The foreskin chronicles

Nothing is more controversial than circucision

Few subjects evoke as much passion, pro and con, as circumcision, and Meredith Graham’s story in last week’s issue, “Ritual under fire,” is no exception. This time we heard from the “con” folks—so many of them that there wasn’t enough space in Letters to publish them all. You’ll find others in Letters online, as well as on our Facebook page.

Meredith’s story was first and foremost about a ritual circumcision held in the home of a local rabbi and his wife. One of her goals was to give an honest and respectful rendering of the event as it occurred.

But, as the article’s title suggests, she also was well aware of the subject’s controversial history, and particularly the hullabaloo that erupted when anti-circumcision activists in San Francisco succeeded in getting a prohibition measure on the November ballot.

Meredith went to some lengths to describe the basis for the opposition, citing several sources, including local pediatrician John Asarian, who chooses not to perform circumcisions because he believes there is no medical benefit to be gained.

But that wasn’t enough for the readers who responded. They condemned the article as biased and said they were disappointed with the CN&R. One man vowed never to read it again. Nobody has a right to mutilate a child’s body in that way, they insisted.

I thought it was a good story, a solid addition to the community’s awareness of the controversy surrounding circumcision and a sympathetic portrait of a local Jewish family for whom it’s an important part of their religious heritage.

For another approach to the subject, read Stacey Kennelly’s March 11, 2010, article, “The controversial cut” (

Rallying around Janice: Regular readers of Anthony Peyton Porter’s CN&R column, From the Edge, know his wife, Janice, is battling stage 4 breast cancer at a clinic in Arizona. Three weeks ago he made an appeal for help with the cost—$30,000—of saving her life. The Chico community has responded with great generosity, contributing more than $18,000 so far.

Janice is a mother, an artist and an all-around lovely person. If you haven’t yet contributed, please do so. No amount is too small. Give Janice some Chico love by going to the secure site and donating. You’ll be glad you did.

Staff changes: Readers probably didn’t miss Christine LaPado much when she moved to New York in mid-December, inasmuch as she continued doing her Greenhouse column and writing stories for us from her Catskills farmhouse. Well, that adventure didn’t work out the way she’d hoped, so she’s back and working for the CN&R again as Healthlines/Greenways editor. We’re thrilled.

Also, the many people who appreciated Ken Smith’s terrific Jan. 12 cover story, “Bond of brothers,” will be happy to know that he’s signed on as a staff writer.