Sex and Circumcision: An American Love Story

Last week, Harvard University employee Eric Clopper performed a one-man show entitled “Sex and Circumcision: An American Love Story” in Sanders Theatre. Reports later claimed that, during his show, Clopper stripped to the nude and made anti-Semitic comments, including accusations that “the Jews” had “raped” him through the act of circumcision. As such, the University is reviewing the show and its apparent violation of the City of Cambridge’s entertainment license with Sanders Theatre, which prohibits nudity.


The Crimson Editorial Board’s harsh criticism of Clopper is in dire contrast with a University that embraces free discourse. The Editorial Board talks about an “unsuspecting” audience who had no “fair warning” with regards to the nudity that concluded a two hour lecture style presentation, even though it was advertised through posters depicting him naked and through cards handed out by volunteers dressed in phallus costumes on Harvard’s Campus, distinctively stating that it is for an adult audience. How can anyone with any sense of intuition assume that the play would be free of nudity? If anything, he could be accused of not providing enough in that department, since his show may have been too educational for those looking forward to some eroticism.


I was deeply moved by Clopper’s outrage about what has been done to his privates without his consent. Without this outburst, the lesson could have been missed. To accuse individuals with bigotry for the resentment they feel towards the society that allowed the forcible removal of erogenous genital tissue from their bodies is to invalidate and dismiss their feelings. Defending a practice in the name of religious tolerance is the kind of closed-mindedness that a University the caliber of Harvard should not espouse! It is this type of cultural relativism that would make it still legal in the US to slice into little girls’ genitals. That has been outlawed only as recently as 1997. Wake up Harvard! It is the 21st century and boys deserve the same protection as girls do! This is a human rights issue!


It really isn’t the audience editors should be worried about but the millions of boys who are subjected to this senseless practice whether in the name of religion or medicine. Eric’s account of how he became aware of what circumcision is and why it has become popular in the United States was so well documented that you really don’t need to fear for Clopper sowing confusion among Harvard students and the general public. In fact, if you haven’t seen it, you owe yourselves and your children the enlightening experience.


Eric Clopper is a courageous man and deserves every bit of respect and protection a civilized society can afford. Instead of silencing him and violating him once again with accusations of anti-Semitism, we should be proud of him! The Editorial Board's reaction sounds like the classic defensiveness of those experiencing cognitive-dissonance. As in Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, the chains of ignorance interfere with you seeing the truth. It is the duty of minds like Clopper’s to descend into the cave to educate the uninformed for the greater good. A peaceful naming ceremony, such as Brit Shalom, already exists as an alternative to cutting a boy. It respects both Judaism and a man’s right to his full, unaltered genitals. Why not embrace it?