In August of 2010 I wrote about a couple in Trenton, New Jersey, Heath and Deborah Campbell, who chose Nazi-inspired names for their three children: Adolph Hitler Campbell, JoyceLynn Aryan Nation Campbell, and Honszlynn Hinler Campbell. Weird? Yes. Damaging? Very likely. Newsworthy? You bet!
The national media found their story when a major chain grocery store refused to embellish little Adolph’s chocolate birthday cake with his legal name. Apparently, the couple found a Wal-Mart in a neighboring community that accepted the assignment.
The case then came to the attention of child protection authorities in New Jersey who obtained custody of the children and placed them in foster care. The burning question was “Could the State remove the children because of their unusual names?”.
The Family Court determined that there was no evidence of abuse or neglect, however, the State appealed the matter to a higher court who stayed the Family Court order and kept the children in foster care until the appellate court could hear and decide the case.
The appeal court found that the children’s parents were not fit to have custody of the children, however, the court did not mention the oddity of the children’s names. Instead, the court focused on the unspecified but significant physical and psychological challenges the couple faced and their lack of insight as to their difficulties.
The evidence also showed that both parents had been abused themselves and could barely read or write. The naming of their children was indicative of their problems.
The update to this story is that the Campbell’s separated and their three children were adopted. A fourth child, Heinrich Hons, was seized by child protection authorities shortly after his birth.
This week Mr. Campbell showed up at a court hearing in full Nazi regalia seeking to gain access to his now two-year-old son, Heinrich Hons, who he has not seen since the child was 16 hours old.
Mr. Campbell insists that despite his political views and his glorification of Adolph Hitler, he is a loving parent who ought to have a relationship with his young son. It will be interesting to see if he is successful. The question is does his freedom of expression take precedence over any risk he may pose to his son’s best interests?
Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang