Tag Archives: male circumcision

Ambivalence? Apathy? Unclothed judges and circumcision bans.

Two very gendered things that I’m just not sure about. I don’t think I’m worked up enough about them, I’m worried that I’m wrong in both my approach and my general shoulder shrugging about them.

Douglas inquiry victimizing a victim: lawyer – Winnipeg Free Press.  I’m not rehashing too much here, check the links for the back story.

Prof Alice Woolley (U Calgary Law) defends the proceedings, saying they are not a witch hunt but journalist/columnist Christie Blatchford says the inquiry is “obsessed with sex”.  She quotes Sheila Block, lawyer for Lori Douglas:

Judges, she said, have sex, as “all of us are entitled to” have. She says the panel will hear no evidence that “wearing sexual gear, play-acting, oral sex or clicking a camera during sex will be found to be an impermissible activity, in and of itself.”

Judges have sex?

Ok, seriously,  I understand that judges have sex. And I understand that her spouse’s wrongs should not rest on her.  And I accept that the complainant’s behaviour here has been less than ideal.  But I have a hard time dismissing Alice Woolley’s argument. The problem here isn’t sex.  I do think that the nonsense about whether nude pics online make one unfit for the bench needs to be carefully thought through (as I said in this earlier post, “And if we make the pictures themselves – mere nude pictures – their existence, grounds for resignation, then from what I hear about the younger generation, we’re going to have some VERY blackmail-able judges in about ten  years….”).  But there is a  person alleging the judge did them harm as-a-lawyer through unethical actions.  She asserts she did not.  The inquiry will decide the matter.  I have every expectation it will decide it in her favour.   I  have no doubt that Justice Douglas has been damaged in unjust ways by the press about this situation.  What I’m not sure about is whether I think that the CJC inquiry is completely wrongheaded. Some people I really respect think it is.  I’m still working it through.


Here’s another thing: German Court Rules Circumcision is Bodily Harm  (h/t @blberger) After a hilarious quite possibly inappropriate and pun filled conversation with a couple of colleagues (followed by a brief effort to actually sort through the issues), I’m really confused on this one.  Well, not that confused really, but I’m worried about being wrong.  I would have said I’m in favour of preserving choices for infants in cases like, e.g., Sheena B and in particular the concurrence which makes the point that rendering the parent’s religious freedom inviolable in the case would have the effect of ensuring that the child never had the ability to exercise any freedom at all (the case, B. (R.) v. Children’s Aid Society of Metropolitan Toronto, [1995] 1 S.C.R. 315, is about the parental desire to refuse a necessary blood transfusion for their infant, on religious grounds.  See Iacobucci and Major JJ. around para 215). I suppose I’m in favour of preventing parents from doing risky things to their infants and children, right? But. I drive my children in cars. I feed them processed food. I let them swim in lakes and ride bikes, and sometimes watch television. I have taught them that princesses are boring, brainwashed is not too strong a word for what I have tried to do on that front.  I fed them meat, until one, at age 4, became an ethical vegetarian (so committed that I almost convinced her to stop biting her nails on this ground. Almost). Both my children have been inducted into a faith community through a ceremony of allegiance, before either could possibly make a choice about it. (i didn’t have their ears pierced, though). I avoided the issue at hand because I have two girls (and frankly prior to giving birth had delegated any question on that front to their dad).  But raising children means making choices for them. And it probably also requires the weighing of risks and benefits, including the benefit to their soul.  Daily.  I find the interventions around circumcision tend to require that we ignore that context of parenting.  [shrugs]. I could be wrong, but what’s most interesting to me is that I’m not particularly grabbed by the debate at all.  I would have thought I’d have a strong view on this. But, I don’t, really.  Perhaps that’s just the way it should be.  The strong view I do have is that those who are “pure” in their opposition to circumcision had better watch out for all the anti-religious zealots or haters of Jews and Muslims who may flock to this cause.  No ambivalence or apathy from me there.


Recent scholarship on male circumcision:

Cut-Off Point – Regulating Male Circumcision in Finland [article]  International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family, Vol. 25, Issue 1 (April 2011), pp. 100-119  Askola, Heli

Law and Male Circumcision in Australia: Medical, Legal and Cultural Issues, The [article]   Monash University Law Review, Vol. 23, Issue 1 (1997), pp. 92-122  Haberfield, Les

Short Changed – The Law and Ethics of Male Circumcision [article]   International Journal of Children’s Rights, Vol. 13, Issue 1-2 (2005), pp. 161-182  Fox, Marie; Thomson, Michael

Male Circumcision after the Human Rights Act 1998;  5 J. C.L. 320 (2000) Edge, Peter W.