Tuesday, April 28, 2009

So, who am I pissing off this week?

You know, I like to think that I'm a nice guy. A cheerful, cultured, man about town (you should hear me sing the chorus of "Puttin' on the Ritz." I mean, Fred Astaire has nothing to worry about - even Taco wouldn't be frightened. But I give Peter Boyle a run for his money). But I seem to be gradually annoying more and more people around the country. (I'll do everybody a favor and not reprint the various exchanges; anything you want to see, you can click on the link. It's fun - try it!)

About two weeks ago, the big news stories involved Obama shaking hands with Hugo Chavez, and those Fox News-sponsored "tea parties." Well, I left a few comments in various places, and the responses were mixed: In a lot of cases, people wouldn't even try to respond. And then I've got one lady who apparently fashions herself the world's Mommy or something, who sent me the following note:
while i publish comments that are in disagreement, I do not publish those that are sarcastic or treat me as if I were intellectually inferior

As a former radical leftist I am all too familiar with the way your comment reads. I now understand that intelligent people can disagree and treat each other with respect.

Conservatives are not stupid. I have an IQ of 150+ and a BA in Philosophy.

Grow up. realize that intelligent people can disagree and learn to treat others with respect.

And she refused to publish my response. Kind of what I expect, although I don't usually get a personal note telling me why she isn't supporting that whole First Amendment thing.

On the other hand, she also runs a blog called Mommy, Teach Me (although, from what I've seen, I wouldn't want her teaching capitalization or punctuation). But it has the somewhat disturbing title on the front page of "Why send your child to preschool to fall in love with a teacher?"

Consider that for a moment. What is that saying about her relationship with her kids? Is it just me, or is something just a little... wrong in that?

Oh, and then there's a group of guys who consider themselves Curmudgeonly + Skeptical, who did try to engage me a little bit, but now they close off comments in every thread where I say "hi" - it seems I'm not welcome there, either. (I wonder why? Could Rodger be angry because I called him a conspiracy theorist? Or a racist? Or is it just that they can't handle the fact that a former military guy disagrees with them on just about every level? I just don't get it - could it be my deodorant?)

I rarely just give up on an argument, but once in a while it just isn't worth the headache. They make specious arguments, and pull up textbook examples of logical fallacies. I'm not clear that they really think about what they're writing - they just keep arguing for the sake of arguing. (Kind of like me, only I like to think that I have a point.)

(OK, sometimes I do...)

(...really, I've been known to...)

Anyway, as far as I can tell, the point was that marriage can only be considered to be for procreation. Period. That's it, end of story. There is no other reason to get married, and therefore no gays can get married. (I wasn't clear on this going in, but we got around to it eventually.) Of course, they refused to admit that the logic starts to break down at that point. Straight couples who can't or won't have children (medical reasons, age, their own choice - whatever the reason) must then have their marriages invalidated, yes? Well, apparently not - the only reason to get married is to have children, but you're allowed to get married even if you can't have children. Unless you're gay.

(One guy honestly tried to argue that gay marriage had to be banned because it discriminated against straights, while at another point the argument seemed to be that a gay marriage exposed the couple as gay, advertising their status to the world. And, lest we forget, "we've never had gay marriage, thus we cannot in the future." Or some crap like that. It just became ridiculous and I gave up on them.)

And this week, I found new subjects to irritate people. The Right Wing decided that expanded hate crimes protection meant that priests were going to be locked up in droves if they spoke out against homosexuality. Now, a blogger who thinks that The Night Cometh felt that just reprinting an article from that bastion of journalistic integrity, WorldNetDaily, was enough. And when I say "enough," I mean that he refused, not just to answer, but even to print my response.

Definition of irony: Complaining that your free speech is being stifled, as you're preventing other people from talking. (At least this P.O.'ed Patriot was willing to talk about it.)

I'm having a nice chat with an apparent Russian, too, who seems to think that the swine flu is going to topple the US government. (You see, all pigs are created equal, but some are more equal than others...)

I've also got a fairly wide-ranging discussion going on here involving religion, Miss America, feminism, and apparently whatever pops into people's minds.

The big news, though, was Arlen Specter changing political affiliation from Republican to Democrat. Now, while Dena Leichnitz, who fancies herself Black'n'Right got a little pissy with me on the subject, she seems to have tapered off into sullen silence. (To be honest, she doesn't use the apostrophes, but I think that Blacknright just looks silly without them, so I overruled her.)

A blogger who types On Freedom's Wings actually thought that I should be nicer because she's a lady! (Now, I'm not clear about that whole patriarchal, gender-discrimination thing, but do you lose your standing as a protected species when you refer to the 79-year-old senator as "Arlen Sphincter"?)

David Drake apparently got tired of trying to defend his idiocy, and now refuses to post my responses. (Looking at the web address for his blog, I'm a little curious why he originally called himself "Mrs. Satan" - just not curious enough to ride the Wayback Machine and find out.)

So I feel reasonably confident when I point out that the Far Right is just as unhinged and self-deluded as ever.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

If Texas Secedes, Can They Take Bush With Them?

I was born in Texas, and many of my relatives are still there, so I like to think that I can speak for the culture, even though I'd much rather be castrated with a hammer than ever move back. There's a very ugly, small-minded fringe element that's taken entirely too much power in that god-forsaken state.

The Governor of Texas, Rick Perry (christened by the great philosopher M. Ivins as "Governor Goodhair") whipped a crowd of teabaggers into a frenzy last week by saying that Texas should secede. (And Chuck Norris, who's apparently starting to believe all the jokes, said that he may run for President of Texas.)

We should probably ignore the fact that talk like this feeds into the insane mindset of certain fringe elements of the population (apparently "fringe elements" everywhere but in Texas, anyway). And when I say "fringe elements," I'm referring to groups like the Republic of Texas, a bunch of armed extremists known for kidnapping random strangers and hosting armed standoffs with the police (you know, cheese and crackers, boxed wine, and the occasional exchange of hostages).

However, what Perry was talking about with his secession speech is a long-standing myth down there: that Texas has always had the right to secede, ever since we joined the country (not "we were annexed" or "we asked to join," but "we did it under our own volition, and they couldn't have stopped us if they'd tried").

The whole thing feeds into the myth of self-determination, that Walker-Texas-Ranger/Lone-Wolf-McQuade thing that Texas tries to propagate about themselves. Self-important idiots, really, swaggering around in their carefully-shined cowboy boots and crisp, clean white hats. Screw 'em.

(And incidentally, if Texas is such a cornerstone of self-righteous individualism, then why did Governor Perry, upon being told that Mexico might have a swine flu problem, demand that the CDC send Texas 37,430 doses of Tamiflu? I mean, if Texas doesn't need the rest of the United States, shouldn't they be willing to deal with this problem on their own?)

The alternative myth to Tex-cession is "Texas has the right to split into five states," a myth which at least has the advantage of being closer to reality. (It's still bullshit, but at least it'll make flowers grow, right?)

So let's look at these myths. First of all, the "secession" argument usually goes like this:
Our ultimate defense against the federal government is the right of secession. Yes, most people assume that the Civil War settled that. But superior force proves nothing. If there was a right of secession before that war, it should be just as valid now. It wasn't negated because Northern munitions factories were more efficient than Southern ones.

Among the Founding Fathers there was no doubt. The United States had just seceded from the British Empire, exercising the right of the people to "alter or abolish" - by force, if necessary - a despotic government. The Declaration of Independence is the most famous act of secession in our history, though modern rhetoric makes "secession" sound somehow different from, and more sinister than, claiming independence.

The original 13 states formed a "Confederation," under which each state retained its "sovereignty, freedom, and independence." The Constitution didn't change this; each sovereign state was free to reject the Constitution. The new powers of the federal government were "granted" and "delegated" by the states, which implies that the states were prior and superior to the federal government.
Which sounds great. Of course, that whole argument ignores the fact that the writer is referencing the Articles of Confederation, which were replaced by the Constitution, because the founders realized that they needed a Federation, not a Confederation.

As for the "five states" question, that feeds into the myth of self-determination, too. But the truth is Texas can be carved into five states.

The way it works is, in the Joint Resolution for Annexing Texas to the United States, which was approved by Congress on March 1, 1845, it stated :
New States of convenient size not exceeding four in number, in addition to said State of Texas and having sufficient population, may, hereafter by the consent of said State, be formed out of the territory thereof, which shall be entitled to admission under the provisions of the Federal Constitution...
Now, to add to that, you have Article IV, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution, where it says:
New states may be admitted by the Congress into this union; but no new states shall be formed or erected within the jurisdiction of any other state; nor any state be formed by the junction of two or more states, or parts of states, without the consent of the legislatures of the states concerned as well as of the Congress.
Texans love that crap. They think it proves something. Of course, it ignores the fact that the whole thing is a joint process, not something Texas can force on everybody else: "no new states shall be formed or erected... without the consent of the legislatures of the states concerned as well as of the Congress."

Also, did you notice those ellipses at the end of the Joint Resolution for Annexing Texas? That's because it goes into something that they don't want to talk about. Not only could Texas get split up if it proved to big and unwieldy to govern itself, but there was a second reason for the subdivision of the Lone Star State.
and such states as may be formed out of the territory lying south of thirty-six degrees thirty minutes north latitude, commonly known as the Missouri Compromise Line, shall be admitted into the Union, with or without slavery, as the people of each State, asking admission shall desire; and in such State or States as shall be formed out of said territory, north of said Missouri Compromise Line, slavery, or involuntary servitude (except for crime) shall be prohibited.
Yes, the right of Texans to keep slaves was part of the reason that they wanted to be able to split themselves into a cluster of smaller small-minded states. Oh, and by the way, if you look at a map, very little (possibly nothing) of what currently makes up Texas was due to be a free state.

(It's not clear whether "Fuck Texas" is the unofficial battle cry of the Oklahoma Sooners, but it's the only thing I've seen to recommend the Dustbowl State, for that matter.)

If Texans were to get truly up in arms, and the fringe elements were to try to secede, I think it would be a fascinating experiment, for the year or two it would last before they completely collapsed under the weight of their own stupidity. Admittedly, it would suck to be gay or non-white in the "Republic of Texas," and I'm not sure that the mis-educated kids would ever recover, but at least the rest of America could get to see the nightmare that unfettered far-right fringe elements would lead us to.

In fact, overall, it would suck to be a Texan (even more than it does now). But it would be a fascinating experiment.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Balls to the wall

Now, here I was, working on a tremendously hilarious post about the teabaggers across the country: it was going to be epic, using knee-slappers like "low-hanging fruit" and multiple variations of "ball" and "dangle." (You'll be relieved to know that I'd abandoned the phrase "getting to the crotch of the matter" early in development. Even I felt like I was reaching for that one...)

(Must... resist... temptation... to use the phrase "reach-around"...)

Unfortunately, life got in the way. My wife's last weekend in Sullivan and Gilbert butted up against her departure for a week on the road with Opera Unlimited (literally straight from the closing curtain to the highway, without time to take off her stage makeup); we're continuing with the big installation of Electronic Medical Records at work; and, of course, there's always Fallout 3.

(Yo, Bethesda Softworks! Can we get a release date on that next downloadable update? We're all waiting for the new level cap out here...)

Anyway, that whole sack of fun came and went, and most of the world moved on to other things. Except, of course, for the false outrage from the right, who wanted you to feel absolutely incensed that the Mainstream Media couldn't resist the easy jokes on the subject (unlike, say, us responsible bloggers...)

Which led a guy named "Mustang Bobby" to opine at Shakespeare's Sister (and apparently at Bark Bark Woof Woof):
Who Ordered the Petard?

Scott at Powerline is incensed that the folks at CNN and MSNBC were all giggle-snorting over the Tea Party rallies unfortunate choice of the verb "teabagging."
The star hosts of CNN and MSNBC news shows have notoriously derided the tea party demonstrations around the country with reference to the practice of teabagging (which I had never heard of before they brought it up). As John noted, both networks' "journalists" used the rallies as an occasion for childish sexual innuendoes -- in the case of MSNBC, the same obscene teabag "joke" was repeated 51 times in a 13-minute segment.

The Media Research Center detailed the teabagging references in an informative press release. The Huffington Post noted the references as well as more "jokes" in the same vein (including a video of Cooper's jape, over which David Gergen cluelessly chortles).

While sitting in for Keith Olbermann on April 15, MSNBC's David Shuster packed the teabagging puns into his report on the protests. Shuster is like a juvenile student who has commandeered the loudspeaker system at his high school to commit the prank of a lifetime. Maybe it was just a case of Olbermann's writers feeding Shuster the same good stuff they usually give to Olbermann.

Andrew Sullivan is giddy; he seems to think the phenomenon is a big ball of fun.
Well, of course you know why, Scott asserts. It's because Anderson Cooper is "widely reputed" to be gay, and -- gasp! -- Andrew Sullivan and Rachel Maddow are "of course public homosexuals." (Public homosexuals? I'm pretty sure they're homosexuals in private, too.) Scott doesn't say anything about David Shuster's sexual orientation, but he was just sitting in for Keith Olbermann, and you know how he is with that perfect hair, the trendy glasses, and those suits....

So it's all a big gay conspiracy. We queers somehow coerced these ignorant patsies into using the term "teabagging" -- including Scott, who claims he never heard of it -- just so they would come up with all these rallies so all of our gay correspondents could then make fun of them on national TV. It was all a part of the Radical Homosexual Agenda, Item 13, paragraph 2: "Trick the straights into making complete fools of themselves by using gay code words in public (see Lexicon in the Appendix)."

I'm sorry, but when you set yourself up as the Party of Fiscal and Moral Responsibility and then don't even bother to check with the nearest teenager -- straight or gay -- as to whether or not it might pass the laugh test, you deserve all the derision and mockery you get. Getting all huffy and pearl-clutching about being hoisted on your own petard makes you look even more like a clueless dork. And if what I've heard from one of my commenters at Bark Bark Woof Woof is true, the organizers of the rallies actually knew what "teabagging" meant and went ahead with it anyway.
But the term was chosen intentionally - generally it became an in-joke among the protestors which caught on quite easily (because let's face it, it's not really a very in-joke as everyone knows what it means) but it did have the effect of finally getting coverage in the mainstream media, because the protests had been oddly ignored in favor of much smaller protests against things like AIG.
Scott ends his tantrum by demanding that all those snotty queers apologize to the good citizens who are Google and Wikipedia-deprived, and he wants CNN and MSNBC to do something.
There is not only something funny going on here, there is a story here. These supposed journalists and their networks (or publisher, in Sullivan's case) have rather seriously insulted the citizens who colorfully took to the streets to air respectable views in a most civil fashion. If they had any decency, Cooper et al. would apologize for their vile reference to sexual practices in the context of ordinary citizens exercising their First Amendment rights.
Oh, so Scott thinks the people took to the streets to "air respectable views in a most civil fashion," does he? Like the posters with the signs calling President Obama "Chairman Maobama" and labeling him as Hitler, or making pointed references to his race? If that's "respectable," then why are they getting all upset about sly references to teabagging? Oh.... because it's gay.

Well, the folks at Powerline will get their chance to set the record straight, so to speak. I hear they're planning a huge series of anti-tax rallies over the Fourth of July weekend. And in keeping with the summertime theme, they're going to be festivals celebrating water sports.
Oh, and incidentally (just to prove that I'm educational and stuff), let me make two very important points.
1. The actual act of "teabagging" only involves the scrotal sack being placed in the mouth of the drunken, snoring frat boy. The shaft is not involved. (It's important to get these things right, folks.)

2. A "petard" (from the title) was an early shaped charge: a metal box of gunpowder with a fuse, set on a stick. The guy using it would run up, brace the stick on the ground or in a shallow trench, and run away; then the petard would blow up, hopefully breaching the gate. Of course, they'd do this with the fuse (or "match") already burning, and if the fuse went too fast, it would blow up before it was set, and the engineer placing it would be "hoisted on his own petard." (And etymologically, the word petard comes from the Middle French word for "fart.")
See? Educational.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Obama's Bow; Republican Arrows

OK, so the latest evidence of the impotent right-wing idiots trying to generate false outrage over Obama is in.

There's very little controversy over this one, as far as I'm concerned. I look at the video, and it's fairly obvious that Obama takes the Saudi king's hand and bows as he shakes it. He's trying to be a diplomat (and, judging by the results, succeeding), and he greets the Saudi king with respect. My question, of course, is "what's wrong with that?"

Well, first off, the Moonie Times had a slavering, bit-chewing editorial that read:
Barack takes a bow

In a shocking display of fealty to a foreign potentate, President Obama bowed to Saudi King Abdullah at the Group of 20 summit in London last week.

Mr. Obama later said in Strasbourg, France, "We have to change our behavior in showing the Muslim world greater respect." Symbolism is important in world affairs. By bending over to show greater respect to Islam, the U.S. president belittled the power and independence of the United States.

The bow was an extraordinary protocol violation. Such an act is a traditional obeisance befitting a king's subjects, not his peer. There is no precedent for U.S. presidents bowing to Saudi or any other royals. Former President Franklin D. Roosevelt shook hands with Saudi King Abdulaziz in February 1945. Granted, Mr. Roosevelt was wheelchair-bound, but former President Dwight D. Eisenhower shook hands when he first met King Saud in January 1957. Mr. Obama's bow to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques does not help his image with those who believe he is secretly a Muslim, and why he chose to bow only to the Saudi King and not to any other royals remains unexplained.
Now, if you think about it, it makes sense that Obama would be polite to King Abdullah. I mean, the part of our economy that Bush didn’t sell to the Chinese, he sold to the Saudis. Obama probably didn’t want to be rude to our new landlord.

But really, I don't see a bow as showing fealty. It's a bow, f'Christ's sake! He bent at the waist. He didn't go to one knee, or kiss the man's ring or anything. I mean, after eight years of the Cowboy President talking with his mouth full and groping the German Chancellor, I realize that diplomacy and politeness have fallen by the wayside, but what does it hurt to make the man feel good about himself. It doesn't mean you have to fellate him, or even give him a damned thing that he wants. Hell, we're already throwing millions into alternate energy research, which, if it works, will cut the Saudi income enormously. Why shouldn't we talk nice to the man?

This whole situation was made worse when the White House spokesperson, , Robert Gibbs, back in America, apparently not up on the situation and not having a planned answer, tried to say that it wasn't a bow. The unhinged wingnuts jumped all over that as evidence that "and now Obama is lying about what he did!"

(Here's a clue, guys. Yeah, I'd say that Gibbs lied, in that he really didn't know what happened and just denied it in a knee-jerk "assume the best" reaction. But here's how you tell them apart: Obama is the slim black man; Gibbs is the puffy white guy. They aren't linked at the hip.)

But the right wing doesn't want to see it that way. Their end of the blogosphere was awash with people screaming things like "I don’t know bout you, but when did we bow to ANYONE. I’m a free man that will stand on my two feet until someone cuts them off or breaks them. What an embarrassment to us!" (You can practically see the spittle flying off the screen. I'm surprised he didn't type that in all-caps, or in red or something.)

One popular subset of these rants tried to link Obama's bow to King Abdullah with the long-debunked rumor that Obama's college tuition was paid for by a Saudi prince.

So I felt I should engage some of these hydrocephalic lunatics, and see if I could interject a little reality in their screeds. (As you can probably guess, for the most part, I failed.)

Rather than one extended sermon, which they wouldn't read anyway, I broke my concepts into bite-sized chunks for easy reading. I had three basic templates, which I'd cut-and-paste, then tailor to fit the individual blog. The first one was relatively simple:
Give me a break.

Bush kisses King Abdullah, and then walks hand-in-hand with him through the flowers. Bush showed more obeisance to the King than any previous President ever did. This is just unhinged wingnuts trying to manufacture outrage again.

If you want to check out Abdullah's obedient vassal, go here.
If (ok, when) they'd argue, it was usually with something to the effect that "I replied with this:
Bowing always means exactly the same in every culture. Unless it doesn't.

"Bowing to other human beings is frowned upon in Muslim cultures as all human beings are considered equal and bowing is only supposed to be done to God in Islam."

Oh, my God!!! Obama was insulting the King!

Wasn't it Freud that said "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar"? Maybe Obama was just bowing in an attempt to be polite.

Because it's not like he looked like he was being somebody's bitch or anything.
And finally, in a particularly useful response if I'm accused of being something horrific like a "leftist," I had the following:
Let's see what Fox News has to say about this.

But protocol experts told FOX News that no rule exists on presidents bowing.

"To my knowledge, there is no rule at all," said Lloyd Hand who was chief of protocol for President Lyndon Johnson. "Protocol is 95 percent common sense judgment and 5 percent specific rules and that has nothing to do with bowing."

Hand said he doesn't believe Obama's stoop qualifies as a bow.

"American protocol favors the extension of warm gracious hospitality and I put what he did in that context," he said.

But, hey, you keep right on trying to make something important out of a small gesture of diplomatic civility.
That last one was especially useful in answering the one guy who informed me that he wasn't impressed by the "lefty media" I provided. (Youtube is "leftist"? Who knew?)

(In case you're curious, the other conversations not mentioned elsewhere in this post can be found here, here, here and here.)

The reaction was mixed of course. Some of them tried to argue; some just sat in sullen silence. My favorite, though, was actually a blog that refused to print my response. This one had the fascinating blog title of "Loose Lips." Not real loose, though: only four posts in the last year; this guy makes my posting rate look prolific. He was so off the rails that I would have thought it was a joke if I'd come across it without having read the rest of these screeds.
This one is for all you people who are convinced that our president is Black...(and he's not).

President Obama is caught bowing to the Saudi King during a visit to Saudia Arabia. Fist off, the visit was kept secret, then when it was discovered, it was covered up by saying it's purpose was soley to visit the troops. Then why is he visiting with the king?
Secondly, a bow in Saudia Arabia is done only from persons of lesser status, or not worthy of the king...so why is Obama bowing? He is president of the United States..that is comparable to King of Saudia Arabia...He shouldn't be bowing...but in Muslim beliefs, it is disrespectful to not bow to a king or noble.
And you thought you voted a black president...Americans got caught up in color and not facts...we voted in a Muslim...
He swore in on the Quran for gosh sakes..and he is supposted to be this devout chrisian...explain that!
And now he's bowing to Saudi Kings, promising middle eastern countries that we will never be at war with them and bashing America and our government during the visit to Great Britian...America, What have we done?
Let's ignore little facts like, well, Barack Obama is rather noticeably black, and, as I pointed out, it's actually considered rude to bow to a Muslim. We'll also ignore the blatant misrepresentations of what he said, the misspellings and the fascinating punctuation style. I think that the best part of this post was the title, something I pointed out to him in my ignored response. His brilliant title, unchanged as of this writing:
Obama Finally admits to his Muslin Heritage
Which also explains why this guy thinks our president isn't black. Apparently, Obama's father wasn't Kenyan; he was a piece of cloth.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Taking the hat off the little man

There are two extremes in the circumcision debate - the ardent religious person who believes that a circumcision is a symbol of submission to G-d, and it's also a metaphor for Man's purpose to make the world a better place; and the equally ardent human rights proponent, who sees circumcision as an unnecessary, barbaric sexual mutilation of innocent children.

I had initially thought to begin by saying that there are two schools of thought on the matter, but there are a thousand shades of gray between the black and white ends of the penile spectrum: there's the devout Jew who understands the danger of elective surgery, even a surgery as minor as this; there's the man who is himself circumcised, who doesn't understand (and is often incurious to know) what would be entailed in raising a child with an intact foreskin; there is the person who doesn't find the penis looming large in his thoughts, and who just doesn't care one way or another.

Well, there are some additional factors to consider on the subject. First, you should remember that any surgery has risks (and some risks are worse than others).

(On that subject, our pediatricians were recently told by the Patient Advocate that they needed to be more "understanding" of people's beliefs: she'd received a complaint from one set of parents, who felt that the pediatrician was trying to talk them out of circumcising their son. As none of the doctors had done so, the general consensus was that the parents were reacting badly to the doctor explaining the possible risks involved with the procedure - something that the doctors are required by law to explain.)

But as it turns out, studies are now saying that circumcision protects against the human papillomavirus (HPV), herpes, genital warts, and, according to the latest studies out of Africa, it may even make you around 50% less likely to become infected with AIDS.

(On the opposing side to that argument, of course, is the fact that you can also effectively protect your newborn from trench foot by chopping off his toes. A cost-benefit analysis gets a little tricky on this subject.)

Personally, I like this take on the subject, courtesy of one M. LeBlanc, writing on a blog calling itself Bitch PhD:
I immediately expect an outcry from every righteous, god-fearing person in the country, and all their Republican leaders, that we halt circumcision of male infants immediately. We simply can not encourage young boys, teenagers and men, to be promiscuous sluts by reducing the likelihood that they will get infected as a result of having that sex.

I expect a ban on circumcision from Congress, and a special restriction on anesthesia by the FDA that it can not be used in a circumcision. I expect mandatory counseling for all parents-to-be on the dangers of circumcising young boys lest they grow up to think that they can have sex without consequences. I expect a mandatory 24-hour waiting period before any circumcision. I expect South Dakota and Texas to immediately introduce legislation against late-term circumcision. Even if you wisely didn't have your infant son circumcised, you can not have him get the surgery at a later date lest he become a slutty whore.

The chastity and purity of our young boys is already threatened enough, what with the FDA considering approving the HPV vaccine for boys, too. Who will think of the rowdy Davids and Johns and Jeremies and their precious sanctity as vessels of God's special plan for sexuality?
But anyway, aside from any possible health benefits, what reason remains for circumcision? To be honest, all I can come up with are Tradition and Religion.

Now, tradition is easy to do away with. There's an old (and possibly overused) definition of tradition as "the art of making the same mistake over and over." But if someone really finds the argument "well, it was good enough for my father, and his father before him..." to be compelling, you probably can't argue with them. The inbreeding has spread too deep.

The "religion" argument is a little harder to get around, though. Many (but not all) of our Hebrew friends find circumcision to be an important part of their culture: it was a mark that set Jews apart from the other cultures around them, and, after all, it was commanded by God.

No, really. It's right there in the Bible. Genesis 17:10-14 (NIV - in fact, all the rest of the Bible quotes will be from the New International Version [NIV]).
Then God said to Abraham, "As for you, you must keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you for the generations to come. This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised. You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you. For the generations to come every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised, including those born in your household or bought with money from a foreigner—those who are not your offspring. Whether born in your household or bought with your money, they must be circumcised. My covenant in your flesh is to be an everlasting covenant. Any uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh, will be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant."
That seems pretty straightforward. Why, then, are the Christians not required to chop the head off the one-eyed serpent?

To be honest, that's where you get into some strange theological ground. First, obviously, the term "the people of Abraham" refers to the Jewish people. And apparently, the Christians don't want to be descended from the people blessed by God. They want to come from the bastards, reprobates and sinners from those other kingdoms.

But in fact, Jesus specifically told people that He wasn't there to change the Hebrew laws. In Matthew 5:17-18, He came right out and said "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled."

Of course, later in Matthew (15:11), he contradicted himself, by saying that you don't have to follow the kosher dietary laws. So apparently, there are neither jots nor tittles in food. Who knew?

But that's just the food rules. Jesus liked a good pork chop, but he never said that you should ignore the rest of the rules that God laid down for mankind. It wasn't until later, after he'd been nailed to a tree, that his followers decided to play fast and loose with the penis.

In Acts 15, Paul argues against Gentiles being required to get snipped. And Paul, if you remember, never met Jesus — he claimed to have talked to the ghost of Jesus, but never met him while Jesus was alive (Acts 9). So he came into it late, and like most born-agains, he became all Christainier-than-thou.

Technically, what actually happened was this:
Some men came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the brothers: "Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved." This brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them. So Paul and Barnabas were appointed, along with some other believers, to go up to Jerusalem to see the apostles and elders about this question. (Acts 15:1-2)
Then they start talking, and Peter argued "why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear?" (15:10), and James read them some Scripture (Scripture that, oddly enough, never made it into the Old Testament) and said that "we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God." (15:19)

But ironically, Peter didn't talk about the penis. What he then listed off, as the rules that non-Jewish Christians should follow, doesn't mention the hatless willy at all.
"Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood. For Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath." (15:20-21)
And the elders dutifully wrote this all down and mailed it off, again not talking about chopping the chicken: "It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things. Farewell." (15:28-29)

The rest of them didn't seem to care about the cock. The only person who spent a a lot of time ruminating on the man-root was Paul:
"Yet not even Titus, who was with me, was compelled to be circumcised, even though he was a Greek. This matter arose because some false brothers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves. We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might remain with you." (Galatians 2:3-5)
Later in that same book, Paul wrote:
if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law... For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. (Galatians 5:2-3, 6)
And, you know, the more you read the New Testament, the more that you get the feeling that Paul was a self-important dick (so to speak). He was all about telling people what to do — the Elders hadn't even mentioned the cock, but here Paul is, going on and on about it. He was fixated on the penis: 1 Corinthians, several times in Romans, Phillipians, over and over. He just couldn't get other men's hard, throbbing rods out of his mind.

It was Paul, not Jesus, who decided on the phallic rules; apparently, the penis was very important to him. His basic rule was, if you had already been circumcised, stay that way; if not, don't take a knife and start carving the wood.

Of course, if you're following Jesus, and Jesus was a Jew and a descendant of Abraham, shouldn't you then try to follow the same rules as He did? After all, Jesus was circumcised (in Luke 2:21-39, if you're interested). And you want to be like Jesus, right?

In fact, Jesus never really mentions circumcision at all - except one time, in John 7:21-24. But that was more in context with telling people that they should be more flexible. (Basically, He explained how you have to circumcise a baby even if it's on the Sabbath, when you aren't supposed to do work. So some things are OK on the Sabbath - like healing the sick. In fact, He was arguing that the people shouldn't kill Him. It's rough, being the Christ...)

Overall, you have to decide whether you're a Christian or a Paulian, I guess. And if you're a Christian, then maybe God really does want to protect you from STD's, and that's why circumcision helps with that.

So, what have we learned today? Well, really, one of two things. Either God wants you to have sex, but He also wants you to whittle away at your willy.

Or, possibly, we've learned that eventually, every religion just turns into people making up rules to do what they want to do - like Paul, who wanted to have a choice in flavors of cock.

Basically (I know, this is a revolutionary idea), you should make up your own mind. But remember, ripping off the foreskin may provide a little protection from some STD's. But a condom provides a lot of protection against most of them.

Your choice.