Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Once Again: Culture VS. Human Rights

I had a Professor in college that tried to convince me that leaving a female baby on the beach in China was a cultural difference and something I shouldn't judge. That there was NO morality that was a blanket across all cultures. As you can imagine, he and I had a rough semester together...

Well, I guess the NYT might see it that way also. A piece in the Grey lady poses "A new Debate on Female Circumcision":

"...Should African women be allowed to engage in the practice sometimes called female circumcision? Are critics of this practice, who call it female genital mutilation, justified in trying to outlaw it, or are they guilty of ignorance and cultural imperialism?

Dr. Shweder says that many Westerners trying to impose a “zero tolerance” policy don’t realize that these initiation rites are generally controlled not by men but by women who believe it is a cosmetic procedure with aesthetic benefits. He criticizes Americans and Europeans for outlawing it at the same they endorse their own forms of genital modification, like the circumcision of boys or the cosmetic surgery for women called “vaginal rejuvenation.” After surveying studies of female circumcision and comparing the data with the rhetoric about its harmfulness, Dr. Shweder concludes that “‘First World’ feminist issues and political correctness and activism have triumphed over the critical assessment of evidence.” (source)

...As you are all painfully aware, I am against circumcision --male and female. And to say there are no moral absolutes is insane. I think requiring women to don a burqa is demoralizing, but I don't think it's morally wrong. Leaving a female baby on a beach to die in the elements -universally wrong. Hanging and whipping a woman for being raped -universally wrong. Cutting out a 13 year old's clitoris without anesthesia -wrong. Chopping off hands for not producing enough diamonds -wrong. Killing someone because they have a different religion that you -also wrong. And letting pedophiles that have raped, killed and mutilated small children out of jail -also universally wrong.

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