Friday, April 29, 2011

Rebels without a cause

By Capt. Fogg

To be honest, I've come to hate activists, even when I agree with them. The passion behind so many crusades has often rendered the crusaders irrational, intemperate and more than half blind. It prompts them to accept spurious facts and figures and sometimes to invent them and in too many cases there's a kind of regenerative feedback that mimics a PA system with too much gain. It begins to howl and screech. Whatever was said into the microphone and what the howling is about matters little, only the joy of crusading, which not only surpasseth understanding, but prevents it.

Take genital mutilation, for instance. On the list of people I hate well in excess of my general contempt for humanity are those who painfully slice up young girls in a way that is intended to prevent them from enjoying sex as an adult. Yes, we have a constitutional ban on government interference with "free exercise" of religion, but we have a long standing interpretation of it that limits that free exercise to otherwise legal actions. We are, even so, usually able to make fair decisions because we distinguish between minor cosmetic surgery and malicious mutilation without a lot of hysteria. We can sometimes tell whether a comparison is ludicrous or not. We're able to take notice of the testimony of close to a billion males that it's not an impairment; unless we're prone to activism, that is.

Is circumcision, demanded by two of the major religious categories, really the kind of "mutilation" that falls outside of constitutional protection? To the activists of San Francisco, there are no uncertainties and certainly no distinction between something that is initially agonizing and a cruel lifelong impairment and something that isn't either. And let me be clear, this isn't a subject that will be illuminated by our traditional, left-right dichotomy. It simply doesn't matter whether it's liberals or Conservatives behind it; whether it's neither or both. I'd go so far as to say that the stated justifications for banning the circumcision of male babies is irrelevant to the passion for it and has too much to do with "aesthetics" to be more than an excuse. So I'm not going to indulge myself in modern fashion by invoking the traditional straw men ( and women of course) and restrict my contempt for people who need to have a cause and need it so much they aren't quite scrupulous about the high contrast, black and white scenarios they use in their passion plays.

If the crusade succeeds, much like the one that captured Jerusalem in 1099, the City by the bay will be as slippery a thing to hold on to. Jews and Muslims will simply use maternity facilities elsewhere or have the religious rite performed elsewhere. The Brit Milah, given in Gen. 17:10-14 to Abraham and in Lev. 12:3 is carried out on the eighth day. Muslims have a similar guideline. The law them would be only an inconvenience, like having to drive to the next town to purchase alcohol is in some places.

What then will it accomplish than, after all the sound and fury and obsession with penises wanes? Certainly nothing to stop what was intended to be stopped unless a further incursion by the dominant religion into the neighborhood of tolerance was part of the game all along.

(Cross posted from Human Voices)

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