The big question is, can I draw cats?

In case you missed it, there’s an interview with me here on the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain website.

And if you’re thinking of buying a book, you can get 20% off until 18 Oct with the coupon code: PUMPKINS at checkout.

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Discussion (71)¬

  1. Freethinkin Franklin says:

    if they did get a cat it should be named “Pussy” for a number of reasons. 1) their collective lack of originality. 2) it can be used in a number of humorous ways, we all would like to see jeebus and mo calling out for pussy as we all know they did, dispite what the fundies say. 3) it will give the tee shirt haters yet another reason to hate, while giving some more food for thought.

  2. FreeFox says:

    You were alive when The Life of Brian came out? Wow.

  3. FreeFox says:

    Um. Aside from possibly Nassar (I admit, I’m stereotyping here, but his name suggests a Muslim backgroun, and his ‘poems’ sometimes hint at some form of atheism) I never noticed any ex-Muslims on here. Living around a lot of not-ex-Muslims I would love to meet some of you… well, you know… chat, here. Not in real life, that would be sort of creepy. Would some of you please raise your virtual hands?

  4. mary2 says:

    Oh oh. Let the circumcision debate begin in three, two, one …

  5. Nassar Ben Houdja says:

    The introduction of a gentleman cat?
    What is to be thought of that?
    Car’s are not haram
    And kitteh’z don’t scare J or M
    The cat in the turban, not hat?

  6. FreeFox wants to meet an atheist ex-Muslim. I am an atheist ex-Xian like most of us (I think). I think the reason we don’t see atheist ex-Muslims is that if you leave Islam they cut pieces off of your genitals.
    What? Oh wait. Um. Never mind.

  7. Humans eh! says:

    Abraham the cat!
    Who just sleeps.

    (Apart from disinterestedly licking his bum)

    @author – enjoyed the interview and your drawing is perfect, love J&M long may you continue.

  8. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    FreeFox says:
    October 16, 2013 at 12:41 pm
    You were alive when The Life of Brian came out? Wow

    To be honest, some days I feel so old I could amost have been alive when the story it parodied was current.
    How’s things, FreeFox?

    mary2 says:
    October 16, 2013 at 1:04 pm
    Oh oh. Let the circumcision debate begin in three, two, one …

    It beggars belief why there should be a need of debate. If you or I were to take a child to a body-piercer and ask for the tot to have a ‘Prince Albert’ or a decorative ring through the labia, the police would be called, the child would be in care very quickly, and there would be a very real possibility of prison time. Why? Because the law quite rightly says that even such slight mutilation of a childs genitalia is abuse. I personally think it wrong to even pierce a childs ears – even though it’s legal to do so. It’s a matter of informed consent.
    When a child comes of age, be it 16, 18, or whatever arbitrary number one chooses as a cut-off point for childhood, then if that person wants to have their foreskin or – sanity forbid – their clitoris and labia sliced off then so be it, but the laws regarding what constitutes child abuse should, indeed must, if we are to claim to be a civilised species, include circumcision for anything other than genuine medical reasons – and there really aren’t too many of those.

    Nassar, I just love that final line. Nice one 🙂

  9. Jobrag says:

    The sad irony is that if you circumcised a cat the RSPCA would prosecute you, do it to a baby boy and you’re one of the faithful.

  10. Chiefy says:

    This lays out the anti-circumcision side pretty thoroughly:

    Having been involved with my granddaughter’s ear-piercing, I’ve come to believe that that also is something that can wait at least until the girl is old enough to ask for it. Why inflict unnecessary pain, especially on one who can’t give informed consent?

  11. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Chiefy, wise minds are thinking alike.

  12. Chiefy says:

    Come to think of it, I suppose we aren’t likely to hear from the pro-circumcision crowd on this forum. Moving on. How about animal rights?

  13. Sam Huff says:

    See “Robin Hood — Men in Tights by Mel Brooks. Rabbi Tuck rather than Friar Tuck and Rabbi Tuck is tries to sell brises until the men see the instrument.

  14. Cygnia says:

    This should be good. Can the boys deal with an entity that sees himself as a god as well — and has a better claim to it than themselves? 😉

  15. Dammahum X says:

    I didn’t think cats had foreskin. guess u learn new stuff daily

    @freefox: Ex-Muslim here… sent u a msg on Tumblr

  16. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    One thing that no Muslim or Jew has ever been able to explain to me is why it isn’t considered blasphemous for them to improve on their respective gods’ creation. Surely if men were supposed to be roundheads and women have the genitalia of a Barbie doll, It would have made them that way.
    I imagine a Heavenly ‘product recall’ notice:
    A manufacturing error has resulted in this product having excess parts that should have been removed at source.
    There is no safety issue, but the aesthetic quality of the product may be diminished.
    The manufacturer has appointed several dodgy uncles and tribal elders who will carry out the neccessary improvements.

    But that kind of undermines the whole ‘perfect creation’ thing.

  17. Stuart B says:

    It’s not only atheists who enjoy J&M (with ref to the linked interview). My sister-in-law and I, both Anglican priests, both love it. We have a very real Christian faith, and J&M expresses for us, very humorously, a lot of the stupid, or plainly ugly things in institutional religion with which we struggle. We don’t share the author’s tenet that theism is a bad idea, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t find J&M clever and funny. I’d love an evening over a pint or two with the author!

  18. JEdgarHoover says:

    Something Egyptian?
    Anubis was a male god but not feline.
    Bastet was a cat goddess.
    Can’t find any male feline deities/prophets in ancient Egypt

  19. If you find you can’t draw a cat, Author, you could always just have a tail poking up into the bottom of the frame.

  20. JEdgarHoover says:

    Zeus? Castor and Pollux?

  21. LindaR says:

    Brilliant interview, Author, and don’t worry – you’re younger than I am. I started work the year LoB was released. And I wasn’t a teenager…
    As for the circumcision debate – brilliant ripostes to Tanya Gold’s recent extremely silly article on the letters page of Wednesday’s Guardian. Mutilation is mutilation is mutilation. No matter how minor, if something isn’t medically necessary and the child is too young to have an opinion, it’s mutilation.
    Oh, and I can’t draw a straight line with a ruler or a circle with a compass, but even I can draw something that others would recognise as a cat. Somewhat stylised, but recognisable. 😉

  22. James Christ says:

    I think the Cat should be called, Dawkins.

  23. Stuart B says:

    As a matter of interest, why do some comments written later than mine appear without awaiting moderation?!

  24. Willbell says:

    Well it seems obvious Jesus would support it given the castrati and all.

  25. Author says:

    @Stuart B – When you have had a comment approved once, your subsequent comments do not go into moderation. Thank you for your kind words. I am very glad that you enjoy J&M, and I’m always up for a pint.

  26. mary2 says:

    AOS, totally agree with you.

    I cringe when I see a toddler with pierced ears – especially because I am picturing all the ways a toddler could accidently rip the jewellery out. Then again, I cringe when I see tattooed teens: I think of all the things I would have thought were a good idea to get permanently written/drawn on my body before I grew-up … then again, again, some people get stupid things tattooed/pierced/burnt on/to themselves when they are 45. Maybe it should be an intelligence test prior to self-mutilation rather than an age test – or does that take us back to last week’s territory about intelligence?

    I also agree about improving on God’s work. Contrary to my previous paragraph I have no problems with piercings/tattoos etc. but the idea that a god would demand that you alter their creation on each and every individual child, rather than just do it themselves, is bizarre.

    Chiefy, I also cringe when I see pictures of dogs from countries where it is not yet illegal to cut off ears or tails. The idea that your dog looks better because you cut it’s ears off as a puppy is just silly.

  27. JohnM says:

    Take any intact 15-yr-old boy to one side and say, “Hey, son, here’s a thought. Your mother and I can get you into hospital for a day where you can have the end of your dick cut off. Would you like to do that?” I think we all know the answer, yet many parents anticipate a positive to this question, at a time when the boy is 15 years younger than this.

  28. JohnM says:

    @ Author

    “When you have had a comment approved once, your subsequent comments do not go into moderation.”

    So any malevolent person planning to post something of a racist, sexist or homophobic nature here needs first to publish something innocuous. OK. Got it 🙁

  29. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    JohnM says:
    October 17, 2013 at 12:23 am

    So any malevolent person planning to post something of a racist, sexist or homophobic nature here needs first to publish something innocuous. OK. Got it

    Don’t worry, JohnM, from the dearth of nasty comments here it would seem that the sort of people who want to do that rarely have the sense to plan that far ahead. My guess is that they pour their vitriol into their very first attempted post, think they’re out-smarting Author by putting their tick in the ‘spammer’ box when they don’t really mean it, hit submit, and there it isn’t. I suppose the occasional one might realise their mistake and compose a pleasant message, but by then it’s too late.
    And I don’t think I’m giving potential future idiots clues on how to get around what probably seems to them like an unsurmountable problem; I daresay they either don’t or can’t read this far into a comments section with so many multi-syllabic words.

    Mary, I don’t know whether it’s just a British thing, but there’s a fad for what I believe are called ear-stretchers doing the rounds among the trendy young things at the moment.
    For those unfamiliar with the idea, the ear is pierced in the usual way but the hole is held open by a grommet of some description, then over the course of time the grommets are regularly replaced by ones of greater diameter and so gradually and permanantly expanding the hole in the lobe. Most of those I’ve seen tend to be around a quarter to half of an inch in circumference, but I’ve spotted more than a couple with holes wide enough to hold a coke can.
    I swear I just don’t understand the world sometimes.
    And that bit about dogs’ ears (animal lovers look away now); it wasn’t about the aesthetics of the dog, it was about there being less for the opponent to latch onto in dog fighting and bull- boar- and bear-bating. All fighting dogs had their tails docked too, and for the same reason, but docking was also done to working terriers (pretty much most of them as dogs had to earn their keep back then; only the wealthy kept them as pets) because it was thought that the tail would inhibit them if they were trying to back out of a tight tunnel if their search for rabbits or badgers had led them into a dead-end in the warren or sett.
    Tail docking was later adopted as a standard of breed (though thankfully ear-cutting, which was relatively rare in Britain anyway, wasn’t), so it turned from a practical, though undoubtedly cruel practice to an aesthetic though still cruel one.
    My own wee mutt, a terriorist of mostly unknown heritage, but certainly containing border collie, corgi, and jack russell, among others as yet unidentified (and with a penis out of all proportion with the rest of him. I kid you not, when unsheathed, he trips over the damn thing. Yet his testes are normal sized for a small dog!), is a rescue dog who came to us tail-less. It’s why I won’t have him neutered; soppy sod that I am, I think he’s suffered enough.

  30. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Aaagh! insurmountable, you fool.
    I’m going to bed before I spot any more.

  31. Just a note on cutting a dog’s tail. It’s the canine equivalent of cutting out a person’s tongue. Dogs communicate with their tails. They signal mood and intension. This is what makes the practice cruel, more than the pain of the operation.

  32. FreeFox says:

    Hey AoS. Things are complicated… :p I started writing on my book again (link in my handle) in case you are interested. I would value your opinion. How are you? Health not bothing you too much I hope. Grandchild doing well?

  33. mary2 says:

    AOS, Not just British. Even in the back-of-beyond where I live are many youths with huge holes in their ears. I hope I don’t sound like an old fogey but I think it’s a conspiracy by cosmetic surgeons who will, in about ten years, have a full-time trade in fixing up people’s earlobes. I predict a trend for fancy shaped ‘enhancements’ when holes become dated and people have to duck in to the doctor’s for an ear-lobe trim.

    Re docking tails and ears of dogs I was not talking about the origins in ‘practical’ hunting matters but speaking more of the American (while trying to be polite and not single-out one nation) ‘standards’ for dogs like Dobermans who often have their ears shaped to look like demon horns – presumably it is supposed to make the dogs look more ferocious. Unfortunately tail docking is still standard for many breeds in many countries and, I believe, it remains an cruel and unnecessary mutilation which should be a criminal offence – as it would be if I was to pick up an adult dog and cut off its tail. As I climb off my soap-box I should probably mention, in the interests of full disclosure, that we have hunting dogs around here which retain their God-given (hahahaha) appendages but are still allowed to be torn apart by the wild boars they chase and then sown up without veterinary assistance.

  34. FreeFox says:

    Um, AoS and M2? I *like* blokes with loopy ears… and I like every one of my tattoos and scars, even the really ugly or painful ones or the ones that remind me of some cringeworthy mistake (and there have been many), because… it’s like life signed my body, you know? I don’t want to forget. Too many people reinvent themselves by locking up their past again and again. The “clean cut” is nonsense. I mean, I reinvent myself… I’ve done lots of different things, lived different lives, in different countries, but each new life is only built on the rubble of the old, not floating in the air. So, I like to see my life illustrated on my body. And I like seeing it on others. I love sleeping with a bloke 40 years older than me and discovering the sins of his youth on his shoulder, or bum… or some scar from a fight he knows now he was stupid to get into… Bodys shouldn’t be kept pristine and the past shouldn’t be deniable. Yay for everyone stupid enough to do something indelible. ^_^

  35. hotrats says:

    They should definitely take the cat. There is a precedent in the legend that the ‘historical’ Mo once cut the sleeve off his robe rather than disturb a sleeping cat. And in the interests of keeping him out of mating fights (and the furniture free of stinky sprayed secretions) it would be sensible and humane to neuter him.

    But circumcision is anatomically out of the question. A tomcat has a fur-covered sheath that encloses the entire penis, not a foreskin attached to the end of one. Removal of any part of the sheath would have serious consequences for the cat’s comfort and urogenital health.

  36. pete says:

    Pussy Galore?

  37. mary2 says:

    FreeFox, very true: nicely put. I don’t actually dislike them myself. I do suffer from perpetual ‘middle-of-the-roadness’ wherein although I admire tasteful body ‘enhancements’ I tend to be scornful of extremes – and/or have a judgemental and mocking sense of humour. You should hear me rant against “clean cut” people! ;-). I am also envious of more decorated people because I am far too indecisive to ever decide what I want tattooed where.

    I was more mocking following fads with permanent modification than the practises themselves but do totally take your point about our actions of yesterday molding our personalities of today. perhaps I would do better keeping such attempts at ‘humour’ to myself!

  38. Mary2,
    My wife wanted me to get a tattoo, but I wasn’t too keen on the idea. So I told her that I thought it was an excellent idea and that I already had picked out the perfect tattoo. I told her I wanted to get a ruler tattooed down my fore arm to the tip of my middle finger so that I could always measure stuff just by laying my arm alongside and wouldn’t have to go grab a tape measure.
    She told me that if I was intent on getting something so totally uncool that she wasn’t going to allow me to get a tattoo.

    I said, “Oh darn” and it has never been brought up again.

  39. Floridakitesurfer, that isn’t uncool. That is the most brilliant idea for a tattoo I’ve every heard…uh, read.

    When I heard that donor organs were sometimes wasted because of confusion in hospitals, and objections from relatives, I decided to get a “recycle” symbol tattoo but then never got around to doing it. A friend became enamoured of the idea and did get one. I finally got my first tattoo this year. Despite being professionally done to my specifications, it looks like a jailhouse tattoo, very conservative and not really my style at all. I have mixed feelings about it, but there it is. For the rest of my life unless I lose that arm. I’m no longer one of the few men walking around with an ink free skin. Just following the herd.

  40. Chiefy says:

    “It’s like life signed my body.” That’s beautiful, FreeFox. I have a few signatures of my own, and several more that don’t show from the outside.

  41. Thanks for the encouragement DH. I’m sure my wife would tell you NOT to encourage me since I am obviously bad enough already. Anyway, I fully expect that there will be a “Mrs. Kite Surfer wants me to get a tattoo part II” For which I have worked up this gem of uncoolness;

    I get a log table printed on each arm so that by sliding my arms together I effectively now have a slide rule for performing (seemingly incredible) mental math.

    I assume that if I ever get to slap her with this bastion of anti-cool that there will never be a third request.

  42. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    FKS, with a bit of imagination, a good artist, and more than a little bravery, there’s always scope for an extending measure.

  43. sweetpityfulmercy says:

    Wonderful. I cannot wait for Bastet, Egyptian cat Goddess to rip their arguments apart!

  44. mary2 says:

    FKS, 🙂 When several of my friends were getting themselves mid-life crisis tattoos I decided that I should get one too. Being indecisive and not wanting something too obvious or extreme I decided that I should just get the words ‘mid-life crisis tattoo’ tattooed on my carcass – this was two years ago and I still haven’t decided where the tattoo should go. 🙁

  45. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    FreeFox says:
    October 17, 2013 at 7:45 am
    Hey AoS. Things are complicated…

    You’d only get bored if they weren’t, and I suspect you don’t ‘do’ bored very well.

    I started writing on my book again (link in my handle) in case you are interested. I would value your opinion. How are you? Health not bothing you too much I hope. Grandchild doing well?

    In reverse order: you’re a little out of date, there’s been two of the little buggers for the last 2 years, they have a shared love of terrorising me and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
    I’ve just had a run of those days that leave the brain fried, and right now I have the reading comprehension of a particularly dull-witted five year-old, so whilst I’ll be only too happy to read your latest work I’m sure you’ll agree I’m best waiting until I can give it my full attention so I can fully appreciate it – if it’s up to your usual standard it deserves no less.

    All this talk of tattoos reminds me of the old story that when Mother Theresa died, one of the nuns bathing the body noticed some writing tattooed right at the top of the inner thigh. But whatever would she have indelibly inscribed in such an intimate place? A biblical quote, maybe? words of wisdom from the old lady herself? possibly even a new revelation from God itself?
    The skin on the body of the late Mother was obviously not as taut and smooth as it might have been and the letters were too distorted to read, so the nun started to pull and stretch the tattoo around until at last she was able to read the hallowed words Returned Unopened.

    I’m sorry 😉

  46. Undeluded says:

    Okay, I am not going to get into the tattoo/piercing thing. What a person does to her/his body is her/his own business. But I am full of admiration for the sheer ingenuity of FKS’ ‘slide-rule-on-my-arms’ idea! (What do you use for a cursor? And I have not begun the circumcision issue yet.)

    Altering babies and other animals is quite a different story. Bottom line – I’m against both, if performed for non-medical reasons. That would be willful mutilation, pure and simple.

    I wonder, if man is made in god’s image, whether circumcision makes him closer to that image…

    I would like to take up the issue given by the cartoon – it seems that with Mo (and Jesus tags along) neutering is “cruel and unnecessary,” but circumcision (Mo again) is perfectly acceptable. Could it be because both of them were (allegedly) circumcised? Of course, it is purely a religious issue for them – but I wonder whether neutering or castration is advocated in the holy scriptures. There are mentions of ‘eunuchs’ in the Old Testament, but there seems to be a controversy if the true translation of ‘saris’ really means ‘castrated.’ It may indicate men who were accidentally damaged. That goes for male animals, too (as worthy for sacrifice – another questionable custom). I doubt whether any mention at all on this issue is in the New Testament or in the Koran.

    Therefore, it seems that because circumcision appears in the Bible and neutering does not, that for J & M the former is okay and the latter isn’t.

    Old joke, but seems appropriate:
    Sam was fishing by the riverside and getting nothing. Fifty feet upstream a man was hauling in fish one after the other.
    Sam calls out: “What bait are you using?”
    The man replies: “I’m a surgeon. I perform appendectomies. I keep the removed appendices and use them for bait. Seems to work, too”
    Next day, Sam is again fishing at the same spot, coming up empty. Fifty feet upstream another man was hauling in fish one after the other.
    Sam calls out: “What bait are you using?”
    The man replies: “I’m a surgeon. I perform tonsillectomies. I keep the removed tonsils and use them for bait. Seems to work, too”
    The next day, Sam is again fishing at the same spot, coming up with nothing. Fifty feet upstream yet another man was hauling in fish one after the other.
    Sam calls out: “Are you a surgeon, too?”
    The man replies: “No – I’m a rabbi. Why?”

  47. Streuther says:

    Hey Author,
    Love your work and always interesting to read interviews.
    However, aquestion I would love to have answered is:
    How far does your anonymity extend? Do your family, friends, collegues know you are “The author”

  48. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Streuther, as my dear old grannie used to say; “Ask no questions and you’ll be told no lies”.

  49. DocAtheist says:

    “Ceiling” would be a good name for the cat…

    As for arguing on the pro side of circumcision, everytime I bring up the histology in relation to receiving and spreading infection, and developmental neuroanatomy in relation to outcomes of circumcision, as well as anesthetic options (including sugar water on a pacifier which, as neuroscience appreciates, turns down pain at the brain level), I get a barrage of anecdotal evidence and exaggeration (i.e., the one, above, about cutting the off the tip (i.e., glans, a totally different anatomical structure) of the penis).

    You could just look up the actual scientific research yourselves. After all, what do I know? I’m only a surgeon.

  50. DocAtheist says:

    Atheist ex-Muslims are brave beyond compare, and atheist ex-Christians are strong willed. I am grateful to be an atheist Jew. No “ex” required. We’re taught to learn, to think and to question — even questioning the existence of god. Maybe that’s part of what underlies so many Jewish scientists, mathematicians, etc. I wonder what the world would be like, if Muslims and Christians were free to stop believing in sky-daddy yet still remain part of their respective families, communities, and cultures, not having to recreate something new, even at the risk of the entire culture evolving into an atheistic understanding.

  51. hotrats says:

    OK, I’ll buy it – why name the cat ‘ceiling’?
    And the language may be imprecise, but JohnM’s point stands; I’m guessing most 15-year-olds would not volunteer to have any part of their genitalia surgically removed, even under anaesthetic. But perhaps I don’t know enough about developmental neuroanatomy; is that when you lose most of the sensitivity of the glans before you get any sense of its worth?

  52. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    hotrats says:
    October 19, 2013 at 4:46 pm
    OK, I’ll buy it – why name the cat ‘ceiling’?

    You’re not the only one, hotrats, it went over my head too.

  53. DocAtheist, I am not a surgeon but I was the recipient of genital surgery as an infant, and this has lead me to do quite a bit of research on the reasons for and effects of circumcision. What I’ve found is an incredible amount of ignorance among doctors and surgeons, who first started popularizing the procedure as a cure for masturbation, which they felt at the time lead to everything from heart problems to curvature of the spine and epilepsy. So it was a practice born out of medical ignorance and a stupid mistaken belief in the power of surgery to “improve” on nature.

    Once having instituted and institutionalized the practice, doctors have generally gone to great lengths to justify it and preserve it, invariably with studies that were biased, sometimes ludicrously biased. Your mention of the histology and spreading infection is a good example. Studies that claimed circumcision prevents infections have been discredited, but I’ll leave it to you to do your own research on that. (Think about it. Do you really believe that I’ve been protected from a diseases I am at no risk of catching, that this required surgery to my genitals when I was an infant, and that this surgery that altered my genitals had no appreciable consequences? Do you think it’s a good idea to suggest to young African men that they will be immune from HIV if they are circumcised, and thus don’t need to use a condom?)

    I’ll give you one example of medical ignorance from my own life. My first wife and I left our sons intact, but since I don’t have a foreskin I had no idea how one should educate a boy who has one. My assumption was that the foreskin should be pulled back when the boy urinates, and that it must be retracted and the penis washed when the boy is given a bath. But my eldest son’s foreskin was adhered to the glans and wouldn’t retract. I had no idea that this was normal. I panicked. So I called in our family doctor who forcibly retracted my son’s foreskin. Wrong. That’s not supposed to be done. The foreskin is supposed to be adhered to the glans, and will naturally release when the boy reaches puberty. Obviously our family doctor didn’t know this. Why should he? He was probably circumcised himself.

    We “intactivists” are also bombarded with anecdotal information. Several relatives have insisted they simply had to circumcise their son at a later age because of problems caused by an intact foreskin. (As if you would treat an eye infection by cutting off the eyelid.) I was told that one of my uncles was circumcised at the age of eight as a cure for bed wetting. (gasp!) One man wrote to me to said he was an American navy medic who had to perform an “emergency circumcision” at sea and what a horrible time that sailor had. Think about that. What exactly would an “emergency circumcision” be? This same man told me that 10% of intact men will require “emergency circumcision” later in life. What? Really? I was living in China at the time, where infant male circumcision is only done among certain ethnic minorities, so i asked the doctors whether they had lineups at their surgeries with men demanding a late life circumcision. Of course they don’t. They also laughed at the very idea of an emergency circumcision, explaining that the skin is flexible and can be stretched and that a very small incision might be needed at the very most.

    Since you as a surgeon, unlike all those other doctors who have been so laughably ignorant or just plain wrong, know all about the foreskin, it’s anatomy and function, I’d be very interested in your opinion of this video. If you think the information is inaccurate, please let me know.

  54. mary2 says:

    DocAtheist, I get and enjoyed the ‘ceiling cat’ reference. I obviously waste more time on the internet than some of our compatriots. (Google ‘LOL cats’ or ‘can I haz a cheesburger’ for funny cat pictures with funnier cat-speak captions. This world is ruled by two all-powerful beings: ‘ceiling cat’ and ‘basement cat’.)

    I freely admit to not knowing enough to know which side to come down on re the medical pros/cons of circumcision – but interested in learning more.

    My opinion on the subject is based purely on personal ‘feelings’. Aesthetically I believe circumcision makes an imrpovement but a) am not well-placed to be a judge of the aethetic value of male genitalia 😉 , and b) am aware that this would be an horrific value upon which to make a call for non-voluntary and not medically necessary surgery – in fact, I would be aghast at anyone naming imrpoved looks as a valid reason for even ear docking in dogs (as can be seen from posts above).

    Also, the idea of performing any unnecessary surgery on someone who is unable to give informed consent, regardless of the consequences or lack thereof, is abhorent to me. I would be outraged at parents deciding to have a child’s tonsils or appendix removed just in case something was to go wrong with the organ later and, it seems that, most parents who have children circumcised don’t even have preventing future medical issues as an excuse.

  55. Mary2, your aesthetic preference for a circumcised penis speaks volumes for the power of culture to set standards for beauty. It explains the plate lip and long neck people of Africa. It may also explain those ear lob plugs somebody was talking about earlier. We find most attractive that which seems most usual or normal.

    Can you think of any other part of the human body that would be improved by having part of it amputated? The ears? The nose? The lips? Obviously a person could live quite well with those parts trimmed back, and if it was done in infancy one could argue that it did no damage. Would a woman’s vagina be improved it if had no labia? Some think it would, and alter their daughters accordingly. Once you understand that a circumcised penis is fact horribly mutilated it is hard to see it as an aesthetic improvement. We usually don’t find mutilated things attractive.

    Your other points are spot on. I just felt I had to comment on your aesthetic preference for a circumcised penis. For me that’s like preferring woman with no labia. Something I’m sure you will find rather disgusting. If I said I preferred women with no pubic hair and no labia, wouldn’t you find me a bit….sick?

  56. mary2 says:

    Apologies DH, I tried to make it clear that I was aware of how socially constructed that aesthetic preference was; presumably due to my age and the area in which I grew up – surrounded by circumcised boys – therefore definitely, as you say, I grew up with “circumcised = normal”. I tried (not well, obviously) to say that I would be horrified if ‘looks’ was used as an excuse to cut bits off any sentient being. Also, I reiterate, as a lesbian with limited experience with naked men I am very poorly placed as a judge of the aesthetic value of men’s genitalia!

  57. WalterWalcarpit says:

    That was a good interview, Author, thanks for the link.

  58. No worries, Mary2. I know you are on the right side of this issue, for all the right reasons. Oddly enough, an intact penis seemed ugly to me until I got my head straight on the issue and understood what I was looking at. Now…well, let’s just say that I find a circumcised penis simply wrong. The same feeling would be aroused by the sight of a person with no nose.

  59. Undeluded says:

    I don’t get it. There is a torrent of comments above discussing the cons of circumcision and pet’s ears and tails being docked, but not one word on neutering – comparing it to circumcision is the punch of the cartoon! It seems that you all agree (by omission) that neutering is okay – just because it makes our own lives more comfortable. I have often heard that neutering is the “most humane” thing we could do for our pets (and let’s not start discussing other “humane” ways of disposing of unwanted people or even entire populations).

    And to all the tattoo and piercing opposers – external intervention to improve your own looks seems to be a mater of personal taste. That includes breast implants, liposuction, botox injections, lip enhancement, face lifts, even wart removals – all industries that thrive today, and are apparently perfectly acceptable. True, some ‘customers’ find the results revolting, but that doesn’t stop them. These are all voluntary treatments chosen freely by adults – so let’s stop comparing them with the involuntary mutilation of non-consenting mammals.

  60. mary2 says:

    Undeluded, The comic did make me think about the contradiction between being anti circumcision while extremely pro neutering of pets. I haven’t written about it coz I’m not sure what to say (unusual for me, I know).

    1) I am only in favour of neutering (of animals only) performed by trained vets under anaesthetic. Therefore NOT in favour of what happens on farms in this country.

    2) Neutering (of cats and dogs especially) has, what I believe to be, a sensible purpose: i.e. to prevent unwanted litters, kittens/puppies starving to death and feral cats/dogs totally decimating the wild-life. Unless we are to stop keeping these animals as pets, or to start keeping them in cages, or increase poisoning/shooting the feral ones, neutering is the only way we will prevent the extinction of many species of animals and birds in this country.

    3) I scoff at the argument which I have heard several times, though funnily only about male animals, that neutering causes psychological damage to a dog.

    I know the response to these musings could be a) does the good of neutering outweigh the bad?, b) would it not be better to stop keeping pets if we need to castrate them just to keep them?, and c) when does bad against an individual (the pet) weigh more than the proposed good for the society – cue the trolley-car discussion?

    I don’t have any answers and can sense the contradictions but remain firmly in favour of neutering. The best I can respond is: docking a dog’s ears under proper conditions does no harm to the dog; it harms the society because we are performing unnecessary surgery for looks. Neutering is not ‘for looks’ but proffers actual benefits to the society while still not harming the dog. This should not be taken as a comparison to any surgery on humans who have the ability to reason with hindsight, psychological harm etc.

    P.S. I don’t think anyone did compare “voluntary treatments (I use the word loosely) chosen freely by adults” with “the involuntary mutilation of non-consenting mammals”. (Why stop at mammals? Do birds, reptiles and fish not feel pain? {though it would be more difficult to neuter some of them 😉 }) I think the discussion just moved in that direction – as discussions are wont to do.

    I, personally, feel very sorry for a society in which it is considered not only acceptable but admirable to have face-lift after face-lift in a vain attempt to remain looking like a child when one is 60 years old. I feel very sorry for a culture in which people are willing to risk death or damage by having liposuction for purely cosmetic purposes or have botulism or collagen injected into their faces to enhance their ‘beauty’. I differentiate between cosmetic ‘improvement’ and life-changing plastic surgery but freely admit the border between the two is a grey and constantly changing one. I also agree with you that these are voluntary decisions taken by adults with, hopefully, informed consent and, like tattoos, piercings, brandings etc., not up to me to regulate. I also freely admit to the inherent contradiction of my position – I would happily take up wart or mole removal and other ‘cosmetic’ procedures. I freely admit to being caught up in a culture where ‘beauty’ and one’s ranking on the scale matter.

    Thanks for making me feel even more contrary!!! 😉

  61. mary2 says:

    For someone with nothing to say that was certainly a long ramble. Ooops.

  62. Undeluded says:

    Mary2 – very nice summary! In a nutshell, it’s those “musings” of yours for which you do not have an answer. They all have good/bad evaluations attached. We are all judgmental in one way or another in accordance to what we see as moral. So do J&M above (religion = “morality”). We may adhere to the ‘sanctity of life’ – but this is a ‘modern’ approach, and even today not held by a huge percentage of our planet’s population.

    Arguments for both sides are abundant. Claims that ‘docking a dog’s ears does not harm the dog’ can be used to advocate circumcision as well (except that we have testimony from humans as to what it feels like). It’s still mutilation. Mind you – I am very careful not to state whether I think mutilation is good or bad – though the word itself carries negative connotations. I do, of course, have an opinion – but it is a moral one, just like yours is. It is not a right or wrong issue: ‘2 + 2 = 17’ is wrong; ‘the earth is flat’ is wrong, ‘evolution is a fact’ is right, etc. But believing (in anything) isn’t wrong in the same sense. It could be considered a type of moral judgment, and moral rights and wrongs are quite different from objective ones.

    In my moral book, enforcing morality of any kind (even mine) is morally wrong.

  63. mary2 says:

    Undeluded, it must be so much easier when one is told right and wrong by a god or their representative and has definite punishments awaiting one for any transgression!

  64. Undeluded says:

    Mary2 – you are so right! [sigh]

  65. two cents' worth says:

    Dumb question: does neutering a male cat involve castration, or “just” a vasectomy? Or can the cat’s owner choose which of these procedures is carried out on the cat?

    The vasectomy would be enough to prevent the cat from begetting unwanted litters of kittens. Am I correct in thinking that it would not affect the cat’s personality?

    Castration is supposed to stop or reduce a male cat’s spraying urine to mark his territory, if I remember correctly. I think it also affects the cat’s personality. Have I got this right?

    According to Genesis, we’re supposed to be fruitful & multiply. Are cats also supposed to follow that commandment? I think it’s not against Christianity to neuter one’s animals, but is it against Judaism or Islam?

    Religion aside, what are the ethical arguments for and against neutering animals?

  66. Martin_z says:

    I can tell you from bitter experience that neutering a Tom doesn’t stop him from spraying. 🙁

  67. hotrats says:

    There is a lot of anthropomorphic nonsense talked about neutering pets. Sex for cats and dogs is not the voluntary pleasure we aspire to, but a hormonally-induced compulsion, like needing to shit. Romance it ain’t. Cat copulation is particulalry brutal, gang rape (to use a human term) with barbed penises and deep neck-biting (I can already hear FreeFox saying, ‘Yeah, so?’). Painful as it is for females, fights between toms over mates can be aggressive to the point of lethal wounds.

    Add to that the mature tomcat’s territorial spray, which is a pungent combination of urine and secretions from anal glands, and the annual burden (for the carer) of kittens or puppies, and you have a pretty clear case for surgical intervention.

    The ‘ethics’ of neutering are simple. Domestic pets make an implicit contract with their carers. They are abstracted from the state of nature and lead an artificial life, and kept in an infantile, dependant condition. Bodily integrity is not an issue for them, being indefinitely fed and housed is.

    Our pets’ secondary sexual attributes have evolved to solve the problems of a life in the wild, and have a negative impact on the quality of life of a domesticated animal (and its carer). When we can improve on nature, I think we should, even if it involves the moral ambiguity of assuming the animals’ consent to a procedure they have no comprehension of. We do have an ethical imperative to do it painlessly.

    My own experiance with over a dozen cats over the years is that their personalities are no less active and individual after neutering, but their behaviour becomes less territorial and aggressive.

    The same argument doesn’t apply to people. Any form of genital damage, especially of those unable to consent, is barbaric, unnecessary and shameful. If only Jewish men weren’t so sentimental about sueing their parents for infant mutilation, or High Court judges so wary of charges of anti-Semitism under the Offences Against the Person Act, it could have been eradicated in civilised countries long ago, as was castration, both as a punishment and a career opportunity in the choir.

  68. Shaughn says:

    Dear Author, re your question “The big question is, can I draw cats? ”

    You’ve said once that you cannot draw arms. Ask yourself this question: can i draw four paws?

    The tail-only proposal is a nice one, and just call the cat Schrödinger… we’ll never know if there is a cat or not.

  69. hotrats says:

    If it’s called Schrödinger, there definitely will be a cat. We just won’t know whether it is alive or dead. And even Author can draw the box it’s in.

  70. hotrats says:

    As they say in Ireland, good man yourself.


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