I love perusing lists of names. My regular readers know that I obsess over Social Security Administration birth data, which I use for the basis for many of my posts. Occasionally I also read lists of birth announcements. My favorite source for these is a site called For Real Baby Names, which nowadays specializes in the more interesting and unusual American announcements. I also mainly work with rare names on my own blog, but one I saw on hers still managed to shock me. According to this post containing Nevada birth announcements, there’s a little baby named Phelony. Phelony Rose. Um…in the inarticulate words of my distracted generation, I “literally can’t even.”
Now that I’ve collected my thoughts, my response is actually “bah humbug!” There are only a few names I will vehemently argue against, and Phelony is one of them. This daring name is a felony in every way except that which matters: legally. It’s America. You have the Constitutional right to name your child almost anything you desire.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m proud of the fact that our naming laws are almost non-existent. Naming freedom truly lends to diversity and strengthens the 1st Amendment; it is an American value. Indeed, it would be very boring if everyone were named from a tiny pool of accepted appellations. That Calliope and Saoirse, and Godric and Alastair roam today’s playgrounds is fantastic.
That said – I have to wonder about the parent whose aspirations for their child involve breaking laws. Virtues generally connote goodness; in this case, ‘Felony’ isn’t so much a vice as perhaps an anti-virtue. Sure, maybe Phelony’s parents were trying to distinguish it from the word by changing the spelling. Unfortunately, creative spellings don’t change pronunciation, and we’re still left with a baby girl who’s been called a criminal by the person(s) responsible for loving and protecting her. Even if that wasn’t their intention, it’s the practical effect. 😦
Phelony may very well grow up to be an upstanding citizen. Names don’t define their wearers. Though weirdly, someone named “Fellony” actually did commit one. Again, I don’t know how much her name affected her actions. If anything, it probably had more to do with upbringing or weird luck.
I don’t know if this is the same Phelony from the birth announcement, but my Google-fu indicates there are probably a few of them out there. Not too many, thankfully, but one is enough to catch my attention.
- In case anyone is interested, the screenshot was found via a College Humor post called “25 Parents Whose Baby Naming Privileges Should Be Revoked.” Their words, not mine. I usually don’t follow College Humor, but when I told someone about the birth announcement he said he’d seen the name recently and that there was a screenshot somewhere online! I couldn’t help but look.
- Swistle (another name blogger) is my newest hero. I just found a post from 2008 in which she helped steer a family away from naming their child Felony.
- On the bright side, between Felony, Fellony, and Phelony, none have ever appeared in the SSA extended data. The names exist, but it means there have never been 5 or more people given the name in the same birth year. (Don’t get any ideas)
- Looking at the screenshot, and the way they spell ‘felony’ – I hope that doesn’t mean that ‘Arien’ is actually ‘Aryan.’ I pray they aren’t white supremacists.