Hollywood star Russell Crowe has spent the last few days backing away from his tweet last week that infant circumcision is “barbaric and stupid.”
He recognised the comment - in response to a follower’s question - had left him open, albeit unfairly, to charges of anti-Semitism. Clearly the millennia-old subject remains highly contentious.
If a total ban on the procedure – or tradition or mutilation depending on your view - ever makes it on to a referendum anywhere in the US that indeed would be anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim, and the Evangelical Christians would be up in arms too.
All you need to know about circumcision is on this Wikipedia link. It highlights arguments for and against (such as health benefits versus psychological damage) are unproven. Emotion rather than reason stirs supporters and opponents alike.
Crowe, for example, sees nothing contradictory in his antagonism to circumcision because babies are born "perfect", while defending the rights of women to terminate their pregnancies. So though it is wrong to want your baby free of a tiny bit of skin, it's OK to suck out its life while in the womb.
The product of Anglo-Jewish and American Catholic parents, any sons born to my wife and I were always going to be circumcised by a doctor. And so it was.
But when the time comes – as I hope it will – and my children have their own babies, I will keep quiet about whether any grandsons should be circumcised - even though privately I would prefer they were.
Firstly, I don’t think it matters much either way even if it means breaking with tradition – certainly not enough to start a family feud .
Secondly, however it’s done, it is distressing for baby and parents – and I wouldn’t want to force my views on my kids.
Thirdly (and you may think this cowardly) I wouldn’t wish to be blamed if the occasion were one of the rare instances when there were complications.
It all comes down to parental choice.