It’s stupid – but is it government’s business?

By Nathan Barton

Should it be illegal?

The Atlanta Journal-Constition tells us that in Georgia, bureaucrats are telling a couple what name they can NOT give their child. “An Atlanta family is at odds with the state over their right to give their daughter the last name of their choosing. Elizabeth Handy and Bilal Walk, claim that Georgia officials are refusing to grant their daughter — ZalyKha Graceful Lorraina Allah — a birth certificate. … State officials, however, said the child’s name… does not fit the naming conventions set up by state law. They say that ZalyKha’s last name should either be Handy, Walk or a combination of the two.”

First off, let’s note that these parents are incredibly stupid, giving this poor baby girl such a ridiculous name. They are saddling her for life with constant misery; a life of constantly having to spell her name out for people, for trying to fit her name into everything from employment applications to contracts to buy anything. And to stereotyping; regardless of her race or ethnic background she will be prejudged and probably identified as a ghetto-dwelling urban Muslim black. I suspect that she will have to fight and get most people to call her Grace or perhaps Lorrie (Lori) or Lorraine, all common girls’ names. Her names will be an especial burden if she turns out, for example, NOT to be a graceful woman. And she may find that a lot of people are very offended at her last name.

Mama’s Note: I very much agree that names are no business of the state, in any case. If these parents are indeed Muslim, I can’t see how they would want to use the name of their “god” that way, and if they are not, some actual Muslims may well take such umbrage that the child would be in serious danger. The term “stupid” doesn’t begin to cover the insanity of this whole thing.

But does the State have any business in dictating the names? Apparently, they do not object to the ZalyKha Graceful Lorraina part (which is still really stupid), but the Allah “surname.” (This hardly can be called a “family name” although perhaps her parents believe we are all part of Allah’s (God’s?) family.)

Giving a child a different last name or surname than that of one or both parents is, again, stupid. It makes it difficult to understand and track family relationships and therefore genetics and potentially (for most of us) significant inherited diseases or defects (or even, strengths!). It is confusing, both to young children and to employers and friends – and even families. People will argue that the State has an important interest in tracking family relationships and individual identities, and that shared family names are important to that.

Mama’s Note: The family unit is so fragmented these days, especially among the inner city folk where the identity of the father is so often unknown… and unknowable. Little of the above would likely apply to this child, since she will probably never know her extended family, or care about it. The far greater problem would be the irrational response of fundamental Muslims in her community.

But does THAT justify the government’s intervention into what the parents decide? After all, the child can (when she is an adult, at least) petition a court to change her name to something reasonable. And it seems that the odds are that she will NOT grow to adulthood with the same parents that conceived and birthed her: she may have multiple fathers and mothers (serially or simultaneously) and a whole raft of half- and full-siblings. She might even be put up for adoption or fostered out, and given an entirely new name.

Ultimately, it comes down to liberty. The only people who have any right to name their child are the birth parents. And in the long run of life, only the person themselves has any right to claim and use a name of their own choice. The excuses for the state to intervene are not sufficient to take away this liberty (if there could be ANY “reasons” or excuses – which I doubt). Cultural? Who made the state the guardian of culture?

Would you consider giving this little baby girl this awful name an act of aggression against her by her parents? A form of child abuse? It very well may be. (I’ve known people whose parents named them things like Waylon Wall, Ima Hooker, and Walter Thistle Nettles. Pretty bad.) But is that the business of the government to intervene? No matter if it “might” be (if you accept anything should be the government’s business), the consequences of giving government such power are certain to be very bad.

Mama’s Note: I once worked with a doctor named Christian Loveblood. No idea how he coped with that all his life. He just happened to be a very good surgeon!

About TPOL Nathan

Follower of Christ Jesus (christian), Pahasapan, Westerner, Lover of Liberty, Free-Market Anarchist, Engineer, Army Officer, Husband, Father, Historian, Writer.
This entry was posted in Commentary on the News, Nathan's Rants and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to It’s stupid – but is it government’s business?

  1. Roger D says:

    Naming a child is the parent’s jurisdiction. Period.


    • MamaLiberty says:

      Of course. And whatever consequences result are theirs too. Well, except for the consequences to the child. Never heard of what goes on in “school?” I had an unusual last name, and suffered quite a bit of teasing and ugly comments. Fortunately, nobody was trying to kill me over it. And, very fortunately, my family was able to convince me to ignore the teasing – for the most part. I learned not to care.

      You have a right to do anything you wish. You don’t, however, get to avoid the consequences. And when there are serious consequences to an innocent child, it doesn’t make much sense. But, sure, they have the right to call her anything they please. sigh


  2. Darkwing says:

    I remember back in the early 70’s some singer named her girl, first name, god, the first letter was not cap. The public bitched but no government stopped he.


  3. Ken Hagler says:

    Allah isn’t the name of a god, it’s the Arabic word for god.


    • MamaLiberty says:

      I wouldn’t know, and don’t care personally. I’m an agnostic, so “god” doesn’t have any name for me.

      Try telling that to the people who torture and kill anyone they can get their hands on for “blasphemy,” which at least in the “news” includes the use of “allah” in any way they don’t approve. And that isn’t only “over there.”


    • Nathan Barton says:

      Ken, you are undoubtedly correct, but Muslims treat “Allah” as if it were the name for their god. But numerous Muslim courts and the courts of Muslim majority nations treat it as if it IS the name of their god, and have prevented and punished Christians and Jews for daring to use Allah as a translation for the word “god” in English, Hebrew, Arabic, and other languages in Tanakh or Bibles published in (or for) distribution in their territories, or to Muslims. (Of course, in some countries, merely giving a Muslim a Bible or Tanakh is a capital crime.)


  4. JdL says:

    Nathan: “First off, let’s note that these parents are incredibly stupid, giving this poor baby girl such a ridiculous name.”

    Mama: “The term ‘stupid’ doesn’t begin to cover the insanity of this whole thing.”

    I think you both need to take a chill pill. You may not have noticed, but a lot of people alive today have really wacky names, and as far as I know there’s no epidemic of violence against them.

    I agree, of course, that the State should refrain from sticking its big fat nose into the matter.


    • MamaLiberty says:

      “I agree, of course, that the State should refrain from sticking its big fat nose into the matter.”

      That, of course, was the whole point, JdL… And free individuals can certainly consider anything they wish to be “stupid.” Just giving stupid names to babies was not the point of considering the potential for violence against her either. The Muslims, bless their hearts, have proven for CENTURIES that they are quite willing and able to become violent murderers over the least hint of “disrespect” for the name of their “god.” I certainly didn’t invent the idea, and only worry that this helpless and innocent child might become the target of such… But you, of course, are just as free to think of any of it differently.


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