The Lake News Online
  • Guest column: Congrats! It’s a ... Messiah!

  • No surprise that Lu Ann Ballew, a child support magistrate in Newport, Tenn., is getting blowback for usurping a young mother's name choice for her infant son.
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  • No surprise that Lu Ann Ballew, a child support magistrate in Newport, Tenn., is getting blowback for usurping a young mother's name choice for her infant son.
    Jaleesa Martin and Jawaan McCullough recently went to court to determine what their child's last name should be, but Ballew ordered that the boy's first name, Messiah, also be changed, to Martin. She reasoned that it was for his benefit and that "Messiah" belongs only to Jesus.
    Oh, where to begin? As a country, we don't agree on much these days, but in this case, the consensus is clear: You have a constitutional right to embarrass your kids.
    While Messiah is not a name that most reasonable, mature people would burden a child with, it doesn't matter. The couple has a First Amendment right to ensure their boy will be perpetually bullied, that is, until he shows up to school in a white robe and starts picking people off.
    Ballew's gaffe was epic in that she not only violated the couple's civil rights but also used her own religious beliefs to justify it.
    What would she have done if they had named him Judas?
    The case also exposes a generational and cultural gap. I'm guessing the young couple was inspired to pick "Messiah" because rap star Clifford "T.I." Harris has a son by that name who's featured on his reality TV show. Because if entertainment has taught us anything, it's that if it's on-screen, it's OK to do.
    According to Nameberry, an online database, two of the most popular names for newborns in 2013 are Katniss, from "The Hunger Games" book series, and ... D'Jango.
    Several baby girls are blissfully unaware that they're about to go through life as namesakes of Khalesi, an Iraqi ayatollah or the naked dragon-queen from "Game of Thrones" — take your pick.
    Yet overall, this year's top names do suggest a return to sanity. For girls, they include Imogene, Violet, Charlotte, Harper, Eleanor, Amelia, Isla and Penelope. Top boys' names for 2013 are Asher, Finn, Declan, James, Oliver, Henry, Atticus, Owen and Milo.
    Because of the controversy, Martin has been accused of being an unfit mother — mostly because she's unmarried, let's face it.
    No one ever says the same of celebrities.
    But North West, Apple, Mowgli and Blue Ivy notwithstanding, even some celebrities have disembarked from the crazy train of baby names. Five years ago, an actor could have named his kid Crosswalk and no one would have blinked. However, actor Ben Affleck named his newest child Samuel, which means he can at least look forward to being bullied over something else.
    Some states do have laws that place some restrictions on baby names. Had New Jersey's law prohibited more than obscenity and numerals, there'd be no such toddler as Adolf Hitler Campbell.
    Page 2 of 2 - Parents really need to consider the consequences of their choices. According to a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research, corporations discriminate against job applicants who bear names that suggest certain ethnicities (read: black and Latino) or socio-economic status. In short, "Martin" has 50 percent better chance for a callback than "Messiah."
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