Sunday, March 30, 2008

Where's the line?

Turns out that the Dale and Leilani Neumann, the ones who let their 11-year old daughter die by because they wanted to pray for her instead of taking her to a doctor, have more children. Right now, their children have been removed from their home, but they're expected to return. After all, there are no signs that Dale and Leilani physically abuse them, so they can't keep them from their children. Of course, if they catch a life-threatening, but treatable, disease, then they're screwed.

Part of me thinks that people like this should have their children taken away from them. After all, isn't this a form of psychological abuse? I'd certainly say it is. If I told my children to sacrifice a heifer to Apollo everytime they got sick instead of going to the doctor, the general public would think that I was a crazy person. But is it any crazier than what they believe? Sure, their form of prayer is less messy, but it won't lead to hamburgers afterwards. The point is though, if this is what I taught my children, I think that most people would agree that I was an unfit parent. Even if my children didn't die as a result, they would teach these crazy things to their children - leaving more potential victims. Also, if you're that illogical when it comes to medicine, what else are you willing to do? As I wrote in a previous blog, it's the same mode of thinking that when cranked up a notch turns to dangerous extremism.

But how many people are like that in this country? Can you imagine the nightmare in trying to track them all down and enforce this sort of a thing? Unfortunately, I think that this is one of the many prices that we pay for living in a free country. That's something that people don't like to think about too much. After all, it's human nature to want to protect children, and that sounds almost like an "oh well" type of an attitude. Still, is this really solveable?

Yet there has to be a line somewhere. I just started reading Infidel by Ayann Hirsi Ali. She was born in Somalia and had to undergo the ritual of female gential mutilation. She describes it in some vivid detail in her book. It's one of the most horrific things that I've ever read, especially knowing that it's true and it's still happening in some African countries. (The ones who do it claim that it's a requirement of Islam - but nobody can find a passage in the Koran or anything else that would back this up. Turns out, the practice predates the coming of Islam in certain parts of Africa.)

Surely we must never allow that sort of a thing in this country. For me, there's no question that we should intervene if people were trying to do that to their daughters.

And yet, people still have the genitals of their sons mutilated - all in direct conflict with how medical science has shown that it's completely unnecessary. And no, I'm not trying to compare my circumcision with what Ayann Hirsi Ali went through. However, the reasons for doing it are the same - tradition and faith.

I realize that I have no definite answer to this question. While there are definitely some things where the government should intervene, there's a lot of gray area. Perhaps the line will be clearer when there's an outbreak of whooping cough due to parents who refuse immunizations for their children (and I realize that not all of these refusals are on religious grounds).

Check out the following link: Children's Health Care is a Legal Duty, Inc. Maybe you can tell me where the line is.


Nolan said...

Of course, I agree with your main point here, but in the interest of winding you up...
A boy should look like his father. And it's not true that circumcision presents no health benefits. It's at the very least, HIGHLY debatable. There are plenty of experts on both sides (and all are actual scientists, not intelligent designers) who advise one way or the other. For you to say something like "medical science has shown that it’s completely unnecessary" is really beneath you.
Here's one link: Or you could go to the National Institute of Health's site, whose study showed that circumcising in Africa could potentially save a shitload of lives (although I'm not sure that's how they put it) due to decreasing HIV infections.
You can find plenty more if you'd rather verify your claims with actual research and facts as opposed to false generalizations.
Oh, also, uncircumcised penises look gross. Ever watch German porn? 'Nuff said. Talk about mutilation...

Lance Christian Johnson said...

Perhaps it was a touch of hyperbole, but it isn't as necessary as people make it out to be (in this country, anyway). As for how it looks, that's just a cultural bias. As for Africa, condoms would do the same thing.