Saturday, September 3, 2011

There's no such thing as a free circumcision

So, there's an election coming up - only municipal and county, but still an election - and of course the media's chock full of all kinds of 'hot issues' where most Norwegian politicians actually more or less agree, if you really look into it, but they have to pretend to totally disagree and be appalled at the others' irresponsible ways. Oy vey. I hate election campaigns. I never watch the debates or anything ... it's pointless, and for this election that's coming up now it's really beyond pointless, because it's a local election but they've still got party leaders on the debates. Now that seriously pisses me off. They should be quarantined. I'm supposed to be voting for people here in Oslo, what do I care what Jens Stoltenberg or Siv Jensen have to say? Fuck 'em.

But anyway. That's not really what this blog post is about. It's about one of these issues that isn't very hot, but maybe should be ... as in, maybe we should be talking about it more. I've just seen it mentioned in a few places, a few short newspaper articles. It's one of these things that we can't really have a big debate about, because that'll be offensive to religious minorities, and ... Well, people are chickens, basically. As well as ignorant. I really don't think that a lot of people who 'don't see the harm' in male circumcision have really looked into it. I wonder if those politicians who want circumcision - or male genital mutilation as we might just as well call it - to be freely available are aware that more than a hundred baby boys die in the US every year as a direct result of their circumcisions. I would love to ask some Health Department officials about that. Hmm.

In this country, hospitals used to circumcise baby boys up until 2004, but then they stopped. Now our government wants to reintroduce the practice. A lot of surgeons don't want to be part of it, because they know that it's a totally useless and potentially harmful practice that will of course take resources away from surgeries that are actually necessary treatment for other children. You know, sick children. But the government wants to force it through anyway (what a surprise) and want to offer, in their phrasing, 'free circumcision' to parents who want it for their sons. o_O

In the past I've written about how public debate is skewed in this country because we talk about side issues or we attack things from totally the wrong angle ... we don't discuss the real issues, we always get sidetracked. This is nothing unique to Norway, of course. It happens everywhere and all the time. And this is a really good example of what I mean when I say that we talk about things the wrong way. There's no such thing as a free circumcision.

This election campaign is like any other, it's presented as a smorgasbord of options for the voter and we just have to find out what we want. Do you want more of X, then vote Labor, do you want more Y instead, then vote Right. Or whatever. But it's presented so depressingly irrationally. It's not being talked about the right way. The question really isn't, do you want free kindergarten for all under-threes, or whatever, then vote Socialist Left. No. The question is, are you willing to pay, let's say 300 crowns more in taxes per month so that free kindergarten can be made available to all under-threes? That is what we should be discussing. Not only what we want, but what we are willing to give up to get it.

Because there's no such thing as free kindergarten. There's no such thing as free, full stop. No such thing. Remember those goddamn idiots who were in the papers last winter, or whenever it was, bragging about their foolproof system for tricking Ruter, Oslo's public transport company? They never bought tickets; instead, they paid a sum of money into a shared account which was used to pay the fines for those members who were caught riding the subway or whatever without a ticket. Since they were students, they were able to save as much as 2,50 per day by doing this. (2 crowns 50, which is like fifty US cents. Whoop dee fucking doo.) But of course they weren't doing it for the selfish reason of wanting to save money. Oh no, of course not. They were doing it as a quiet protest, as part of their belief that public transport should be 'free'. Give me a fucking break. I wanted to bitch slap these idiots, seriously. There is no such thing as free. Every service in a society has a price and something else has to be sacrificed to make it happen. Welcome to the real world.

Nothing is free, someone pays for everything. The way we've organized this society - which I believe is the best way - means that it's the tax payers' money that pays for it. Part of what this entails is that we all have to pay for things we don't need or don't want. Some people can't bear the thought of that; I personally don't have a problem with it as a matter of principle, but I do think that there have got to be some limits. A line must be drawn somewhere. Spend tax money on salaries for elected officials, sure, but let them pay for their own vacations. For instance. And another example, an even better one, is that while I do pay my taxes happily, I am not happy with the idea that the money I have worked for will be spent on letting delusional fools mutilate their defenseless babies because they think some murderous desert god is telling them to.

There's no such thing as a free circumcision, and I don't want to pay for it. But here's an idea: Take the money, and then give that extra funding to the Child Protective Agency instead. They obviously need it.

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