Opinion: May 23 buzz: America’s changing morality; S.F.’s anti-circumcision proposition

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Most viewed and shared: America the stony-hearted

Neal Gabler addresses the moral reconfiguration going on in our country and how it’s changed our politics.


Scarcely a generation ago, you wouldn’t have found many conservatives who would have sneered at compassion or tolerance or fundamental fairness, even if they disagreed with liberals on how these concepts might operate in the real world. Today, open contempt for these values is conservative boilerplate for Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity, and even for the Republican Party itself, whose idea of cutting government is always cutting programs that help the weakest and least fortunate Americans and whose idea of compassion is caring about the tax burden of the wealthiest Americans. Beyond politics, these attitudes threaten to make this the first generation that promulgates an individualism untempered by common decency.

Most commented: S.F. circumcision proposition doesn’t belong on the ballot

Columnist Tim Rutten takes on the anti-circumcision measure on San Francisco’s November ballot.

Jews are understandably affronted and alarmed by this proposition, but we all have a stake not only in the protection of religious freedom but in understanding how it is that this sort of thinking infects our politics. America is hardly the only country in the world with an extra share of eccentrics, contrarians and holders of just plain odd ideas about every aspect of life. For all its reputation for restraint, reticence and moderation, for example, English society throws up a lake full of odd ducks in every generation. But Americans are the rare people who regularly come to believe that their private moral revelations ought to be ratified in law.

Readers reply with a range of comments on our discussion board, including:

This is just yet another example of government intruding where it does not belong and wanting to run peoples’ lives. -- wmark1963 If Jews still practiced human sacrifice this deluded author would be defending it.... -- ckphotodigital I am Jewish and I support the proposed ban.The 1st Amendment guarantees freedom of religion for ONESELF. My penis was not and is not my parents’ property. And by the way, doesn’t the story in Genesis describe how God told Abraham to circumcise Isaac instead of offering him as a human sacrifice? In the 21st Century, isn’t it time that we stop sacrificing our children even symbolically with circumcision? Our legal system does not allow religious claims to withhold life-saving transfusions or to circumcise little girls. The 1st Amendment does not protect polygamist cults that sexually abuse seven year-old girls. Why should the First Amendment protect this Bronze-age fairy tale requiring genital mutilation of infant boys? And in advance, please do not call me a self-hating Jew because I refuse to drink the Kool-Aid. --rosslosangeles


*Spelling errors were corrected for clarity.


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