The whole male circumcision debate is, frankly, one I do not care about. Both sides of the argument make enough sense to me that, for the most part, I just pick the opposite position of the overly-passionate soul arguing with me about it. Yes, it's a barbaric and outdated practice. But maybe getting rid of that extra smegma-collecting skin helps prevent infection? And perhaps some ladies prefer a less anteater-looking penis?
Whatever. I have no horse in this race. I've spent 30 years sans foreskin and I'm doing fine, but it must certainly be horrific to give the thumbs-up to a doctor to take his knife to your son's private bits. So my ultimate opinion on this one is: Do what you want and stay out of everyone else's affairs.
But. Did you read this humdinger-of-a-story in the New York Times about the two-week-old who died after contracting Type 1 herpes from his rabbi's mouth during a Hebrew ritualistic circumcision? I know, that's a lot to take in. Full details, again, are here; just read it.
Now do me a favor and re-read that headline: “Baby's Death Renews Debate Over a Circumcision Ritual.” That middle part, where it uses the word “debate,” that's where it gets a bit disconcerting. (I mean, aside from the revelation that rabbis remove foreskin with their mouths!)
There are plenty of weird religious practices taking place at any given moment in between the boundaries of our great and eagle-laden America. And they're allowed because of our glorious Constitution and the “freedom of religion” contained within. That ripped-from-the-headlines practice in Mormonia of baptizing the undead for their post-apocalyptic army or whatever? Without a doubt, it's insane. And there's a moral gray area of whether or not living people should be making decisions for the dead. But, really, putting a dead person on a special kind of list that says, “Guess what, you're a Mormon now, no take-backs!” isn't really going to make their day a bummer. So debate that one away. Have at it.
But there are certain practices that we have to apply some kind of common sense algorithm to instead of just giving it the blanket “it's just a quirk in their religion” shrug. Say, a practice where a grown man uses his mouth to remove the severed foreskin of a newborn baby? In what other realm than the Great State of Religion would an activity like that not only be allowed but, if not fully accepted, also be argued and discussed without its constituents being branded as insane?
Which is all a long way of saying, hey, dudes, stop sucking on kid dicks just because scripture says it’s fine.
Onto the roundup!
- Like a lazy work-from-home analyst who checks into the office once every few months so his boss doesn't think he's basically paying the kid to jerk off at home, Pat Robertson checked in again to say that marijuana should be legalized (yeah!), but also that you shouldn't go to your gay sister's wedding (boo!), and that Midwesterners lost their houses to tornadoes because they didn't pray enough (double boo!). - Kirk Cameron, a one-time famous person, said that homosexuality is “unnatural” and “ultimately destructive to so many of the foundations of civilization.” Time to rip those Tiger Beat posters off your walls, ladies. - In southern Yemen, at least 185 are dead after a series of skirmishes between soldiers and al-Qaeda.
- For all those Tibetans who are self-immolating themselves, China has taken the official tactic of blaming the Dalai Lama for orchestrating the suicide protests and calling said protestors “criminals.”
- At a police checkpoint in Russia, a suicide-bombing by a “black widow” Islamist insurgent—the “black widow” part an unnecessarily badass designation for a woman whose husband was killed in religious fighting—left five policeman dead.
- The Arizona Senate passed a bill that will protect doctors if they don't tell the whole truth to women seeking abortions about the health of their fetuses, making expectant parenthood, as Wonkette put it, “a fun and exciting game of Russian roulette!”
- Michelle Bachmann, out of nowhere, comes spouting off with one of the best fear-mongering quotes of the year, suggesting that Obama's contraception policy will eventually lead to a “health care dictator” that will institute a one-child-only policy like China.
- The Utah legislature passed a fun bill that lets schools skip teaching sex education, or if they do teach, they have to teach it in a contraceptive-free/abstinence-only way. Unrelated but worth pointing out again: Utah residents watch more porn than anyone else in America. - The Pope hates Maryland now, seeing as they legalized the gay marriage. - In Iraq, 14 kids were stoned to death by Shi'ite militants because they were wearing “Western-style emo clothes and haircuts.” - GOP candidates in Laurens County, South Carolina will be required to sign pledges proving they're “the right kind” of Republicans. Among the items on the pledge: (1) being anti-abortion; (2) loving guns of any shape and size; (3) no sex before marriage; (4) no adultery; (5) no same-sex marriage; and best of all (6) no pornography of any kind. Good luck, y’all!
- Apparently, there is an all-Christian group of card counting blackjack players that are taking money from casinos for the Jesus.
- A hacker defaced the home page of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service—which is just like Planned Parenthood, but British—with an anti-abortion message and made it look like it was done by the hacker collective Anonymous.
- And finally, our Hero(es) of the Week are: The folks at The Economist who wrote this piece that's somewhat-related to last week's intro to this column that was simply bursting with positivity. In an effort to figure out whether rhetoric spoken by pro-Rick Santorum advocates about our nation’s moral decline was true, they actually found that the abortion rate has declined, teenage pregnancy is at its lowest level in 40 years, homicides have been cut in half since 1991, and violent crime and property crime is way down. So, you know, we're doing pretty well morally, even without our Bibles.
Previously - A Distant Star in the Darkness