Thursday, May 02, 2013

A Rose By Any Other Name

You may have seen this article on the CNN website the other day - No, You Can't Call Your Baby Lucifer: New Zealand Releases List of Banned Names.

It seems odd that a government would have to step in and prevent parents from giving their innocent, defenseless children stupid names*, but it's apparently necessary in New Zealand, where you cannot name your child "Lucifer," "Messiah," "Christ," "Mafia No Fear," or "Anal," among numerous others. The New Zealand government's office of the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages maintains an ever-growing list of names that are considered inappropriate and are not permitted to be given to children.

Closer to home, we have celebrities who seem to get fiendish delight from inflicting stupid names on their progeny. Consider rocker Frank Zappa's son Dweezil and daughters Moon Unit and Diva Thin Muffin, or Bob Geldorf's daughter Fifi Trixibelle, or Gwynneth Paltrow's daughter Apple. And let's not forget actors Nicholas Cage, who named his son Kal-El**, and Jason Lee, whose son will grow up suffering under the name Pilot Inspektor.

It's not a new problem, either. During the Civil War there was a Confederate Army general named States Rights Gist ...

... who, had he been born nowadays, might have had that name proudly bestowed by some ultra-conservative Tea Party wingnut parent.

What, one might reasonably ask, is wrong with some people? Do they not consider what effect an off-the-wall name, perhaps selected while drunken or stoned (or both), might have on their child as he or she grows up? It would not surprise me in the least if somebody out there actually followed through on this naming idea (which you may remember from Cartoon Saturday a few weeks ago) ...

There are some pretty stupid adults who want to change their own names, too. The CNN report cites the case of a fellow who wanted to change his first name to "In God" and his last name to "We Trust" (a judge allowed it). Fortunately, another judge turned down another politically besotted fellow who wanted to change his name to F*** Censorship.***

Getting back to the banned names list for a minute, let's talk about the unfortunate and illegal (in New Zealand, anyhow) name "Lucifer." The name derives from the Latin word lux, which means light ... and actually means bringer of light. The unfortunate associations of the name came about when Lucifer was identified as the principal fallen angel, cast out of heaven for challenging the power and authority of God (Isaiah 14:12).

So ...

If you are expecting a baby, do the poor child a favor and pick a name that will be good for the child, rather than one which advances your own social or political agenda, or sounded good while you were stoned.

Someday, that child will thank you.

Have a good day. See you back in this space for Cartoon Saturday.


* The GOP would no doubt consider it a horrendous infringement of individual rights and shameful overreach of out-of-control governmental authority. After all, everyone has a constitutional right to be an idiot.

** For those of you not into comic books, that was Superman's birth name on the planet Krypton.

** There's also the old joke about the fellow named 6-7/8 Smith, who explained that his parents picked his name out of a hat.


Margaret (Peggy or Peg too) said...

And i thought Margaret was awful when I was a kid.

eViL pOp TaRt said...

Years ago, there was a gubernatorial candidate in Louisiana who tried to get his name changed to "None of the Above." The court denied the change.

Mike said...

Ah the freedom to be stupid. One of the great American rights.

Grand Crapaud said...

Giving children weird names is never a good idea. Funny, the name Madison for girls caught on after the mermaid in Splash, who named herself after a street sign.

allenwoodhaven said...

Tom Lehrer talked a bout a man named Fre5d. The 5 was silent. (Bilbo, do you know his music? He was a great one for satire.)

Banana Oil said...

Thanking Mom and Dad for calling me Kathy. Yes, it makes sense.

Kristen Drittsekkdatter said...

States Rights Gist: what an unfortunate name to be saddled with!

Pearl said...

I have a name that's a Scrabble nightmare.

That's enough for me. :-)

Greetings from Minneapolis!