Here's a story that didn't seem to get much attention in the media, and it certainly poses an ethical dilemma. What would you do, if you worked in a bakery -- or any business -- and one of your customer's names was Adolf Hitler? Do you serve the person? Or treat him like a pariah?
What if he were three years old?
Last week, according to the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania's Express-Times, the supermarket Shop Rite decided against baking a birthday cake for Adolph Hitler Campbell, who turned 3 years old last Sunday. It wasn't that they wouldn't sell them a cake. They didn't want to inscribe the words, "Adolf Hitler," on a birthday cake.
His parents are apparently proud racists. Adolf's siblings -- and I'm not making this up -- are named JoyceLynn Aryan Nation Campbell and Honszlynn Hinler Jeanne Campbell. The last name doesn't sound that bad, but it's apparently a feminized version of Heinrich Himmler, an SS leader. Aryan Nation, of course, is the name of an infamous neo-Nazi hate group.
The mother, Deborah Campbell, 25, was quoted as saying, "ShopRite can't even make a cake for a 3-year-old. That's sad."
That may be sad, but the mother also doesn't address what's really sad: parents giving their children names that society completely abhors. There are name-related laws that keep Americans from having numbers in their name and punctuation marks. So you can't legally call yourself, "Stephen!" or "34." You aren't allowed to have an obscenity in your name. But apparently naming a baby Adolf Hitler in the United States is perfectly okay.
In the meantime, I have a feeling that there are going to be more stories following around Adolf Hitler Campbell, as he grows up, who in the end, shouldn't be blamed for what his parents have chosen to call him, and can't possibly understand the fuss going on right now. I'm not sure if his parents ended up getting him a birthday cake with an inscription on it or not, but apparently it hasn't been a problem in the past.
I'm sure the people who love and hate this famed store will see what they want to in this--they're evil; they're just trying to be nice to a little boy--but according to the photo caption in the Express-Times and other stories I've read on this, in the past, the parents have been able to get a birthday cake with Adolf's name on it at their local Walmart.
Geoff Williams is a freelance journalist and the author of C.C. Pyle's Amazing Foot Race: The True Story of the 1928 Coast-to-Coast Run Across America (Rodale).
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