After doing some further reading, I am willing to concede that the potential benefits of male circumcision may be greater than I initially believed, although the study that you linked to is hardly above criticism
. (Note that Fergusson's findings conflict with those of several significantly larger studies.) At this point, I think it's probably fair to say that the evidence supporting the health benefits of circumcision is non-trivial, but it's also far from equivocal.
Whatever role circumcision may play in reducing STD and cancer risks, part of that benefit (although obviously not all) would be rendered redundant by universal HPV vaccination. I am aware of the potential benefits of circumcision as a method of reducing the transmission of HIV in Africa; however, as I am sure you are aware, the epidemiology of HIV in Africa differs markedly from the epidemiology of HIV in the West, and I'm not convinced that continuing to enforce circumcision as a cultural norm is key to managing HIV in the US. There are, of course, any number of confounding factors, but one can certainly point to countries in which circumcision is extremely rare and HIV rates are well below those of the US. (Denmark and Japan are two that come to mind, but I'm sure there are others.)
Finally, neither you nor mydriasis address the possibility that circumcision may in some cases result in diminished sexual sensation, or the reality that it necessarily involves removing erogenous tissue from a child who could not possibly consent to any such removal. Ultimately, my position on infant circumcision is essentially the same position advanced in this paper
: the demonstrated medical benefits of infant circumcision do not outweigh the ethical concerns.
Virtually every human opinion or behavior can be described as a cultural artifact. I'm not sure what your point is.
I agree that "mutilation" is an extremely fraught term, which is why I haven't been using it. If you can think of a better term than "amputation" to describe the surgical removal of an external body part, I would be delighted to hear it. (Upon reflection, I suppose that "excision" might be a better way to describe the process, but that still doesn't sound terribly warm and fuzzy, does it?) I'd also be delighted if you didn't trivialize ethical concerns about infant circumcision as merely "political."