December 17, 2008

Adolf Hitler Cake

As I first saw yesterday on The Wife's favorite site, the usually-amusing, the Outrage Of The Week comes from Greenwich, New Jersey, where Heath and Deborah Campbell have had to fight to get a birthday cake made for their tow-headed three-year old son. They just want a cake with his name on it that wishes him a happy birthday. What's the problem?

The problem is that they named their son "Adolph Hitler Campbell." Some people are just a little bit offended. Which, of course, was the Campbells' desire all along -- they chose to pick fights with vendors and to attention-whore when they named their son that. (Bad enough that they've got the kid sporting a mullet at age three.)

And their perversity didn't stop there. Adolph's younger sister, Aryan Nation Campbell, will probably have similar problems when she gets old enough to have to tell people her name. The newest member of this charming family, Honszlynn Hinler Campbell, is named after Heinrich Himmler (for those a little short on their WWII history, Heinrich Himmler ran the SS and was chosen to succeed Hitler as the leader of Nazi Germany after der Fuhrer's suicide).

Giving your kids Nazi names is child abuse.

How can these kids possibly grow up to be well-adjusted members of society with names like "Adolph Hitler" and "Aryan Nation"? The Campbells have doomed their children to a lifetime of being pariahs and outcasts. It's not far to the kids at all.

Look, you can name your kids what you like. That's your right as a parent. But just because you have the right does not relieve you of some responsibility. There are some names you just plain shouldn't give them. "Adolph Hitler" is pretty much right at the very top of that list of names you should not give your children. Seriously, naming your child "Satan" is probably better than naming your child "Adolph Hitler." Satan, after all, is a fictional figure. Hitler was real. There are still people alive who watched their whole families get murdered because of Hitler. And if you name your kid "Satan" the kid can pronounce it like the hockey player's last name -- "suh-tahn." There's pretty much no escape from being cursed with a name like "Adolph Hitler."

I hope that as soon as they are eighteen (or otherwise able to do so) these kids petition the courts to get their names changed and bail out on their loser attention-whore neo-Nazi parents so they can put together the pieces of their lives and try to become somewhat normal. Sadly, they probably will not.

They are being raised by these freaks because our Constitution vests in the natural parents of children the right to raise them as they see fit absent overwhelming evidence to the contrary, and also the right of people to express highly antisocial views in pretty much whatever manner they choose. I don't know for sure if naming your child is something that is protected under the First Amendment but I'm reasonably confident that it is.

Consequently, we can expect the Campbells to raise their children to be malignant little white supremacists, and to interpret the social condemnation that their parents saddled them with from birth as an affirmation of those bigoted world views. Unfortunately, I don't think these kids have much of a chance at all -- they've started out blameless, but they can't help being influenced as they're raised by an environment so twisted that their parents thought it was a good idea to name their children "Adolph Hitler," "Aryan Nation," and "Honszlynn Hinler."

The Constitution's protection of fundamental rights, as you can see, does not always foster uniformly good social policy. Some people will absolutely insist on doing boneheaded things with their rights -- and the rest of us have no choice to stand back and shake our heads in bafflement. If we didn't have to respect their constitutional rights, I would suggest that Heath and Deborah Campbell be surgically sterilized to prevent them from having more children to do this to, and their existing children taken away from them and renamed by a court. But, they are within their rights and society can't do those things to this family despite the galactically obvious fact that these people ought not to be trusted with the task of raising alfala sprouts, much less children.

Still, no one says that the rest of us have to make birthday cakes that say "Happy Birthday Adolph Hitler." We have our rights, too, and the Campbells ought not to be surprised when they encounter resistance to their colossal and quite intentional offensiveness. Their kids will pay at least a part of the price for their parents' antisocial decision, but that decision was made not by the rest of us, but rather by their awful, awful parents.

UPDATE: A Reader tipped me off to the fact that in addition to Wal-Mart agreeing to make young Adolph's cake in this instance, that company has a history of publicly running afoul of inadvertently associating itself with Nazis. It sold T-shirts with designs favored by the Nazis and ran advertisements comparing restrictive local zoning ordinances in Arizona to Nazi book-burnings. That's not to say that Wal-Mart is evil or pro-Nazi; it is to say that it is a big company that sometimes employs people who are careless and therefore don't think about what they're making themselves look like. Particularly in the case of Wal-Mart, don't attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by incompetence.


Michael Reynolds said...

I totally agree that this is child abuse. So do my kids, Pol Pot Reynolds and Josef Stalin Reynolds.

Anonymous said...
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Burt Likko said...

Second comment deleted for violation of no-advertising policy.

Anonymous said...

I went to elementary and (briefly) high school with a kid named "Adolph." No "Hitler," and a slightly different spelling, but nonetheless his name made him a constant source of ridicule.* No one could even begin to imagine why his parents ever chose that name. Even when he was as young as eight or nine he went by an unrelated nickname.

On the other hand, "Adolfo" is not an uncommon name in Latin America and seems to attract little attention.

* = not to his face; in a living example of the Boy Named Sue phenomenon, he was an excellent streetfighter from a very young age.


David Schraub said...

I never understood why the New Jersey Devils (my hockey team) never got ahold of Satan. It wouldn't just be for laughs either -- Satan was a stud forward and the Devils needed offense.

Oh, the actual content of the post was good too, I guess.

DaveBuck said...

In the book, Freakonomics, there's the story of the man who named one of his kids Winner and one of his kids Loser. You might be surprised to find out which one stayed out of jail and became a fine, upstanding cop.

He goes by Lou.

Burt Likko said...

I remember that story. As I recall, the guess offered by the authors was that Loser worked hard to prove that he wasn't really a loser despite his name, and Winner kind of took it for granted that he'd become a winner and instead became a slacker.