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Gus Van Horn blog

Reblogged:The Person Hanging the Sign is Wrong, Too

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I recommend the "keychain rule," instead. (Image via Pixabay.)
Thought experiment: When someone writes Kick Me! on a sheet of paper, and then tapes it to the seat of someone else's pants, who deserves the blame when a third party follows through on the instructions? (a) Only the person who followed the instructions, or (b) that person and the one who posted the sign? If the wrong answer eludes you, consider what you might think about that in an ideal world, when nobody does the kicking. Or, perhaps, just consider the action alone.

That scenario is what immediately popped into my mind when I got wind of an apology issued by a major airline after one of its ticketing agents couldn't resist the urge to belittle the name of a child whose parent should have considered the ramifications of the non-ethnic, non-literary, non-phonetic, and obviously made-up name she chose for her child. The airline in question immediately (and properly) issued an apology: As the child's mother correctly noted, the child was within earshot of the remarks.

That said, I think it is wrong to give the mother a pass: she did her child a disservice by, at best, not giving enough thought to what that kind of name would mean for her child: A lifetime of having to (a) tell people how to pronounce it when they see it in print, (b) tell people how to spell it when they hear it, (c) say things like Yes. This really is my name., and (d) yes, fend off ridicule. As do many people with attention-drawing names (myself included during childhood, but unintentionally and for different reasons), the child may indeed end up loving the name. But why do something like this on purpose? Childhood can be challenging enough without a series of unwanted, undeserved, and unchosen confrontations built into the fact that one has to have a name.

-- CAV

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