Robot 6

Anti-Defamation League calls Foreskin Man comic ‘deeply offensive’

I’d almost forgotten about ole’ Foreskin Man. About a year ago, the hooded champion debuted. Written and created by Matthew Hess, president of an anti-circumcision organization, the comic stars “intactivist” Miles Hastwick, who fights super villains like Dr. Mutilator and, in the second issue, Monster Mohel:

Monster Mohel and crew

This week the Anti-Defamation League issued a statement calling Monster Mohel “disrespectful and deeply offensive.”

“The comic book portrays mohels — those specially trained to perform the traditional Jewish circumcision ceremony — as rapacious, bloodthirsty and bent on harming children,” said Nancy J. Appel, ADL associate regional director, in a statement. “Some of the imagery calls to mind age-old anti-Semitic canards such as the blood libel, the accusation that Jews ritually murder Christian children. Another comic in the series also calls up more subtle anti-Jewish themes, such as when a character complains that the pro-circumcision lobby has ‘all of the well-connected doctors and lawyers.’

“We would have hoped those backing the anti-circumcision effort in San Francisco would know better than to use this type anti-Semitic imagery to advance their cause. No matter what one’s personal opinions of male circumcision, it is irresponsible to use stereotypical caricatures of religious Jews to promote the anti-circumcision agenda.”

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Comments

23 Comments

I’m a Jewish American. I’m not easily offended by cartoons.

What I am offended by is people cutting the genitals of non-consenting infants and children.

I encourage people to educate themselves about the many functions of the male prepuce (“foreskin”). It’s there for a reason, and only its OWNER has any legitimate right to have it removed.

A good place to start: http://www.noharmm.org/anatomy.htm

Yeah, about Foreskin Man – I wish they’d cut it out….

People have a right to be offended, but they should exercise that knowing that others have an opposing opinion. Practice self censorship and look the other way, but let others make up their own minds.

Lol, Foreskin Man. What a fine idea for a comic. Never heard of it before, but will certainly track it down.

As we say in the UK “Only in America”

But then why anyone is still advocating genital mutilation – let’s call it what it is – is beyond me.

Captain Librarian

June 4, 2011 at 7:49 pm

Oh boy, we’ve got the zealots out here don’t we?

Calling it “genital mutilation” as if it were the same as FGM is insane. Especially given the documented health benefits of circumcision in many cases. Example: http://www.circs.org/index.php/Library/Weiss

Send me all the comic books, cuz I want to read them! If some one says they were offended from this, I will tell them I don’t care if you’re offended because I consider circumcision rape, I am circumcised, I consider circumcision rape and mutilation. It was against my will, and ultimately I Speak that now. I wish it were legal for me to execute people.

Practicing sexual mutilation for profit seems pretty vile and should be open for satire.

I agree with Josh, Emm and Sirkowski. Nothing… I’ll repeat: NOTHING that is simply drawn on a piece of paper can be as offensive as 99.999% of what organized religion has done and continues to do to innocent people.

Did I mention I really hate censorship? Especially censorship that is supposed to protect the delicate sensibilities of religious fanatics who themselves damage innocent lives every day? Maybe this character can team up with Mohammed and some Catholic priests and we can really piss some people off.

Foreskin Man:

Worst. Mega Man. Villain. Ever.

So..this book came out almost a YEAR ago and NOW these fools decide they have a problem? Come on, IT’S A COMIC BOOK. Stop trying to cut people’s creativity short. Seriously, this is stupid. These guys have really thin skin and need to pull back and go away.

There is a difference between presenting a controversial position in a contentious debate and indulging in racist stereotypes. The ADL’s objection is not that someone has taken a controversial position but that someone is using racist stereotypes. The racism is far more deliberate and than three poorly chosen words on the Flashpoint map

Dark Leviathan

June 5, 2011 at 4:38 pm

I’m with Ian Thal on this one (minus it not being racism but more anti-semitism, as Jews are not a race…). Mohels are not butchers by any means. And although religion has it’s faults, I don’t think this is the type of battle that is necessary. As progressive as I am, I don’t feel that male circumcision should be banned per se.

There are various reasons why some people oppose circumcision. Most of this is based on ignorant “political correctness” or muddled thinking, where the health and medical benefits exceed the risks by many orders of magnitude (see http://www.circinfo.net and references published in the medical literature that are cited therein). In the USA conservative Christian, Jewish and Muslim religious people support infant or childhood male circumcision. But some European Christians don’t, and of course the anti-Semites are opposed, seeing this as an easy target. Gay “intactivists” include those who enjoy “docking”, an unsafe sexual practice that involves the foreskin. Some honesty regarding the real reason these individuals have for trying to outlaw childhood male circumcision would be appreciated.

Prof, the 2nd to the last sentence really wasn’t needed.

Dark Leviathan: I regard antisemitism a form of racism not because I believe in race as a biological category (though Jews do make up a distinct ethnic group) but because anti-Semites frequently do regard Jews as not merely a biologically distinct race, but sometimes even biologically distinct from humanity: this is distinct from anti-Judaism, in which the hostility is purely in terms of religious doctrine. The keyword is the name of the ideology: anti-Semites are hostile to Jews without regard to whether they are religiously devout or not.

Anyway, Tablet posted a good article on this story: http://www.tabletmag.com/scroll/69224/when-anti-circumcision-turns-anti-semitic/

I wonder if the folks at the ADL have paused to think that maybe the Mohel is being portrayed as monstrous not because he’s jewish, but because he’s about to chop the end of a babys penis off without any medical indication, without anaesthetic, as a ritual sacrifice to his blood god. To me, that seems monstrous, and is fair game to a satirist….

The cartoon stereotypes circumcisors, not Jews. The Jewish mother, Rachel, is a sympathetic character. Dr Mutilator (Edric Griswold) in Foreskin Man #1 is more monstrous than the mohel.

There is one good reason people opppose infant circumcision – it’s not their penis to go curring parts off of.

If “the health and medical benefits exceed the risks by many orders of magnitude, why do the intact men of Scandianavia, Japan, and New Zealand (to mention just a few) enjoy such good health? The penile cancer rate in Denmark, for example, is much lower than the USA. In the 1950s, Australia and New Zealand circumcised babieswith the same enthursiasm as the USA. They gave it up, and in New Zealand it’s now hard to find a doctor willing to do it, yet neither courntry is overrun by epidemics of any of the maladies it was supposed to be good against.

Perhaps Foreskin Man #3 will satirise university academics who misuse statistics – and their position – to promote unnecessary and unethical surgery?

Lloyd Schofield, proposer of the San Francisco ballot, has disavowed the Foreskin Man comic written by Matthew Hess in San Diego. What more can he do? It is, as they say, a free country.

We don’t have any tolerance for people who inappropriately touch the genitals of a child but we are expected to show tolerance when a person (whether it be a doctor or a Mohel) makes a career out of permanently mutilating the genitals of a child for no medical reason. That cartoon is not anti-Semitic and does not express hate toward the entire Jewish people, only toward this hideous crime against children. I can’t tell you how many cartoons I’ve seen of catholic priests and even the pope portrayed in a negative light. The cartoon is an artistic expression of a genital mutilation VICTIM and I think it is down right ridiculous that people are trying to pin the artist or his art as anti-Semitic. The hero in the cartoon is in the artists likeness and so is the baby who is the victim. The very first episode portrays an evil doctor, are we to imply that he also hates all doctors? Wake up people this is just a ploy to distract everyone from really talking about the bill and the issues it raises. READ the bill, it is designed to protect all children. If it left out Jewish boys, THEN it might be considered anti-Semitic.

The notion that the portrayal in the comic is only anti-circumsisers and not antisemitic is hollow in light of the fact that the techniques used to make the mohel appear evil and grotesque mimic faithfully the techniques used in antisemitic cartooncraft for centuries – from Medieval imagery to Nazi-era caricatures to present-day portrayals in Arab media. Tell me that’s not a “Jewish nose” in the image on this page.

As for the practice of male infant circumcision – it is a completely benign practice with no negative medical consequences – not physiological, not physical, not emotional. I’d accept debate over whether there are significant medical benefits to the practice. But one thing it is not is harmful. I challenge you to find any legitimate report of someone suffereing in consequence of male infant circumcision. There is no evidence whatsoever of decreased sensual pleasure or sexual enjoyment or desire due to the practice. It has nothing even remotely in common with Female Genital Mutilation practiced in some regions of the world.

And as for the notion that the comic – and the movement – “does not express hate toward the entire Jewish people, only toward this hideous crime against children”: Well – the practice is nearly 100% universal among Jews – Jews of all stripes and colors, all political tendencies, and all opinions regarding world affairs – so there you have it. (And the notion that circumsision is a “hideous crime against children” belies a thorough lack of understanding of the practice – see above paragraph.)

I was so traumatized by my circumcision that I didn’t
walk for a year :-)

I am not Jewish, I am not a doctor, I am not christian. However I am very upset about this comic. I believe in freedom of speech, but this comic is just disgusting and the way it targets the issue here is not the best approach. Cutting the foreskin when the child is a baby makes it cleaner for them(my brother was not circumcised and he had a hard time cleaning his penis, which sometimes caused him to carry parasites in there. Here in the USA is no big deal because we have clean water and clean everything, be born in a country where you don’t and you will learn why circumcision may be good for a baby boy. It’s not just a stupid ritual. Also if it is performed when they boy is a baby(1 month max) he will not remember or be traumatized by it. Like me there are many out there to whom circumcision is not just a stupid ritual, but it can make a healthy boy. I know many men and women who agree with me, circumcised and not circumcised.

The comic parody, Smegna Man Gets Circumcised, (published at Smegmaman.com) is a lot funnier; has a great plot; and passes along sound information about the medical and cosmetic benefits of the procedure– and, in the end, the villains meet a very appropriate end.

Ed Margolis

To anyone who would defend this comic with earnest belief in their cause:

I commend your willingness to defend your principles. Nevertheless, consider an analogy. How would you feel if a pundit of President Obama’s domestic policy characterized him with physical profiles from a 20th century KKK cartoon, with an intellectual characterization that was similarly vulgar. Would you not be sympathetic to those American’s who were horrified to see shocking and hurtful images of the past justified by a reflex denial steeped in their fervent belief in the humanity of their cause?

Are the creators of this comic and so prosaic that they are incapable of presenting their passionate arguments without grotesque depictions that would have made Joseph Goebbels proud? Regardless of our constitutional freedoms, is this something you want to honor and promote?!

Whatever your opinion of circumcision, these characters are hideously racist.
Whatever your take on the health benefits or risks, these characters are hideously racist.
Whatever your threshold is for freedom of speech, these characters are hideously racist.
Whatever your background, these characters are hideously racist.

Clearly, there are better means to stand up for what you believe in without having to turn a blind eye towards blatant bigotry?

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