Wednesday, January 14, 2009

More on the Boy Who'd Rather Be Named "Sue"

About a month ago, we heard about young Adolf Hitler Campbell, whose parents complained to the media about the fact that they couldn't get a store to write his name on his birthday cake. Now the child and his family are in the news again, as word gets out that New Jersey's Division of Youth and Family Services has taken young Adolf and his sisters, JoyceLynn Aryan Nation Campbell and Honszlynn Hinler Jeannie Campbell, away from their parents. At this writing, nothing is known about the reasons for removing the children from their home, although the source for the story, Sgt. John Harris of the Holland Township Police Department, says he has known the family for years and was not aware of any abuse. A hearing on the matter is scheduled for Thursday.

At this point, then, we know next to nothing about the basis for the case against the Campbell children's parents. What is really newsworthy is the idea, taken seriously by some experts, that giving a child a name such as those given to the Campbell children constitutes child abuse.

For example, forensic psychologist N.G. Berrill is of opinion that naming a child Adolf Hitler could constitute child abuse. "Part of it is the infantile nature of the [Campbells'] behavior. You can name your dog something weird, but they think they're making some kind of bold statement with the children, not appreciating that the children will have separate lives and will be looked at in a negative light until they're able to change their name. It is abuse." And in a study the Fox News Channel referred to in its story, economists David E. Kalist and Daniel Y. Lee of Shippensburg University -- who did not look at either Adolf or Hitler in their research -- found "unpopular" first names, coupled with negative factors like a "disadvantaged home life" may increase the tendency toward juvenile delinquency.

And then there is precedent from other countries, a favorite yardstick of legal correctitude for some members of our Supreme Court. In New Zealand in 2008, a court took a nine-year-old child away from her parents because they named her Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii.

So can we add giving a kid a rotten name to the list of legitimate reasons for taking him away from his parents? It is unquestionably stupid and selfish for a parent to give a child a name that will expose him to unnecessary ridicule. But is there a "right" to be protected from ridicule, such that the state is justified in excercising its coercive police powers to intervene? Is giving a child an idiotic name really on the same level as abusing him sexually, or starving him, or neglecting him, or beating him almost to death? What is to become of children whose lives are truly in danger, if we divert scarce resources to children named after historical villains? Are we just unwilling to accept that there are problems that the government is simply incompetent to solve?

I make no brief for parents who give stupid names to their children. The last time I wrote about Adolf Hitler Campbell in this space, I excoriated and ridiculed his parents at length for giving their kids such repugnant names. But the notion bruited about by "experts" that this counts as as child abuse that should trigger police action ought to give pause.


  1. To call such "abuse" in the legal sense of that word is tryannical. Why? Because it rips away parental rights without evidence of true abuse based upon the classic definition.

    The parents may have a world-full of poor judgment, but illegal that does not make otherwise all of us would be in trouble.

    Further, with regard to children and education, our dear Thomas Jefferson said:

    "It is better to tolerate the rare instance of a parent refusing to let his child be educated, than to shock the common feelings and ideas by the forcible asportation and education of the infant against the will of the father..."

    Granted, that involves the issue of education, but it is important to recognize that the children are not subject to the currency of thought by state experts and psychiatrists who think the government can do better than the parents.

    With regard to the names of children, this is no less true.

    For the boy named "Sue," change your name. Dealing with it helps to create responsibility and a creative mind.

  2. Oh, whatever happened to just naming kids after the saints?

  3. This worries me. The children were taken away because of the parents ideology.
    What happens tomorrow when Catholic ideology is frowned upon. Will the children be taken away from Catholic parents because the parents teach the children that homosexual marriage and abortion are wrong no matter what civil law says. I can see this happening, I believe that there have been such cases in Canada.
    Yes these parents are foolish, but state intervention in this case which is not an abuse matter is clearly wrong and is going to set a precedent for the ACLU and anti-Catholic groups with yet another weapon with which to destroy Catholic family.