Names and the State

friday_big.jpg

About a year ago, I posted about a women who was denied citizenship in Spain because the state refused to recognize the validity of her first name. Well, I just read a news story about how an Itlalian court would not allow a family to name their child Friday.

What to name a child? In Italy, a court can decide

By Philip Pullella (Reuters, December 18, 2007).

An Italian court has ruled that a couple could not name their son “Friday” and ordered that he instead be called Gregory after the saint whose feast day he was born on.

“I think it is ridiculous they even opened a case about it,” the family’s lawyer, Paola Rossi, told Reuters by telephone from the northern city of Genoa on Tuesday.

Friday/Gregory Germano was born in Genoa 15 months ago. The parents registered him as Friday in the city hall and a priest even baptised him as Friday — unusual in Italy since many priests insist that first names be of Christian origin.

“We named him Friday because we like the sound of the name. Even if it would have been a girl, we would have named her Friday,” the boy’s mother, Mara Germano, told Reuters.

When the boy was about five months old, a city hall clerk brought the odd name to the attention of a tribunal, which informed the couple of an administrative norm which bars parents from giving “ridiculous or shameful” first names to children.

The tribunal said it was protecting the child from being the butt of jokes and added that it believed the name would hinder him from developing “serene interpersonal relationships”.

The Germano family appealed but lost their case this month and the story was carried on the front page of a national newspaper on Tuesday.

When ordered to change the name, the parents refused and the court ruled the boy would be legally registered as Gregory because he was born on that saint’s feast day.

“I really doubt this would have happened to the child of parents who are rich and famous,” the boy’s mother told Reuters, recalling that some famous Italians had given their children unorthodox names such as “Ocean” or “Chanel”.

The appeals court ruled against Friday because it recalled the servile savage in Daniel Defoe’s novel Robinson Crusoe and because superstitious Italians consider Friday an unlucky day.

“I am livid about this,” the boy’s mother said. “A court should not waste its time with things like this when there is so much more to worry about.”

“My son was born Friday, baptised Friday, will call himself Friday, we will call him Friday but when he gets older he will have to sign his name Gregory,” she said.

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5 Comments

Filed under Digressions

5 responses to “Names and the State

  1. Good to see that American courts do not hold absolute proprietary domain of cosmic stupidity.

    Although there can be a point to protecting a child from the idiocy of parents, the name in this case is rather innocuous … and if what the mother says about celebrity child namings is factual, then the court just made an obvious ass of itself.

    Oh wait, it’s a court, what else do they have to do?

  2. eric

    It’s called the typical example of European bureacracy in your face.

  3. Strange, I thought you were a strong proponent of socialist government?

  4. eric

    You’re mixing up the cousins.

  5. You disavow the free market economy and the oligarchic/aristocratic American government, don’t you?

    Maybe I am confused.

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