“Dear Abby” And The Unusual Name Paradox [Updated]

The famous Hogg sisters, Ura and Ima.

Let’s begin with a related observation: The now widely accepted method of expressing disagreement with a point of view that varies from leftist (now, now, I use the term with love!) cant is to set out to destroy the point of view’s owner: after all, eliminate or intimidate all the dissenters and adversaries, and progressives no longer have to win  arguments on logic and merit. I know of what I speak: I am increasingly the target of social justice warriors (fascist division), who make formal complaints to my clients or administrative bodies when my ethical guidance doesn’t jibe with the world view their professors indoctrinated them with, thus precluding an open mind.

Thus I sympathize with “Dear Abby,” actually Daughter of Dear Abby Jeanne Phillips (also the niece of Ann Landers), who is now facing the progressive Twitter mob because she dared to opine that naming one’s baby Ifeoma, Bodhi or Laszlo might not be in the child’s long-term interests. “Not only can foreign names be difficult to pronounce and spell, but they can also cause a child to be teased unmercifully,” wrote Phillips. “Sometimes the name can be a problematic word in the English language. And one that sounds beautiful in a foreign language can be grating in English.”

The Horror. Now she is being called racist, and if her syndicate has the backbone and integrity of most organizations these days, which is to say none, she will probably be toast in a matter of weeks if not days. Writer Anand Giridharadas was among those interviewed for a Times story about Abby’s Outrage. “The reality is that a lot of this has to do not with names but with whiteness,” he said. “There are a lot of complicated names from Polish and Russian and Italian and German backgrounds that have become second nature to Americans.”

No, the issue is not “whiteness.” The questions in the ethical equation are…

Are you naming a child for your amusement, self-aggrandizement or political agenda, of for the child?

Is conduct consistent with cultural norms wise and respectful, or is it preferable to announce one’s defiance?

If data and experience shows that odd and unusual names create problems later in life, should responsible parents take that into consideration?

Is it fair and ethical to hang an unnecessary handicap on a child without that child’s approval?

What Phillips said is true. It’s that simple. People don’t like that it’s true, so they are condemning her. Continue reading

More Name Ethics: An Incompetent Judge Blocks An Irresponsible Name

"Mom...Dad! It's your son Messiah!"

“Mom…Dad! It’s your son Messiah!”

Let us stipulate that while  parents in the United States have an absolute right to name their children whatever they please, it one of those aspects of free speech that is often horribly abused by irresponsible, self-centered or just plain dumb parents who treat their children as bumper stickers or social science experiments. Naming your boy “Sue,” (You know) or your daughter “North West,” (Kanye West) or your daughter “Fifi Trixibelle” (Bob Geldof) is unforgivably and gratuitously cruel, virtually guaranteeing that your child will be a target, a head case, or will change his or her name the second legal majority comes around. Nonetheless, the state doesn’t raise children in America—yet—and parents can still decide what they wear, watch, learn and eat, as well as the name they have to answer to. The operative term is “free country.” Many of our fellow citizens don’t like or understand that concept, which is also their right in a free country. Judges, however, must not only understand the concept but constrain their power by it.

This is why Cocke County (Tennessee) Child Support Magistrate Lu Ann Ballew needs to be a) removed from her job and b) set on a more appropriate career path, like say, taking tolls in a tunnel or orders at Papa John’s. She ruled—it doesn’t matter how or why this came about—you can read the ridiculous story here-–that the parents of a baby couldn’t name him “Messiah,” because, she said in an interview with a reporter whose mouth had to be surgically closed afterward, “The word ‘Messiah’ is a title, and it’s a title that has only been earned by one person – and that one person is Jesus Christ.”  Continue reading

Ethics Quote of the Month: Ken At Popehat

“Evil exists. Good people should fight evil. But government is often the wrong instrument to fight evil. The people doing sick and contemptible things to children in the name of “curing” homosexuality very likely feel as strongly as I do, and might — if they got their way — use government to achieve their ends. People who love liberty must fight with their heads, not just their hearts.”

—– Ken, the First Amendment besotted lawyer/blogger/libertarian/wit who reigns at Popehat, writing about his doubts regarding California’s ban of so-called “conversion therapy.”

I recommend that you read the whole post, and everything Ken writes, basically.

I’m somewhat less conflicted than Ken in my opposition to this legislation, and wrote about the ban earlier this year, here, and here.

“Progressive” Totalitarianism In California: Legislative Quackery, and Wrong

Well, they did it.

If you think Jerry’s moonbeam has expired, you should see Linda…

The California Sate Legislature,  spurred on by State Senator Ted Lieu and with the approval of erstwhile “Governor Moonbeam” (nobody calls Jerry Brown this anymore since he went bald and gray, but he’ll always be that in my heart! ), has decreed that if you think your son or daughter may be confused about their sexuality, you’re out of luck, or you’d better move to a state that hasn’t made political correctness mandatory—which is to say, to this degree, anyway, any of the rest. It’s a truly sickening law, and the fact that none of the news reporting of it indicates that the reporters are properly nauseous scares the pants off of me.

I wrote about this despicable measure when it was still a twinkle in California’s jaundiced eye, and I’m not going to repeat myself—except to reiterate that my objections have nothing to do with believing that “gay conversion therapy”  is usually anything but a wishful and desperate brainwashing attempt by parents who are homophobic and whose religion teaches them that Satan just chose to give their son the Pervert Virus. Nonetheless, therapists talk, and this is a law that tells them what they can and can’t talk about. Ethics Foul I: abuse of power and violation of  Free Speech.  Continue reading

Incompetent Elected Officials of the Month: The California State Legislature

California knows what’s best for your maybe-gay child, not your child’s therapist. Resistance is futile…

California’s legislature is poised to pass legislation that would ban state doctors, counselors and therapists from offering sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE) treatment for minors, and parents from seeking them. The rationale is a tangle of research, opinion, politics, ideology and political correctness that makes distinguishing legitimate reasons from illegitimate ones impossible. The end result, however, is a law that tells counselors and therapists what is appropriate treatment regardless of their expertise and the wishes of parents, because, of course, the typically moderately IQ-endowed legislators know best, or rather the gay rights advocates who dictate to them do. Either way, this is a serious intrusion of government into the counseling profession, free speech, parental authority and individual freedom, and any competent elected official would see that the second such an over-reaching and presumptuous bill reached his or her desk. Continue reading

Ethics Hero: The Staff and Administrators of Summerlin Hospital (Las Vegas)


Lincoln and Cecilia Rogers wanted to treat their newborn's illness their own way...

The angry parents of a newborn have sparked protests against Summerlin Hospital in Las Vegas, Nevada, by revealing that their baby was kept at the hospital against their will after a nurse contacted social services for what they describe as an “unjustified reason.”


The “unjustified reason” was that Lincoln and Cecilia Rogers wanted to take baby Lilia home and treat her jaundice “the natural way,” according to her mother. Whenever hospital staff hears a parent say that the family wants to eschew hospital treatment of a child’s serious health problem “the natural way’—or, for that matter, “the supernatural way”, as in “we’re going to put it in God’s hands,” a child’s life is in danger. This is the time for a hospital to stop thinking about legal issues (“Make sure they sign a waiver and consent form!”) or public controversy, and to think about the endangered welfare of the child. Continue reading

Boseman v. Jarrell: A Gay Mother Tries to Use Legal Discrimination To Her Advantage

Julia Boseman and Melissa Jarrell were domestic partners in Wilmington, North Carolina, and always wanted to raise a child together. In May of 2000, they decided to make their dream a reality, and began the process of having a baby. They decided that Melissa would do the child-bearing, but Julia would be equally involved in the process in every other respect. They  chose an anonymous sperm donor together after researching and discussing various options. They jointly attended the medical session necessary to conceive their child and to administer proper prenatal care. Julia read to the gestating child in Melissa’s womb and played music for him; she also cared for Melissa during her pregnancy and was present at the birth. Melissa and Julia jointly chose their son’s first name, and agreed that he should have a hyphenated last name composed of their surnames. In every way, they behaved publicly and privately as the parents of the child, introducing him into their respective extended families.

But North Carolina refuses to recognize same-sex marriages, so in the eyes of the state, Julia was not legally a parent. To remedy this obstacle, she sought and received a court order adopting the child without severing her partner’s legally recognized parental rights. Officially, their child now had two, same-sex parents. Then the couple split acrimoniously, with the acrimony greatly magnified when Melissa sought to limit Julia’s contact with her son.

Julia sued, arguing that she was the child’s parent as much as Melissa. Continue reading

Child Support Enforcement Is Not Unethical

It is unusual to see a woman defending non-payment of child support, but that is just what blogger Elaine Doxie does in a recent post. She argues that enforcing child support may be unethical when the non-paying parent has legitimate reasons for non-payment.  Her arguments that child support enforcement can be unethical show a serious misunderstanding of what an obligation is.

Speaking of “deadbeat dads”, Doxie writes, “They may be unemployed, hospitalized, in jail or even a prisoner of war, and are all treated as if they got into the situation they are in just to get out of paying child support.” The logic behind child support is that a parent’s obligations do not change just because he or she is not living with the child.  An unemployed father in a family still has to feed and clothe and otherwise care for the needs of his children; he can’t just take care of himself and argue, “Hey, times are tough!” Continue reading