According to one judge in Tennessee, not so much. MessiahDeShawnMartin’s parents couldn’t agree on a name for their baby, so they took their battle to court. A child support magistrate in Tennessee recently ruled that Jaleesa Martin could not name her child Messiah (which, incidentally, is currently in the top 400 baby names in the country, so she was hardly being unique), because “It’s a title that has only been earned by one person—Jesus Christ,” magistrate Lu Ann Ballew told a local TV station. And she changed the baby’s name to Martin Deshawn McCullough.
As we’ve talked about in the past, the U.S. doesn’t generally outlaw baby names, though other countries have limitations on what children can be named. Jaleesa is appealing the decision, and I’m thinking she may win—though this case is complicated by the fact that both parents aren’t agreeing on the baby’s name. You can catch a CNN report on the story here:
So what do you think? Did the judge have the right to pick a name for the baby? Are there any baby names that you think should be banned in the U.S.?
The reason she may have to take her case to the highest court in the country is Iceland’s strict naming laws, which require parents to choose a name that is on a list of around 3,500 baby names, or petition a special commission for the right to use something else. But there are strict controls on those special cases—such as the requirement that it uses only letters in the Icelandic alphabet, a rule that prohibits parents from using “C” names like Crystal, Carrie or Christopher, at least with their traditional spellings. (Names that are considered distasteful or offensive to the child are banned, too—so don’t expect a baby named Loser or Hashtag to fly there, either.)
Bjork was prohibited from using the name for her daughter because the word Blaer is considered masculine, as it takes the masculine article in the Icelandic language.
We’ve debated the merits of laws on baby naming before on the blog (especially when the baby girl named Hashtag Jameson came to light), but to me, this sounds totally restrictive of a parent’s rights. And it also seems like it’s ridiculous to ban this particular name—Blaer is very close to the English name Blair, and it has a beautiful meaning in Icelandic. I’m hoping that the court sees reason on this, and overturns the naming commission’s decision, allowing Blaer to keep her beautiful name.
What do you think, parents? Do you like the name Blaer? Do you think naming restrictions are the way to go? What would you do if you lived in a country that limited baby names?
Here in the U.S., we have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And also the right to name our kids anything we want. But I’m thinking the Founding Fathers weren’t imagining a brave new world where people didn’t name their kids Martha and George and Thomas, but picked names like Lemonjello, Loser, or the current crowning achievement in baby names—Hashtag.
Poor baby Hashtag Jameson (a girl) was born to parents who apparently adore Twitter—and gave her the unfortunate symbol name, one that’s bound to give her future therapist plenty to work with. She’s part of a trendlet toward social media-related names, along with an Egyptian boy named Facebook, and an Israeli girl named Like (as in Facebook’s popular “Like” button).
Several countries around the world have laws against giving your child a truly odd name that others might consider stupid or crazy. They helped prevent babies in Sweden from being named Superman or Ikea, a baby in China from getting @ as a name (which may be one of the few names that’s actually worse than Hashtag), and a kid in New Zealand from the unfortunate name “Sex Fruit.” Maybe it’s time to consider something like that here, to prevent names that might actually cause your child harm and bullying. Names like Destiny Frankenstein, Adolf Hitler, or Dom Perignon.
Of course, that would make my work a whole lot less interesting—and leave celebrities with very few naming options, as they’ll no longer be afforded the options of Moxie Crimefighter, Pilot Inspektor or Moon Unit.
What do you think of the name Hashtag? Do you think we should try to thwart parents’ attempts at name creativity, or simply go with the flow? Let me know in the comments.