But for now, I'd like to throw out what you might call a Gedankenexperiment, although I'm no Einstein.
It's as follows:
- Many German commentators on the circumcision decision call male circumcision 'mutilation' or 'assault' or 'a barbaric custom that permanently deforms'. I hardly have to provide links, do I?
- Yet, the parents of the Muslim boy in question voluntarily had their own son mutilated and deformed.
- Any parent who insists on having their own child be deformed and mutilated by means of a criminal assault is incapable of acting in their own child's best interests and should have their parental rights terminated -- right? Imagine a parent who, for instance, encouraged their young child to participate in knife fights, or who threw their child down a hill to 'toughen them up'. At the very least, there should be a thorough investigation into their fitness to raise all of their children.
- Yet there has been no attempt to track down the parents of this 4-year-old Muslim boy and investigate their fitness as parents. Nor has there been a nationwide policy of questioning the parental fitness of Muslim and Jewish parents who have their male children circumcised.
The Gedankenexperiment is simple: why is this so?
Answer in comments, if you're inclined. My proposed answers are below the fold:
It seem as there might be something other than actual concern for these boys' penises behind the outrage of circumcision opponents, doesn't it? The charitable assumption would be that the exaggerated outrage hides a generalized secularist bias that views all religious customs with contempt. The less charitable assumption is that lots of this hyperventilating outrage is actually a pretext for anti-Islamic and/or anti-Semitic sentiments.
Point Two: The thought experiment shows that most of the overheated rhetoric about mutilation is just that: rhetoric. If people really thought that having your male child circumcised were equivalent to a knife-fight, there would be a massive movement to investigate parents who engage in the practice and get them to change their ways or face losing their children.
Yet almost nobody is saying this in Germany. That's because, deep down, even the most convinced (newly-minted) opponent of male circumcision knows, deep down, that circumcision is different from child abuse, and that most parents who have their boys circumcised are probably perfectly fit parents in other respects. They understand that although they themselves might not have their own children circumcised, it's a well-accepted tradition throughout the world, and therefore is not obviously irrational or dangerous.
As in most human affairs, actions (i.e. not calling for the parental rights of parents to 'mutilate' and 'deform' their kids to be suspended) speak louder than words. Or put another way, revealed preferences are much more reliable than stated preferences. And the revealed preferences show that most circumcision opponents don't take their rhetoric seriously.