New Zealand: No, You Cannot Name Your Child "Anal"

In the U.S. the idea that the government might censor baby names seems ridiculous. After all, we are supposed to be a country that values personal liberty, as well as cultural diversity. With a swelling population of immigrants from all over the world, how could the U.S. ever even attempt to compile a comprehensive list of "suitable" names? Besides don't we have more compelling orders of business to address ... gun control perhaps?

Well, that's not how New Zealand sees it, as parents must first have their proposed baby name approved by the government. Recently, New Zealand released a list of baby names rejected over the last 12 years. Some of the gems include: Lucifer, Majesty, Royale, Christ, Messiah, and Justice ("Justus" and "Juztice" were also rejected, by the way, so don’t get any ideas …). In New Zealand it’s illegal to have a given name that implies a title, so that rules out King, Queen, Princess, Master, Emperor, Judge, Knight, Duke, Saint, General and Bishop.

It's hard to tell which is more bizarre; the idea that these names are all banned by the government, or that there are parents who actually proposed these names in the first place.

And they only get more outlandish from there. For example, "Anal" was proposed, as was ". (full stop)," "V8," and "Mafia No Fear." There were also a series of Roman numeral names, punctuation marks as names (for example the asterisk and period symbols), as well as single letters or numbers.

New Zealand is actually in good company; several countries restrict the names of their newest citizens, including Denmark, Germany, Japan, China, and Norway. The level of name-regulation around the world varies from Denmark's restrictive list of 7,000 appropriate names, to France where there are almost no restrictions, and parents have free reign. While some countries like Germany have laws on the books to protect the "well-being of the child," the laws of other nations are built on practical concerns. For example, in China names are restricted to characters easily identified by their automated ID system.

From the American perspective, where there are almost no restrictions on names, New Zealand's approach seems like overkill. Indeed, Hollywood seems at the forefront of inane names: Pilot Inspektor, Audio Science, Moxie Crimefighter, Zuma Nesta Rock, and Kal-El, were all spawned by Hollywood minds. Similarly cruel (and way too reminiscent of porn star names) are Fifi Trixiebell, Princess Tiaamii and Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily.

On the other hand, perhaps the U.S. should start banning "unsuitable" names. At least it would prevent parents from "expressing their individuality" by scarring their children irreparably.

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Nicole Polizzi

Nicole is an adjunct lecturer in Sociology, Philosophy and Composition at ASA in Manhattan. Professionally she is dually obsessed with the expansion/protection of human rights and social justice, and holistic, arts-inclusive education reform. Running, writing and belting Adele in the shower are her catharses.

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