Is there a link between strange baby-names and the decline of fertility?

In popular 1976 horror film The Omen, when the Devil was reborn in human form on Earth, he was given the human name “Damien”, to avoid attracting any unnecessary attention from exorcists.

Today, the situation has been reversed with a UK tabloid recently carrying a front-page article about a moronic British mother who christened (or Anti-Christened, perhaps?) her baby Lucifer.

Ronni Lily, the irresponsible gestator in question, claims she did not name her son after Satan, but after a “pretty cool” Netflix show she had enjoyed, named Lucifer – which is still about the Devil anyway, but never mind. Some relatives objected, calling the idea an abomination but the registrar didn’t. The compliant official “simply confirmed the spelling and that was it.” Lily’s father approved too, as the name Lucifer was “really different and bold”.

Not that different, however, as in 2022 another British mum, Josie King, had already named her child Lucifer, then bragged to the newspapers about the fact. Josie’s own father thought the name was great, as “my dad knows what I’m like and that I like to be unique”. “I like the names I like,” Josie concluded, suggesting her choice of name here was perhaps more about advertising her own sense of ego than conducted in the interests of her own baby. If the baby grew up to be bullied by all the other children in his class, then “society is the problem, not our personal choices.”

Yes, in our contemporary dictatorship of John Stuart Mill, the forces and agents of normative society must never be allowed to intervene with one’s sacred personal choices, no matter how cretinous, in the name of the wider social good.

In 2023, Mandy Sheldon, a third British mother with a son named Lucifer, registered an official complaint with her local council about a registrar who had sensibly attempted to dissuade her from officially calling him that, as “he would never be able to get a job, and teachers wouldn’t want to teach him”. The registrar made the diplomatic suggestion that “maybe we could name him something else [officially] but refer to him as Lucifer at home” before finally reluctantly admitting she had no legal power to prevent this folly.

The Devil in human form

There is a 2022 thread in the online chat-forum Reddit in which yet another unnamed pregnant mother declared not only that she intended to call her son Lucifer no matter what anyone said, but that if she ever had a second one, she would christen him “Messiah” – the ultimate in sibling rivalry.

This prompted a series of far more sensible user-comments about this threat/promise, including (corrected for spelling and grammar):

  • “Most parents hope that their child has a happy life filled with love. Yours will spend his time explaining his rebellious mother.”
  • “This is a human who has to live with this name, not a toy.”
  • “That’s a sentence to a life of bullying that you could easily avoid.”
  • “It’s one thing to name your pet something controversial, because it’s a pet and they probably don’t care [but this is a human].”
  • “You’re naming a person, not a baby [i.e., a baby doll].”
  • “Your kid’s name isn’t a trophy for you.”
  • “Your kid isn’t an accessory.”
  • “What’s his middle name, Hitler?”

How very out of tune with Mill’s contemporary Religion of the Sacred Self! Most tragic of all was the following user-comment: “I knew a kid named Murder, and he was essentially tortured by this name growing up and struggled to get a job because of it. He resented his parents for giving him this name.” I’m surprised he didn’t murder them.

Harm moniker

It used to be just loopy, drugged-up pop stars like Frank Zappa who christened their kids with absurd self-invented names like Moon Unit or Dweezil, but no longer. Surely the weirdest case on record was in 2008, when a bullied nine-year-old girl was placed under guardianship of court by a New Zealand judge until she could be formally renamed. Her parents had named her Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii, having “apparently not given any thought to the implications of their actions.” Unlike the UK, New Zealand does have an official, ever-expanding list of names that are not allowed (Lucifer is specifically on it), enabling this judgement to take place.

In summing-up, the judge gave a list of the most egregious other such examples he could find: Stallion, Yeah Detroit, Fish & Chips, Twisty Poi, Keenan Got Lucy, Sex Fruit, Midnight Chardonnay, Violence, Number 16 Bus Shelter and, hilariously, twins called Benson and Hedges. Perhaps the mother had endured trouble quitting smoking during pregnancy?

In 1996, a creatively inclined Swedish couple registered their child’s name as Brfxxccxxmnpcccclllmmnprxvclmnckssqlbb11116 (pronounced “Albin”), claiming it to be “a pregnant, expressionistic development that we see as an artistic creation” performed in the name of Pataphysics, an early French precursor of Surrealism. Eventually, they were fined for failing to fall in line and give little Brfxxccxxmnpcccclllmmnprxvclmnckssqlbb11116 a legally acceptable name by his fifth birthday. In 2007, meanwhile, the BBC once ran with the quite excellent headline “Baby named Metallica rocks Sweden”.

I choose you, Pikachu!

It seems some of these things are mere expressions of passing fashion. Here, for example, is a graph demonstrating the rise and fall of the baby-name Pikachu in the US:

That’s right: even in 2022, the last year for which data was available, 6 American children in every million were being named after a small yellow Pokémon. Yet the name’s popularity peaked back in 2000, with 33 percent more kids being christened after the cute fictional electricity-emitting mouse, at 9 per million births. Why? Presumably because 2000 was the very height of the original US Pokémania, coming not long after Nintendo’s original GameBoy game had been launched Stateside, together with its equally massively popular spin-off films and TV cartoon-shows.

Even worse, at the height of the Covid-19 panic, two twins in the Indian State of Chhattisgarh (which also sounds like a made-up name) were christened Covid and Corona. Elsewhere in India, babies were named Lockdown and Sanitiser. I bet you there’s some poor kid out there somewhere in the rural United States today called Ivermectin.

Land of the poorly raised son

Do such trends possess a deeper meaning? A recent study from Japan suggests so.

Back in 1994, there was a national row when two parents tried to name their son Akuma (Devil). Satan’s father, Shigeharo Sato, thought overcoming the inevitable bullying Akuma’s title would make the child stronger and “stand at the top” as an adult. Ultimately, officials refused to allow the name to be registered.

Yet the Japanese writing system is complex, and it is possible to give a child a so-called “kira-kira name”, which looks ordinary when written down, but which when read aloud sounds completely different – akin to the snobbish old British sitcom character “Mrs Bucket” who always claimed “It’s pronounced Bouquet”. Mr Sato exploited this factto give his son an ostensibly normal title, but which still sounded like “Devil” when read out, causing more confusion, kira-kira names being something of a legal grey area.

At the time, this was reported in Western media as going against the usual stereotype of Japan being a conformist, non-individualistic kind of society, but by 2022 things had changed and Japan’s Ministry of Justice had set up a committee to investigate the idea of liberalising and explicitly legalising the use of kira-kira names – the precise example the committee gave would be for a normal-looking baby-name pronounced as “Pikachu”.

Why was this now necessary? A 2021 paper by academic Yuji Ogihara in the journal Current Research in Behavioural Sciences gave a clue. Examining records between 2004 and 2018, Ogihara found the rate of “unique baby names” had been rising year on year across his once conformist homeland.

Furthermore, unlike with Mr Sato, who wished any daughter of his to possess only “an ordinary cute name”, Ogihara found rising rates of oriental feminism meant that “Unique names increased more rapidly for girls than for boys, which may suggest that parents came to have stronger hope for their daughters than for their sons that they become unique and independent.” All this was a symptom of how, following WWII, Japan’s people “came to live more independently from other family members” as “the family-structure became more individual-based”.

Ogihara reproduced the following graph, illustrating what he called “Percentages of unique names, [across Japan], 2004–2018”:  

The thing is, if you were to plot corresponding rates of Japanese fertility over this same period, it would look precisely the reverse: a steep decline, rather than rise, from left to right. Obviously, it can’t be that a rise in weirdly named people causes infertility, but may a rise in “unique” baby-names act like a canary-in-the-coal-mine warning of coming falls in fertility?

A sudden increase in the number of babies called Lucifer in the UK, which is also suffering a fertility-crisis, like everywhere else in the West these days, could be seen as an easily tabulated symptom of an excessive rise across society of a breed of J.S. Mill-type “selfish individualism”, in which parents seek out their own personal satisfaction rather than that of their own children by giving them, quite literally, “pet names” to bear.

Other selfish individualists or feminists, meanwhile, may prefer to go one further and simply not have any children at all, perhaps preferring to raise only literal pets in the shape of dogs, cats, hamsters and even Tamagotchi.

 

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If your surname is Law, call your daughter Sharia

I should like to propose a potential new fertility indicator: that, the lower the rate of daft new names across any given society, the more traditionally minded, and less feminism-infected, it is likely to be, and so the higher its rate of fertility.

You don’t get many Muslims called Lucifer or Pikachu, for example – but you do get so many named Muhammad that, in nations like the UK where mass immigration has allowed them to settle by the millions, this is now actually the most popular new boys’ name in the country. (This is sometimes disputed as an Islamophobic “unhelpful tabloid myth” of demographic scaremongering, but this is only maintainable by spuriously claiming the many different spellings available of Mohammed/Muhamad/Mohamud, etc, are all specific separate names, when clearly they are not.)

France has an even larger Muslim population than the UK, and an equally large problem with native white people giving their kids ill-advised names – past examples (all legally disallowed) have included Nutella, Strawberry, and a couple named Renaud who wanted to call their daughter Megane, after their favourite model of car, the Renault Megane. Perhaps this should not surprise us, as France was in fact the first Western nation to ever suffer any noticeable collapse in fertility, even before the French Revolution.

France once had a law, introduced by Napoleon in 1803, that any child born in France could only take a name form a pre-existing approved list, consisting solely of Christian saints and major historical figures (e.g., Napoleon himself, funnily enough). Yet this law was abolished in 1993, given that it would technically disbar any mass-imported French Muslims from calling their sons Muhammad and suchlike, potentially leading to … certain inevitable tensions, shall we say?

One indomitable Gaul who wants to reverse this is leading right-wing politician Eric Zemmour, who calls for Napoleon’s old law to be reintroduced on the grounds that, by giving their babies traditional Islamic names, Muslims are “refusing to accept the history of France”.

Although Zemmour himself is Jewish, his parents didn’t ostentatiously call him Moshe or Zvi, just to pointlessly advertise the fact. Zemmour called such practices an “act of self-discrimination” which would make white French employers and society automatically reject Muslims with overtly Muslim names, saying France is “Not McDonalds. We don’t come as we are, we assimilate into a dominant culture” like his family did. Yes, but what is France’s dominant culture nowadays? One of such anti-cultural, solipsistic individualism that its parents want to go around calling their actual living human daughters after tasty chocolate spreads or brands of low-cost family hatchback.

During his last presidential campaign, Zemmour said: “I will re-establish the 1803 law. A Frenchman will no longer have the right to call his son Muhammad … I think that we have to make French people again. Previous generations of immigrants changed their names [to French ones like Pierre]. There is no reason why the new ones should not do the same. What upsets me is that after three generations, people are still calling their children Muhammad.”

It upsets me too, Eric. But maybe it’s respect for past generations, and their own historic past culture, creed and civilisation, which means that, ironically, the demographic future even in historically white lands like France and Britain, now increasingly belongs to them – compare rates of Muslim fertility across Europe to those of the dying original natives, and you gain the distinct impression that, one day, it might be names like Christian and Mary that actually end up being legally banned as haram, not ones like Muhammad or Maryam.

How long, do you think, before some future moronic British mum names her baby not Lucifer, but Dodo? 


Thinking of naming your next child Buzz Lightyear or Wonder Woman? Tell us why in the comments. 


Steven Tucker is a UK-based writer with over ten books to his name. His latest, “Hitler’s and Stalin’s Misuse of Science”, comparing the woke pseudoscience of today to the totalitarian pseudoscience of the past, was released in 2023.

Image credit: AI-generated image by Pixlr Express


 

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  • mrscracker
    Miss Angela, I had a much older cousin named Byron and I knew a gentleman my own age with that same name. There was a federal or maybe Supreme Court justice named Byron. I don’t know how the name Byron became popular in the States. I really doubt my daddy’s Calvinist family were fans of Lord Byron but you never know.
    A distant relation was named Statira which turns out to be the name of of Alexander the Great’s concubine. I’d be rather surprised if her parents were aware of that.

    Ashley was a boy’s name that’s largely been given to girls in the US beginning in the 1980s or so. It’s a pretty common name among women born in that period.
  • Angela Shanahan
    commented 2024-06-19 09:57:42 +1000
    This is interesting and it makes a valid point about outrageous names being symptomatic of the baby as " our toy" and our product. Actually Lucifer is a beautiful name. Milton has given it a bad rap. The thing I don’t like is the current trend to give babies very pretentious names, eg. Oxford, and recently joined by a cousin called Chester. Boys hate these sorts of names. My son in law was originally called Byron ! Poor boy dropped that as soon as he could and is still known only by his second name, Ashley…( although my mother insisted on calling him ’ Ashley Darling’….
  • Paul Bunyan
    commented 2024-06-18 13:54:11 +1000
    David: It’s always easier to invent a simple answer to a “problem” than to investigate and find the truth behind the facts.
  • David Page
    commented 2024-06-18 09:07:03 +1000
    The rise of unusual names has probably more to do with the decline of religion than anything else. When I was named it was required that the name have a biblical or saintly history. Now it doesn’t matter. My eldest was named after a song (Karin she’s a silver sun…). My twin girls were named after my mother and my mother-in-law. Probably the only time one can do that safely. But this article focuses on the more offensive names, and ignores the many inoffensive ones. Another straw man?
  • mrscracker
    " I bet you there’s some poor kid out there somewhere in the rural United States today called Ivermectin."
    *******
    I think that’s less likely to be the case in rural areas because we’ve been purchasing that same product to deworm livestock for decades. I don’t know any rural US kids named Purina, Kubota, or Tractor Supply either.
    :)
  • Michael Cook
    published this page in The Latest 2024-06-17 17:23:19 +1000