Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

December 16, 2008

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.

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  • Paul

    Child abuse? Not immediately. However the life-altering consequences of such a decision will be a socio- and psychological disadvantage.

    I would argue that it’s criminal negligence.

  • http://anarchangel.blogspot.com Chris

    If it ever becomes illegal to be an asshole, it means the time for revolution has come… and unfortunately, most likely passed.

  • pinky

    Whatever you want to call it, it is going to bring abuse on the child so I will neologize a medical term and call it abuse by proxy! What kind of rights do the parents have to open their kid to that kind of abuse and crap he’s going to suffer his whole life? Because their idea is greater than the child’s feelings.

  • Maurice

    That name is unique for a reason. That name is also why the war lasted so long and cost so many lives. As a parent, you have to ask yourself how such a name will affect my childs life. And while I don’t think it is child abuse, it certainly is gross negligence on behalf of the parents. The father in question said we as a people should look forward not back, then tells us that the boots he wears were worn by a soldier in ww2. Only fools collect and display relics from war. All it is to us former soldiers is a reminder of some hardware that caused some poor bastard a whole lot of pain. I think he should wake up to himself, or come and see me and I’ll wake him up for free.

  • thomasblair

    Maurice,

    That name is also why the war lasted so long and cost so many lives.

    Nonsense. An individual person perpetrated those atrocities, not a name. There were people with that same name before WWII and since and none of them have been genocidal tyrants.

  • ottar

    Is it child abuse? OF COURSE it is. Even asking the question is retarded.

  • SKV

    Adolf Hitler are couple words that strongly associated with negative meaning. Do parent have right to name kid like Bloody Killer or Dirty A-s?
    Parents failed to recognize impact of such name on their kid. Parents must consider kid well being rather use him to manifest their believes at his expense. BTW that what Hitler did at expense of his nation.

  • http://www.thelibertypapers.org/author/tarran/ tarran

    That name is also why the war lasted so long and cost so many lives.

    People also name their kids after Winston Churchill, FDR and Truman who arguably also prolonged the war with their demands for unconditional surrender. Yet we don’t consider that child abuse.

    The parents aren’t doing the kids any favors by giving them those names. The parents also have pretty bad taste. I don’t think we can really do anything about it other than to boycott them.

  • Akston

    One man’s abuse is another’s tribute. Many people despise what Adolf Hitler did, myself included. Some don’t.

    Kids can’t choose names for themselves at birth any more than they choose their religion. Some religions are more common than others as well. If we let popularity decide what names are abusive, should we also determine which religious beliefs are unpopular enough to constitute “abuse” when passing them on to one’s children?

    There is a wide array of behaviors, beliefs, and self-identifications parents pass on to their children which I find personally objectionable. What makes me a better arbiter of those choices than the parents?

  • Norm

    So I guess if it is abuse then we should have sympathy that little Adolf has poor parents. So in effect Adolf would get cut more slack for his name rather than more grief because of it. Oh wait… the public isn’t smart enough to figure that out.

  • Maurice

    Well, it seems people are happy to call their kids Adolf and Ghengis and Himler and whatever else. So go ahead, knock yourselves out. Just don’t whinge, bitch, complain and cry ‘bullying’ when your child gets teased at school. Now to thomasblair’s comment, most people know that when a name is mentioned they are referring to that person. I guess you needed to be told that eh?

  • Paul

    What about the situation where two people are born around the same time are given the same name? There must have been more than one Adolf Hitler in Germany at that time.

    It’s not the parents’ fault in such a case, but the individual sharing this name may hold his name in contempt.

    In some places of the United States, simply having a French name guarantees torment by one’s peers. Should you hold the parents responsible for their child’s torment resulting from the name?

    The Adolf Hitler situation is an extreme[ly oversimplified] case of racial and ethnic bias in the United States. I would suspect that such a name wouldn’t be as big of an issue in other countries around the world, but may be a bigger issue in other countries.

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