This isn't new news - as it were - it broke last week but bears further consideration. A German court - in Cologne to be exact - considered the case of the circumcision of a 4 year old boy in accordance with the wishes of his Muslim parents. It constituted bodily harm, the court concluded (the matter became contentious as the boy began to bleed profusely two days after and had to be hospitalised). The boy's right to physical integrity and self-determination trumped the parents' religious freedom.
This as may be imagined became just a touch contentious. Jewish and Muslim commentators were predictably hostile. The Turkish Europe Minister offered grumpily to send the Germans 'scientific circumcisers' to 'show the Germans how to circumcise'. Very thoughtful, I'm sure - although there does not seem to be any suggestion that the procedure was carried out defectively. The fact that it was a German court ruling in a Jewish practice caused raised eyebrows.
And I think? well on one level the ruling seems unanswerable. To use a sharp instrument to remove a section of someone's flesh is prima facie an assault. There are possible defences - namely necessity and consent but neither applies to the routine circumcision of infants and boys too young to give an informed consent. So does religious freedom trump the boy's right? Well maybe but if that is the case then the invidious result follows that parents motivated by religious factors have a defence but non-religious parents having their boy circumcised out of a belief that it is the appropriatev thing to do do not.
Hygenic arguments? Try soap and water. Plus all surgery carries a risk - albeit an extreme example, a link story shows 11 boys contracting herpes through a bizarre form of circumcision (TMI alert for details).
And therefore? I wouldn't make circumcision a criminal offence or actionable in damages generally. I'm not quite sure why I wouldn't but that's the view I reach. Incompetent execution of the circumcision or inherently unsafe 'techniques' (see link) must be at least actionable in damages in any event. Hopefully the practice will fade away with the passing of time without any martyrs to the cause.
I've blogged before on the unequal nature of UK/US extradition arrangements - the above young man is Richard O'Dwyer who gruesome secretary heresa May has approved his extradition to the US for -er - copyright infringement. He faces a sentence of up to 5 years imprisonment for offences - which if offences they be - were committed in the UK and would attract a maximum 6 months imprisonment here. Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has organised a petition. Feel free to sign.
Finally - and briefly - the rabbit hopped off last Sunday to see The Angels' Share. Go see. It's quality. I won't explain what the angels' share is for the uninitiated. You'll just have to see the film.