Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The National Post is gets it wrong


Barbara Kay supports the ongoing sexual mutilation of male infants, in defiance of modern medical best practices.

On January 24, The National Post published a blatantly and factually false justification for male infant sexual mutilation by Barbara Kay. She provides a number of justifications for her support of this cruel and medically unnecessary practice, almost all of which are incorrect. The rationalization begins early in Kay's article, where she describes the 5000 year old ritual practice of bronze age nomads, stupidly carried into the present day as a “controlled study”.  She follows this absurd characterization with the factually false statement that circumcision can be shown to reduce morbidity, notable that she cites no research to support this baloney.  In fact, According to Volume 80 of the British Journal of Surgery, October 1993,[1] “the operation is associated with a definite morbidity”.  A cursory Google search also reveals published data from The College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia stating [2] “Routine infant male circumcision performed on a healthy infant is now considered a non‐therapeutic and medically unnecessary intervention”.

Image: renjith krishnan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Kay continues on, citing the World Health Organization's (WHO) /apparent/ endorsement of male  circumcision, alluding to “irrefutable evidence that it dramatically lowers the rate of HIV”. Of course, Kay fails to cite any published statement of the WHO, or research backing up her claim. The supposedly “irrefutable evidence” was obtained in a methodologically irregular study [3], focusing on circumcisions in adults, and not infants, and is widely regarded as bogus science.  Numerous independent studies have shown no [4] reduced risk of HIV infection for circumcised men, compared with those uncircumcised. An international organization of physicians, opposing non-therapeutic neonatal circumcision with members in 50 States and 12 Canadian Provinces published a statement in 2007 indicating:

“Although male circumcision is likely to be proposed for political reasons, it is likely to have little effect on the overall incidence of HIV infection and may cause later problems”[5].

Kay states that the South African study is “widely hailed” and “uncontested” - and at this point, I must openly wonder if her article is an example of journalism or fantasy. Her claim that the study is “uncontested” research is demonstrably false, untrue, inaccurate, wrong, and a lie. She also extrapolates from the debunked study to predict the prevention of 3 million infant deaths, and strays further into fantasy territory by calling this speculated outcome “a miracle”. Kay blunders onwards to claim that reducing HIV transmission through sexual education and condom use – “don't work in significant numbers”. This is another idiotic lie by Kay, condom use[6] and sex education[7] are both highly effective in reducing transmission of infection. The Joint United Nations Program on HIV/Aids stated in 2009 that [8] “The male latex condom is the single, most efficient, available technology to reduce the sexual transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections”.

Turning her attention away from lies about HIV infection, Kay also delves into ethical falsehood by dishonestly equating sexual mutilation with vaccinations routinely given to children. No Barbara, circumcision and vaccination are not equal, because vaccination doesn't encompass the removal of the  most sensitive portion of the infant victim's sexual organ.

Kay also claims, with no citation of source that Sexually transmitted disease are “much more common” in uncircumcised men. Why do you force your readers do your research for you Barbara? In fact, the weight of evidence is that circumcision does not protect against STDs [9]. Another study found [10] “no evidence that uncircumcised men are particularly susceptible to clinical infections with sexually transmitted diseases”. Kay also makes the claim that circumcision causes a 12-fold reduction in the incidence of Urinary Tract Infection (UTI), and again, she cites no source.  Interestingly, in doing Barbara Kay's research for her, I found a single [11] reference supporting Kay's claim about UTIs, but I found three [12] [13][14] suggesting circumcision causes UTIs.  Also, why did I have to find your sources for you Barbara?

Next, our infant-mutilation-apologist explains that complications arising from circumcision are so rare that they are statistically negligible. Williams and Kapila [15] estimated that a realistic rate of complications from neonatal circumcision ranges from 2% to 10%.

Kay continues on to say that the comparison between Female Genital Mutilation and Male Genital Mutilation is a myth, and an obscene canard. We are in fact discussing an obscenities, one of which is FGM, and another is infant male genital mutilation. Why should the word mutilation be reserved for atrocities committed against females? No amount of characterization changes the fact that infant boys, when circumcised are subject to a medically unnecessary mutilation of their sexual organs. Another obscenity is the suggestion that this brutal bronze age ritual mutilation is acceptable as long as the victims are male infants. Kay correctly identifies the intent of the practice of female circumcision to be the elimination of sexual pleasure for the victims. She fails however when she omits the mention that the practice in North America was popularized by Dr John Kellog [16] in the late 19th century. In 1888, Kellog wrote
“A remedy for masturbation which is almost always successful in small boys is circumcision. The operation should be performed by a surgeon without administering an anesthetic, as the brief pain attending the operation will have a salutary effect upon the mind, especially if it be connected with the idea of punishment.”

Kay concludes her article by imputing imagined motivations to the opponents of infant male circumcision, and debunking her speculations in this area is unnecessary, because they are quite clearly speculations – unsupported by any reference.

What's most startling about her tower of horseshit is not that she wrote it, rather that my country's national newspaper published this item of fantasy justifying the  continued mutilation of infant boys.

[1] http://www.cirp.org/library/complications/williams-kapila/
[2] https://www.cpsbc.ca/files/u6/Circumcision-Infant-Male.pdf
[3] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ali-a-rizvi/male-circumcision-and-the_b_249728.html
[4] http://www.circumstitions.com/HIV.html#contrary
[5] http://www.doctorsopposingcircumcision.org/info/HIVStatement.html
[6] http://www.cdc.gov/condomeffectiveness/latex.htm
[7] http://www.who.int/inf-new/aids2.htm
[8] http://www.unaids.org/en/Resources/PressCentre/Featurestories/2009/March/20090319preventionposition/
[9] http://www.circumstitions.com/STDs.html
[10] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11405332
[11] http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/969643-overview
[12] http://www.circumstitions.com/Utis.html#cause
[13] http://www.circumstitions.com/Utis.html#israel
[14] http://www.cirp.org/library/disease/UTI/
[15] http://www.cirp.org/library/complications/
[16] http://www.cirp.org/pages/whycirc.html

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