Posts Tagged ‘Ophelia Benson’

Circumcision or Genital Mutilation?

08/04/2010

manicstreetpreacher uncrosses his legs and presents some excellent commentary against a barbaric piece of theocratic lunacy.

I’ve always had a problem with circumcision, even before I ordained myself as a New Atheist.  There just seemed to be something very wrong with snipping off an intimate part of a child’s anatomy when they were but a few days old because some millennia-old Holy Book says that this will please an invisible sky father who cannot be bothered revealing himself to humanity at large.

Apologists of the practice often claim that circumcision helps with hygiene and can reduce the chances of contracting AIDS.  That could well be true, but why not let the child decide what methods of contraception and cleanliness they use when they are old enough to make the decision for themselves?

That’s just male circumcision.  I found out about the real horror of female genital cutting after I became a New Atheist.

I strongly recommend this excellent piece on US sceptic Ophelia Benson’s superb blog, Butterflies and Wheels by Iranian-born German writer of several languages Jahanshah Rashidian that well and truly grabs the issue by the balls:

Circumcision, in its different forms, is practised in a big part of the world.  The Jews were the first to adapt it as a sign of religiosity; it is mentioned in the Old Testament as a religious ritual and preserved its practice into our times.  Circumcision was banned by the ancient Romans and Greeks considering it as an act of barbarity.  Also the early Christians took a strong stand against it.

Benefits of circumcision are believed to maintain genital organs in hygienic conditions for males whereas it is practised to reduce the sexual appetite for females. Removal of a functional, sensitive, healthy, and normal foreskin or clitoris with many nerve fibres, nerve endings, strictly speaking is a genital mutilation.  Medically speaking, it has no relevant healthy benefits that can objectively be used to justify its practice. And as such, this heritage of passed rituals violates the principles of modern morality and the very principles of sciences. [My emphasis]

Our universal law respects parents’ “ownership rights” over their children to protect them, to the extent that their decisions are in the child’s benefits. A child’s right to maintain the integrity of her/his healthy body should not be violated by any religion.

Some businesslike or religious doctors, as modern circumcisers, cut off a functional healthy and normal part of human body, a business or religious treatment which is in contradiction to their professional morality. This is akin to removing an eyelid which protects the eye or to cut off a finger of a child as a pseudo-healthy treatment.

(…)

No medical evidence about the effectiveness of this wounding in reducing the risk of contracting HIV/AIDS or penile cancer or genital diseases has been shown. Only speculations, mostly loaded with religiosity, justify this practice.

No health organisation in the world currently accepts circumcision as a preventive procedure or advocates its practice for both sexes; even if female circumcision is in some areas absent, it is immorally perverse to excuse one cruelty by invoking a worse one. The genitals of both sexes, as the products of evolution, should be left intact.

Since 1996 female circumcision has been considered violence against women in the US and thus has become illegal, but the “civilised world” ignores the practice of it in many circumcising cultures. In Egypt, a US ally, more than 90% of women are victims of female circumcision.

Rashidian concludes his article:

Circumcision, an old practice, has no clear references concerning its history, motive and origin.

Circumcision is a ritual practice of primitive cultures and can be rooted in the factors of sexual punishment, ritual sacrifice and self-injury.

Circumcision has no preventive or medical benefits.

Circumcision, as an act of genital mutilation for both sexes, cannot morally be permitted.

Penn & Teller think that circumcision is BULLSHIT!  (And that’s all the confirmation I need.)

I’d recommend watching Penn & Teller’s excellent debunking of circumcision.  (I first saw the show a couple of years ago on YouTube.  This one is hosted by Yahoo! Video.  There were plenty of other sites hosting the video, so a Google search should turn up something if my URL has been removed.)

Hitchens Watch

Journalist and polemical author Christopher Hitchens has plenty to say against circumcision and lambasts it within the pages of God Is Not Great:

Hitchens comments on circumcision during his May 2007 debate against Christian apologist Timothy Jackson at Emory University:

Hitchens grills Rabbi David Wolpe on circumcision during their November 2008 debate at the Temple Emanu-El, New York:

And finally, Hitchens schools conservative Rabbi Harold Kushner during their discussion at The Connecticut Forum, February 2009:

I think that’s enough food for thought.  I would just like to conclude by saying that if a modern political party decided that their members had to show their commitment by removing parts of their own body, such an edict would not be tolerated in Western society and that party would most likely be banned.

So why do we allow such an appalling practice to continue when it is wrapped in the cloak of religious faith?

New report into militant neo-Nazi group

27/02/2010

manicstreetpreacher is pleased to present the latest salvo in a friend’s war against fascism in the UK.

My good friend, Edmund Standing, a prolific secular and anti-fascist blogger, has co-researched and authored with Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens a report into the activities of the far right extremist group, Blood & Honour (B&H), for Douglas Murray’s conservative think-tank, The Centre for Social Cohesion (CSC) and There Is Nothing British About The BNP.

The report is entitled “Blood & Honour: Britain’s Far-Right Militants”  (download PDF).   The News of the World carried a story on the report, Harry’s Place has done a guest post and Standing has also published an executive summary on his blog:

B&H is an international neo-Nazi network that has evolved from its original incarnation as a neo-Nazi music scene into a far-right franchise.  Through music CDs and ideological texts, the B&H network reinforces and disseminates a violent ‘white power’ supremacist ideology, encourages terrorism and spreads racial hatred. This ideology derives from Third Reich Nazism and B&H seeks the creation of a ‘Fourth Reich’.  While it is not an organisation with official membership, B&H acts as an effective international network through which to spread violent neo-Nazism.

A number of B&H texts glorify and encourage acts of terror against minorities, and also provide followers with detailed information about how to carry out a successful attack…

B&H’s largest source of income is the sale of neo-Nazi rock music CDs, many of which incite racial hatred and violence, and glorify neo-Nazi terrorism.  Two key UK B&H merchandising operations are Highlander East Coast and Rune and Sword Productions, both of which sell ‘white power’ music and other neo-Nazi material that contravenes UK legislation on racial and religious hatred.

Standing writes his own blog, regularly contributes to Harry’s Place and has written a number of excellent pieces for Ophelia Benson’s website, Butterflies & Wheels, which can be accessed in the articles section.

Standing’s previous report for the CSC, “The BNP and The Online Fascist Network” (download PDF), published in July 2009, exposed the shambolic attempts by the British National Party to clean up their politics in the public eye while secretly maintaining links with Nazis, anti-Semites, Holocaust deniers and all-round nasty racist scum.  Make sure you search Google as well as reading the report itself to get a whiff of the stink it kicked up!