Sometimes I laugh at the names people give their children. Sometimes I want to weep. Sometimes I think, “Poor kid.” But it never, ever crossed my mind to have the government approve baby names.
Germany takes a highly regimented approach to naming. Children’s names must be approved by local authorities and there is a reference work, the International Handbook of Forenames, to guide them.
The head of the centre at Leipzig University that provides certificates of approval for names that have not yet made the official list, Professor Juergen Udolph, said: “The state has a responsibility to protect people from idiotic forenames.”
And according to the story, protect people from having too many surnames (have they never heard of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, or Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg? They did pretty well despite the length of their surnames).
Now I want to weep, not for unfortunate children, but for a German society that thinks restricting parent’s free speech and right to name their own child is somehow a public good deserving of taxpayer funds and worth taking up court time to enforce.