The Mexican state of Sonora recently released a list of baby names that it has banned. These names have already been used by parents in the state, but the new list officially puts a cap on their use. That means no more kids in Sonora can be named Facebook, Rambo, Circumcision, Lady Di, Juan Calzone (which translates to ‘Juan Panties’ in English), or an additional 55 names that are on the list.
Admittedly, officials have a pretty good explanation for their ruling. The director of the Sonora state Civil Registry, Christina Ramirez, told the Associated Press, “The law is very clear because it prohibits giving children names that are derogatory or that don’t have any meaning and that can lead to bullying.”
But Steve Inskeep of NPR’s Morning Edition made an insightful counterpoint: “I’m not sure who would mess with a kid who really was named Rambo.”
Should governments regulate baby names?
Mexico isn’t the only country where baby names are being regulated by the state. Last year, New Zealand made headlines for banning 77 different names. According to the New Zealand Registrar of Births, Deaths, and Marriages, names are banned if they are unreasonably long, resemble an official title or rank, or if they “cause offence to a reasonable person.”
While these guidelines may be useful, they’re also pretty subjective. Sure, I’ll admit, “Anal” is not an acceptable name for a baby (or anyone, for that matter), but what’s wrong with naming your kid “Rogue” or “A.J.”? Even more questionably, if “Honour” didn’t make the cut, how did anyone ever get away with naming their child “Number 16 Bus Shelter”?
America’s legacy of bizarre names
The United States differs from countries like Mexico and New Zealand in its lack of name regulation. We all know that many celebrities enjoy giving their children odd names, but you might be surprised to discover that this American tradition dates back to the colonial era.
That’s right—it turns out that Puritans loved giving their kids weird names. Like “Silence,” “Dust,” “Humiliation,” or my personal favorite, “Fly-Fornication.” All of these names and more were used as reminders of Puritan values (or vices to be avoided) and several were brought over to America when the Puritans realized they were just too weird to keep living in Europe.
It’s odd to think that what was once a practice linked with spiritual subjugation has morphed into a way to express parents’—um, I mean children’s—individuality.
The best of the banned
- Juan Calzone (translates to ‘Juan Panties’)
- ‘Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii’
- Brfxxccxxmnpcccclllmmnprxvclmnckssqlbb11116 (Pronounced, “Albin,” apparently)