tive about the measure.
While decrying the tactics and tone of the anti-circumcision campaign, San Francisco Examiner columnist Ken Garcia wrote recently, “The biggest reason that this push against a commonly accepted practice should be rejected is that it’s a personal decision, not a political one. Parents can choose to have the procedure done or not, it’s that simple.”
None of this has discouraged Matthew Hess, author of the proposal’s language, who thinks the circumcision ban has a decent shot at passage.
“I think the chances are pretty good,” Mr. Hess said. “I feel like if a bill like this is going to pass, it’s going to be in San Francisco. The heartbeat of the movement is in San Francisco. San Francisco has always been a beacon of progressive thought.”
Intactivists equate infant male circumcision to female genital mutilation, which, despite its prevalence in some cultures, has been illegal in the United States since 1996.
What’s more, San Francisco is known for its large homosexual population, and more than a few homosexual men are opposed to the practice, he said. Mr. Hess recently told the San Francisco Chronicle that he was inspired to take up the issue after seeing a local intactivist group marching in a gay pride parade a few years ago.
“Gay men and naturalbirthing groups are our strongest supporters outside the core of intactivists,” Mr. Hess said.
That said, homosexual-rights groups aren’t exactly rushing to endorse the measure. None is listed as a supporter of the ballot measure on the group’s website, www.mgmbill.org. That may be because such groups want to focus on other issues, such as
“I feel like if a bill like this is going to pass, it’s going to be in San Francisco,” says Matthew Hess, author of the proposal’s language.
same-sex marriage, Mr. Hess said, but it doesn’t mean homosexual voters won’t support it on Election Day.
“I think any time one group endorses another group’s issues, there’s a worry that it will take away from their support,” Mr. Hess said. “Until recently, this was really controversial. It’s still controversial, but less so.”
What continues to be controversial is Mr. Hess’ comic book, “Foreskin Man,” which depicts a muscled blond superhero fighting “Monster Mohel,” an evillooking Jewish circumciser. “Nothing excites Monster Mohel more than cutting into the penile flesh of an eight-day-old infant boy,” the comic book says.
Jewish organizations are appalled at the publication. “‘Foreskin Man’ traffics in some very ugly imagery,” said Ms. Appel. “People who are fanatical in their beliefs may be willfully blind to the fact that they’ve crossed the line in their activism.”
Mr. Hess stands behind his depiction of the Jewish mohel. “My position is that I fail to see how a superhero trying to save a Jewish boy from circumcision is anti-Semitic,” said Mr. Hess. “It’s not anti-Jewish, it’s antiJewish circumcision.”
Studies show that circumcision is on the decline in the West. Estimates vary, but analysts say that about 30 percent of European men are circumcised, while rates of circumcision in the United States have dropped from 80 percent to less than 50 percent.
Even so, “It’s nearly universal with Jewish boys,” said Ms. Appel. Studies also have shown that circumcision can reduce the transmission of HIV and other diseases.
That doesn’t justify subjecting infants to “this harmful, painful and irreversible procedure,” said Mr. Schofield.
“It’s up to us to reach out and let people know that this is not a joke,” he said. “It’s a real human rights issue.”