Every once in awhile, I come across an article having to do with what is considered by some “higher authority” to be an abusive name. A 9-year-old girl whose name was Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii was taken into state custody in New Zealand a few years ago. The judge said, “It makes a fool of the child and sets her up with a social disability and handicap.” More recently, Heath and Deborah Campbell who named their son Adolph Hitler Campbell are in a custody battle their their kid’s over the name. This, despite the judge saying that there was no evidence of abuse in the home according to Heath.
In the first case, I think it is definitely a stretch to call Talula Does the Hula from Hawaii a social disability and handicap. If the girl feels embarrassed by her name she could shorten it to Talula when she introduces herself. The article even said that her friends refer to her as “K”, as if a one letter name is so much more acceptable than a 6 word one. Names are not permanent either. People can change their name if they wish.
With Adolph Hitler, sure, most of us see that name and think of one of the most evil men who lived. But if this family thinks that it is a good name, or there were some redeeming qualities about the man that justify tribute in the naming of their son, who is anyone else to try to control their ideas? As with the 9-year-old, when he gets older and more educated he has complete freedom to reject that name if he so chooses.
These are some extreme examples of naming creativity, but there are some people who wish we all just used the same boring names that are already common. This is so convenient since everyone already knows how to pronounce the name right? The child also gets all the joy of being, for example, ‘Chris A’ as opposed to ‘Chris B’.
An argument for more common names is that common names are more employable. While it may be true that some employers will not call someone with a name that they cannot pronounce, does it seem like a good idea to be working for that employer? To me, it seems like a person who gets a job on the basis of name over qualifications is going to find themselves in a more frustrating work environment due to less qualified coworkers.
I have actually had people ask me how Jupiter (my son’s name) is spelled. It does not take long to spell it for them though. It is really no trouble at all. Tsunami (my other son) is the same. I have no doubt that some have quietly despised these names because they have to learn how to spell a word which is not a hard one to spell, or it is unusual. The folks that want all names to be nice and neatly predictable seem lazy to me. How much effort does it really take to learn a name you have not seen before, or that you may not pronounce correctly? It takes about five seconds. Learn the name, then you are done. Then you can go on about your day complaining about all the other stuff that does not fit into your tiny view of how the world should be.
It is not necessarily that more common names make the task any easier anyhow. Say, for example, someone tells you his or her name is John. Or is it spelled J-O-N? I guess we still need that same process after all. What about Sarah, or is that spelled S-A-R-A? It seems to me that the real frustration is not in the name, but in the element of surprise. The world would be much easier for them if they did not have to ever deal with something new ever again.
Do some folks honestly think that there should be a naming committee who decides which names are okay and which need to be revised? I personally think that Faith is a horrible name as one definition of it is a belief that is based on no proof. But if some parents see the word as a virtue, I am not going to appeal to the naming committee to have it revised. That is their choice and more power to them. If Faith wants his or her name changed once they realize that meaning of it that is okay too. If Faith wants to work for me and is qualified for the position, I would certainly not turn Faith away.
If my children decide to change their names one day, I would not be offended at all. It is their identifier, they can use what they like. It is not as if an official change is needed in most cases anyway. I can easily apply to a college, bank, or other official institution with my legal name, Kirk Augustine, and then ask them to call me “Frank” or whatever happens to suit me better.