Baby Boy Steals Circumstraint

Report from Richard DeSeabra, NYC
Dec. 27, 1995 (INTACT-L email group)

On Dec. 24th I got a call from an anonymous intactivist who went by the name of BABY BOY. He chose to identify himself that way because that's how he was referred to on his circumcision consent form: BABY BOY plus his last name. I told him that on my circumcision consent form I was called Baby Boy DeSeabra for I was not yet named. He told me he was on his way to New York Hospital where he was born over 20 years ago to stop a circumcision and chain himself to the circumcision room door. I told him to please, whatever he did, abide by non-violent, civil disobedient guidelines: Don't destroy any property, Don't hurt anyone, etc. I was at my computer both times he called and I paraphrased information into the computer as he spoke. Here is a summary of what BABY BOY told me:

"I left the house at 2 PM and went to New York Hospital, Cornell University. Asked around and found N3, the section of the building where the nursery was. Went to the nurses desk and told them it meant a lot to me to see where I was born. Asked for a tour around to see but they wouldn't cooperate. I asked what birth was like at that hospital. Didn't your parents tell you? the nurses asked. I insisted and said I wanted some images to associate with my birth. One nurse described how they assist in births. Then I asked what the difference was between the care given to boys and girls and a nurse caught on and asked, Do you mean circumcision? She explained that parental consent was required. Then I asked a female doctor or nurse dressed in blue where the circumcision room was. I proceeded against their wishes to look around. I saw an Olympic Circumstraint and asked about it. They wouldn't admit what it was used for or how it was used. Then the nurses said that I shouldn't be talking with them, I should be talking to their superiors. One nurse said she was going to call security. Another said, I already have. As I pointed to them I said, I'll be back. I went downstairs zig-zagging through the building till I was outside. Went back in and asked a guard for the Bio-Ethics department. Another guard came by and made sure the guard took me to security headquarters where they warned me not to trespass again saying they would call the 19th precinct."

Day Two. Dec. 26. BABY BOY called again: "First I made a series of phone calls to talk to someone in Bio-Ethics. Got the usual run-around. At 3:30 PM went to New York Hospital's 9th floor to talk to Dr. David Ninemburg of Pediatric Urology. I was redirected to Patients Services where a woman gave me the name of the president of the hospital and suggested I write a letter. Since I had said two days earlier that I'd be back, I went back to N3, looked around, and the Circumstraint I had seen was no longer there. Looked through another window in the wall and saw it. I told two women (probably visitors) who were watching babies that I was going to take the Circumstraint and that circumcision was torture. One agreed that it was extremely painful because a clamp was put on the penis and she said that the Jews do it in a few seconds. I told her it is still a violation of the baby's rights even if it is done quickly. Then I stood by the window to the room where the Circumstraint was. A nurse was near a crying baby girl with a clamp on her umbilical cord. I knocked and a young nurse opened the door. I said, I'm taking that, pointing to the Circumstraint. I reached over, picked it up from underneath some stuff. Why are you taking it? she asked. Because it is a form of torture, I replied. I left with it and entered the first elevator, went downstairs, ran through some hallways to the main entrance, held it up in the air as I yelled, I got it, you f---heads, and ran out the door smiling and ran for blocks until I stopped."

BABY BOY told me he felt great about doing it and that he was going to take it back to his university, show it to his friends and burn it. I told him that what he now had in his hands is one of the most powerful tools of education about genital mutilation and that he should not destroy it. When destroying a Circumstraint you are but destroying one Circumstraint. When you SHOW the Circumstraint to people, you are destroying circumcision. The Circumstraint speaks for itself and is obviously sick and wrong. BABY BOY told me that he had done this two days from the anniversary of his circumcision. He said it was restoration day for him. I hailed him for his courage and then played devil's advocate by questioning the fact that property was stolen and that this may well be the first act sabotage against the circumcision industry. He told me, Fine, I did steal something from them but they stole something from me 20 years ago. I couldn't agree more and it should go without saying that the Circumstraint New York Hospital had stolen from them that day can be replaced for $168. What was stolen from BABY BOY twenty years ago can't be replaced. I really admire this young man's courage and energy. The energy of the college student is one that the various pro-intact movements are yet to tap into. I must confess that if I had been aware of my mutilation during my college years, I wouldn't have spent so much energy protesting the installation of Cruise missiles in Europe. I certainly would have been as militant as BABY BOY. This act can be regarded as a landmark in the fight against genital mutilation. I offer this story that came to me as an anonymous phone call not as a praising of one man's actions but as a moment of reflection and debate as to how we should proceed, or better, how some should choose to proceed and network among themselves. What do all of you think? The intactivist politician that I have become in the past year can't condone this kind of action. But I must confess, my heart is giggling.

PS: Just for the sake of semantics: Some intactivists may want to see this as a case in which a Circumstraint was retired, not stolen.

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