Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Sam Sloan Slams Intactivists For Advocating Laws To Criminalize Circumcision

Sam Sloan, a candidate for the Libertarian Party's Presidential Nomination in 2012, has strongly opposed all efforts to use government power to criminalize infant male circumcision calling such efforts "an assault on parental choice and religious freedom".

In 2011, a petition to put a referendum on the ballot in San Francisco banning circumcisions (except in the case of medical emergency) for males under the age of 18, obtained a sufficient number of signatures but was thrown off the ballot by Superior Court Judge Loretta Giorgi, who ruled that as "a widely practiced medical procedure", circumcision cannot be banned by San Francisco since California law forbids municipalities from regulating procedures allowed by the state. The proposed circumcision ban, if passed, would have resulted in a fine of $1,000.00, a year in jail, or both for all physicians and mohels who flouted the ban by performing circumcisions on males under the age of 18, even if called for by the parents' religious faith.

Sam Sloan, a Muslim who is also known as Haji Mohammed Ismail Sloan, made the following comment regarding this issue:

The name for male circumcision in Arabic is Khitān or Khatna. It's considered a sign of belonging to the wider Islamic community and is also referred to by the term Taharah, which means 'purity'. While Muslims are the largest religious group to practice widespread circumcision, it is not a condition for converting to Islam or carrying out religious duties. Nevertheless, circumcision is an Islamic rite and has been a religious norm from the beginning of Islam and no law should deny Muslims the right to practice their religion as they see fit or imprison physicians who perform circumcisions on Muslim boys. Such laws are an assault on parental choice and religious freedom.

Jewish religious tradition requires male children to be circumcised eight days after birth. If the San Francisco circumcision ban had been passed, Jewish parents in San Francisco who held a traditional bris, or circumcision ritual, could have been sentenced to a year in jail. It is my understanding that Jews who circumcise their sons trace the tradition back thousands of years and consider it a sign of their covenant with God and an affirmation that the Jewish people will survive.

It also appears that some intactivists (activists who want to keep the foreskin of male infants intact) may be motivated by deeply held anti-Semetic attitudes. One of the San Francisco referendum's key supporters wrote a comic book entitled "Foreskin Man" portraying a blond, Aryan-looking superhero doing battle with "Monster Mohel" (Mohels are people trained to perform ritual Jewish circumcisions.). The bearded, prayer-shawl-wearing mohel leers maniacally at defenseless infants.

Jews and Muslims are not the only religious groups opposing circumcision bans. The National Association of Evangelicals (which represents 45,000 churches) declared that while their faith neither requires nor forbids circumcision, "Jews, Muslims and Christians all trace our spiritual heritage back to Abraham. Circumcision begins with Abraham. No American government should restrict this historic tradition". Another group opposing the circumcision ban was the Committee For Parental Choice & Religious Freedom, which included a coalition of the following individuals and organizations:

California State Senator Mark Leno, commenting on the San Francisco referendum when it appeared it might be placed on the ballot in November, 2011, said: "As a gay man and a committed Jew, I am strongly opposed to this likely unconstitutional ballot measure to ban circumcision. It is an affront to religious freedom and to good medical practice, as there is overwhelming evidence that circumcision can be an important tool in reducing HIV transmission and other sexually transmitted diseases. San Franciscans should defeat this measure and protect parents' right to choose".

Dr. Laurence Baskin, Chief of Pediatric Urology at the University of California, San Francisco (Benioff Children's Hospital), called the San Francisco ballot measure "a bunch of nonsense" and said, "I am not going to stop doing circumcisions and this would never pass the First Amendment test". In addition to the AIDS studies showing circumcision significantly reduces the prospects of HIV transmission, Dr. Baskin cited published research "indicating that circumcision can reduce the incidence of other sexually transmitted diseases, as well as penile cancer and urinary tract infections". He also disputed claims that circumcision is mutilation or causes significant pain. The procedure causes "a minimal amount of pain if done properly so my recommendation is to use anesthesia". 

Whether parents circumcise their male children for religious, health or aesthetic reasons, it is their choice and no government should dictate to parents, under the threat of imprisonment, what decisions they should make with respect to their own children.

Organized opposition to anti-circ activism was first led by a group called Roundheads United (Roundheads as opposed to helmeted Cavaliers) formed by members of the Libertarian Party of Queens County in 2006. Its stated organizational purpose, as listed on its original Yahoo! Group (now deleted), was the following:

Roundheads United is a project of Rising Action, USA, a freedom activist network, dedicated to publishing the positive aesthetic, cultural, religious, and medical reasons for encouraging routine infant male circumcision and to exposing the lies of the rabid, anti-circumcision fringe lobby that seeks to interfere with parental choice by trying to define infant male circumcision as sexual assault and child abuse, by trying to get insurance companies to stop paying for the procedure, and by trying to convince people that infant male circumcision has no benefits. Roundheads United takes an activist role to oppose the intervention of the state and to defend the rights of parents against radical anti-circ activists who are driven more by their emotions than they are by reason.

In April, 2006, anti-circumcision activists led by Chaz Antonelli allied themselves with Blay Tarnoff and Gary Donoyan (two members of the Nassau Libertarian Party), in an attempt to pack the Queens Libertarian Party's Annual Convention to elect officers that would defeat the Queens LP members who started Roundheads United. These efforts were promoted on the blog of Charles A. Antonelli, which is entitled "When Pigs Fly: The Life Of Chaz, The Travelling Leather-Biker-Bear". Mr. Antonelli, an Intactivist who nevertheless gets off on "circ talk, play and fantasy" wrote in March, 2006: "I am a self-admitted "circumsexual"; meaning that even the mere word "circumcision" will get me all horny. With my restored foreskin, which I had for 23 years prior to 10-JAN-05 (so it wasn't anything "new") I enjoyed "circ play" and foreskin torture. I've had (and own) many surgical instruments for circumcising. It was a serious fetish of mine to one day actually have a proper circumcision done". Antonelli, Tarnoff & Donnoyan planned to meet with their supporters at the Neptune Diner in Astoria, Queens to plan their strategy on the morning of the Queens LP Convention. Their efforts failed and the candidates they supported were not elected.

Soon after the Queens Libertarian Party's Annual Convention, many spoof e-mail accounts and Yahoo! Groups were created by anti-circumcision activists and soon thereafter, messages were posted in the names of Queens LP members with e-mail addresses that were almost identical to the correct e-mail address of the person but had an extra underscore or dash in it. Fake Roundheads United Yahoo! Groups were also formed with an extra underscore or dash and messages were posted there in support of keeping circumcision legal but containing information and links to provide false information to the reader in the alleged name of Queens LP members. "Rabid, anti-circ terrorists", as Jeff Grizlo called them, also started calling his grandmother and mom telling them he was "an advocate of child abuse", supported the "sexual assault of children" and most seriously, that he was "obviously obsessed with the penises of little boys". Other fake Yahoo! Groups anti-circumcision activists formed that appeared to be in favor of keeping circumcision legal were "Informed Citizens For Parental Choice", "Roundheads For Parental Choice", "Cut Them Clean", "Cut Them All", "Do You Swell With Pride" and "Clean Cut All-American Boys".

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