The circumcision tipping point

David Hirsanyi:

Forget death panels. If you're really interested in putting a stop to the public option (and some truly entertaining town hall meetings), let's talk circumcision panels.

Growing up in the Jewish faith, I witnessed my fair share of 7-day-olds taken from their parents to face scalpel, prayer and barbaric snip. Why seven days? Undoubtedly, the number of Jewish boys converting to Methodism grows exponentially each day the foreskin remains attached.

According to Genesis, God commanded 99-year-old Abraham to circumcise himself, everyone in his household, even his slaves — as they, apparently, didn't have enough on their plates — to close the covenant. Those who were not circumcised were removed, as it were, from this holy deal with God.

Now, the Centers for Disease Control (those folks who often carry themselves as if they too had the ear of the Lord) are mulling a national campaign to promote "universal circumcision" for all boys in the United States in an effort to reduce the spread of HIV. Additionally, as The New York Times reported this week, the CDC is thinking about expanding the campaign to target promiscuous adult heterosexual men. (Abstinence or circumcision? How quickly do you think sex becomes overrated?)

Newborn circumcision rates are at 65 percent, but have dropped for decades since just after World War II, when they were at more than 80 percent. This might be partially attributable to immigration of non-circumcising populations. There are also various movements afoot that question both the health benefits and the morality of slicing a newborn.

I do not possess any ironclad opinion on the topic of circumcision — and, perhaps, not so coincidentally, I also do not have a son. Many of you, I will assume, are foreskin-neutral.

Studies suggest that circumcision may help prevent HIV among heterosexuals, though it has not shown to help those with the greatest risk, men having sex with men. One also suspects — or perhaps hopes — that ancient cultures simultaneously concocted the circumcision ritual because, through some instinctual trigger, they sensed it was hygienically beneficial.

Here's the problem: Why is the CDC launching campaigns to "universally" promote a medical procedure? If you're an adult (and nuts), or a parent, no one stands in your way of having a bris. Today, 79 percent of men are already circumcised, and even if 100 percent the effect on the collective health of the nation would be negligible. If this is the standard, where does it stop?


Is it just the tip of the iceberg? Did Adam really say, "Stand back Eve. There is no telling how big this thing is going to get."?

Maybe the CDC is just trying to frighten people who engage in homosexual activity, or turn them into Methodist.


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