Spare me from do-gooders. Do-gooders tell you what you should do. They tell you what’s good for you. They get into your business and your life even if you don’t want them to.

San Francisco has its share of do-gooders. This bunch has gotten a weird measure put on the November ballot. The measure would ban circumcision for all San Francisco males under the age of 18.

Spare us all from do-gooders.

I am circumcised. My son is circumcised. My stepson is circumcised. My father was circumcised. My two grandfathers were circumcised. All the men in my family line were circumcised going back generations and generations and generations. If we lived in San Francisco and this measure were to pass future circumcisions would be against the law.

When my son Grant was born I wanted him to have a circumcision. Jews call it a brit Milah. It must be done on the boy’s eighth day of life. I phoned a moyel in Berkeley. A moyel performs the ritual circumcision, the removal of the foreskin from the penis. The moyel said he could not perform the circumcision as a moyel because my wife and I have a “dissenting” marriage. She is not Jewish and I am. This chagrined me but I won’t get into that here.

The moyel said he also was a pediatrician and he would perform the procedure as a doctor if a rabbi agreed to do the service. A Berkeley rabbi agreed to do it. So we had the rabbi and the moyel and Grant got his circumcision.

As you can see I was extremely motivated for my son to be circumcised. Not for health reasons, although there may be health reasons. For religious reasons and to keep my people’s tradition alive. I would not let this ancient tradition stop at my line. It would shame me.

I cannot tell others to have their sons circumcised. I wouldn’t dare. But I tell you why I did what I did. It was a matter of conscience, and my son Grant is happy and healthy and doesn’t remember the brit milah. I am happy and have no memory of the brit milah.

I wish the do-gooders would get out of my business. I can’t stand do-gooders.

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  1. Johnny Christo

    Ahhhh, the visuals we CohnZone fans from San Francisco have been waiting for all these years!!! I love penis imagery. Thanks, Lowell.

    May 18th, 2011 8:07 pm

  2. russell

    Why stop at circumcision? Let’s stop children, especially babies, from having to go through the horrible, disfiguring trauma of ear piercing! I am with you Lowell, where will it stop? No happy meals, suit up for battle to ride your bicycle, save us from ourselves. Are we really outnumbered by the do-gooders?

    May 18th, 2011 8:34 pm

  3. Jack Orion

    Reminds me of that old joke about the wallet made out of foreskin. Rub it and it turns into a suitcase.

    May 18th, 2011 8:37 pm

  4. ollie hoop

    Somewhere in the writings of Thoreau he rants about how he would run the other way if he heard a philanthropist were coming.

    May 18th, 2011 8:42 pm

  5. ollie hoop

    Here it is. It’s from Walden:

    If I knew for a certainty that a man was coming to my house with the conscious design of doing me good, I should run for my life, as from that dry and parching wind of the African deserts called the simoom, which fills the mouth and nose and ears and eyes with dust till you are suffocated, for fear that I should get some of his good done to me — some of its virus mingled with my blood.

    May 18th, 2011 8:48 pm

  6. Let's Get Free

    Regardless of your feelings about the proposed ballot measure, the tone of this post seems simplistic and a little too smug.

    Where do you draw the line? Those who fought to end segregation, child abuse, etc. – a bunch of “do-gooders”?

    Something a little more thoughtful next time, please.

    May 19th, 2011 4:52 am

  7. Scott

    I am personally against the ritual mutilation of our male children, but more so against this type of “do gooder” legislation. Couldn’t agree with you more, Lowell. And disagree. ;)

    May 19th, 2011 5:27 am

  8. StevenG

    As a do-gooder myself, I’m going to get involved in your business and the phrase “ought to.” If this were to pass, which I think is a big if, I can’t see how this would be anything but a First Amendment violation. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” Circumcision may be chosen by the non-religious, but this directly restricts the religious practice of Jews and Muslims. I don’t know why they would want to pass this in the first place, but they really ought to mind their own damn business.

    May 19th, 2011 5:57 am

  9. Blind Tom

    Jack, that’s funny! I grew up Irish Catholic although it seems my German great grandmother may have been Jewish. Either way, myself and my three brothers and pops were all cut. Works for me…

    May 19th, 2011 6:20 am

  10. tom t

    I understand that the leftover foreskins are used for eyelid transplants
    although the recipients are reported to see a little”cock-eyed”.

    May 19th, 2011 6:22 am

  11. John Sousa

    Excellent. Andrew Sullivan has a hard-on (pun intended) for this issue. He calls it Male Genital Mutilation (MGM) and he’s obsessed. I never understood the obsession myself, but was glad I had daughters because not being Jewish i would have had to hear from my meddling inlaws about how it was barbaric, etc. My own dad was uncircumcised, while my brother and I were not. He used to joke all the time that the doctor wouldn’t do it because there wasn’t enough to spare. Also, is there a more disgusting word in the English language than “smegma?” It’s almost onomatopoeic.

    May 19th, 2011 6:47 am

  12. brady

    out of curiosity, should female genital mutilation of one’s child be allowed, if filed under religious practice?

    May 19th, 2011 6:52 am

  13. CohnZohn

    I don’t care to deal in hypotheticals. I am writing about this one, real-world issue.

    May 19th, 2011 7:01 am

  14. Frank in Minnesota

    Imagine my surprise this morning when I grabbed my coffee and opened to this site for some sports or something….I guess I got the ‘something’! Thoughtful read,though….

    May 19th, 2011 7:03 am

  15. Tiburon Dave

    Oy Vey! Does this mean my frind Jeffrey Briss is gonna have to change his name?
    Did the meshugena sponsor of this measure get called a putz one too many times?
    This cut goyim and his three cut sons will march against the barricades in favor of religious freedom and against tyranny
    Do not ask for whom the bell tolls…

    May 19th, 2011 7:40 am

  16. Stan

    Family Christian radio says the Rapture is only days -2?- away. Jeezuz-’bout time. No more bills,no more of that ache getting in and out of the car and required grunt.
    So,no worrys about..that..St Peter won’t need to look us up and down. I’m pretty sure Jews will be allowed in..just so Christians can torture them with an eternity of “”I told ya so”.
    Oh,boy, I can hardly wait.

    May 19th, 2011 9:59 am

  17. Mark M

    This is giving a bad name to do gooders then. I have my moments where I could be categorized in that way. But this seems silly beyond belief.

    May 19th, 2011 10:16 am

  18. Fred G

    Generally speaking I’m against people telling me what I can do and can’t do. Obviously we must make allowances for extreme situations, or where there is the potential to hurt another. I understand society has a purpose and no one wants complete chaos.
    But when we start worrying about topics like circumcision, because “do gooders” can’t mind their own business, I quickly get annoyed. I think the issue transcends what is happening in real time. You can apply the topic to many situations. The government isn’t all knowing and I’m quite certain my fellow citizens are not either. Most of them make their political decisions based on candidate commercials and sound bites. I often thought that people should have to pass a test to vote because most people spend little to no time doing the homework to make an informed decision. Yet I am bound by these decisions. I consider that absurd. This is another one of those topics where everyone has an opinion. Frankly, my position is I don’t care what your opinion is, (and I mean that respectfully). You really shouldn’t care what mine is either. If you need something to do, go read a book and become more intelligent.

    May 19th, 2011 10:21 am

  19. Parent

    Let the child dcide when they get older. It doesn’t need to be a law but seriuosly study the pros and cons and stop trying to influence with emotion here. It does NOT need to be done, over 40% of babies do not have it done now, it is painful to the baby and with proper cleaning it presents no problem being uncircumsised. We ask men to be gentle and then we cut the most nerve filed sensitive part of their body off when they have no ability to consent. Barberic.

    May 19th, 2011 10:28 am

  20. Johnc

    This brings up an interesting point. I am not Jewish but it seems to me everyone in New York was automatically circumsized. It works for me and I don’t feel “mutilated” one bit.

    May 19th, 2011 10:54 am

  21. Johnc

    In answer to Brady’s hpothetical question. Female genital mutilation is not equvalent to male circumcision. The male equivalent would be to completly chop off your penis…not remove some foreskin… duh

    May 19th, 2011 11:07 am

  22. rpm

    I am cut but my son is not. I did not want some other faiths tradition to predominate the most intimate part of his experience. As a parent, it was my investment in his first steps towards freedom. I agree that not circumcising by law though is a bit much. People should be allowed to follow their slavish cultural and religious choices as freely as possible without interference if that is their choice.

    May 19th, 2011 11:07 am

  23. brady

    Lowell, how is that a hypothetical? to dub female genital mutilation as a hypothetical is a profound lesson in ignorance. Female genital mutilation, like male genital mutilation (which is what circumcision is), is a real world issue, that has blossomed under the water of religion. 2 million women every year are subject to female genital mutilation in the name of religion. I am not trying to question your religion – I myself am part Jewish, and my best friend is the most devoted member of Judaism that I know – but if you are to justify male circumcision in the name of religion, then you must be prepared to justify female circumcision, stoning and misogyny, while abhorring homosexuality, other ‘real-world issues.’ People all over the world – many in the United States – feel very strongly about keeping these ‘traditions’ alive, and passing them from father to son.

    May 19th, 2011 11:23 am

  24. D. Devil's Advocate

    “[Grant] doesn’t remember the brit milah”. How can you be sure of that? Maybe it’s not easily recalled like his first baseball game, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist somewhere in his mind.

    I feel the same about this as I do about infant baptism: this is the parent’s beliefs being expressed, not the child’s. Why can’t it wait until your child is an adult? They’re not your property, it’s a human being.

    That said, this measure will never survive the first legal challenge.

    May 19th, 2011 11:30 am

  25. ponstad

    Please answer Brady’s question. It is not a hypothetical.

    May 19th, 2011 11:38 am

  26. REally

    Really? Why write this article, and why is it in the sports page? Really, get a life….

    May 19th, 2011 11:55 am

  27. Mike

    >I don’t care to deal in hypotheticals. I am writing about this one, real-world issue.

    We call that a cop-out Lowell.

    May 19th, 2011 12:04 pm

  28. hurricane225

    Is female genital mutilation disallowed?

    I am completely with Lowell on this one.

    May 19th, 2011 1:32 pm

  29. Bob In Pacifica

    How about female circumcision?

    May 19th, 2011 2:04 pm

  30. Neal

    I got to take a look at the film before I decide on Circumcision, he has been playing up and down and we need to decide if Circ can make it. Circ is a rather small fellow and we are still deciding if he can make it to the BIG leagues, because in most cases Size is important. This has to be one of my dumbest responses ever. Sorry Zohn readers you might of lost a couple of brain cells.

    May 19th, 2011 2:14 pm

  31. KauaiRobert

    Don’t you Californians have anything better to do with your time???

    May 19th, 2011 2:57 pm

  32. Tommy CostaRica

    Lowell I was hoping to find something about the Giants or some insight on the 49ers when I ran into your bit on circumcism. What a surprise! I have an interesting take on the subject because I have a similar family history as you do even though we are not Jewish. And probably like yourself my innermost feelings are that circumcism is a superior male penile existence. I have four brothers and they feel the same way. But when my first son was born 27 years ago he was gravely ill being born with a diaphragmatic hernia and required surgery within hours after birth. He was given little chance of survival so to hell with cosmetics! He is a healthy young man now and it’s all water under the bridge. My second son was born here in Costa Rica just two years ago and they don’t even know what it is down here. So as for continuing family tradition the buck definitely stopped here with me, but I’m with you all the way on this one. And, as far as “mutilation” goes what a load of crap! I don’t remember anything and nor do my brothers or anyone else for that matter. We’re happy and proud to be members of the mutilated babies club. The bill is ludicrous!!!!! Keep up the great writing!

    May 19th, 2011 3:30 pm

  33. dennypat

    What is wrong with everyone? This political ‘nanny state’ correctness has been piling up on us for years! No dodgeball in schools, guys can’t open a car door for gals (sexist), and on & on & on.
    Now they are moving to control our bodies directly (wait till ObamaCare gets into full swing)!
    These do-gooders are not doing good. They, in their eventuality, want to be tyranical and in full control of all of us. Individual freedom be damned.
    This has been building up for years. Like the frog, throw him into boiling water…..he jumps out. Warm the water slowly and he gets cooked.
    How are all yee frogs doing out there?

    May 19th, 2011 3:59 pm

  34. CaptainBlack

    Nice work Lowell. Liberals are constantly finding ways to get in peoples business. From the lightbulb, low-flow toilet, food, cars etc. It never ends! If a liberal wants their penis to look like an Aadrvark’s muzzle, you have my support.

    May 19th, 2011 4:48 pm

  35. CaptainBlack


    May 19th, 2011 4:49 pm

  36. Let's Get Free

    Lowell, I don’t understand why you’re ducking brady’s question about female “circumcision” – it’s not a hypothetical, it’s a common practice in some parts of the world.

    My guess is there is a knee-jerk “I grew up with it, I got it, and I don’t really want anyone to challenge me about it” so I’m going to hide behind my religion and ignore challenging questions.

    Just a guess . . .

    May 19th, 2011 5:43 pm

  37. Brian in Oakland

    Female circumcision and male circumcision aren’t in the same ballpark. Hell they’re not even the same sport. I call bullshit.

    The circumcision ban’s position is being articulated with a rhetoric akin to that of the pro-life movement. Just another group of people trying to legislate their point of view at the expense of someone else’s.

    All the “banners” need to get together and go join those crazy rapture people.

    May 19th, 2011 8:20 pm

  38. Johnny Christo

    Lowell, in order to get a reaction out of you, as in, an answer, is it possible to remain civil and wait patiently? There comes a time when, at the family dining table, topics of the day are discussed. It would seem that this evening will afford you ample time to explain your quick dismissal of female mutilation. Tomorrow we expect your reply. The clock is ticking. Do not ignore this opportunity to explain yourself. The attacks are mounting.

    May 19th, 2011 8:27 pm

  39. brady

    So now we’re getting relative? Female circumcision may be worse than male circumcision, but they’re both circumcision, AKA genital mutilation, AKA forced, painful (and unanesthesiad) removal of a portion of the most critical anatomical part in existence, of an innocent child, who may grow to have belief in neither the procedure nor the religious means for which it was performed. In fact, the body part removed in male genital mutilation (foreskin) and female genital mutilation (clitoral hood) are biologically and embryonically homologous. That is to say, they are partners for their respective gender. They are equivalent. And if you want to make the “girls parts have more nerves” argument, stop: if you have more feeling in your pinky than I do, that’s no excuse to cut off mine. You don’t see me walking around cutting off my Aunt’s legs because she has Multiple Sclerosis.
    Furthermore, are you really justifying cutting off part of your son’s anatomy (a god-given part, ironically, if you’re using the religious justification) by saying “he doesn’t remember it”? Cool. So I can molest you and then hit you over the head so hard that you get a coma and can’t remember that I hit you?
    So, can I get a real justification then? Don’t say religious, because I doubt you stand for female genital mutilation, stoning, misogyny and homophobia. Furthermore, if when Grant was born, you could have signed a contract forcing him to attend service every week for the rest of his life, would you? Or would you decide that thrusting your religion on a baby not old enough to recognize you as his father, in an irrevocable manner no less, maybe wasn’t the responsible thing to do when fostering the open-mindedness of a new life?
    And don’t use the health excuse, because that has been timelessly refuted and besides, it’s not like we remove a child’s spleen and appendix when their born, either.
    And don’t use the “tradition” excuse, because we are a progressive society. Having depression tendencies, being poor, holding hands at the dinner table and going to Yosemite every year are “traditions” in my family, but you no what? If i’m ever lucky enough to have a kid, I think I’ll let him determine what the traditions he’d like to carry on are. I’m fairly certain that went Grant turned 18, he would have been more than capable of taking himself to get circumcised if it was a tradition he believed in.
    So what’s your excuse, Lowell? The foreskin is not only a natural body part, but also moistens the sexual glands, eases sexual penetration, and increases sexual pleasure for the male. Color me hormonal, but these seem like positives to me. The only negative I can think of is that God, Allah, Jah, whomever, won’t accept a child that they designed. hmm. So tell me, Lowell, what exactly are the negatives of a male foreskin? I’m dying to know.

    May 19th, 2011 10:39 pm

  40. Johnc

    Hey Brady, the so called religion you are talking about is the one that advocates blowing people up, killing non believers and gays, cutting off heads and other appendages as well as several forms of abuse toward women.
    It is not the religion of peace but the religion of blowing you and Israel to pieces. So your sophmoric argument about comparing circumsism practices to a cult of death is a stretch. That is not a legitimate relgion. More like a Satanic cult.

    May 20th, 2011 1:04 am

  41. Bob In Pacifica

    Johnc, you ever hear about “Blood Libel”? Be careful about throwing around the term “Satanic cult”. There are people right here in America who think that Jews kidnapped and killed Christian children to make matzos. Apparently, you believe in Satan, or at least invoke his name. That means the Devil is in your mind.

    I understand that making male circumcision illegal for minors is in conflict with Jewish church law, as outlawing female circumcision impinges on some Muslim customs. If this law comes into effect it means the surgery will be performed in San Mateo County for those who insist.

    How about Christian Scientists who forbid their children medical care? Are you down with that? After all, it is their religion.

    May 20th, 2011 6:27 am

  42. brady

    Johnc, when did I speak specifically of one religion? I said that, along with male genital mutilation, female genital mutilation, misogyny, stoning and homophobia are common “traditions”, beliefs and practices amongst myriad religions, including many practiced and praised here in the U.S. There was no singular “so called religion” I was talking about. This is religion in general. Including in the U.S.
    And apologies for my use of the word ‘whomever’ in my prior comment. Not sure what compelled me to be grammatically incorrect in a more complex manner than was necessary.

    May 20th, 2011 9:54 am

  43. Johnny Christo

    Johnc… Your latest post is both ignorant and disgusting, especially when you consider that fanatics from all religions do horrendous things in the name of their religions. Islam is no different from Christianity or Judaism, or any of the world’s other religions. The majority of its followers preach and practice peace. A tiny minority are fanatics. Fanatics are all dangerous, regardless of religious affiliation. Your post… fanatical? Idiot!

    May 20th, 2011 10:35 am

  44. Johnny Christo

    Johnc… Your latest post is both ignorant and disgusting, especially when you consider that fanatics from all religions do horrendous things in the name of their religions. Islam is no different from Christianity or Judaism, or any of the world’s other religions. The majority of its followers preach and practice peace. A tiny minority are fanatics. Fanatics are all dangerous, regardless of religious affiliation.

    May 20th, 2011 10:41 am

  45. Can't believe this...

    This is the absolute stupidest post you have ever made. It’s a sports blog. You’re a sports writer. And you’ve officially lost a reader.

    May 20th, 2011 3:08 pm

  46. Johnc

    Christo. you are the one who is ignorant of what is going on. The so called small fanatical element is controlling and intimidating the majority who want to practice peace in the religion of Islam. Islamic terrorism is spreading. Egypt is on course to fall into the control of the Islamic Brotherhood. This is the reality of 2011.
    Your point was that circumcision is a horrendus act in the name of relgion? Get a life.

    May 20th, 2011 11:51 pm

  47. Johnc

    Bob in Pacifica…I think Christian Scientist who forbid their children medical care have a perverted sense of right and wrong and are abusive. They are also in violation of the laws of this country which are founded upon Judeo-Christian principles not the Koran.
    I don’t see how using the word Satanic translates to his being in my head. Can’t you say the word in your pc world?

    May 21st, 2011 12:17 am

  48. brady

    Johnc – you’re building a bit of a strawman argument. Neither Johnny Christo nor I called circumcision a horrendous act of religion (though I would argue that it is). We were making the point that all religions practice one horrendous act or another, so to justify the removal of a child’s body part because it’s a tradition simply isn’t enough. Because that is also justifying the other acts of religion that many would deem horrendous.

    It’s time to call a spade a spade. Circumcision is, by definition, genital mutilation. We don’t think genital mutilation of females, in the name of religion, is morally correct. So why do we think genital mutilation of males is?

    still waiting for someone to actually answer that, instead of ducking the question….

    May 21st, 2011 8:27 am

  49. Johnc

    The World Health Organization (WHO; 2007), the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS; 2007), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC; 2008) state that evidence indicates male circumcision significantly reduces the risk of HIV acquisition by men during penile-vaginal sex, but also state that circumcision only provides partial protection and should be considered only in conjunction with other proven prevention measures. (The CDC have not yet made any final recommendations regarding circumcision.

    May 22nd, 2011 12:12 am

  50. brady

    And the World Health Organization would surely agree that removal of one’s appendix decreases the chance of appendicitis. And the removal of one’s spleen decreases the chance of a ruptured spleen. And the removal of one’s tonsils decreases the chance of tonsillitis. And the removal of one’s gall bladder decreases the chance of gallstones.

    Clearly, any parent who does not have their child’s appendix, spleen, tonsils and gall bladder removed is not taking the prevention measures necessary.

    Circumcising your child on the basis of HIV protection is absurd, and 15 years premature. Teach your child safe sex, and when he turns 15 offer to get him circumcised if he’ll feel sexually safer. Again, this may be a hormonal male talking, but i’d sure rather have better pleasure during sex (which a foreskin is proven to provide), and have to make sure my partner is STD-tested, then tell a girl “don’t worry about getting tested for HIV, baby, my lack of foreskin will help prevent me from getting it”

    Get tested.
    Use condoms.
    When you’re child’s two hours old, him having sex in 15 years is the last thing that should be on your mind and influencing permanent body mutilations.

    May 22nd, 2011 4:34 pm

  51. Stan

    I’m angry-no rapture. Plenty of people I can think of need to be rapped on the head.
    Dan Dibly going to 95.7. I always thought he hated that KNBR right wing sports crap. Anti-eastbay too.

    May 23rd, 2011 8:21 am

  52. Johnc

    Brady, just think of all the lives that have been saved from aids because they were circumsized all over the world.
    Now you are wildly speculating what the World Health Oganization would say. I mean, no body’s penis is removed in a circumcision ..just some foreskin. I am glad I am circumsized but maybe you can convince somebody else. I doubt it.

    May 23rd, 2011 12:53 pm

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