Talk:Mutilation

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Circumcision

If we wish to take the view that the term "mutilation" is pejorative rather than simply descriptive, a lot more than circumcision will have to be removed from this article. Any tribal practice of body modification, for example, could not be considered mutilation because as a pejorative it is POV. Female genital cutting would also have to be removed, and so on. I would propose that we stick to the descriptive form "excision of functional tissue" and that the language of the article be edited to reflect that. Tomyumgoong 01:31, 4 May 2006 (UTC)

Unfortunately we are not in a position to redefine the English language. Though they vary in the details, dictionary definitions invariably define mutilation as cosmetic or functional harm. If listing FGC, for example, is POV (and I have to agree), the answer is to remove it, not to make the article still worse by adding more POV.
My own view is that the article is little more than a dictionary definition plus some POV, and it would probably be best to delete it on those grounds. Jakew 11:08, 4 May 2006 (UTC)
Obviously any cosmetic statement is POV. What is the point of view in stating that removal of the foreskin also oblates the function of the foreskin? Tomyumgoong 11:25, 4 May 2006 (UTC)
It presupposes that the foreskin has a function, and that the function of the penis is degraded following its removal. Jakew 12:06, 4 May 2006 (UTC)
The functionality of the foreskin is not a hotly contested issue in the medical literature. You might contest that the penis is somehow better without its function, but that sounds like POV. Tomyumgoong 23:01, 5 May 2006 (UTC)
The functionality, if any, of the foreskin is hardly a matter of established fact and widespread agreement, otherwise one would not see some authors describe it as a 'vestigial organ'. I would agree that stating or implying that the penis is better without the foreskin is POV, as is stating or implying that it is worse. Describing circumcision as mutilation does imply that it is worse, and thus violates WP:NPOV. Jakew 09:14, 6 May 2006 (UTC)

The descriptions of "some authors" do not make the position that a body part is not functional established fact. Most authors, and all western pediatric associations respect the functionality of the foreskin in their discussion of circumcisison. Perhaps there is something to be gained in removing that function in some circumstances, as we see in the sole study of AIDS and circumcision in AIDS ridden africa. However, as the sole tissue in the penis with a concentration of the specialized sensory modalities it comprises, the tissue is functional. "Vestigial" is highly pov given modern scholarship. Tomyumgoong 07:58, 10 May 2006 (UTC)

The fact remains that there is not widespread agreement that the foreskin is not functional. Incidentally, there was not a 'sole study' but more than 40 studies, of many different types, the latest simply being a randomised controlled trial.
As a matter of fact, there is only one study supporting your argument, and that merely postulated that the foreskin is specialised sensory tissue. Last time I checked, there was a difference between theory and fact.
Regardless, Wikipedia prohibits original research, and arguments over whether circumcision is mutilation or not do not belong here. Our role is simply to report on what others have stated. Jakew 09:25, 10 May 2006 (UTC)

The article should make a distinction among willing body modification, as might happen by adults in various tribes, and unconsented mody modification such as neonatal circumcision and female genital cutting and the amputation of limbs by African warring parties. Both are broadly "mutilation" but have a distinct prominence. Tomyumgoong 08:05, 10 May 2006 (UTC)

Right then. It is a Point of View that any body part is vestigial. It is also incorrect to say that the foreskin lacks function, as it is mucosal. Moreover, the article already (over)states the fact that there is some oppositition to the idea that circumcision is mutilation. What is the problem? Tomyumgoong 21:14, 10 May 2006 (UTC)

Yes, it's a point of view that it's vestigial. It's also a point of view that it has function, and it's a point of view that circumcision is mutilation. Hence, policy requires us to state none of these as fact, but simply to discuss the various points of view that others have raised in reliable sources. Jakew 21:24, 10 May 2006 (UTC)
It is not a point of view that the forekin is a mucosal covering of the glans which contains many (specialized) nerve endings. This is a biological fact. What is your problem with the wording in the version from which you are reverting? Tomyumgoong 21:27, 10 May 2006 (UTC)
You may enjoy reading [[1]] Tomyumgoong 21:32, 10 May 2006 (UTC)
Thank you, I am quite familiar with that article. I'm puzzled, though, about why you suggest reading a bunch of contradictory statements. Jakew 09:56, 11 May 2006 (UTC)
This article is about mutilation, to the extent that it is anything more than a dictionary definition. A brief mention that some feel that circumcision (or ear-piercing, or tattoos) are mutilation is fine. Rewriting the article to center on the topic is POV pushing, in my opinion, and I think your edits are taking a big step in that direction. Nandesuka 21:55, 10 May 2006 (UTC)
I simply placed female and male circumcision in the same context. Their differential treatment is POV. The article did not center on circumcision in its stable version before you removed the practice from the list of mutilating procedures. It has since been properly restored apparently by the community. You should carefully consider who is pushing POV here. Tomyumgoong 21:57, 10 May 2006 (UTC)
Yes, let's do that. Your edit combined female genital cutting and circumcision, implying that the people viewing the two as mutilation are the same. The example given for FGC, however, is Amnesty International, which explicitly voted to reject a 'male genital mutilation resolution'[2] (thus making the assertion that they regard both as mutilation false). Many other notable organisations, including the WHO and UN, describe FGC as mutilation but do not describe circumcision as such. It may well be that you regard both as mutilation, but the article is not about you. The two require treating separately.
Additionally, you removed a cited example of an author disagreeing with the claim.
Finally, in the second paragraph, you inserted a reference to circumcision, such that it read "ritual mutilation, frequently in the form of circumcision". Here, you cause the article to declare that Wikipedia considers circumcision to be a form of mutilation. This is POV.
In conclusion, it is clear that you are indeed POV pushing.
It is interesting to note that Sophia's edit was the first to identify that some hold the view, rather than endorsing it. Since it did not violate WP:NPOV, it remained. Your previous attempts were reverted because they did not conform to policy. Jakew 09:56, 11 May 2006 (UTC)
I would agree with Jakew that FGC and circumcision need to be treated differently as FGC as practiced by some is a much more extensive procedure sometimes resulting in the loss of virtually all external genitalia. In the UK FGC is generally viewed as mutilation but circumcision is seen as unnecessary unless medically required. They are not viewed as equivalent procedures and I would not like to see FGC somehow trivialised by making it seem the female form of circumcision which it is not. As with all these practices we must make it clear that it is a POV to regard them as mutilation as obviously some people do them for what they see as positive reasons. The Amnesty link is important as I know they view involuntary FGC (as is very often the case) as a breach of human rights - the declaration of human rights in the west is seen to "trump' cultural practices. SophiaGilraen of Dorthonion 12:17, 11 May 2006 (UTC)
Sophia, your comment reminded me of the following comments by the UNFPA:
Some organizations have opted to use the more neutral term 'female genital cutting'. This stems from the fact that communities that practice FGC often find the use of the term 'mutilation' demeaning, since it seems to indicate malice on the part of parents or circumcisers. The use of judgmental terminology bears the risk of creating a backlash, thus possibly causing an alienation of communities that practice FGM/FGC or even causing an actual increase in the number of girls being subjected to FGM/FGC. In this respect it should be noted that the Special Rapporteur on Traditional Practices (ECOSOC, Commission on Human Rights) recently called for tact and patience regarding FGC eradication activities and warned against the dangers of demonizing cultures under cover of condemning practices harmful to women and girls. [3]
This might be worth noting in the article. Jakew 13:28, 11 May 2006 (UTC)
Putting my countering systemic bias hat on I would say it is definitely worth adding. It is a bit long but it's information dense so summarising it would mean throwing out useful stuff so maybe the best place for it is the FGC article itself? I've had a quick look and didn't see it there but maybe I missed it. SophiaGilraen of Dorthonion 15:45, 11 May 2006 (UTC)

Moved from article

Some tribes practice ritual mutilation, frequently in the form of circumcision, as part of an initiation ritual.

I've removed the frequently in the form of circumcision until we can find reference justifying singling out circumcision in initiation rituals. I have no idea if this is the most frequent form of initiation rite - I must admit I thought it was tattoos but I could very well be wrong. I'll have a look for a quote later but if others have any I would appreciate the saving of time as real life is in full flow today! SophiaGilraen of Dorthonion 07:03, 15 May 2006 (UTC)

Sophia, as it happens, circumcision really does come up a lot as the form of ritual mutilation used for initiation ceremonies. Here are just a few quick links to support this:
http://www.ecotopics.com/articles/boys.htm
http://www.anthrosource.net/doi/abs/10.1525/eth.2003.31.2.172
http://alexm.here.ru/mirrors/www.enteract.com/jwalz/Eliade/142.html
http://www.wmich.edu/dialogues/texts/darkchild.html
http://www.bartleby.com/196/170.html
http://www.indigogroup.co.uk/foamycustard/fc009.htm
Based on this, do you see any reason NOT to restore the removed text? Al 07:15, 15 May 2006 (UTC)
Calling circumcision mutilation endorses one particular POV. Jakew 07:40, 15 May 2006 (UTC)
Also, of those six, only the last describes it as mutilation. The rest use impartial, neutral terminology. Jakew 08:10, 15 May 2006 (UTC)
What I think is needed to make this factual and NPOV is a RS link stating that circumcision is the most common form of mutilation for an initiation" or something like that as that will justify singling it out. SophiaGilraen of Dorthonion 08:59, 15 May 2006 (UTC)
That would work, though in order to avoid endorsing one point of view, we would have to say something like "according to X, circumcision is the most common mutilation performed as an initiation ritual". Jakew 10:09, 15 May 2006 (UTC)
Agreed. Sophia 10:49, 15 May 2006 (UTC)

Circumcision + FGC

Tomyumgoong,

I'm temporarily removing the following contested sentence, since we seem unable to agree on it.

  • Many view female genital cutting as mutilation with respect to what they perceive as deprivation of the function of the excised tissue and the often involuntary nature of the procedures,[4] and some have made similar arguments concerning circumcision,[5] though others disagree.[6]

Your version:

  • Female genital cutting [7] and circumcision[8] may be viewed as mutilation due to the often involuntary excision of functional tissue, though some cultures and individuals view the practices as natural or beneficial. [9]

There are several problems with your version:

  1. "[Female genital cutting]] [10] and circumcision[11] may be viewed" - this implies that the two are only considered together: that a given individual either regards both as mutilation, or neither. In fact, FGC is commonly referred to as 'mutilation', but the term is rarely applied to male circumcision, and only then by anti-circumcision activists.
  2. the term perceived is lost, thus arbitrarily endorsing this belief and consequently violating WP:NPOV.
  3. "though some cultures and individuals view the practices as natural or beneficial. [12]." - this claim is not supported by the source cited. In fact, this article addresses the issue of male circumcision as mutilation, noting, for example, "Denniston, Hodges, and Milos (1999) note that Stedman's Medical Dictionary defines mutilation as "[d]isfigurement or injury by removal or destruction of any conspicuous or essential part of the body." Male circumcision, they say, is the injurious and appearance-altering removal of a conspicuous body part and thus unquestionably constitutes mutilation. But this sort of argument begs the question. It assumes that circumcision disfigures and injures. Yet this is exactly what is in dispute in debates about whether circumcision constitutes mutilation."

Jakew 18:32, 15 August 2006 (UTC)

I like it that someone put docking here. --Yancyfry jr 02:32, 21 August 2006 (UTC)

material moved from docking

I do not know where this should be but am placing it here for easy retrieval by interested persons. This was removed from docking, when it clearly didn't belong. Merge here or at a more appropriate article? Quill 06:14, 3 September 2006 (UTC)

Human Punishment

In times when even judicial physical punishment was still commonly allowed to cause not only intense pain and public humiliation during the administration but also to inflict permanent physical damage, or even deliberately intended to mark the criminal for life by maiming or branding, one of the common anatomical target areas not normally under permanent cover of clothing (so particularly merciless in the long term) were the ears.

In England, for example, various pamleteers attacking the religious views of the Anglican epsicopacy under William Laud, the Archbishop of Canterbury, had their ears cut off for those writings, e.g. in 1630 Dr. Alexander Leighton and in 1637 still other Puritans, John Bastwick, Henry Burton and William Prynne.

In Scotland one of the Covenanters, James Gavin of Douglas, Lanarkshire, had his ears cut off for refusing to renounce his religious faith.

Especially in various jurisdictions of colonial British North America, even relatively minor crimes, such as hog stealing, were punishable by having the ears nailed to the pillory and slit loose, or even completely cropped; a counterfeiter would be branded on top (for that crime, considered lèse majesté, the older mirror punishment was boiling in oil).

Independence did not as such render American justice any less bloody. For example in future Tennessee, an example of harsh 'frontier law' under the 1780 Cumberland Compact was 1793 in when Judge John McNairy sentenced Nashville's first horse thief, John McKain, Jr., to be fastened to a wooden stock one hour for 39 lashes, and have his ears cut off and cheeks branded with the letter "H" and "T".

An example from a non-western culture is Nebahne Yohannes, an unsuccesfull claimant to the Ethiopian imperial throne, who had ears and nose cut off but was then released.

Circumcision, etc

I have reverted the following addition to the article's second paragraph:

There are several problems with this addition.

While it is doubtless true that some people view FGC and circumcision as mutilation, the article is not an exhaustive list of procedures that at least one person views as mutilation. Indeed, such a list might constitute undue weight in cases where we concentrate on the few who view procedure X as mutilation rather than those who do not. This article is about the concept of mutilation, and specific procedures are valuable when they help explain this concept, but it is not essential to include them all. Wikipedia is not a soapbox, and there is no particular reason why Wikipedia needs to note the fact that some people hold this view. We need to consider two things: a) does inclusion benefit the reader's understanding of the concept, and b) is it compatible with WP:NPOV?

Another problem is the implication that the world can be divided into two groups: those who view FGC and circumcision as mutilation, and those who view neither as mutilation. But of course many people regard FGC as mutilation but do not consider circumcision to be mutilation. The fact that both are given as examples of "involuntary genital modification" adds to this problem, reinforcing the idea that these are members of an indivisible class, and oddly suggesting that whether a procedure is voluntary or not is a critical factor. Jakew (talk) 12:38, 18 January 2008 (UTC)

So let us make the article more, rather than less exhaustive Tomyumgoong (talk) 03:59, 19 January 2008 (UTC)

As many cultures, and a large portion of extant humanity, consider involuntary circumcision a removal of efficacious tissue, and in some cases a latent mark of slavery, it is certainly due mention as mutilation insofar as it is considered by some cultures. A fair and encylopedic dialogue would include any mention you might conjur. The lack of other contributions does not make the inclusion of the widespread view of circumcision as ablating function less encyclopedic.

If you have an agenda, you are not being a good editor.

Tomyumgoong (talk) 04:07, 19 January 2008 (UTC)

If you wish to assert that entire cultures view circumcision as mutilation, I hope you have some good sources. Jakew (talk) 11:51, 19 January 2008 (UTC)


Male circumcision and Female genital cutting readded

I have readded Male circumcision and Female genital cutting to the article under the list of procedures some consider mutilation. Previous discussions have stated that runs afoul of Wikipedia's POV policies but I think it is clear that is not the case.

The definition of the word mutilation according to http://www.thefreedictionary.com is:

1. to injure by tearing or cutting off a limb or essential part; maim
2. to damage a book or text so as to render it unintelligible
3. to spoil or damage severely

The penis is injured when the foreskin is cut off and the foreskin is clearly damaged severely. The AAP article I cited makes it clear that medical organizations do not recommend infant male circumcision for medical reasons, that they consider it a cosmetic cultural practice or religious practice.

I copied the AAP citation from the wiki entry on circumcision, unfortunately I could not find an AAP citation on the female genital cutting entry.68.229.87.128 (talk) 18:44, 26 December 2008 (UTC)

The problem with a statement like "circumcision is considered to be a form of mutilation" is that it merely expresses the speaker's point of view. Clearly you believe that circumcision is a form of mutilation, but that belief is by no means universal. Nor is it particularly helpful to resort to dictionary definitions: Wikipedia is supposed to report on arguments advanced in reliable sources, in proportion to the prominence of the viewpoint, and should not make novel arguments or attempt to "prove" one point of view. I would also point out that your arguments are somewhat subjective and/or erroneous — the foreskin is not a limb, so sense 1 does not apply unless one regards the foreskin as an essential part. Also, to argue that the foreskin is damaged seems somewhat circular, since one usually refers to mutilation of the body, not a part which has been excised. Similarly, one could argue that to trim the fingernails damages the fingernails and that doing so is therefore mutilation, but it seems a rather strange and circular argument.
I've reverted this addition. Per WP:NOR, "you must cite reliable sources that are directly related to the topic of the article, and that directly support the information as it is presented" (emph. in original). The AMA (not AAP) article doesn't even mention mutilation, so it is hard to see how it could be directly related. Furthermore, the source does not allow the reader to verify the claims: not only does it say nothing about mutilation, but it appears to say nothing about female genital cutting. This source could conceivably support a sentence of the form "In the United States, circumcision is primarily performed for cultural and religious reasons," but that sentence has nothing whatsoever to do with the subject of the article.
Given a statement of the form "circumcision is considered to be a form of mutilation", there are two obvious questions. The first is "by whom?" The sentence structure seems to imply that it is universally considered as such, but this is evidently not the case. So it is important to identify who holds this particular point of view. The second question is "are their views significant enough to be included?" Obviously this depends upon the answer to the first question. Jakew (talk) 19:49, 26 December 2008 (UTC)
Other examples of mutilation are worded in the same fashion as I worded the entry on circumcision. Should I use examples like the anti-circumcision community, or doctors against circumcision, or lawmakers I believe in Sweden that are proposing making it illegal? To state that it is not helpful to turn to the dictionary is ludicrous, words do have definitions. You cited fingernails, fingernails are dead keratin with no blood supply, no nerves, and they grow back, foreskin does not, there is an obvious and clear difference there. The AAP article seemed relevent because it mentions that routine circumcision is not considered a medical procedure anymore, merely cosmetic or religious.
I would also point out that the mention of foot binding does not contain a source. That should be removed too by your logic.
I will revise and add doctors against circumcision like the article references islam and tatooing and cite them as well as a UNFPA citation for female genital cutting. 68.229.87.128 (talk) 20:41, 26 December 2008 (UTC)
Per WP:NPOV, we have to consider the possibility that there may be different levels of agreement over some proposed mutilations than others. As a hypothetical example, it might be that there is universal (or near-universal) agreement that, say, amputating a limb is mutilation, but there may be more disagreement regarding ear piercing. The choice of words may need to be adjusted accordingly.
Of course words have definitions, but a Wikipedia article should reflect published opinion on a subject, not the opinion of Wikipedia editors as to whether a concept meets a definition; please see WP:V and WP:NOR.
I'm afraid that I don't understand why you refer to blood supply, nerves, and the ability to re-grow. Certainly there are differences between circumcision and trimming of fingernails, but none of these differences are critical to the definitions which you quote. Neither sense 2 or 3, which you kindly quote above, requires the subject to be living tissue. Indeed, sense 2 refers to damaging a "book or text". Books do not have these properties, either.
I'm not sure why the reasons you state should make the AMA source seem relevant. I can't find anything in the definitions you quote that states that cosmetic or religious procedures are mutilative but not those performed for medical reasons. In fact, I can't find anything about intent whatsoever.
While I appreciate your attempt to address my concerns, your recent edits are problematic. The addition reads: "The acts of male circumcision and female genital cutting are considered forms of mutilation by organizations such as Doctors Opposing Circumcision and the United Nations Population Fund", which is problematic because it implies that both of these organisations regard both (male) circumcision and FGC as mutilation. This is unsupported by the sources. The UNFPA source does not mention male circumcision. The DOC source is doubly problematic: firstly it doesn't even mention mutilation, and secondly it is a source of questionable reliability, being merely a self-published website. To be accurate, one would have to say something like "The act of female genital cutting is considered a form of mutilation by organizations such as the United Nations Population Fund; an organisation entitled Doctors Opposing Circumcision believes that male circumcision constitutes mutilation." However, the question of why the opinion of an arguably fringe lobbyist group should be notable enough for the article still remains. Jakew (talk) 21:39, 26 December 2008 (UTC)
I do not see the need to include Doctors Opposing Circumcision or the United Nations Population Fund in the text itself, I think citations alone are good enough but you wanted a reference there because to you it sounded like the author's opinion.
I concede your point on fingernails, they could be considered mutilated under a loose definition of mutilation though since they grow back they are one of the few things you can mutilate that regenerates, unlike books or foreskin and nerve tissue.
Also, I did a little more digging, maim is included under mutilation, the dictionary definition of maim is http://www.thefreedictionary.com/maim:
1. To disable or disfigure, usually by depriving of the use of a limb or other part of the body.
2. To make imperfect or defective; impair.
Cutting off an arm would deprive the person the use of that arm, would be considered maiming, and would therefore be considered mutilation under the 1st definition which seems most relevant to this entry.
Cutting off foreskin would deprive the person the use of that foreskin, would be considered maiming, and would therefore be considered mutilation under the 1st definition which seems most relevant to this entry.
I thought the AMA entry was relevant because there is a lot of talk today about cosmetic surgery being self-mutilation, such as breast implants, meatotomies, subincisions, or bisections. I could be wrong though and I don't think it matters enough to cause circumcision and fgc to be excluded from the acts of mutilation list.
Lastly, I checked all the other sources for this article, the only source that specifically mentions mutilation is citation 2 for tattooing and islam. No other mutilation act has a source that uses the word mutilation.68.229.87.128 (talk) 22:03, 26 December 2008 (UTC)
When there are multiple viewpoints, it seems best to attribute viewpoints to particular sources. Otherwise, if I may borrow your choice of words, it can risk sounding like the author's opinion. The question remains, though, whether this fact is significant or notable enough to warrant inclusion in the article. Okay, so a lobby group formed for the express purpose of opposing circumcision claims that circumcision is a form of mutilation (I'm assuming for the sake of argument that they do make such a claim somewhere): is this really notable enough to warrant inclusion?
I'm glad that you agree with my point regarding fingernails. As I'm sure you're aware, my point is not so much that trimming fingernails can be considered as a form of mutilation, but that there is always some "wiggle room" in any definition, and that a very broad interpretation can lead to some surprising consequences. I don't mean to invalidate these broad interpretations. Quite possibly some people do believe that trimming fingernails is mutilation, and they have every right to hold such a view, but speaking for myself I'm unlikely to share their point of view even if they try to "prove" it using a dictionary.
I have to say, I find the "maim" argument unconvincing. That's partly because it relies on the definition of another term, which seems indirect and a little contrived. Another problem is that there seems to be an implicit value judgement in "deprive the person the use of that foreskin" — an assumption that the foreskin has a valuable function that one would not wish to be deprived of. If one viewed the situation differently, the sentence would seem rather odd, like "cutting off a verruca would deprive the person the use of that verruca, would be considered maiming, and would therefore be considered mutilation under the 1st definition which seems most relevant to this entry."
As an aside, I think that although it is not usually explicit in the definition of 'mutilate', the fact that the word is used tends to imply that the speaker views an act with outrage or horror. The word is rarely used unless the speaker strongly disapproves of the act (few people would say to themselves "I'll just mutilate my fingernails before I get out of the bath", for example). But this relationship is one-way: convincing a person that circumcision is bad may make them more likely to describe it as mutilation, but convincing them that circumcision meets a broad, vaguely legalistic interpretation of a dictionary definition of 'mutilation' is unlikely to make them think that circumcision is bad.
Of course, interesting as this discussion is, it is somewhat off-topic. The question is not "is circumcision mutilation" — I suspect that there will always be multiple views about that — but "is the opinion that it is a) published in reliable sources, b) notable, and c) significant enough to warrant discussion in this article"? The purpose of the article isn't to include an exhaustive list of acts that have been described by someone, somewhere, as 'mutilation' — that would not be terribly useful for the reader, and would probably be rather dull. Instead, we need to consider whether discussing a particular act contributes to the reader's understanding of the concept of mutilation.
Finally, thank you for checking the references. I knew that the references for this article were poor, but didn't know how poor. Obviously a considerable amount of work is needed. Jakew (talk) 00:57, 27 December 2008 (UTC)

1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica

User:Blackworm has recently made several attempts ([13] [14] [15]) to incorporate a reference to the 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica into this article.

The first two changes were especially problematic, as together with Denniston, they gave undue weight to the point of view that circumcision is a form of mutilation.

The last change, however, is also problematic, because it replaces Denniston with the 1911 source. Quoting Blackworm's edit summary, "Fine, get rid of Denniston -- the 1911 E.B. is a much stronger source, and properly shows the extent of the view". I disagree with this assessment, for several reasons:

  • First, the 1911 encyclopaedia is a tertiary source which, per WP:PSTS, are less suitable for use in WP than secondary sources. The policy notes that tertiary sources can be "helpful in providing broad summaries of topics that involve many primary and secondary sources", but that is not the case here: this isn't a summary but an opinion. WP policy generally prefers secondary sources.
  • Second, the 1911 encyclopaedia is almost a century old, whereas Denniston is a tenth of that age. If the intent is to document historical views of what constitutes mutilation, then okay, but it is far from obvious from the text that this is intended. If the intent is to document reasonably current views of what constitutes mutilation, then a hundred year old source is very weak indeed.
  • Third, although I would agree that there are issues with Denniston's reliability, I should point out that we rely on this source only for opinion, not fact.
  • Fourth, there is a very strong reason for favouring Denniston here, and that is that Benatar and Benatar specifically comment on that source. Thus, the two (Denniston & Benatar) can be presented together, neatly demonstrating two opposing viewpoints, without any risk of synthesis. Jakew (talk) 18:32, 17 May 2009 (UTC)
Ah but the intent is not to document "reasonably current" views of what constitutes mutilation. The article is on mutilation, and any historical aspects are relevant. If say, a beneficial surgery was considered mutilation 100 years ago, that would be relevant. If picking my nose 100 years ago were said to be mutilation in the world's most prominent encyclopedia, that would be relevant to mutilation. There is no synthesis. You seem to consistently resist this idea, preferring to decide for the reader, but please note that policy dictates we must let the reader decide whether the 1911 Encyclopedia Brittanica's treatment of mutilation, including male circumcision, is valid. You again have no basis to object to this inclusion, it not constituting undue weight, nor synthesis. Blackworm (talk) 20:44, 17 May 2009 (UTC)
Well, if the intent is to document historical views of what constitutes mutilation, then the edit is still more problematic. First, it is not obvious from the text that this is a historical view (the text even uses the present tense for 'describes'), and the source is sandwiched between two modern sources (2008 and 2003). Second, the placement is misleading, since it suggests that Benatar and Benatar are criticising a historical viewpoint. Third, if the source is intentionally used to give an example of a historical viewpoint, then it is being used as a primary source, not a secondary nor even a tertiary.
I'm going to restore Denniston, for reasons stated above. I see no reason why material on historical views should not be included, as long as it is clearly identified as such, but we ought to have a secondary source: it would be far more appropriate to find and cite a historian commenting on historical trends in how mutilation is perceived. Jakew (talk) 08:14, 18 May 2009 (UTC)
If looking for a history of circumcision, perhaps something like this would be more appropriate, or this, published in 2000 while the first is contemporary with the EB. Even were it modern, we are urged to not use encyclopedia. If this is a due weight issue, it should be easy to show in modern sources. WLU (t) (c) Wikipedia's rules:simple/complex 13:16, 18 May 2009 (UTC)
We're not using an encyclopedia to state facts, we're pointing to the association made by that encyclopedia. We're not doing anything except stating fact. It is up to the reader to decide what to make of that fact; but it's directly related to the topic, and relevant. Why hide the fact? Blackworm (talk) 08:06, 27 June 2009 (UTC)
And of course I'm not at all opposed to your suggestions on bringing more modern sources -- assuming they make clear that circumcision was considered mutilation in 1911 by the authoritative references of the day (as it still is today, by those opposing male and female circumcision, the latter now sometimes labelled "female genital mutilation" to make that clear). Until then, this mere banal fact will have to suffice. Blackworm (talk) 08:08, 27 June 2009 (UTC)

Weird intro

"an act of physical injury that degrades the *appearance* or function of any living body".

Mmmm, but mutilation, say in the lex talionis, wasn't really about beauty. Moreover, mutilation it's not exactly an "act", it's more a loss. When the surgeon cut a limb doesn't think of beauty nor injure the wounded with the aim of degrading anything. Final observation: one can suffer mutilation by Nature or chance. I think that the french intro is quite good:

La mutilation est une perte partielle/totale d'un membre, d'un organe ou la destruction/dégradation partielle d'une ou plusieurs parties du corps sans cause intentionnelle de donner la mort. Le terme mutilation désigne également l'action de mutiler, c'est-à-dire, amputer avec violence ou détruire/dégrader partiellement une partie du corps. Les mutilations physiques peuvent être volontaires ou involontaires ; les mutilations font notamment partie des nombreuses séquelles laissées par les guerres. --Pequod76 (talk-ita.esp.eng) 20:16, 31 May 2013 (UTC)

Circumcision. Mutilation. No integrity observed.

It lacks academic integrity to hold such double standards and internal inaccuracies among your attempts at impartiality. Where something as literal and definitive as a word like "mutilation" is clearly defined, you people dance around weather or not to call circumcision (REGARDLESS OF GENDER) a mutilation is dishonest. There is a very clear definition, dictionaries are designed to accurately depict the meaning of words, to then claim you cannot call a mutilation, a mutilation, simply because you assert that it implies some sort of subjective and personalized point of view, is demonstrably false.

There is no academic pursuit to have these double standards where you can lay a post about the UN denouncing female circumcision as a mutilation (despite it being the literal definition) and then minimize male circumcision simply by saying its under constant academic debate...there is no academic debate, its FACTUAL, its LITERAL, its DEMONSTRABLE. For anyone with the slighest integrity for the english language and the use of this magical source called a dictionary, all form of ritual genital cutting fall into the category of mutilation.

It's a depressing reminder of how people lack this much integrity for intellectual discourse as to pandering to emotional investments in impartiality in order to miss the literal truth and demonstrable fact.

When clearly, there is already posted an impartial preference for female circumcision denounced as mutilation over male circumcision. Something THIS simple is laughably absurd to see argued among people who credit themselves as being intellectuals, philosophers sand linguists. What integrity do you people have left where you think arguing semantics will bring you closer to finding the demonstrable tautology that exists among figuring out of the exact definition of mutilation allows it to be considered a mutilation, since you automatically assert that calling it a mutilation denounces it as impartial.

Incredibly intellectually bankrupt.

Unfair Discussion of Circumcision

It is not appropriate to have differing treatment of the subjects of male and female circumcision in this article. It is said that certain bodies have labelled female circumcision as a mutilation, but for male circumcision it is only said to be "a subject of active academic debate". Both issues are "a subject of debate" by different parties, but by any reasonable definition of mutilation, and according to mutilple major institutions, both forms of circumcision qualify.

A fair treatment in my opinion would be to acknowledge significant organizations that have categorized male circumcision as mutilation with no mention of whether there is "debate" about it. For example, the Danish Society for General Medicine has released such a statement calling it mutilation and "ethically unacceptable":

http://www.bt.dk/danmark/danske-laeger-omskaering-af-drenge-er-lemlaestelse http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/denmarks-29000-doctors-declare-circumcision-of-healthy_us_58753ec1e4b08052400ee6b3

Also worthy of note is that the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has condemned male circumcision as a human rights violation:

http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/male-circumcision-muslim-jewish-condemned-european-council-511200

I don't believe a citation is necessary for this. Mutilation is defined as the removal of a part causing an impairment of function. Foreskin has proven documented functions that are impaired when the organ is not present. Whether people prefer the experience of life with or without this impairment does not impact whether it is in fact an impairment of function and therefore defined as a mutilation.

Mentioning that there is a debate for one but not the other is telling of bias but I will not remove the existing citations pending further discussion of the proper way to address this. I will however be making an edit to the article to include the statements from Denmark and the European Council on the subject, I think that is the absolute least we can do to be remotely fair in this article. KhazWolf (talk) 03:15, 8 July 2017 (UTC)

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