Unfiltered Thoughts: Jonathan Meddings on Circumcision

Unfiltered Thoughts: Jonathan Meddings on Circumcision

For the thirteenth episode of Unfiltered Thoughts, Jack sits down with Jonathan Meddings to chat about the controversy surrounding infant male circumcision. Jonathan holds a degree in medical science with honours from James Cook University and is currently a student of philosophy and politics at Macquarie University. He’s a fencing coach, a writer for the Young Australian Skeptics, and a board member of the Rationalist Society of Australia.

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Some words from Jonathan about the episode:

“A clarification of my comments on parental rights:

“Of course, “parental rights” are referred to in documents other than the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. When I say there’s no other example of parents having a right over their children than “choosing their education” I mean this is the only case in which a parental right is believed — I argue wrongly — to trump a child’s right; In this case the right to an education that will allow them to develop and reach their full potential. Homeschooling and religious indoctrination do not provide such a quality education, and these are what the so-​​called parental right to choose the kind of education one’s child receives is used to support.

“When I say I disagree with parents having a right to choose the kind of education their children have, that is because I think the state should provide the same high level of compulsory universal education to all children, with the responsibility on parents to ensure their children attend and complete their studies.

“Insofar as “parental rights” exist they relate to parents raising their children without interference from the state, but this requires them to meet their parental responsibilities. When parents seriously fail in their main responsibility, namely protecting their children’s rights and wellbeing, parental rights are revoked and children become wards of the state.

“Regarding circumcision the point I make is that although parents have the right to make medical decisions for their children who can’t, this parental right (as with others) is constrained by their responsibility to protect their children’s rights and wellbeing. Therefore, talk of parental rights is geared towards the protection of the rights of children, In short, parents don’t have rights over their children, they have rights afforded to them by the state that allow them to meet their responsibilities to their children, which include upholding their children’s rights.”


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[The music in Unfiltered Thoughts is “Forward” by Northbound.]