Name calling not needed - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Name calling not needed

We do like to call each other names don’t we?

Take the extreme of the Lenny Bruce sketch – so accurately reproduced in the movie starring Dustin Hoffman – where he asks for the lights in the club he is performing in to be turned up, um, to better see his audience, whom he then proceeds to label according to ethnic origins using the colloquial rather than biological terms. Name calling.

Then there is the hopefully soon to be outmoded and superseded psychological pantheon of reference terms we can select from to auto-label ourselves should we not have the benefit of a university educated “professional” to do it for us. Psycho, schizo, anal, repressed, introvert, extrovert, mother fixated ad nauseam (orally fixated I suppose).

Dustin Hoffman as Lenny Bruce.

We then have to consider how well ingrained into our culture this is. Almost from birth we are given Christian names. Thought: Do Muslims have Muslim names? Anyway, we are then Christened/Baptised and a name is fixed for us in the eyes of Gahd. Thought#2 Are Muslims Muslimed/Shiiad? And these names are fixed for us on a nice certificate of birth and or baptism.

Admitted into our family by the giving of the family name, there can then come the extra appellations of Junior, or worse still a numeral. I mean, what is the deal with Loudon Wainwright III? Is Loudon Wainwright so good a name they could not consider using another? That doesn’t say much for the levels of imagination of his parents. Or perhaps, to be slightly more charitable, they were only trying to make the point that in their view he was 50 percent better than New York.

School days bring the onset of another form of naming. Nicknaming, and here at least some imagination can be said to have been used, unless the recipient is unfortunate enough to have their new nomenclature linked to some unfortunate incident. However, in the 21st century I am pleased to announce – being the fashion guru that I am – that nicknames such as “Flash” “Bomber” and “Bubba” are now illegal in 48 states.

Should you be inclined to join the military there are long traditions of extra-Christian naming enjoyed by the British Military among others. Surnames are usually the basis of this ritual with anyone with the surname “Wilson” automatically christened “Tug.” “White” becomes “Chalky White,” “Clarke” becomes “Nobby Clarke,” “Bell” changes to “Dinger Bell,” and there are many, many more. Dusty Miller, Spud Baker, Pearly Gates, Bunny Warren, and then there are the regimental nicknames.

The British Army in the Normandy Campaign 1944. Men of the King’s Shropshire Light Infantry resting next to a Sherman tank of 3rd Royal Tank Regiment. (Wikipedia Commons)

The 3rd Royal Tank Regiment become “The Armoured Farmers,” The Royal Welsh Fusiliers “The Nanny Goats” and the Queens Own Oxfordshire Hussars the “Queer Objects on Horseback.” There would seem to be no end to either the inventiveness or rivalry of the British Army when it comes to references to “others.”

Leaving behind us the enlightened world of military wit to return to the slightly more real world, as those of us not of a military bent would have it, we come into cyberspace, no, not quite yet. Let’s stay in space for a while, only this time the outer variety, and remember Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin.

There. Now, on to the world of log-in names.

Except I can’t be bothered with this. You can all do this bit for yourselves. Examine the various accounts on Twitter, Googlemail et al you hold and look at your own slightly ridiculous login names. It will be.

Example, “EdgarSnood359,” as if there were 358 other people with that name in the world. One has to pity the likes of any poor John Smith out there and wonder how many he had to go up to until his was accepted as a valid “Username.”

This will be true to some degree for most of us, unless you happen to have a name that is unique of course. Johann Twisthleton Sandpaper-Snape will not have to add any numerals whatsoever to activate any of his accounts, and neither will Cecilious Araminta Ffortescue-Quim, as they are both imaginary.

Monty Python’s flying circus – now there’s a name! (Wikipedia Commons)

We have names attached to us according to our city of origin. I myself am a Bristolian and know many Mancunians, Liverpudlians, Cockneys Brummies and others. It is rumored that this habit even spread as far as the colonies, although to what degree is unknown, due to the vast immunization program undertaken by the government against the ravages of irony in the late 1800s.

Facebook has to surely be the worst example of this. At the last count some 83 million accounts were false and among the top five fakes were those of: Satan, Hitler, Steve Jobs, Genesis (the event not the band) and Barack Obama’s first 100 days. I didn’t pick these, so don’t take exception to them. Worse than that are those who indulge in the lamest of comedy and choose a “post ironic” nickname for their account.

Try a little experiment now. Try thinking of the name of any character featured on Monty Python, Saturday Night Live or any comedy show ever and type that name into the search bar of Facebook. Back again? Good. See? And for more “fun” try the name – real or alter ego – of any superhero, comic book character or dead actor and wait for the results.

This naming thing has got to epidemic proportions. I have even been calling myself a few names as I sit here typing this up, mainly due to an inconveniently situated blister and my left thumbs propensity for hitting the “Caps Lock” button when not required to do so. Which brings us on to the altogether more interesting area of derogatory epithets.

Interesting for you that is, you retarded, fuckwitted, lamebrained, spazzy, geeky, knobended, twat doofus that you are. Please don’t take that personally, it was simply an illustration.

Among that last grouping of words was the word, “Twat.”

Innocuous enough in Britain, with its meaning of slight churlishness, but an inspiration for an overly long winded recent blogging post from “Some Grey Bloke” regarding its American usage and connotations that went on altogether far too long.

To cap it all, the word in question was only used because others have fallen out of common usage. I mean such terms as, Dandyprat, Fopdoodle, Dodipole, Jobberknowl, Looby, Grobian, Nudnik, Tomnoddy, Clodpate, Dizzard, Wantwit, Juggins and Joskin. I only choose those words as I am something of a Kobold myself, who enjoys the odd bit of Rodomontade.

Capote on Jack – “That’s not wirting. That’s typing.” Yeah,. right. (Wikipedia Commons)

Look, this isn’t going to be as profound as the commandments coming to you live and direct via satellite from Mount Sinai, or even as good as an inappropriate voice in your head caused by some interesting mental aberration, I don’t expect any Joan of Arc type responses to what I’m pondering about here, as if I had to give what I do a name I would have to paraphrase Truman Capote’s view on Jack Kerouac and call it not writing but “tripe-ing” – tripe being as well as cows stomach something that can come in a “right old load of …”

This isn’t the start of any serious debate on why it is we have – since the time we invented grunting – decided to ascribe certain recognisable sounds otherwise known to us as names to each other when we are already issued with nice concise numbers to be going on with. As so many writers (sorry, “tripe-ists”) these days I supply no answers to these imponderables, least of all because I have none, and anyway, what is the purpose of YOUR existence if it isn’t to give the odd few minutes of thought to issues such as these before doing something altogether more worthwhile such as nostril hair plucking.

All I ask of you is that when you have finished scanning this on your Kindle, iPhone, Laptop or whatever you appreciate the fact that someone has already given some thought to this issue on your behalf, so now you don’t have to, and you can now use the time that has been saved by this blog and all the other time saving devices in your life to do something altogether more worthwhile and productive.

To give it but two names. And whatever you do, please don’t take offence, raise your blood pressure unnecessarily and be moved to scroll down to the comments section to respond and call me a variety of names. My parents and I have done that already, thank you.


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