Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Christopher Hitchens Goes After Rabbi Harold Kushner re: Circumcision

I was watching Christopher Hitchens in a video (see link below) where he goes after Rabbi Harold Kushner about circumcision. I had not given it this kind of thought prior to seeing this, and I think its relevant for people to at least consider what he has to say. Then you decide.

I think this is relevant in perhaps several ways. Most of it is in his point near the end of the video about how religion at times, can make people do things that are morally reprehensible. Although, I would rather argue, ethically reprehensible; as to me, morality seems to have more to do with religious doctrine than philosophical considerations. But I'm not going to argue semantics here. Well, OK, I will, just for a moment.

From Wikipedia:

"Morality (from the Latin moralities "manner, character, proper behavior") is a sense of behavioral conduct that differentiates intentions, decisions, and actions between those that are good (or right) and bad (or wrong). A moral code is a system of morality (for example, according to a particular philosophy, religion, culture, etc.) and a moral is any one practice or teaching within a moral code. Immorality is the active opposition to morality, while amorality is a passive indifference toward morality."

I've originally leaned toward Aristotelian Ethics. Again, Wikipedia:

"Aristotle (384 BC – 322 BC) posited an ethical system that may be termed "self-realizationism." In Aristotle's view, when a person acts in accordance with his nature and realizes his full potential, he will do good and be content."

Now, I'm not going to argue types of Ethics because major branches of ethics include (a lot):

* Meta-ethics, about the theoretical meaning and reference of moral propositions and how their truth-values (if any) may be determined;
* Normative ethics, about the practical means of determining a moral course of action;
* Applied ethics, about how moral outcomes can be achieved in specific situations;
* Moral psychology, about how moral capacity or moral agency develops and what its nature is; and
* Descriptive ethics, about what moral values people actually abide by.

Too much. But I wanted to exhibit Hitchens' view that I thought relevant and decisive. As to his viewpoint in the video, you can argue forever about how much "good" religion has done in the world. His point here really is quite different. It is about how religion CAN make people do things that are unfathomable. If you take religion out of the equation and just look at a situation from the perspective of what if just any normal person was doing it. It really puts it in perspective.

Check out the video for yourself, make up your own mind:

Christopher Hitchens Goes After Rabbi Harold Kushner re: Circumcision


  1. It's very clear what is happening here.
    (Wikipedia):" Cognitive dissonance is an uncomfortable feeling caused by holding conflicting ideas simultaneously. The theory of cognitive dissonance proposes that people have a motivational drive to reduce dissonance. They do this by changing their attitudes, beliefs, and actions.[2] Dissonance is also reduced by justifying, blaming, and denying."

    I'm sure we can also apply this to a young orthodox Jewish man who was petitioning on behalf of EQCA Equality California. Does he see forced circumcision as not being fair or an affront to equality? I'd say no.
    I support

    There are 280 families in Israel that subscribe to Intact America. At home in the US, we have So many Jews are questioning circumcision and it is my experience being an intactivist* half of those questioning are not circumcising. Circumcision doesn't make one a Jew, being born of a Jewish mother does,. If Jews really knew their circumcision history, I doubt they would be circumcising as circumcision. The Covenant of Abraham, Genesis 15 had nothing to do with circumcision. This was added later, 13 centuries later, in Genesis 17, by priests (P-text). (a Jew, Glick covers everything in his book "Marked i Your Flesh".

    Thank you for calling out Rabbi Harold Kushner on circumcision.

  2. * The more the word Intactivist is used in media, the more likely it will get in the dictionary. And the more the circumcision will be discussed leading to fewer circumcisions. Here's to intactness and not "uncircumcised". This says nothing about the natural state. Do we say unmestecodied? (KOT=a foreskin restorer's sign-off, Keep On Tugging)

  3. Interesting. Thanks for the comments.