Editorial: Golden Gate Garbage

At first, reactions to the San Francisco ballot initiative to outlaw circumcision of boys under the age of 18 seemed to fall into the “Are you serious?” category. But sometimes, truth is in fact stranger than fiction, and yes, a small band of thoughtless radicals has forced this measure onto the ballot for a vote of the general public.

The proposal is ludicrous both de jure (in law) and de facto (in fact). A ban on circumcision would immediately be challenged by Jews and Muslims ( almost surely successfully) as violative of the religious freedom protections of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

A JTA article by Sue Fishkoff, published in the June 1 edition of the Light, says experts believe it is highly unlikely the measure will pass, but “the mere fact that it reached the ballot, and in such a major city, has caused much concern for Jews and their allies.”

This ill-advised measure has the backing of several anti-circumcision groups, including MGM (“male genital mutilation”) Bill. They gathered some 12,000 signatures to place the ban on the Nov. 8 ballot. If it were to pass, anyone who circumcises a boy under the age of 18 within city limits would face a fine of $1,000 and up to one year in jail. The only exception would be for “compelling medical need.”

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But the idiocy doesn’t stop with the constitutional and religious arguments. There’s strong medical evidence that there is a “compelling medical need” for circumcision, as it has been proven as a preventative measure against HIV transmission by a number of international health organizations. Nor is there a statistically significant sampling of children who have been circumcised who can point to that act in their childhood as having had some major deleterious impact on their lives.

It gets worse. Say this is somehow adopted; what’s next? Are immunizations subject to challenge because shots hurt?If a child breaks a leg will some imbecile rush to legal action to block surgery, arguing that the pain of resetting the bone is more severe than the hurt of allowing the limb to heal naturally?

The arrogance of the proponents in substituting their sophomoric medical opinions for those of professionals is no different from radical conservatives saying there’s no climate change because they can gather up some scientists to disagree with the overwhelming climatological evidence interpreted by experts. Science and medicine by political correctness is never the way to go, no matter which side of the political aisle on which you stand.

We hope that the good people of San Francisco will reject the anti-circumcision bill overwhelmingly, and that similar measures will fail even to get on ballots in other cities. There is indeed much at stake for Jews, Muslims and all Americans who treasure our precious religious freedoms. Not to mention sanity.