Hitler, your supper’s ready
A family is torn apart by Nazi naming. But do parents have the rights to give their children bad names?
Poor Adolf Hitler Campbell, the bakery refused to make him a cake with his name on it. This absurd story from late last year has become the catalyst for New Jersey state workers to remove him and his siblings, all under 4 years old, from their parents’ custody.  For the record, the younger siblings are called Jocelynn Aryan Nation and Honszlynn Hinler Jeannie.  It’s not clear whether they were taken away because their names suck, or for other reasons.

Foolish names are nothing new, and as we all know, the more famous people are, the more likely they will give their child a name that might tempt bullies later in life. But ideologically speaking, is there any more harm in giving your child the name Adolf Hitler than say, Shane Warne van Tonder? In both cases you are placing your passions and convictions squarely on the shoulders of a person who has no choice in the matter.

Yes, all names have hidden meanings, and some quite overt ones. And one man’s trendy cute name is another’s lifelong bad joke. Some would say that Gwen Stefani should be questioned at length about how much research she did before calling her child Zuma. Or that Ashlee Simpson should be sentenced to community service for landing her child with the moniker Bronx Mowgli.

But should the state intervene when people give their children names that are in shocking bad taste? There are very many worse crimes being committed every day by parents who don’t even have good intentions, as these misguided Nazi-loving crazies would argue they do. And after all, a child can always call itself by a different name, or even change its name later on, as did David Bowie’s son Zowie (now known variously as Joe or Duncan Jones).

In some countries such as Denmark, the state has a list of approved names and will reject names that are not considered suitable.

This is taking the nanny state too far. Who is to say that some approved list has more authority over my child’s future than I do? Plus being the thirteenth Lars from the left in class could pose practical problems.

Malaysia introduced a new law three years ago to prevent people giving their children unsuitable names. But most South Africans would balk at being told what we can or can’t call our kids.

What do you think? Should the state prevent people from registering controversial names for their children?

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