Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Happy Birthday, Little Adolph

Technically, the folks at the Greenwich, New Jersey ShopRite probably should have just gone along. There is nothing illegal, after all, about any of the words that Deborah Campbell asked to be iced onto her son's third birthday cake. But I want to give a shout out to the ShopRite, do right bakery clerk, and that person's manager, who turned down the request to decorate a birthday cake with the cheery words "Happy Birthday, Adolf Hitler".

This was a repeat request that had already been denied by the store in past years:

Karen Meleta, a spokeswoman for ShopRite, said the Campbells had similar requests denied at the same store the last two years and said Heath Campbell previously had asked for a swastika to be included in the decoration.

"We reserve the right not to print anything on the cake that we deem to be inappropriate," Meleta said. "We considered this inappropriate."

From the picture in the article, little Adolph is a pretty cute little guy, but my oh, my oh, you have to ask yourself just what chance is he going to have in life - unless, when he reaches the age of reason, he drops his middle name and maybe even rethinks his first name.

But perhaps, by then, he will be so indoctrinated into thinking that the name is cool, or tough. Or thinking that he's the namesake of someone worthy of anything other than loathing and scorn.

My advice to young Adolph - if he doesn't change his name - to dump the use of middle name (or even middle initial) on college applications, job applications, résumés, Facebook, MySpace.

As a hiring manager, it may be illegal to discriminate against someone based on their name, but I'm sure I would have been able to find something on that résumé that would render the candidate "not quite what we were looking for." No way would I have risked hiring someone who might be a racist, neo-Nazi, white supremacist, anti-Semite, or so mentally (or morally) challenged that he thought nothing was untoward about his name.

I'd offer the same advice to his sisters, JoyceLynn Aryan Nation Campbell and Honszlynn Hinler Jeannie Campbell.

When the time comes, JoyceLynn and Jeannie should serve just fine.

And what's with that Honszlynn Hinler? Is it a misspelled version of Heinzlynn Himmler? Or a wink-wink, nudge-nudge play on Himmler's name?

Well JoyceLynn and Honszlynn are just 2 and 1, so there's plenty of time for them to get their names straight.

Of course, there's also plenty of time for the Campbells to have a few more little ones - an Eva Braun and a Josef Mengele, perhaps. There are actually dozens of options - even more, if they want to branch out beyond the Third Reich. Pol Pot Campbell? Idi Amin Campbell? (Hmmmmm. Probably not.)

The kids father, Heath Campbell, is asking for tolerance, invoking our new president and his mantra of change:

"They need to accept a name. A name's a name. The kid isn't going to grow up and do what (Hitler) did."

...[He] said he named his son after Adolf Hitler because he liked the name and because "no one else in the world would have that name." He sounded surprised by all the controversy the dispute had generated.

Well, people being people, I wouldn't bet on the name being unique. Perhaps in combination with Campbell it might be. But even then, it's a mighty big world.

The Campbells claim not to be racist. Campbell pere - or should that be vater - was raised "not to avoid people of other races," albeit not to "mix with them socially romantically." It's okay with him if little Adolf wants to hang out with black folks when he grows up. ("That's his choice.") Plus there were some mixed-race kids at the birthday party - further proof that there's not a racist bone in his body.

Frankly, I think I'd have a little more respect for this guy if he said, 'Yea, I'm a neo-Nazi. I think Hitler was one of the greatest men of all time. Why shouldn't I name my kid after him?" (Well, maybe "respect" isn't quite the right word, but you know what I mean.")

So what's with these people?

Are they some type of agent provocateur performance artists? Are they moral imbeciles who think it's okay to honor one of the most evil madmen in history by naming their son after him? Are they so oblivious that they think that most normal people won't raise both eyebrows over these names? Have they not thought through how teachers, friends, other kids parents, employees, prospective partners, et al are going to react to them?

Or are they just trying to get into People Magazine or US, where they can whine and bitch about how people aren't being tolerant, how their kid is being mistreated, how they're just regular folks trying to celebrate their little guy's birthday. (Actually, I wouldn't mind if they did get into People. Then we could see what Heath Campbell does for a living. He's 35 and has a decent sized family to support. What does he do? I'm guessing he's not a doctor, lawyer, or high-tech marketer, but where would it be okay for someone to say 'we named the baby Aryan Nation' and not have people recoil in horror?)

Maybe they're even thinking they'll get a little Joe the Plumber action - book contract, recording deal.

And not to worry about little Adolf not having his cake.

The folks at Walmart were happy to fill the request, no questions asked. (You just can't make this stuff up.)

But, while we're on the subject of what goes on a birthday cake, who puts a last name on a birthday cake, anyway?

Material used in this post was taken from a recent Boston Globe article.

1 comment:

Ben said...

The funniest part for me is the fact that Walmart was the only one willing to decorate the cake. Nice to know that it will stoop to borderline hate speech just to make a quick buck. I heard somewhere that in previous years they were denied in other places because the parents wanted swastika on the cake, I wonder if Walmart complied in that instance?