Initiatives are rarely a good idea. The process is easily misused. Given enough time and money, a motivated promoter could qualify a turkey sandwich.
Or a truly bad, divisive and intrusive initiative, such as the one that will be on the November ballot in San Francisco to ban male circumcision.
Lloyd Schofield, the initiative's promoter, gathered 7,100 signatures, sufficient in a city of more than 700,000 residents to place the measure on the ballot.
He cannot take the initiative off the ballot. But he ought to cease all campaigning, and help ensure that this measure will die.
Schofield is a 59-year-old registered Democrat who has provided few insights about himself or about his motivation, as The Bee's Jennifer Garza reported last week.
But if Schofield sought to generate honest discussion and rational debate about circumcision, he has missed that opportunity. Instead, his initiative has stirred deeply held feelings, some of them dark, and incurred serious opposition from the clergy.
Whether he meant to or not, he has offended people's sincere religious beliefs. Despite his opposition to the practice, male circumcision is a tradition that dates back centuries.
Worst of all, his ill-advised campaign became tainted with anti-Semitism after a San Diego man penned a cartoon that included "Monster Mohel," an evil-looking caricature of a rabbi with features that throughout history have been associated with Jews.
While some parents have their sons circumcised for religious reasons, many others do so for health reasons. There is debate about the health implications associated with being circumcised. But Schofield is no medical expert and his campaign has nothing to do health.
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