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Surviving the Inanity

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It’s easy to be skeptical. Sometimes, though, you have to either laugh at the lunacy or go running into the ocean screaming, “Get me out of here.”

The United States is just few hundred billion dollars short of the national debt being 100 percent of GDP and is waging illegal wars in a handful of different countries. The 40-year-long war on drugs is still destroying civil liberties and local governments are telling people what they can and can’t ingest. So what’s the burning question of the day? Should government outlaw certain baby names?

The topic actually came up on a recent TV talk show, and 50 percent of the panel said government should do just that. I did some online research and found that the government of New Zealand does regulate names. A few other governments do, too.

According to www.stuff.co.nz, “The Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration Act says names can be declined for causing offence, being over-long or ‘without adequate justification’ resembling an official title or rank.”

Names rejected by the New Zealand Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages include Lucifer, Messiah, 89, Baron, Bishop, Duke, General, Judge, Justice, King, and Knight. Parents are also not permitted to name their kids C, D, I, or T, but the names J and Q were accepted. (No, I’m not making this up.)

New Zealand is not alone in this intrusiveness. Swedish law allows kids to be named Lego and Google, but it has disapproved using Superman, Metallica, Elvis, or Brfxxccxxmnpcccclllmmnprxvclmnckssqlbb11116, pronounced “Albin.”

Despite that last name, one obvious question is what objective criteria might there be for deciding a name is “without adequate justification,” but an even better question is what right is it of any government to approve or disapprove, allow or disallow a name parents give their own children.

In 2008, a New Zealand court removed a 9-year-old girl from her parents in order to change her birth name: Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii.

While most of us might think that to be a ridiculous name, people have the right to be that way. They even have the right to choose names that others find offensive.

Such was the case of a New Jersey family who named one of their children after a Nazi leader. That situation came to light in 2008 when a market refused to ice a birthday cake with the name Adolf Hitler.

Several months later the state of New Jersey took the 3-year-old boy, Adolf Hitler Campbell, and his sisters JoyceLynn Aryan Nation Campbell and Honszlynn Hinler Jeannie Campbell, from their Holland Township home. Officials said it wasn’t because of their names but never publicly gave any reason to break up the family. They declined comment, they said, to protect the family’s privacy.

I, personally, bristle over the mere thought of parents’ naming their son after Adolf Hitler, but that’s an emotion I have to deal with. I have no right to prevent people from naming their kids whatever they want, no matter how offensive I think the name might be. I have no right to force them to change the name and no right to grant to a government the right to force them to make the change, either.

But who is acting more like the people those kids were named after, the parents or the state who took the kids from them?

Sometimes, as with a bureaucracy that deems to know what names are best for people, overregulation is ridiculous and laughable, but when they separate kids from their parents such laws are dangerous. Even when they don’t take kids away, such statutes are intrusions into a person’s private life and decision-making process and should be overturned.

The results of other forms of intrusion are often more serious, however.

Cops beat people for video recording them in public. Perhaps they think they can get away with that because it is cameras the people carry, not firearms, so they can’t fight back. In one recent case, the cops actually beat a person on his own property for recording them while they were across the street. The man was nowhere near the police and had no ability to interfere with what they were doing. One cop simply crossed onto the man’s property and beat him for using his camera.

While it’s easy to be skeptical, it’s difficult to be optimistic. I have to try being optimistic, though. I dream of some libertarian’s establishing a 12-step program for those who think they know what’s best for everyone else. It’s called Politicians Anonymous and I can hear the speaker now: “Hello. My name is Barack and I’m a statist.” “Hi, Barack,” is the reply from the crowd. Members teach newbies the meaning of the phrase “mind your own business.”

Meanwhile, private security guards outside the meeting hall are patrolling with serious firepower, full-size TV-quality video cameras with external microphones and lights, and maybe a magnum or two.

Silly? Maybe, but we all need some humor to get by, even if it’s silly.

Where’s my boogie board? I think I need a trip to the ocean.

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    Rich Schwartzman is managing editor at Chadds Ford Live in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania.