Some­times Al­lah is just a name

Ge­or­gia tried to crack down on play­ing games on a birth cer­tifi­cate

The Washington Times Daily - - EDITORIAL -

The star-cross’d Juliet, think­ing she loved only a man named Mon­tague and not the en­tire Mon­tague clan, in­no­cently asked Romeo, “what’s in a name?”

If she lived in Ge­or­gia, the an­swer is, “a lot.” That which we call a rose doesn’t al­ways smell so sweet to a gov­ern­ment clerk.

A case per­co­lated for months in the Ge­or­gia courts about whether the state has the author­ity, and when, to over­rule par­ents when they want to give their prog­eny an un­usual or even comic name.

When a Ge­or­gia cou­ple ap­plied to name their daugh­ter Za­lyKha Grace­ful Lor­raina, the state said so far, so good, but when they wanted to give her a fourth name, Al­lah, the state said no. The self­ind­ul­gent par­ents had named an older brother Mas­ter­ful Mosirah Aly Al­lah and the state did not ob­ject.

But this time the clerk cited a nine-point sec­tion in the Ge­or­gia ad­min­is­tra­tive code that guides the nam­ing of chil­dren, such as re­quir­ing that sur­names must be that of the mother or fa­ther or a com­bi­na­tion of those names, and given (or Chris­tian) names can’t in­clude num­bers, sym­bols or “a term that con­sti­tutes an ob­scen­ity in any lan­guage.”

The par­ents, Bi­lal Walk and Eliz­a­beth Handy, who are not mar­ried, con­tended in a law suit filed with the help of the Amer­i­can Civil Lib­er­ties Union, that the name Al­lah, which is Ara­bic for God, was not meant to be re­li­gious. They just liked it, they told the At­lanta Jour­nal-Con­sti­tu­tion, be­cause it sounds “no­ble.”

Un­til they got a proper birth cer­tifi­cate, which the state in­sisted it wouldn’t is­sue, they couldn’t en­roll the lit­tle girl, now 2, in school, or ap­ply for Med­i­caid or food stamps. They held “a well­founded fear that their daugh­ter’s iden­tity as a United States cit­i­zen may be ques­tioned.”

The state of Ge­or­gia, which like sev­eral other states reg­u­lates nam­ing of ba­bies, said it was act­ing only “in the best in­ter­ests of the child.” The re­quire­ment, said a lawyer for the state health de­part­ment, “is not in­tended to in­crease the bur­den of proof on the par­ents, but to dis­tin­guish be­tween names cho­sen ac­cord­ing to the cul­tural tra­di­tions of the par­ents’ na­tion of ori­gin and names cho­sen on the ba­sis of whimsy, or worse.”

“Or worse” in some places in­cludes vul­gar­i­ties and cruel whimsy. In an ex­tended foot­note, the state cited sev­eral baby names given to ba­bies in other ju­ris­dic­tions, in­clud­ing Acne Foun­tain, Leg­end Belch, Num­ber 16 Bus Shel­ter “and the seem­ingly ever-pop­u­lar Adolf Hitler.”

Lawyers pre­dicted that baby Al­lah’s par­ents would pre­vail at the U.S. Supreme Court. But all’s well that ends well. Ge­or­gia re­lented and the baby got a name. She can al­ways change it later if, as may be, she doesn’t like it.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.