These days it seems like circumcision is the new abortion, at least if you compare the heated rhetoric surrounding the debate. Russell Crowe angered some fans after he took to his Twitter feed this week to call circumcision "barbaric and stupid." While Eli Roth, the Jewish director of Russell's new film, says it was just a joking exchange between friends, the reaction to the tweets offers more evidence that circumcision is a hot button issue.
Russell tweeted: "Who are you to correct nature? Is it real that GOD requires a donation of foreskin? Babies are perfect." He also wrote to Eli Roth, "I love my Jewish friends, I love the apples and the honey and the funny little hats but stop cutting yr babies @eliroth." He has since apologized for any distress he caused and said he was very sorry if his tweets were seen as "mocking the rituals and traditions of others." And Eli Roth has subsequently said that he and Russell were just teasing each other.
Joke or not, the Oscar winner isn't the only one to use harsh language against the practice. In San Francisco, one anticircumcision advocate has successfully put a measure on the ballot that would ban the practice, which he calls "genital mutilation," within the city limits. Anyone who violates the law would face a $1,000 fine and up to one year in jail.
Parents have to weigh various factors when deciding whether to go forward with circumcision, and in fact, the rate has dropped in the US to only 32 percent of baby boys. But as one San Francisco rabbi says, taking away that choice from parents "threatens a liberal society; it's so dictatorial; it's so over the top." Do you agree?