(Hopefully) good sports essays and observations for good sports by a guy who tries (and can sometimes fail) to be a good sport.


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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Only in America

I was somewhat surprised when I read the blurbs section of my morning paper to learn of a controversy in Northeastern Pennsylvania involving a ShopRite's refusal to inscribe a birthday cake with a child's full name.

The ShopRite, you seek, objected to writing the kid's name. They did offer the parents to inscribe "Happy Birthday" and leave room for the parents to inscribe the rest of the name, but the parents refused and went to a Wal0Mart, which happily obliged them.

Before you jump to conclusions, understand that the name of the child is Adolf Hitler Campbell. He has a sister whose middle name is Aryan Nation and a brother named after Heinrich Himmler.

In a land of forgiveness that treasures freedom of speech and accommodating customers, who's right -- ShopRite or Wal-Mart? You can read more here.

Putting aside the freedom of speech issues, how on earth can anyone in their right mind name their kid after Adolf Hitler? Perhaps the answer lies within the question and the term "right mind." The Campbells think they're correct, and many of us would beg to differ. I pity the child, who, my guess is, will get a bunch of attention because of his name, almost all of it bad.

I believe that in German the authorities have much more control over what you can name a child, and that it would be almost impossible if not illegal to name a child Adolf Hitler. Yet, in America, you can. The question for those who would say that the ShopRite is obviously correct is where you do you draw the line. Suppose a store were to decline Thais because their last names are long or Muslims because they think they're terrorists ? The answer isn't as easy as many would think.

Likewise, the question for the Wal-Marts of the world is how far do you go to accommodate people? And, because of the First Amendment, should you even care at all (unless someone told you they planned to put a bomb in the cake). President Bush's popularity rating is very low -- do you decline putting his name on the cake? Bernard Madoff? Marc Dreier? Michael Vick?

Who decides? Where do you draw the line? Or, do you draw it at all?

So that's the intellectual conundrum for the day. The questions get the hardest when you marry speech you do not like with a law that helps make the country great.


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