Some say it builds character. Johnny Cash, who never had to worry about his name, said as much in "A Boy Named Sue." In the song, Sue looks forward to killing the absentee dad who left him nothing but a ridiculous name. When he finally comes across "the dirty, mangy dog that named me Sue," he attacks him with a chair. They fight to a draw, and the dad says:
"Son, this world is rough
And if a man's gonna make it, he's gotta be tough
And I knew I wouldn't be there to help ya along.
So I give ya that name and I said goodbye
I knew you'd have to get tough or die
And it's the name that helped to make you strong."
He said: "Now you just fought one hell of a fight
And I know you hate me, and you got the right
To kill me now, and I wouldn't blame you if you do.
But ya ought to thank me, before I die,
For the gravel in ya guts and the spit in ya eye
Cause I'm the son-of-a-bitch that named you 'Sue.'"
I got all choked up and I threw down my gun
And I called him my pa, and he called me his son,
And I came away with a different point of view.
Even so, he knows better than to run any child of his through a similar wringer:
And if I ever have a son, I think I'm gonna name him
Bill or George! Anything but Sue! I still hate that name!
But today brings a story about a Wellington, New Zealand girl whose name is so egregiously bad, a court has actually stepped in to rescue her. Of "Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii" (yes, that's the kid's name), Judge Rob Murfitt wrote:
The court is profoundly concerned about the very poor judgment which this child's parents have shown in choosing this name. It makes a fool of the child and sets her up with a social disability and handicap, unnecessarily.
The article provides a short list of names that have been blocked by the New Zealand authorities:
Fish and Chips (You're so cute I could just eat you up! Pass the vinegar.)
Yeah Detroit (Motor City madness)
Keenan Got Lucy (Are those the parent's names? a+b=a+b?)
Sex Fruit (It does have truth on its side, but that's all it has.)
Names permitted in New Zealand have included:
Number 16 Bus Shelter (Scene of the crime?)
Violence (huh? Babies having babies, is all I can say)
Makes Barak seem kind of like Johnny. Even Barack seems OK by comparison. Heck, even Hussein seems innocuous now.
Can a name make you tough? Can a name make you President-tough?