An apology for the life of The Bad Baby Names Blog
My First Letter of Dissent!
Shamus asks, "why don't you mind your own business? People have a right to name their children whatever they want. It's narrow minded ethno-centric people that are the real problem."
I agree, Shamus, narrow-minded ethno-centric people are a real problem. I hope I am not counted among them. I hope that my writing here does not give the reader the impression that I only like boring English names like George and Mary. On the contrary! I love names of all sorts, and simply revel in the diversity that American naming provides. I love the fact that I am always meeting a little Freya or Sejal or Fei-Qui or Calliope. It's great! What I honestly don't have a stomach for, though, is parents who apparently do not think before they name. I don't believe this is narrow-minded, and it certainly isn't ethno-centric, so hear me out a moment and let me state my case.
Children deserve good names. I'm not here to debate relative goodness and badness, since they are... well, relative. But I think we can all agree on some basic principles. Readers, chime in here with thoughts if you disagree (or even if you agree, really).
(All of the following names are real, by the way).
1. Children should not have to be billboards for a parent's beliefs. No child should have to be a little Aryan Justice or a Paygan Moonblood or a Republican Samuel - those are the parents choices, not the child's. Imagine poor Aryan trying to get a job with a diversity thinktank. Think of poor Paygan trying to be ordained as a Catholic priest. Poor little Republican would have no political privacy.
1a. Children should not have to be billboards, generally. Serely? Dodge Hemi-James? I am looking at your parents.
2. Children's names should not be demeaning. Don't choose something that sounds like a dirty word (or worse, IS a dirty word! Shithead comes to mind). Don't choose something with blatant sexual connotations (Jiizelle, Ryder). Don't choose something that will only work when the kid is a toddler (Binx, Jojo as a full name).
This is particularly bad for girls, I find. No woman deserves to be permanently branded with a name only a fifties cocktail waitress or an exotic dancer could be proud of. Can you picture a real feminist named Presious Princezz or Sexiebird? How about a Supreme Court Justice Beautie Escapade? Would you get brain surgery from Prettiegirl Heaven Love, M.D.? Children should not have to fight an uphill battle for acceptance their whole lives simply because Treasure Beautiful Heart is a really cute name for a four year old.
3. Children's names should conform to basic phonetics in the language in question. This is probably my most controversial standard, honestly. Want to name your kid Madison? Fine. Maddyson? Okay. Maddyysonne? That's silly, but it's really up to you. But please don't name her Maydson and say it's pronounced "Madison." It's not. It's Maid-son. Kids have enough trouble learning to read as it is - don't give them a name that makes it worse.
The point of this blog is to address with gentle humor what I honestly believe is a growing problem. Accountability in naming is important. I wish I could say, as you do, Shamus, that parents should be allowed to name their kids whatever they want. I agree, fundamentally - parents should be able to! But some parents are not taking that responsibility seriously. I don't know who they are - it's the internet, after all - but if this blog causes even one parent to reconsider a name like Tinkerbelle Fagina, then my work is done!
If you are concerned about the individual kids finding their names on a bad baby names blog, I assure you that I am as well. I figure once the kids are six or so, or old enough to google their own name, I'm sure my blog will be dust in the wind. For now, I let their names stand like abandoned wagons on the trail west, serving as a warning for those who would likewise attempt to cross the mountain pass in October with only 100 pounds of salt pork and no spare axles.
It's a tough world out there. Being named Jedi Knight will not help.