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What's in a Name?

Is it child abuse to stick your kid with a crappy name?

A family court judge in New Zealand thinks so and he recently made a 9-year-old girl a ward of the court so her name could be changed from Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii to a nombre he deemed more appropriate. (http://www.miamiherald.com/news/world/AP/story/616106.html)

"It makes a fool of the child and sets her up with a social disability and handicap," the judge wrote about the girl, whose name he discovered while overseeing her parents' custody battle. In New Zealand, the government can block a kid's name if it's deemed offensive. The judge was so disturbed that he researched his country's propensity for bad names and came up with a list of doozies. Among the names rejected: Fish and Chips, Yeah Detroit, Keenan Got Lucy and Sex Fruit. Others that somehow slipped through included Number 16 Bus Shelter and Violence.

Don't feel bad Kiwis. Hollywood definitely has you beat at the unfortunate name game. Sonny and Cher may have started it in the '70s with Chastity, but today's celebs have had their fun with Apple and Moses (born to Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin); Blue Angel (offspring of U2's The Edge); Moon Unit, Dweezil and Diva Muffin (of the Frank Zappa clan) and Moxie Crimefigher (daughter of Penn Jillette of Penn & Teller).

Nothing like locking your child's destiny in before the kid takes his first green poop.

As someone who did a lot of hand wringing over my kids' names, I'm always astounded by parents who were obviously stoned when they named their children. Tagging kids with the right name is a tricky balance between coming up with something unique and not sticking them with something that dooms them on playgrounds and in office cubicles. Names carry some powerful images and memories. I still have trouble associating the name Ian with anybody other than the nose-picking boy in my second-grade class. And how many Britneys and Ashleys can this world possibly stand?

Like tattoos, some names just aren't so cute as time goes by. Save 'em for your dog.

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