Wednesday, August 18, 2010

What Will They Ban Next?

There are health reasons for male circumcision says the CDC.

In response to my piece on tail docking and the limits of coercion
(i.e why the proper response to differing opinions in the world of dogs is not always to pass a new law), a sensible person wrote in to say that he thought male circumcision was different than tattoos and breast augmentation, because the baby could not decide.


On the surface entirely logical. But let's think things through for a second or two more....

A baby cannot consent to vaccines either, but we go ahead with that, don't we? And thank God!

The assumption is that circumcision is purely an archaic historical convention, the same as tail docking, and that neither have any real health benefit. The assumption also seems to be that a little nip is horribly painful and/or or reduces function.

But, of course, neither statement is true for male human circumcision OR tail docking in working dog breeds.

Read that last line. Neither stament is true. There are real reasons to dock tails in certain working dog breeds, and there are real reasons to circumcise male babies, and neither practice is massively painful or debilitating in the slightest.

This last statement, about circumcision, seems to be new information to some, but the U.S. Center for Disease Control is quite clear on the matter.

And to underscore, the health benefits for circumcision are are not just for men; they are for women and babies too.

Notes The Washington Post:

In addition to reducing the risk for urinary tract infections among infants, studies indicate that circumcision cuts the chances of adult men's getting penile cancer and becoming infected with a variety of sexually transmitted diseases, including syphilis, AIDS, herpes and the human papillomavirus (HPV), which causes genital warts in men and women and cervical cancer in women.


Women. Men. Infants. Young adults. Old people.

Everyone seems to benefit when young male babies are circumcised.

So does that mean we should force parents to circumcise their children under penalty of law?

Not in my book. But then, I am a "let freedom ring" kind of guy, and that holds true for circumcision as well as tail docking.

Pardon the pun, but "different strokes for different folks."

Some things simply do not require one-size-fits-all legislation.

I am happy to educate rather than legislate; to persuade rather than coerce.

I do not require you to give up your religion in order to follow mine, nor do I mandate that you hunt your dog if you do not want to hunt.

I am a liberal that way.

Just because I am not gay does not mean I support a ban on gay marriage. And, to carry the analogy forward, if I were gay I would not require straights to stand at the back of the bus, nor would I deny them their health insurance benefits.

I am a liberal that way.

I support the Second Amendment, but I do not require that you own a gun (I do not own one myself), not do I require you to support my interpretation of the U.S. Constitution even though it is shared by both the Obama Administration and the U.S. Supreme Court.

I am a liberal that way.

I eat meat, but I am not opposed to you being a vegetarian. Conversely, if you are a pure Atkins-diet meat-eater, I trust you will not be lecturing me if I happen to choose to eat a salad or scarf down a potato for lunch.

Of course not everyone can live in their own skin without dictating what is on your skin.

And I mean that quite literally.

Of the population aged 26-40, 40 percent have tattoos.

I do not have a tattoo, but let me say that if the number of tattoo'd people climbs above 50 percent, I hope those with tattoos will not require the rest of us to get one! . Let freedom ring!

A little over 60% of U.S. men are circumcised. Let me affirmatively say that just because the majority of American men are circumcised, I do not think we need to jail those who are not. I do not even think we need to beat them up. . Let freedom ring!

It seems that of the population aged 26-40, 24 percent dye their hair "an untraditional color" not found in nature, while 22 percent have "a piercing other than an earlobe."

Yow! Freaks and geeks. No worries. Let it be said that when I become Emperor, I will not raise taxes on people with purple hair or or toss those with tongue or eyebrow piercings into jail. Let freedom ring!

And let it be said that I generally think well of women despite the fact that 91 percent of the more than 11.6 million cosmetic surgical and nonsurgical procedures performed in this country last year were done on women. That number includes 400,000 breast augmentations, 153,000 breast reductions, 2.7 million botox injections, and 185,000 tummy tucks.

No one in my family had any of that stuff done, but I am affirmatively opposed to rounding up and imprisoning the girls at Hooters who got boob jobs, or the old ladies at the Country Club who got face lifts. . Let freedom ring!

Of course, not everyone supports letting freedom ring.

The British seem to love creeping fascism.

They not only banned fox hunting and most guns, but they also banned pit bulls and the tail-cropping of both terriers and certain breeds of gun dogs. And, of course, they did all of this for a perfectly good holier-than-thou reason (and never mind the health evidence); it seems all the other problems in the U.K. had already been solved! The nannies could not leave well enough alone. Never mind that the nannies were always free to excericse their own preferences; they had to step in and decide your preferences as well!

Thank God America is not controlled by the British!

Lovely people (some of my best friends, etc.), but I would not want to be governed by one.

George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison had the right idea.

And need I say that all three of our Founding Fathers were Virginians? True!

We not only have the right to own a gun this State, but we also have the Constitutional right to hunt and fish, and yes we can also choose to dock a terrier's tale (or choose not to) and we can also circumsize our sons (or choose not to).

Let freedom ring!

There are health reasons to dock the tails on certain breeds of working dogs.


seeker said...

In the large city, close to where I live, today the city council is deciding whether or not to ban smoking in public places. This not only means restaurants and bars, bowling allys or pool halls, but also public parks and other exterior gathering places!
I do not smoke, nor do I want to be around smokers, but I also feel that this law is vastly oversteping its bounds. I know what places are for smokers and I don't go there, but it should be their right to go there and smoke if they want/need to.
Will it next ban nail biting or chocolate bars? Come on now. When is enough going to be enough.

Debi, disgusted in Texas

xofer said...

Greetings PBurns,

Today I stumbled upon your site and immediately found several beautifully written, informative and well researched articles relevant to my dog. I emailed links to my wife, briefly looked for a donate button and then went to your home page to bookmark the site.

That's when I found this disappointing article loosely linking human circumcision to canine tail docking. I respect your expertise and opinions on the latter, but you've failed to apply the research and attention to detail found elsewhere on your blog to the topic of human male circumcision.

I will spare you the lengthy list of reasons not to ritually circumcise infants, but instead will point out that ALL the arguments and data I have reviewed in support of infantile circumcision are extremely weak, if not complete garbage. For instance, the studies linking reduced transmission of HIV to circumcision have used a small sample size and have biased funding sources. Regardless, a reduction in the transmission rate is not a solution to a deadly disease when much more effective and less risky methods exist (proper sex education, condoms). As for reducing UTIs, studies have found that you must perform hundreds of circumcisions to prevent a single UTI. (This one puts the number at 195: )

There have been many, many studies on the various elements of this debate. In 1996 the Canadian Paediatric Society published the findings of their 2-year-long review the literature on circumcision. It provides a very good synopsis: Note the Recommendation: "Circumcision of newborns should not be routinely performed."

Again, I do appreciate the extensive valuable information regarding dogs on your site.


Sean said...


I have to chime in again. Why should we think that foreskin is a birth defect? While there have been some health benefits associated with circumcision that is not the whole story. See here:

Even these benefits are unlikely in the US

There are also risks associated with performing this procedure. It is not similar to a vaccination. There are low risks in vaccination and they do not otherwise affect one's life.

The amputation of a highly sensitized portion of one's sexual organs is a different animal. Clearly you could cut the risk of STD infection almost entirely by amputation of the entire penis. We would not recommend that, I am sure.

This is a painful procedure which involves a significant trade off. The health benefits claimed would not be significantly reduced by waiting until the patient could participate in the decision.

PBurns said...

Chris, I am a demographer by background (i,.e. a human population scientist), and I have followed the data since the beginning, and I provide links to CURRENT data and information from the U.S. Center for Disease Control, not 14-year old stuff like what you have linked to.

As for condoms, yes use them. But condoms have a failure rate FOR PREGNANCY of 15% due to slippage, breakage, etc. They are NOT a fool-price fix for anything, which is why the program is ABC -- Abstain, Be faithful and wear a Condom.

And new research suggests a new C to slow disease prevention -- get your babies circumcised.

This is advice, not a mandate. People are free to what they want.

But they are not free to invent data or to quote old data as if it is current science.

The U.S. Center for Disease Control is a very neutral hand here, and they are working up new guidelines based on ACTUAL RESEARCH. In the interim, they have put up this >> which leaves NO DOUBT where they stand.

What's fascinating is that NO ONE who has a strong opinion against circumcision has offered one shred of evidence NOT to circumcise a baby boy. The reaction seems to be entirely emotional and reactive. This is ideology wagging science (or should I say the tail wagging the dog??).


PBurns said...

Again Sean, you are free to do whatever you want with your dick or your son's dick.

You are NOT free, however, to dictate what anyone else does with their dick or their children's dick.

Is that clear?

Is there any question about this point?

Do you not understand that this is what this post and the previous post is actually about???

As for your links, they are a joke.

You do know one is to a gay web site in Boston, right?

This is your source of information on health???

The other link is to a web site/publication that I have never heard of and which does not really say who or what it is.

As for me, I am quoting the United States Center for Disease Control at >>

The CDC really DOES know health care, and they really ARE the appropriate source for information on this topic.

If you want to quote gay web sites as your source of health information, you are free to do so, of course.

You are also free to do anything you want with your penis or your son's penis.

But the rest of the world may sensibly rely on science, and I can assure you that they are NOT going to let you (or me) make health care policy about what you (or I) can do with their dick or their son's dick.

Any question about that?

There is no more debate about dicks, LOL. Not with THIS kind of "scientific support."


Viatecio said...

Can you become Emperor sometime soon pls?

The pic of that Springer is gross. "Oh, but it's a happy tail, like what you see in kennels when they wag their tails so much that they bang against the wall and become bloody!"

Since when did such a condition generate the term "happy" in some sick person's mind?

aficat said...

What happened to the dog in the picture? I'm assuming all the blood on his side is from his tail, but I'm not understanding how it got there or why a gundog would be at risk for something like that. Ducks aren't that disagreeable, are they? Could they fix his tail so this wouldn't happen again?

I love your writing, but I'm a n00b and then some when it comes to dog sports. The dog docking debate sounds like the horse docking debate in some ways. The docked tail will never get caught up in driving lines and is very traditional, but the horse loses a major defense against bugs and genital cleanliness, not to mention a very "vocal" part of his body.

The Doubtful Guest said...

I'm not against the docking of working dogs' tails. If one is actually using the dog for hunting, and docking is helpful, fine.

What I object to--and I'll admit, not super strongly because I do believe in individual freedoms--is ear cropping and tail docking on dogs simply because that is the "breed standard." I find it especially frivolous in dogs that are only used for being paraded around a show ring, or "just pets."

In these instances, it is purely cosmetic, and I must ask, "Why?" To win ribbons in the show ring? How is that helping the dog at all?

You need your Dobe or your Dogo to look menacing because you are using him as a guardian at your place of business? OK. I'll buy that. You need him cropped just because you "are used to Dobes that way" or "you just like it"? I won't stop you, but I will ask if that's in the dog's best interest.

To me, docking is a non-issue in the pain department, but cropping does seem to cause more discomfort. So yes, I won't stop you, or lobby for laws to stop you, but admit it's purely cosmetic, at least. And therefore unnecessary to the health and well-being of your dog.

I love Dobes and I like the look of a well-cropped ear. But I also like the look of natural.

And bully breeds? It's either cosmetic, or for fighting. 'Nuff said.

I'm not in favor of mandatory crop/dock bans, but I wish people would use some common sense instead of blindly going that route without thinking.

Jonathan Setter said...

Where I live on the southern tip of Africa, we have the highest prevalence of HIV infection in the world. This issue is being addressed with some success using a multi pronged approach of education, widespread voluntary testing, the promotion of the use of condoms, abstinence where possible and also, the introduction of infantile circumcision as a prophylactic precaution which statistically is proven to lower the incidence of disease transmission during sexual intercourse. The parallel with tail docking is perfect. As for the infants ability to choose about such matter being a prerequisite, would all those angry that they were not given a choice about being born in the first place, please line up to be humanely euthanised. As for my birth and my snip, I had no say in either, but am grateful to my parents for both.Great stuff indeed Mr. Burns.

PBurns said...

I cannot speak to horses, other than to note that we do surgery on animals all the time. Dogs are neutered and spayed (major surgery, with a spay a true field gut), pigs and cattle are castrated, cattle and goats are dehorned, sheep are tail docked, chickens are debeaked, parrots are wing clipped, bulls are nose-ringed, and animals of all kinds are routinly branded, chipped, or ear-tagged. Horses are castrated, shoed, and their teeth filed down. Alot of this stuff is far more major than tail docking a puppy!

With working terriers and gun dogs, the proper system is to never remove the puppy tail, but to simply it a bit -- the tail is a working part of the dog for both animals. With terriers, it's a handle to pull the dog from the earth, and with gun dogs it's a signal when birds are found. So, to make it clear, the tails are left on, merely trimmed.

The procedure, which takes only a few minutes, is done with a bottle of alcohol, a finger nail trimmer, a hemostat and a litle crazy glue -- it's not majour surgery!

What you see in this picture is a dog whose thin tail end has opened up due to it be battering against brush and rock while being wagged and dragged. The wound is not large, but it has also not closed because it is constantly being aggravated by being in motion, and the blood has coated the side of the dog. A four inch trim on this tail would have prevented this and changed nothing in this dog's life other than prevent injury.


Seahorse said...

Interesting debate about penises. Oh, wait, were we talking about something else? ;)

I have no problem with docking the tails of dogs, nor spaying and neutering animals, as long as it's done properly. Now, one person's "proper" is another person's cruelty, but it pays to understand both sides, as evidenced by rubber-banding vs. surgical castration of pigletes, as one example. Ends up, it looks like the vicious-seeming rubber banding is less painful, which shocked me.

As for horses, docking tails is COMPLETELY unnecessary and as far as I know was always done in the name of fashion. Tails do NOT get caught up in harnesses, as evidenced by observing any combined driving event, which is an Olympic sport of an extreme rough-and-tumble nature. Polo ponies have their tails wrapped securely before a match as hooking a polo mallet through a horse's loose tail can yank you right off the horse, as well as degloving the tail itself. Nasty. BUT, they do not dock the tails! A horse needs its tail for fly protection.

Now, a completely different tail topic with horses is tail "setting" (look it up), which is hideous and cruel and I'll knock the taste out of anyone's mouth who defends it. So there, tail-setting mo-fos. LOL.

Horseshoeing is NOT painful (again, done properly), and in fact serves to protect horses' hooves when necessary. I have nine horses and only one gets shoes. Without shoes his tender feet bruise and he's lame. Everyone gets a trim, which KEEPS them sound. Sound horses stay in work and keeps them safe from human dinner plates.

As for parrots, wing clipping/trimming is not the same thing as pinioning a bird's wing, which is a surgical procedure. In wing trimming one merely snips off flight feathers which is completely painless (the shaft is hollow as long as it's not a blood feather growing in, so no pain). They squawk in the process since we have them wrapped in a towel and they feel as if we're predators, but they are fine once released.

Now, back to The Penis Channel!

Seahorse ;)

PBurns said...

OK, let me see if I can make this simple: NO MORE DICK POSTS.


Zero. Nada. Empty Set.

For or against.

Take "dick talk" somewhere else. I was talking about TAIL DOCKING.

That would be DOG tails. Jesus H. Christ!


areias said...

For as long as I remember, I didn't mind docked dogs, but didn't think it was "necessary"...cosmetic, traditional at best. I adopted a natural tailed English Pointer mix a few years ago, great dog. I moved into a house with a very narrow floor plan...lots of door jams, walls close together. Wouldn't you know it, one day the end of her tail busted open. It looked like I murdered the poor girl from the blood splatters on the walls and furniture. I was only there a few months, but all the wrapping and glue and liquid bandaid didn't help took several months out of that house for her to heal up.

I got her an indoor "pen" instead of a crate for her sporadic separation anxiety tendencies. I had to get rid of it, as the extra space just allowed the tail enough space to hit the sides and burst open...a few more months before it was totally healed. I almost had to go through the tail amputation thing. I can't imagine trying to deal with this in heavy wooded or rocky areas, especially with a working dog. I hope docking is never outlawed here, the benefits far outweigh the minute amount of pain a two day old puppy will feel.

I have personally seen ( and participated in) the procedure as well, and the puppies really do not care. There is no "cruelty" involved as the propagandists would have you believe.

~Angelique~ said...

Couldn't agree with you more. As EV Hall stated: "I may disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." So while I agree there has to be some form of legislation, less is more. It shocks me how few people see most unnecessary legislation (which in many cases is pure politics) as a way to reduce our freedom and our rights. I wish there were more resources available for follow up and law enforcement in *real* animal abuse cases, not more laws.

The land of the free, it seems like every time i turn around there is a new ban. ¿Have you heard of the large python ban?