Unusual Names for Children Banned as "Child Abuse"; NAACP Files Protest

Fake News written by David Lee Deville on Monday, September 18, 2000

from the we're-gonna-get-flame-mail-over-this-one dept.

CHARLESTON, MO -- The Charleston City Council today enacted a new ordinance classifying "unusual or intentionally misspelled baby names" as child abuse.

The local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People ("NAACP") immediately filed a petition with the Missouri Supreme Court, charging that the measure was aimed specifically at black children and therefore unconstitutional. A ruling is expected sometime before the end of this year.

"We can understand the desire for African-American parents to have distinct, ancestral names to pass on to their children," said councilman Rick Stubbs. "But some of these names aren't even close to being African. They're just plain mean."

Councilwoman Hillary Shelton agrees. "It was all fun and games when the names were relatively harmless, like Rufus or Leroy. Now, it's out of control. These kids are scarred for life."

The Reverend Cleophus Gray, pastor of St. Demetrius' African Methodist Episcopal Church and head of the local NAACP in Charleston, has a different view.

"Sure, some of these names were created by tossing a bunch of Scrabble letters in the air and just going with the random results," he admitted. "How else do you explain a name like Shaquanda, Daeshawndria, or LaAnfernee? We admit these names are made up out of thin air. We further admit that these words are essentially a big contest to see who can come up with the biggest bastardization of a proper English name. However, we insist that it is our constitutional right to name our kids whatever we want, even if it's cruel. Someday, they can grow up and get even by doing it to their kids."

The sponsor of the ordinance, councilwoman Bessie Schmitt, says the measure is long overdue.

"We've got kids from our black neighborhoods going into the eleventh grade that can do trigonometry and calculus, but they still can't figure out how to spell their names. On top of that, they may never get a good job with a name that obviously marks them as another kind of minority: the name-impaired. This just has to stop," says Schmitt.

Mrs. Schmitt also runs the computer lab at Charleston High School, and knows first hand how much trouble some of these names can cause. "We have to turn off the spell-check function on our computers, or they crash as soon as one of the kids types their name in," she said mournfully. "Moneeka Jones typed her name on the computer one time, and it fouled up the program so bad that the monitor actually caught on fire. After that, we had to give up on spell-check for good. Even on our Linux computers."

Certain persons with particularly difficult names, such as Shanikqua, Jamarcus, D'andre, Charleeta, Shanteka, and Antowain already qualify under Federal government guidelines as protected minorities. This was put into effect in 1994 when President Clinton signed the "Name-Impaired Americans Protection Act".

[Co-Editor's note: If a person were to be "name-impaired", on top of all previous minorities established, this presents a quandary. A black disabled atheist lesbian left-handed veteran single mother that spoke Spanish and was also name-impaired could, under this law, be a "super-minority". This would mean a hypothetical ability to single-handedly pass welfare bills and sign them into law. -- Chris M.]

This means, in a nutshell, that Charleston's ban on unusual names will most likely not pass judicial muster.

Along with the ordinance banning the unusual names, the council is also considering the issuance of an order for confiscating all Scrabble sets within the Charleston city limits.