While traipsing along on one of those absorbing jaunts through the comments section, a couple of articles about baby names came to my attention this morning. Blamer Orange thought this item about the Queensland government cracking down on goofy baby names isn’t particularly blamey, but I disagree. I’ll explain why in a second. Here’s the gist:
In Queensland AU there exists a government authority called the Queensland Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages. It apparently has the power to dictate to adult humans in its jurisdiction whether or not they may sign their tax returns as “Sex Fruit” or “Fish” and “Chips.” In other words, the Registry can reject proposed names, whether it’s adults changing their old ones, or parents inflicting new ones on helpless babies, based on nothing, it appears, but a subjective sense of community orthodoxy.
I’m not saying such authorities are unique to Queensland, but they are unique to cultures of domination. Unless there are hierarchies to appease and permanent records to maintain, why give a crap about anybody’s name at all?
Human nomenclature, it turns out, is a rich tapestry of tradition, pop psychology, society’s crushing demands for conformity, parental control, and — that’s right — copyright infringement (just try to name your kid “Coca Cola” in Queensland).
Couriermail.com consulted child psychologist Paula Barrett, who concedes that “strange names” engender “social anxiety” in kids. A New Zealand nine-year-old, Talula Does The Hula, was traumatized by her jokey drag queen sobriquet to the extent that she appealed to higher authorities to change it.
I do not argue that slogging though life as Talula Does The Hula is a contumely devoutly to be wished. Au contraire. My views on this are twofold. One: in a world free of domination, nobody would be penalized for being known as Talula Does The Hula, but patriarchy requires that its communicants assimilate and accede to arbitrary standards of normalcy which are rooted in social control, thus making Talula Does The Hula an intolerable designation. Two: if, as in ours, a culture wherein names are of such importance to a person’s mental health — to the extent that “unusual or hard-to-spell names” can inflict “serious psychological damage” — the last people on earth who should be entrusted to confer them are a person’s biological parents.
Which brings me to the second article, which did not, as I had momentarily supposed, escape from the Onion. In this insane scenario, occurring in an obscure corner of the US called Holland Township, a family is upset that the local ShopRite supermarket has refused to inscribe a kid’s birthday cake with the name “Adolf Hitler Campbell.”
Adolf Hitler Campbell is a 3-year-old girl. Young Adolf has a sister named JoyceLynn Aryan Nation Campbell.
Lehighvalleylive.com invites readers to weigh in on the topic. It isn’t long in the comments before one astute reader points out that the kid in the photo has a mullet.
Most readers side with ShopRite, although one straddles the fence, opining that the Campbells are “racist biggots” [sic] unless there was “some family heritage”; having an old Aunt Adolf Hitler presumably trumps racist bigotry. There is also some talk about “parents’ rights.” That parents have inalienable rights over their offspring, including the “right to share their beliefs with their children” is not questioned, yet there is consensus that the Campbells are abusive “backwoods hooligans.”
Which brings me to my underlying thesis: the way the system is set up, where kids are in thrall to adults and everybody thinks this is perfectly natural and dandy, it is practically impossible for children not to be abused, even by parents who never lay a hand on’em. Richard Dawkins, for example, has asserted that inflicting religion on children is abuse; he’ll get no argument from me.
One wonders what the Queensland authority would have done with the Campbells. As blamer speedbudget [correction: blamer Spiders] notes, Queensland put the kibosh on “Twisty Poi,” but naming your kid “Violence” is apparently A-OK with them.