Open Thread Question: Is Naming a Child “Adolf Hitler” Child Abuse?by Stephen Littau
Heath and Deborah Campbell have three young children. Their names: JoyceLynn Aryan Nation Campbell, Honszlynn Hinler Jeannie Campbell, and Adolph Hitler Campbell. Unsurprisingly to everyone (with the exception of Heath and Deborah Campbell), having such names for their children can have very negative effects on their children. When it came time to request a birthday cake from ShopRite complete with the words “Happy Birthday Adolf Hitler,”* ShopRite refused. ShopRite offered to leave room for the Campbells to write the inscription themselves but the Campbells refused.
In the comments section of this news story, some suggest that the very act of naming a child Adolf Hitler constitutes child abuse. There’s no question that in the course of Adolf’s life his name will cause him a great deal of hardships; not having a cake with his name on it will probably be the least of them. But child abuse?
I am hesitant to say that naming a child after a despicable person is child abuse for the same reason I oppose so-called hate crimes legislation: criminalizing thought. Are those who would argue that naming a child Adolf Hitler is child abuse suggesting that CPS should take the children away from the Campbells? If so, what other names should be considered child abuse worthy of the state taking action? David Duke? Joseph Stalin? If the Campbells would have chosen “Che Guevera Campbell” or “Mao Zedong Campbell” (Mao who killed many times that of Adolf Hitler), ShopRite probably would have had no problem inscribing those names and the child would likely have far fewer problems associated with those names in his lifetime.
Perhaps when Adolf reaches adulthood he can choose to change his name** and serve his loving parents with a lawsuit for a lifetime of otherwise avoidable emotional and psychological damages?
But until that day, how should the public respond to the Campbells? They should be shunned.
And goods and/or services businesses would otherwise provide the Campbells? ShopRite did the right thing by refusing to grant their request. Businesses should have the right to refuse service to anyone for any reason.
If enough people refuse to associate themselves with the Campbells, perhaps they will be shamed into learning that naming a child Adolf Hitler isn’t the best idea. But to say that giving their children such terrible names is child abuse may be a bridge too far.
*It’s not clear from the story if the request was made including the boy’s last name or not.
**If I were him I’d probably change my last name too. Why even be associated with this family? This is one person who probably wouldn’t mind being in the witness relocation program.