Being Loud Does Not Give You The Right To Be Rude

Posted: April 3, 2013 in Reflections, Social Activism
Tags: , , ,

As you all know, I’m a huge fan of Anne Rice, so when I got my Facebook back in December, I immediately subscribed to her page. As I quickly learned, Ms. Rice likes to use her page to talk about issues important to her, especially LGBT and women’s rights. Earlier this week though, something happened on the page that caused quite the cyber-ruckus: Ms. Rice posted about how female genital mutilation–sometimes euphemistically called “circumcision for girls”–is still practiced openly in many nations and secretly in some such as the US and Great Britain. The reason behind this practice, which causes women to have very painful sexual intercourse and in some cases can cause medical complications and infections? Not consecrating them to any sort of higher being or health reasons like male circumcision, but in order to ensure chastity and virginity. In other words, the sexist belief that women have uncontrollable sexual urges and unless men do something about it, they will have sex left, right, and center.

You wouldn’t believe the meshuggas that happened on her FB page.

When Ms. Rice posts about an issue on her Facebook, she usually does it to bring attention to the issue and cause discussion, hopefully to enact positive change. The unexpected effect though, was that several people on the page began railing against male circumcision and making it impossible to have any rational discussion unless all visitors to the page include male circumcision to their disgust to female circumcision. Some of these people went a step further, insulting anyone who tried to stick to the topic at hand or tried to defend male circumcision for religious and/or health reasons. My own parents, rabbis with many years of experience, were insulted and called nasty words after I tried to defend my religious beliefs against them.

The next day Ms. Rice said that the issue should’ve stuck to female genital mutilation, that she had no idea how the topic got so out of hand, and that those who had been especially insulting would be banned from her page forevermore (apparently she has the power to do that). Many of us, including myself, gave the woman a huge “THANK YOU!” and then started a rational discussion on female genital mutilation.

Now, this was an isolated incident, but it got me thinking on past incidents where people were loud and then incredibly rude. Foremost in my mind was when President Obama came to campus in October, and pro-life advocates showed up to protest with signs that were clearly Photoshopped. Whenever those there for the event tried to be reasonable with them, they jsut seemed to get louder, interrupting every sentence, and getting up in their faces.

And there are other incidents in mind, ones I’ve attended and others I’m happy to have been far away from. There are people on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian debate who will say the worst things about whatever side isn’t their own. Gun advocates will often scream at the government trying to take away their Second Amendment rights. And just so I don’t sound like the liberal I probably am and turn off more conservative readers, there are advocates of environmentalism who are so aggressive with their beliefs that it can get out of hand and they will scare people with it. All of these things have a common thread: loud people being incredibly uncaring and callous in their treatment of those who don’t think like them.

Unfortunately, these sort of debates can bring out the worst in people. It’s not pretty, but it’s the truth.

Now, I don’t see anything wrong with being passionate in your beliefs. There’s nothing wrong with that. However I draw the line when those who are loud start to swear and call people who believe differently than them horrible names and blame them for the ills of society. That’s not the way to get people on your side, especially if people who are undecided one way or another on an issue. In fact, if I had to summarize what’s the way to get people on your side of the debate, it’s not to be virulent, angry and inflammatory. No, it’s to be calm, respectful, and only armed with facts. I believe that’s the way famous saints and leaders have won the masses to them and made great impressions on history.

And the people who are loud, rude and imflammatory…well, I hesistate to say anything about them, lest I get called nasty names by these exact same people for the examples I might bring up of people who were like them. But you see the effect these sort of people have on others. They thrive on anger and use fear as their weapon, hoping that fear will make those opposed to them at least quiet down for fear of their wrath (we sometimes see this with lobbyists and Congress, unfortunately).

The lesson here is not to let your anger get the best of you, but let it drive you to enact better change, no matter what your beliefs on any issue may be. That’s the only way to make change, and to try doing the opposite will only cause you and your cause problems that may not be overcome. And no cause wants that, right?

  1. darylglen23 says:

    I was a part of that discussion and the only people I saw being rude flippant or insulting were anne and her devoted fans. Some called names without provocation.

  2. Kelev says:

    I also participated in the conversation. The rudest person of all was / is Anne herself. She blatantly lies and distorts the issue, claiming that anti-circumcision activists “only care about men” and are trying to “deflect” the issue away from women’s rights when it’s just the opposite. Many of the most adamant opponents to female circumcisions re victims of it like Soraya Mire and Ayaan Hirsi Ali who are the first people to say that male circumcision is just as bad, if not worse in some cases.

    I think it’s very uninformed of Rice to claim to know more about the issue than those women, and to ban / censor people who don’t agree with her party line.

    • I think Ms. Rice was more concerned about the issue of female genital mutilation because it’s done for sexist reasons and there is a huge health risk involved, and was turned off by how aggressive and antagonistic some of the anti-circumcision activists were. Besides, there is religious concerns to deal with in male circumcision, and unlike female circumcision, there’s very little health risk or lasting damage to the boy’s body if done correctly.
      And I can see why she was upset. Even here I can feel a little anger pouring through the comment.

      • Kelev says:

        I’m a doctoral candidate who researches these issue professionally. I’ve interviewed many victims of both male and female circumcision who report a wide range of rations — from nonchalance to rage, so I understand the emotion that comes from the issue.

        It is true that there are health risks that are associated with female circumcision, but it is not true that such health risks are inevitable. Indeed, in many places like Egypt and Indonesia, female circumcision is becoming more and more medicalised, like male circumcision, and is often performed in hospital under sterile conditions. Defenders of FGM insist that there is very little health risk or damage if it is done “correctly” either.

        It is untrue, however, that health risks are absent from male circumcision. An average of 100 or more boys dies each year in the US alone due to circumcision and the resulting complications. A Sacramento boy just died last month after bleeding to death following his circumcision. These cases are more common than most people know due to the fact that they are typically not reported in the media due to their sensitive nature. Word is beginning to spread, however, particularly since a number of cases of herpes and HIV transmission have been uncovered in New York following religious circumcisions in the Orthodox Jewish community there.

      • Well, even though I don’t agree with your opinions, I respect them and I wish you luck on your doctorate. I still believe that male circumcision is not a bad thing, and that FGM is based around sexist beliefs.
        Luckily this is America, where differing viewpoints can coexist without causing World War III.

  3. Kelev says:

    Sorry, my second sentence there should read “wide range of reactions.”

  4. Kelev says:

    I appreciate your rational approach to the subject. As you point out, this is America. I think the most American solution is to allow individuals to make these kinds of decision about their own bodies for themselves. If a consenting adult decides, after looking objectively at all the evidence, that circumcision is not a bad thing, they should be free to have themselves cut. But to subject unconsenting children to such procedures is a violation of personal choice and freedom.

  5. Keith says:

    As a man who was mutilated in 1947, by a private doctor who was ignorant of both ethics and the penis, I resent that my body was damaged. Masturbation was never easy, intercourse was painful for me and my wife, and since 2006 I have not been able to orgasm because thousands of nerve endings were removed without my consent, by a man who had no interest in my sex-life. Thankfully, British doctors are more ethical, and my son’s penis is intact as nature meant it to be.

  6. Dear Rami,

    I read your comment that you still do not believe that male circumcision is a bad thing. I’m curious to know how you to came to your opinion. I’m wondering if it’s because you are circumcised and you do not feel you have been negatively impacted by it. I’m also wondering if you have heard the claims that some American doctors make that a circumcised penis is healthier.



    P.S. I’m glad to see you respect different opinions. Personally, I’ve done a lot of research into the many perspectives on circumcision and I’ve come to the opinion that I would rather have whole sexual anatomy. Unfortunately, I did not have a choice in the matter since I was circumcised as a baby. I ask my friends to respect the opinions of their children about circumcision by giving them the freedom to decide when they grow up if they want to have a part of their penis cut off or if they would like to keep whole sexual anatomy.

    • Dear Mark,

      Yes, I was circumcised as a child and I do not feel it has negatively impacted me. In fact, I’m glad it happened as a child, because I do not remember being in any sort of pain whatsoever, which is a downside to doing it as a teenager or adult.

      • Kelev says:

        You don’t feel negatively impacted because you were circumcised before you could understand the benefits of having 15 to 20 sq. inches of nerve-filled tissue there to enjoy. Your comment assumes there’s an up-side to circumcision. There’s a reason 80% of the world’s men are left intact and why they almost never choose circumcision as adults when they are left intact as children. Most men like their foreskins and would never even think of cutting them off any more than most men would even consider cutting off their penises.

        Yes, there are some men out there who opt for sex change operations. And a few do choose to have their foreskins removed. But most men who are allowed to keep their foreskins as children keep them their whole lives because claims of “benefits” are really just rationalizations for abuse.

      • This is seriously not the sort of discussions I had in mind when I wrote this post.

      • Thanks for your reply Rami. I appreciate that you do not remember it so you feel it was better to have it done as an infant.

        My concern is that even if babies don’t remember it when they are older, they still feel pain when it is done. Extreme pain and trauma can have effects on development although it is hard to tell exactly what they are.

        Regarding having it done as an adult, adults can be given strong pain relief medication or can even be put under. I have read It is unsafe to give a baby this medication so infant circumcision is often performed with minimal pain relief if any.

        The first negative impact that I realized about being circumcised is that I am dependent on artificial lubricant for sexual stimulation and intercourse. When you have a foreskin, this is not necessary because the outer layer moves up and down freely, which also feels very good. I wonder if you are comfortable letting me know if you have ever used artificial lubricant?

        The second negative impact that I became aware of after I talked to a number of women who have been intimate with intact and circumcised men. They explained that the experiences were totally different, and intact was way better. Incidentally, some of these women were Jewish. Given what I have learned of the imporant role the foreskin plays in intercourse, this does not surprise me.

        The third negative impact I discovered is that the foreskin is the most sensitive part of the penis. It is more sensitive than your lips. A foreskin has 20,000 nerve endings. For comparison, a clitoris has 8,000. I believe that a circumcised penis is still very sensitive while at the same time I understand a whole penis is capable of sensing way more.

        Fourth, sometimes my penis feels uncomfortable. When the head is covered by a foreskin this does not happen.

        Fifth, I’ve seen videos on youtube of women who have been circumcised explaining that they are glad it was done, that it is cleaner, healthier, more attractive. They say the same things men say in the U.S. so I wonder if people just want to make the best of what they have.

        Sixth, it comes down to choice. You’re happy with your penis while at the same time, you’ve never experienced what life is like with a whole penis. If you had a sense of what you no longer have, you might not be as satisfied with what was done to you. I respect people’s different opinions, and there are a lot about circumcision, so I would like people to make up their own mind about what happens to their sexual anatomy. Proteting choice is very important to me. I think we can both agree that you and I did not have a choice.

        Seventh, a lot of claims are made about health benefits of being circumcised by U.S. doctors. Strangely, the U.S. has the worst sexual health of any developed nation. Nations with intact men have much better health including lower rates of HIV. Doctors around the world condemn U.S. doctors for making the claims they do. Circumcision in the U.S. was first promoted to prevent masturbation. The doctor who championed it also performed clitorodectomies. For some reason, they didn’t catch on in the U.S. although male circumcision did. For me they are both forms of genital cutting which removes a ton of nerves (male circumcision removes more) and are done without the consent of the patient.

        Thanks for letting me share some of the information I’ve learned. I invite you to look into it and allow the new information to effect your opinion. I think we can both agree that allowing our perspective to adapt when encountering new information is a good thing.

        Whatever your perspective, I’m grateful you respect different opinions and I ask you to please encourage parents to let their children develop their own opinions and make their own choice when they are old enough.



      • How’d did this topic come up anyway? I was talking about people being so passionate about their beliefs that it negatively impacts others.

  7. Anne Rice is a sexist.

  8. I read some of your comments, and while I believe that FGM is based on sexist beliefs (amongst other things), so is MGM. Read this quote: ”

    A remedy which is almost always successful in small boys is circumcision, especially when there is any degree of phimosis. 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, as it may well be in some cases. The soreness which continues for several weeks interrupts the practice, and if it had not previously become too firmly fixed, it may be forgotten and not resumed.” Dr. Kellog

    How much research have you done on this? This quote is everywhere, and if it doesn’t scream sexist beliefs, then I don’t know what does. But you might say that some male circumcision is religion based. So is some FGM.

    I challenge you to research MGM. Watch the videos, join the groups and LEARN about it. Then form an opinion based on knowledge. After you’ve done this, please write a blog. I will read it regardless of the stance you take and respect your EDUCATED opinion. Come on..I double dog dare you.

  9. LA says:

    The issue is that everyone in the West believes female circumcision of a non-consenting minor is wrong. There’s really no discussion to be had.

    Male circumcision, however, needs to be discussed, as in the West (unfortunately) there is no consensus as to whether it is right or wrong to perform on a non-consenting minor.

    • Well personally I’m in favor of male circumcision because of my religious beliefs and because in most cases where there’s lasting damage, it’s usually on the fault of the doctor and not the procedure, especially when done early.
      Not really the point of the post though. I was trying to get at people who act like trolls, and using what was then a recent example of mass trolling.

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