We recently welcomed Blue Ivy Carter to the world, but if she’d been born in another country, Jay-Z and Beyoncé might have been legally obligated to choose a different name.
As nearly every American celebrity has proven, U.S. citizens can lawfully name their offspring just about anything. But in other nations, the government often intervenes. Take New Zealand, where the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages released an official list of prohibited names. Planning to call your daughter “Yeah Detroit”? Always dreamed of twins named “89” and “Sex Fruit?” Steer clear of New Zealand, since those are all illegal. The government will, however, accept boys named “Number 16 Bus Shelter.” At least they’re being logical about it.
In Germany, names must clearly indicate gender. According to Mental Floss, “Matti” is unacceptable for a boy, as it does not imply the child’s sex, but “Legolas” and “Nemo” are fair game. In Iceland, if a name doesn’t already appear on the National Register of Persons, parents must submit an application. A federal committee ultimately rules, addressing grammatical concerns along with potential effects the name will have on the child later on.
And really, therein lies the conundrum. To what extent does the government have a responsibility to intervene when the freedom to name a child melds into the murky arena of psychological abuse? Sure, it’s amusing to consider that a person legally named “Number 16 Bus Shelter” could be walking around Auckland right now, but it’s also important to consider the psychological and social ramifications. Consider the New Jersey parents notorious for naming their children Adolf Hitler and Aryan Nation, who were eventually found not guilty of child abuse.
As long as the names don’t constitute abuse or purposefully generate ridicule, NewsFeed is all for unique baby names. Where would the world be if Frank Zappa had been barred from naming his children Moon Unit, Ahmet Emuukha Rodan, and Diva Thin Muffin Pigeen?