Monday, September 19, 2011

Rednecks & Aliens

by Francis Brodeur

Once again Alabama has put herself into the limelight of the world's stage, and once again, it's not for anything good. All over the national and international news, you will find discussions about the Beason-Hammon Alabama Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act aka HB 56 aka "That Immigration Law." If there's one thing people on both sides agree on, it's that this is the strictest such law of any state in the nation. Among people with a grasp of the subject, there is also little debate that the law is unconstitutional and will eventually be found to be so in federal court.

So why did the freshly elected, first time in a century Republican majority legislature, act so quickly to jump on the trendy states' rights racial-scapegoating bandwagon of shame? Because it's what the people want! Not so long ago, people of the same ilk wanted racial segregation to be the law of the land; not too much further back, they wanted the right to own certain shades of people as property. Thank God we have a national constitution to make sure that the people don't always get what they want.

Strangely, these same folks who fight tooth and nail against the Constitutional separation of (their) Church and State claim that immigration isn't a moral issue at all; it's purely a matter of economics. How convenient to have that to fall back on when your fear-driven desires are in direct opposition to your religious dogma. That whole bit about loving your neighbors and forgiving trespassers is so old fashioned anyway. So if they want to talk numbers, let's talk numbers.

They took our jerbs!

Although Alabama has experienced a dramatic increase in undocumented immigrants over the past decade, it still has one of the lowest populations of them in the South—about 120,000 according to the Pew Hispanic Center. Of those people, about 95,000 are working, making up approximately 4.2% of the state's workforce. So if we can kick them out, that's 95,000 jobs for Alabama's legal residents, right? Not exactly. The presence of these 120,000 people is directly responsible for the creation of 18,000 jobs in Alabama according to a study by the Perryman Group. Those jobs simply disappear when the immigrants go.

And there's no questioning that these immigrants are willing to do the jobs that we are unwilling to do. Our neighbor Georgia's government determined that 11,000 agricultural jobs went unfilled this year due to similar laws going into effect there. They couldn't even get more than a handful of the thousands of unemployed convicts who were required to work as a condition of parole to take the jobs. Crops rotted, and are still rotting in the fields. Similar labor shortages are already being reported in Alabama in agriculture and construction. In response, proponents of HB 56 assure us that things will eventually balance out and return to normal. Tell that to the small farmers to whom one or two lost harvests means the end of their business. They already can't compete with industrial agriculture from out of state and overseas, this blow could mean the end for many small farms. And all this is coming at a time when Alabama's farmers were enjoying a rebirth of interest and support by the local market with new farmer's markets springing up all over the state.

They're leeching our prosperity!

Not according to a 2009 trade policy analysis by Peter B. Dixon and Maureen T. Rimmer of the very libertarian CATO Institute. It's en vogue for conservatives today to style themselves free-market libertarians, bur that's only when it doesn't offend their xenophobic sensibilities. The study found that tightening up the borders to restrict the immigration of undocumented low-skilled laborers and increasing enforcement within the borders would lead to a loss of $80 billion in US household wealth. In contrast, allowing even more low-skilled workers and legalizing all of them would increase American household wealth by $180 billion. Both of these figures were arrived at after subtracting all of the public expenditures they incur.

If you want to talk about leeching off of the prosperity of others, let's talk about the citizens of Alabama, who receive far more Federal funds than they pay into the system. Alabama is undeniably a welfare state, taking wealth out of prosperous states and giving very little in return (we suppose American Idol finalists have to count for something). According to a study by the non-partisan Tax Foundation, Alabama received $1.66 for every dollar of Federal tax paid in 2005. In contrast, New York received 79 cents back.

Speaking of taxes—these illegals aren't paying any! Or are they? The Immigration Policy Center estimates that at least 50% of undocumented workers work on the books under false identities, paying into Social Security and other programs that they will never be able to collect on. In 2007 alone, undocumented workers contributed an estimated $12 billion to Social Security. At current levels, at least $407 billion will be contributed over the next 50 years according to the National Foundation for American Policy. Here in Alabama, undocumented workers contribute $130 million a year in income, property, and sales taxes. Remember, even those working under the table pay rent and buy almost all of their goods and services right here in this state. If they pack up and leave, the economy shrinks.

Jim Crow rears his ugly head?

If it's not about ethics, and it's not about the numbers, then what is really going on here? Mickey Hammon came right out and said that he intended for the bill to make unlawfully present aliens' lives so difficult that they will "deport themselves." What about the 65,000 Alabama Latinos that are citizens or otherwise legal residents, and the 5,000 a year who become eligible to apply for citizenship? Should they just put up with the authorized racial profiling, discrimination, and government sanctioned racism for the greater good? This is purely and simply pinning the blame for society's ills on a small (3%) and disempowered minority. It sure is easier than working on real solutions to problems caused by one of the most regressive tax structures in the nation, a rotten and racist state constitution, and a largely failed educational system.

Why not put some of those free market principles that conservatives are so enamored with to the test and open up Alabama's labor market to whomever is willing to work here? Welcoming new residents and filling up low-skill labor positions with low-skilled workers will only expand the economy, create more and better jobs, and allow skilled and educated Alabamians to fill positions at their level of qualification for a change.

Artist Creates Drawings with HIV Positive Blood

by Stephen Smith

Alabama-born Robert Sherer is an internationally renowned artist who has represented the US in the Triennale de Paris, the Florence Biennale, and numerous other exhibitions throughout the country and the world. Sherer spent much of his career painting beautiful and haunting figures in a masterful style and later moved on to producing purposely-kitsch pyrography (wood burnings) and then began drawings with blood.

Some of the blood the artist uses is from himself and some comes from an HIV positive friend. Much of Sherer’s work focuses on the male figure. This, along with the blood drawings, has generated considerable controversy. His work has been censored on several occasions, including once in 1994 by a (now-defunct) commercial art gallery in Birmingham. In that case, the gallery had issues with Sherer’s nude male paintings, which any reasonable person would consider sober and conservative. The artist placed the male figures in traditional female poses, which makes the controversy even more absurd and highlights the message that Sherer was obviously trying to get across.

In an interview with Sherer, the artist shared his thoughts on art, philosophy, and the Birmingham art scene

BFP: Did you feel you needed to leave Alabama in order to pursue your artistic career?
RS: Yes, but not just for my art career. At the time I was a burgeoning leftist, homosexual, and punk rock atheist artist. From 1974-79, I spent a lot of time in Birmingham searching for my tribe before realizing that they were not to be found. The counter culture scene, the visual arts scene, and the academic art scene were all really complacent at that time. The gay scene was the worst; it was like some Joe McCarthy wet dream where paranoia reigned supreme. The brute force unleashed by the city upon the black community for their resistance was still very fresh in the minds of the gay community.

Somehow in the blur that was the late 1970s, I did find some of my tribe one evening at a Patti Smith concert at Brothers Music Hall in Homewood, but they turned out to be cool kids from Atlanta who made the drive to see Patti. Upon meeting them I began plotting my course toward the capitol of GA.

BFP: Why do you imagine there is still a stigma associated with the male nude?
RS: The stigma exists because most men can’t handle the fact that the sight of the male nude sexually excites them. The feelings they experience contradict their heterosexual programming and thus threaten their sense of well-being. There are several studies indicating that homophobic reactions and homosexual desires are inversely proportional.
"The lady doth protest too much, methinks."

BFP: Do you believe that your experience at Walker College in Jasper was substantially different from your later studies in more traditional art schools like Rhode Island School of Design?
RS: Comparatively, my experience at Walker College in Jasper proved itself to be superior to most of education at larger universities. I was very fortunate to be embraced by two remarkable mentors at that small school: Hank West and London Bridges (yes, that is her real name). These two took me under wing and provided me with many intellectual pursuits and cultural experiences. Hank taught me how to survive as a gay man in the South, and London taught me how to be an artist. She gave me my first ever art show in Birmingham, and it put stars in my eyes. These two gay mentors created a magical curriculum for me.

BFP: As craftsmanship plays such a vital role in your work, did you find that places like RISD aided this aspect of your development or did you basically have to teach yourself to draw and paint?
RS: My father instilled a sense of craft in me at any early age. Most of what I know about the technical aspects of art making I learned via observation and mimicry. The only thing of value that RISD gave me was social connections into the New York art scene.

BFP: How is the Birmingham art scene perceived from the Atlanta area, if at all?
RS: To be perfectly honest, during my thirty-two years in the Atlanta art scene, few people have ever mentioned Birmingham in any context other than the famous black church bombing and its revisitation by Eric Robert Rudolph. Last year, however, the RACE*SEX*POLITICS*RELIGION* (what not to talk about) exhibition at Space One Eleven caused some talk around Atlanta due to the fact that several well-known artists were in the show. Yes, I was among them but I had great reservations due to my history of having been censored in Birmingham.

BFP: Do you feel growing up in a small town in Alabama has influenced your art?
RS: Yes, my upbringing in the rural South gave me a deeply-felt appreciation for the land and for history. It also provided me with beautiful settings for my awakening as a gay man. I dare say that my American Pyrography series of art works wouldn’t even exist were it not for the memories of my youth in Jasper, Alabama.

Information about Robert Sherer can be found at

BLOOD WORKS: the Sanguine Art of Robert Sherer
Art Book Publication

In the fall of 2012, the Kennesaw State University Press will publish an art book on the subject of Sherer’s Blood Works series. The book, tentatively titled Blood Works: the Sanguine Art of Robert Sherer, will be approximately 150 pages in length with 50 color plates of artworks.

Several notables from the art world are contributing to the book: contemporary art historian Dr. Dinah McClintock has written the primary essay for the book, noted author and feminist historian Helena Reckitt has interviewed the artist, Sherer has written a chapter of Artist’s Commentary and artist Matt Haffner photographed the original artworks for the book plates.

There is a chapter of the book called Artist's Commentary. Here is the text about the piece shown to the right.

Trojan Bouquet, Blood Solution (Gay Male HIV- and HIV+) on Paper, 27" x 20"

A safe sex bouquet about personal protection for circuit party boys. Initially, I was playing with the simple association of the brand name of Trojan condoms with the ancient Trojans. I am intrigued by the idea that the Trojans were destroyed because they let down their guard and allowed themselves to be penetrated by a magnificent animal with hidden dangers. The scene of reclining party boys with their phallic-shaped pillows I copied verbatim from an actual Greek vase.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Birmingham Characters: Bob Tedrow of Homewood Musical Instruments

by M. David Hornbuckle

Bob Tedrow feigns horror that a 2001 Birmingham News article once called him an "eccentric," but it's clear that he gets delight from the moniker. Every day, he drives a 1928 Model A Ford to work, and passersby are likely to notice the car before they notice the quaint music shop it adorns. "It's like a museum," Tedrow says of his car. "It has its own voice—the sound of the gears, the smell of the gas. I have to carry a tool kit of course. And you don't really drive it. You operate it. Everything has to be done manually. Nothing is automated."

Tedrow says he hopes to continue operating that Model A until it's at least a hundred years old. He says, "The car will make it. I don't know if I will." He jokes that the car and his trusty old workbench are like the Oscar Wilde's picture of Dorian Gray. "They grow old while I remain ever youthful."

He has an unabashed love for anything related to the 1920s and '30s because he associates the period with his grandparents, who were also musicians. Tedrow plays multiple instruments, including banjo, ukulele, guitar, clarinet, flute, saxophone, accordion, and concertina. He's particularly interested in depression era ukuleles and Victorian concertinas. In fact, he's one of only six people in the United States who build concertinas. Each concertina takes about 40-50 hours of labor, he says. His website includes a tutorial video for those brave and crafty enough to try and build one themselves.

As a teenager in Colorado, Tedrow built his first banjo. He immediately started playing with a bluegrass band. He met his wife, Klari, in college when she inquired about taking banjo lessons. The couple moved to Birmingham in 1986 when she enrolled in law school. He opened an instrument repair workshop behind Fretted Instruments in Homewood, and in 1989 he opened his own shop, at the Central Avenue location where it remains to this day.

Tedrow has taught himself to repair many different types of instruments over the years. He now shares his work bench with a promising young luthier named Jason Burns. "Fortunately, most people smart enough to do this kind of work are usually smart enough to go ahead and get a real job," he says about Burns. "That narrows the field down to a dedicated few who like to do this." (Note: in our research, we found that he said exactly same thing about himself in a 1988 interview. "Seriously," he adds, "Jason is a genius. His craftsmanship now surpasses my own."

Lately, Tedrow has become obsessed with mandolins and period guitar styles (from the 1920s and 1930s, naturally). He doesn't perform in public much anymore, but he does do occasional shows at elementary schools, usually at the request of his children or grandchildren. He says, "I'm good in the living room for about an hour. You can't tell me from a real great musician. But I'm not a great musician. I just have tenacity." He's made that comment to a few other interviewers too. Fittingly for Bob Tedrow, some nuggets are just so good, you always find yourself coming back to them.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Queen of Birmingham Burlesque

by M. David Hornbuckle

When Jezabelle von Jane moved to Birmingham five years ago, something was missing. In the Northeast, the burlesque revival had been growing for at least a decade, but nobody was doing it in Birmingham. So she took matters into her own hands and created the Magick City Sirens. Later, she also founded a male burlesque group, the Billy Club.

Burlesque shouldn't be confused with the type of exotic dancing or stripping you would see at the Furnace or Sammy's. Burlesque is, in fact, a very old tradition in the entertainment industry, having first become popular in the 1860s. Typically, it features broad comedy, music, and dancing, as well as artful striptease. In its modern interpretation, it may include performance art in many forms.

The strip tease is certainly still a part of it though. Von Jane was actually introduced to burlesque when she was working as an exotic dancer in Boston as a college student. "Someone came up to me and said, 'You dance really well, and you're really funny. The [Local burlesque troupe] Boston Baby Dolls may be interested in you.' So I went and auditioned. They took me under their wing. And that's how it started. I got the bug, and once you get the burlesque bug, there's no getting rid of it. It's like herpes. It's there forever."

Von Jane's Magick City Sirens do a good bit of travelling to other cities in the Southeast, and they have performed alongside local troupes in Atlanta, Huntsville, and Nashville, among others. According to von Jane, each troupe approaches burlesque in a unique way. For example, she loves the Pink Box Burlesque troupe based in Tuscaloosa, but, she says, Pink Box does more 1940s style burlesque while her Sirens are more influenced by Vaudeville and do more gender-bending types of performances.

The Sirens also change their theme and focus frequently. This year, they have been focused on appealing to the gay community in Birmingham, performing with drag queens at Al's on Seventh in the Lakeview district. Their theme this year, von Jane says, is "Glamour and Broadway."

"I haven't quite decided what I want to do for next year," von Jane says, "but I want to shake things up. We don't replicate shows. Once we do a show, it goes into a vault."

At a recent performance, the mother of one of the Sirens was in the audience. Von Jane says this is not unusual. "I'm very close to the parents of my girls when the girls are very young," she says. "I encourage them to come down and see what we do because I'm very proud of what we do. They see it, and they love it." Two of the troupe members' mothers even help the group with costumes. Von Jane's father has even performed with her in one of her routines.

Von Jane herself has kids. She does say that it's important to keep work and family separate. "When your husband is the lead singer of [local hard rock band] Selling Mary, and you are the burlesque queen of Birmingham, it's very important to keep these things separated."

If women (or men) are interested in learning more about the art of burlesque, von Jane encourages them to contact her about classes. She says, "If someone wants lessons, all they have to do is contact me on Facebook and ask me. I do private lessons as well as formal lessons. I like to do private lessons for those who are a little shy because it doesn't make any sense for you to come in a pay me if you are going to be insecure about yourself. I've found it's easier for a lot of women if it's just me and them. I can learn about them and what they are looking to do for themselves."

To find out about upcoming shows, go to:

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Hail the Snail

by Lee Waites

Recently the tulotoma snail, native to the Alabama and Coosa Rivers, was promoted from the "endangered" list all the way up to merely "threatened." The tulotoma snail was formerly known as the Alabama live-bearing snail because it bears live young as opposed to laying an egg sack. It is found only in Alabama.

Dredging of the Alabama River, beginning in the 1880s, started the change in the snails' habitat. Then the addition of locks and dams used for hydropower and navigation further impounded the snail population, cutting groups of snails off from one another and changing the structure of their environment. The dams and locks also reduced the flow of water affecting oxygenation, silt content, and other factors that are required by the snail to thrive.

Over-silting and increased water temperature, both affected by damming, are a problem for the snails, who like a fast moving, cool environment. That's why we at the Birmingham Free Press can identify with them . . . So do we.

On the historic day of January 8, 1991, at 8:45 AM, at once celebrated and mourned by all tulotoma snail lovers, and all tulotoma snails, the report was filed. Bruce Blanchard of the US Fish and Wildlife Service filed the report in the Federal Register, placing the snails into the endangered category.

Who cares, right? It's snails. We need our motor boats and hydro-electric power. Archeological finds suggest that Native Americans valued the ornate shells of the tulotoma for trade. Where’s the use in that? Of course we now understand that true value lies in shiny metals, green paper, and plastic cards.

So why value a snail? Many an educated, caring, and knowledgeable person might smirk at this question. I'm not talking to you!

If, in your mind, there is any question that the actions of humans affect wildlife then you need look no further than these tiny snails. "Why this tone?" one might ask. Well, people have been trying to explain to other people how the world works for as long as we have been talking, and probably before that. We have heretofore failed with many. So I'm keeping it simple. Everything on this planet has a purpose. Don't be stupid.
Snails eat little floating things in the water, by sifting. Then things eat snails. Then them things get et’ by other things, and so on and so forth. It's lots of things—snails, frogs, fish, bees. It's called nature. And it's called eatin'. That's a big part of livin'. We all need to eat. Each one of these things is getting killed by some different human activity. Humans are locked up in the chain too. If you require a selfish answer, it will eventually affect you . . . but for now, let’s keep it simple; it's snails.

To illustrate how sensitive the environment can be, the small thing that helped the tulotoma snail inch back into the "threatened" category was a slight adjustment to the flow rates at several Alabama Power dams. This returned the water to a more hospitable environment for the snails. Thus they began to repopulate the areas where these adjustments were made.

Effective July 5, 2011 the USFWS has determined that the tulotoma snail can once again be classified as merely "threatened."

Congratulations to Alabama Power, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the Alabama Clean Water Partnership, the Man who turns the Knob in the Dam, and most of all, the many tulotoma snails who snuggle on the bottom of their rocks in the fast moving water, smiling with hope for a better future. Everything is OK now.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Friday on My Mind

by M. David Hornbuckle

Once a month, several local DJs get together at Woodrow Hall to spin their favorite old school R&B and Soul records. People of all ages come out to the party, many dressed in stylish retro garb, to dance the night away.

Friday on My Mind was started last year by former roommates Jason Grover and J. David Black. Grover says, "We were both into collecting old records, and we used to have dance parties at our place with our friends, and we loved it. We thought it would be a great idea if we could throw a dance party somewhere else and invite the whole city." And so they began the search for venue. Eventually, Grover moved into another apartment, which happened to be owned by Andrew Morrow. He went to Woodrow Hall to sign his lease. After taking a look around, he knew he'd found exactly the place he was looking for.

Typically, the party starts at 8pm and runs until about 1am. They usually feature 4-5 DJs who each do an hour-long set. The Magnolia Room of Woodrow Hall provides an elegant but unpretentious dancehall setting. The spacious dance floor allows ample boogying room. Tables draped in white line the perimeter, providing comfortable seating while you rest between dances or work up the courage to partner up with a stranger. The venue includes a cash bar, which also helps with that "work up the courage" thing.

The next Friday on My Mind will be on Friday, September 30. For more information go to

Woodrow Hall Brings New Life to Woodlawn

by M. David Hornbuckle

A few years ago, if you drove up First Avenue North from downtown up to 55th Street, you would have seen garbage on the street, depressed buildings, and few people. What was once a vibrant neighborhood in Birmingham had lost much of its luminescence. Once-beautiful historic buildings had fallen into disrepair.

The old Masonic Temple at 5504 First Avenue North was one of those buildings, at least until 2004 when the building was purchased by Community Property Development. During renovations, they began to uncover the layers that had hidden this great piece of Birmingham history for decades.

In 2008, business partners Tazmine Morton-Stephens and Andrew Morrow bought it and began additional renovations. Morton-Stephens and Morrow have transformed the building into Woodrow Hall, featuring two large multi-purpose reception halls on the second and third floors. The owners rent out additional space in the building to a doctor’s office, a lawyer’s office, and the Desert Island Supply Company—an organization that arranges writing workshops and tutoring for area youth.

The building was erected in 1914 and used by the Masons off and on until about 2005. “There were a lot of secrets here,” Morton-Stephens says, “and ghosts too. During a consultation with a bride, the client's florist said he could sense a spirit by the name of Joshua. He assured me that he was a friendly spirit who used to work on the floor below years ago. He mentioned that he was carrying a case with a cross on it. I was totally freaked, but, with a building this old, there must be dozens of stories . . . We’re thinking about doing an event here for Halloween.”

The partners bought the building because they are very interested in revitalization of the Woodlawn neighborhood. Morton-Stephens says, "It’s actually our main goal. We’re hoping that with us being here, the neighborhood will be more attractive to other business owners. And we’re hoping that people who left this area years ago will want to return." They named the building Woodrow Hall after a prominent philanthropic family that had lived in the Woodlawn neighborhood during its halcyon days. "The Woodrows live in Crestview now. They’ve been very supportive of what we’ve been doing," she says.

Although the bread-and-butter business of Woodrow Hall is weddings and receptions, Morton-Stephens says she is very interested in hosting all types of events. Already, a monthly retro dance party called "Friday on My Mind" has found its home at Woodrow Hall. Local band the Delicate Cutters held a CD-release party at the hall this past summer. “People really enjoy going to see live music at a venue that isn’t a loud, smoky bar,” Morton-Stephens says.

More music and alternative events are scheduled in the coming months.

See for more information about the venue.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Circumcision Debate Finally Comes to America

by Stephen Smith

When the city of San Francisco tried to outlaw circumcision this summer, a Superior Court ruling struck it down, declaring that regulating medical procedures was a state and not a local matter. Much of Europe has moved towards outlawing or severely restricting circumcision. As California is often the first place progressive trends fester in the US, one can expect the controversy to escalate over the next few years. Neither the American Academy of Pediatrics nor the American Medical Association recommends routine circumcision, and there is a growing opposition to the procedure.

In the past few decades a slew of data has raised questions about the medical benefits of the practice. However, a large percentage of the population has a vested interest in justifying what is basically a religious ritual.

There is some evidence that circumcision can help prevent penile cancer, but according to the Harvard Medical School it is little more effective than soap and water. Furthermore, penile cancer is rare, occurring in fewer than .0001% of men, and hardly justifies a procedure that comes with a much higher complication rate. Around 117 infants die a year in the US from problems related to circumcision.

New reports have come out of South Africa from the Bophelo Pele Medical Male Circumcision Centre claiming that circumcision can reduce HIV transmission from female to male partners by 76%. The idea is that Langerhans cells concentrated in the foreskin help incubate the virus. This could also be used as an argument for female circumcision because Langerhans cells are also present in the clitoris and labia.

Circumcision in American is a twentieth century phenomenon and gained popularity as an anti-masturbation measure. At the end of the nineteenth century the majority of male babies weren’t circumcised, but by the 1970s the rate had risen to 94% in the US. By 2007, a relatively small backlash movement brought the rate down to 79%, which is still high and an anomaly in the industrialized world. Canada for instance has a circumcision rate of 9% according to a 2005 report from the Institute of Health Information. In Spain it is 2%, Denmark is 1.7%, and Mexico is 10%-30% varying by region.

Some Muslim countries like Pakistan and Iran come close to a 100% circumcision rate. It is considered a part of the Fitrah, which includes trimming the mustache, snuffing water up the nose, plucking the hair under the armpit and shaving the pubic hairs. In Judaism circumcision is YHWH’s covenant with Abraham and the number of procedures performed in Israel is over 90%. The Christian church doesn’t seem to care one way or the other. The practice predates any modern religions. It was certainly practiced in ancient Egypt and probably long before.

Other popular forms of male genital modification include infibulation, sewing or piercing the foreskin shut, and penile subincision, which is basically slicing the penis down the middle like a sausage on the grill. Infibulation was popular during Greco-Roman times and even in Western Europe until the 19th century and subincision is still common in many cultures, particularly in Australia. Be sure to do a Google image search on subincision—you will not be disappointed.

Female circumcision is universally deplored outside of the few areas, mostly in central Africa, that practice it. Few realize that what we now commonly refer to as female genital mutilation was routinely practiced in the US until the 1970s as a cure for lesbianism, hysteria, and erotomania. Congress only outlawed female circumcision in 1996 for girls under the age of 18.

It seems inevitable that rates of infant circumcision in the US will continue to decline. There is no scientific justification for it. Infants are not engaging in dangerous sexual behavior that would result in HIV. If an 18-year-old wants to get circumcised that is his choice. The operation is known to reduce sexual pleasure and the psychological effects of taking the knife to a newborn’s John Thomas are immeasurable. As always, the religious justifications for ancient traditions will have to be put aside in light of modern, secular ethics.