June 21, 2007

Joe Satan, Anyone?

Would you like to name your new born Joe Satan? How about Adolf Hitler? Not a chance, not in New Zealand. According to this this story in Red Orbit, those names are not permissible under the New Zealand law, as it is believed that they'd cause offense to "a reasonable person". In this particular case, however, a New Zealand couple were refused permission to name their child '4real', as numbers are not permitted either.

I am reminded of story that I read a couple of years back, when the Chinese authorities denied permission to name a child '@'. That's right, the symbol @! The reason for the denial was that it could not be translated into Mandarin, as the law demanded. The parents' argument was that the symbol was commonplace in typewriters and keyboards.

In my country, everything goes, it seems. The guest on yesterday's Stephen Colbert show was the author of This Idea that is America, Anne-Marie Slaughter! Prince, a popular American musician, changed his name several times during his musical career, including to the indescribable symbol, , "The Artist Formerly Known As Prince", and simply "The Artist", all of them apparently legal. In 2004, a Michigan couple, Jon Blake and Jamie Cusack released little Jon Blake Cusack Version 2.0. I am guessing that they did not care much about software life cycle rules on alpha and beta releases before the production release!

Prince's choice of his name(s) was voluntary, but parental naming of children raises interesting questions about the people's rights under the First Amendment and the Ninth Amendment. I also wonder if naming one's child as Stalin or Hitler qualified as child abuse, although in my country of birth, India, the names seem to bestow power and wealth!

1 comment :
  1. I was thinking of "Stalin" when I read your first para. I wonder what motivated his father to name him after after someone who was responsible for such a holocaust by terror.
    I wish we would indeed have some laws against misspelling and mispronounciation of names like leshmi, badhma and seeda. You cannot own a name if you cannot pronounce it properly or something like that!

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