RIT­UAL

The Washington Times Weekly - - Pol­i­tics -

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.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.