetime of excruciating pain in urination, menstruation, intercourse, and childbirth. The procedure is carried out without anesthetic or sterilizing of instruments, so infection is a huge and sometimes fatal consequence. The procedure leaves its victim with no future possibility of sexual pleasure whatsoever, as the entire sexual organ is removed. If male circumcision involved removing the entire penis, then perhaps there might be an equivalence, but clearly it does not. Genital mutilation is the correct term.
Reply to: The Sleuths of Spin
Confined Animal Feeding Operations have become a bio-hazard in the southern part of Idaho. After beginning my reading of "Mad Cow U.S.A." I began to panic, then I began to get into action against this diabolical collaboration between our 'citizen legislators' and the dairy/beef industry. I have helped form a little group to meet other groups to fight the growth of this deadly kinship. Thanks to you I have become the number one activist in our area and have been threatened by the Idaho Dairymen's Ass. and don't really care. I have a beat up car to take and that is all. I will give it to them gladly. It won't stop me and a few other dedicated peopl;e.