It’s all about the penis. That’s what a wise but somewhat angst ridden girlfriend once said.
Today, two news stories about the male appendage have collided on newsprint like fresh beef at a butcher shop. The question for Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) is how intact his political career can remain, while on the Left Coast, Tuesday, news broke about whether wieners will be forced to remain intact in Santa Monica.
Weiner, the Congressman, had a rough time at his press conference mia culpa yesterday, and understandably so. It was a big emission – I mean, admission, of philandering and lying, one that moved him, and I’m certain, his family, to outrage and tears.
New Yorkers offered mixed reviews, according to a couple of poles – I mean, polls, that emerged today – one formal, one not. In the WABC-TV/Survey USA poll, 46 percent of all New York City voters surveyed, said he should relinquish his seat, and 41 percent said he shouldn’t have to resign the House of Representatives.
It’s important to note, though, that the survey was of all New York voters, and while that does not bode well for what many assumed would be an upcoming run for Gotham mayor, the voters in Weiner’s home district of Brooklyn and Queens seemed much more forgiving, kind of.
“It was really stupid. I just don’t think it’s grounds for him to resign,” Queens voter Ralph Sepulveda told the AP. “Politically,” he said, “I think he’s very smart and I value his contributions to our Congress.”
“Men will be men,” Sevan Jacoby, another voter from Weiner’s district, said in the AP article. “Let his wife worry about it.”
You might think that wives, and women in general, would be far more indignant about Weiner’s admitted transgression than men, but the WABC poll shows that less than half the New York women surveyed, 42 percent, thought he should resign, with only 39 percent saying they thought he could hang in there. That’s within the margin of error. Half of the men surveyed thought he should go. What’s more, women were more certain how they felt about it than men, with only 7 percent undecided.
Meanwhile, there was another article in Sunday’s New York Times about wieners, but not Weiner’s (then alleged) wiener. It was about whether or not there should be a law against all male circumcisions, including those done for religious reasons.
According to the NY Times article, a group called MGMbill.org (for Male Genital Mutilation) has successfully put an intitiative on the ballot in San Francisco, and had found someone to take up their cause in the Los Angeles suburb of Santa Monica, that would ban any male circumcision.
The two bills were apparently written by Matthew Hess, a San Diego activist who also co-authored an anti-Semitic comic book in which Foreskin Man, a musclebound, blonde Aryan looking crime fighter busts the sinister “Monster Mohel.”
“The comic book portrays mohels — those specially trained to perform the traditional Jewish circumcision ceremony — as rapacious, bloodthirsty and bent on harming children,” Nancy Appel, of the regional office of the Anti-Defamation League, wrote in a statement. The ADL went on to describe Hess’ take on Jewish ritual as bringing “to mind age-old anti-Semitic canards such as the blood libel, the accusation that Jews ritually murder Christian children.”
The truth is, if such a law were to pass in San Francisco, Jews and Muslims who practice circumcision as ritual, and families who want their babies circumcised for health reasons, will go outside the city limits to get these services performed. Hess, though, told the Times that, “The end goal for us is making cutting boys’ foreskin a federal crime.” That, of course, would mean that Muslims and Jews would have to leave the US to practice their religion faithfully, something, one thinks, that would be just fine with Hess and his Foreskin Man superhero.
The furor created by the article has prompted Jena Troutman, the Santa Monica mother who formally started the initiative there last month, to withdraw her ballot initiative, officially, on Tuesday, according to reports. Troutman, who said she initially tried to get an exemption for religious ritual but was told it would make the initiative unconstitutional, mas miffed by the reaction since the NY Times article appeared. “It shouldn’t have been about religion in the first place,” she is quoted as saying in one article.
“Ninety-five percent of people aren’t doing it for religious reasons,” she added. That may be the case in her neighborhood, but globally, the two faiths that perform male circumcision as an important ritual, Muslims and Jews, make up a quarter of the population.
So, for today, at least, it really is all about the penis. I assume, but cannot say with certitude (having not seen the “fully erect” phallus photo), that Anthony’s is circumsized, and for now, at least, Jews and Muslims can rest easily that their religious freedom is preserved.
The Daily Beast’s Andrew Sullivan, a supporter of halting the regular practice of circumcision, summed it up nicely. “One day,” he wrote in a blog Sunday night, “a rational, calm and tolerant campaign to prevent the routine mutilation of male infants will emerge. But not this one. It’s despicable.”
I’m quite attached to mine, and having forgotten the trauma of my bris, I cannot say whether it’s “mutilation” or not. What I can echo, is the sentiment of the Los Angeles mohel interviewed for the NY Times article:
“Rabbi Yehuda Lebovics, an Orthodox mohel based in Los Angeles who says he has performed some 20,000 circumcisions over several decades, said he often had to soothe nervous mothers.
“‘I am now doing the sons of the boys I did 30 years ago,’ Rabbi Lebovics said. ‘So I turn to the new mother and ask, “Do you have any complaints in the way it turned out?'”