This cartoon portrays a farang (he looks something like Bill Heinecke) proudly showing off his collection of “palad khik”, or Thai phallic symbols, to another farang who looks exactly like what I imagine Eric Bahrt must look like. All the phallic symbols on display appear to have been circumcised.
So far as I know, Thai males are rarely, if ever, circumcised. I could be wrong on that, and if so I beg to be corrected. I do not propose to make the empirical investigations necessary to verify or refute this statement. For the benefit of the uninitiated, circumcision is the process of removing, usually by cutting, the foreskin that covers the head of the human penis. The foreskin is basically a protective sheath of skin. Its disadvantage is that dirt or other alien substances can get under it and infection can ensue.
The practice of ritually removing it was initiated by the ancient Hebrews as a sign of their covenant with the deity. Even today, a rabbi traditionally circumcises Jewish males when they are eight days old. The Muslims subsequently adopted the practice. Non-Jews and non-Muslims practise it nowadays as a health measure.
I myself was circumcised as an infant, and an inspection of my personal condition reveals that a circumcised penis is rather cute. It has what looks like a knob at the end, and the knob seems to be smiling. It looks like the head of a contented turtle.
I well remember my shock when, as a six-year-old first grader, I glanced down at the penis of a fellow student as we were peeing into the common urinal at school. There was no cute knob gracing the end of his peepee, as we called it in those days – only an ugly sheath that looked like the neck of a clam. When I got home, I ran to my mother. “Mamma! What’s wrong with X? His peepee looks like a clam neck!” My mother laughed and said I’d understand when I grew up.
Well, I did grow up, and learned not long ago that some circumcised Americans have been suing their parents for subjecting them to genital mutilation when they were infants. That is really stupid, people. The foreskin serves no useful purpose, is aesthetically unappealing, and makes its owner subject not only to infection, but to ridicule by their circumcised brethren. Parents who circumcise their sons should get a medal instead of being sued and disgraced.
But I digress. My point is the cultural inappropriateness of marketing circumcised phallic symbols in a land where most citizens are uncircumcised. Perhaps this is part of the insidious global conspiracy that JC Wilcox is always foaming about.
At any rate, I suggest that the Culture Ministry should mandate that all phallic symbols on sale in Thailand must be reconfigured to mirror the Thai reality rather than to slavishly ape a foreign custom. Properly publicised and marketed, uncircumcised phallic symbols can become the perfect emblem of the New Thailand currently taking shape under the benign guidance of our beloved (and elected!) prime minister.
Ye Olde Pedant