What’s In A Name?

Minnesota’s Secretary of State, Mark Ritchie, is in a tussle with the Republican leaders of the Legislature over the naming of two constitutional amendments that will go before voters this November.

Republican majorities in the House and Senate put the voter ID and marriage definition measures on the ballot, but Ritchie chose names for them that are different from those that appeared in the actual legislation.

Ritchie says it is part of his job to select descriptive names for ballot measures.

Republicans believe he is going out of his way to place unflattering headgear on their handsome ballot-stars, and they are furious.

Here’s the Legislative title for the voting amendment:
“Photo identification required for voting.”

And here’s Mark Ritchie’s title:
“Changes to in-person & absentee voting & voter registration; provisional ballots.”

This is the Legislature’s title for the marriage amendment:
“Recognition of marriage solely between one man and one woman”

And this is Ritchie’s title:
“Limiting the status of marriage to opposite sex couples.”

Does a name really matter? Some observers have opined that inattentive or indifferent voters would, without thinking too much about it, vote in favor of “photo identification” and “recognition” of man/woman marriage, but would be against anything that smacks of “changes” to the voting system or Government “limiting the status of marriage”

Are we really that easily swayed?

What if some familiar amendments to the U.S. Constitution had carried unsympathetic monikers before going to the voters?

Amendment 1
A Cloak To Protect Pious Frauds and Smug Know-It-Alls.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Amendment 2
Something For Belligerent Survivalists To Shout About.

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Amendment 3
A Measure Most People Are Going To Forget About Very Soon

No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

Amendment 4
“A Limitation To Eternally Frustrate The Cops on TV Shows

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Amendment 5
Something For Lawyers To Whisper In Their Clients’ Ears At Trial

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Amendment 6
Full Employment for Defense Attorneys.

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

Amendment 7
Making Sure 20 Dollars Is Considered A Lot Of Money, Forever.

In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Amendment 8
Ordinary Punishment Is OK 

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Amendment 9
Covering Whatever It Was We Didn’t Think Of Earlier.

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Amendment 10
If Mom Didn’t Give It To You, By Default It Belongs To Me

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

OK, now I’m feeling a little bit iffy about the Bill of Rights.

When has a name change altered your view of something?  

79 thoughts on “What’s In A Name?”

  1. when dale spots a line in the paper
    about how a government caper
    could be bent to provide
    deeper stories inside
    for a blogline he’ll dissect and he’ll scrape er

    mark ritchie please take my advice
    doing government work please think twice
    the republican names
    and the the patriot games
    s how they try portraying ugly as nice

    if you screw up the grand presentation
    their train will get stuck in the station
    the tea party motions
    need significant lotion
    to be slid smoothly into their creation

    if you call bigotry hate and exclusion
    by their names some may draw the conclusion
    that the tea party view
    is that me and that you
    make our rights as they see it or lose them

    do it my way is the right to be proper
    if she disagrees we’ll certainly stop her
    she must be a lesbian
    we should be arrestian
    all of those dykes on their choppers

    and the po folk with no good id
    they anit american as you and me
    generations ago
    when our people was po
    and they first by aland and by sea

    the american vision they sought
    was freedom the tea parties is not
    so lets get it straight
    lets just call it hate
    and admit that the gops caught

    they have turned into mean hearted folks
    who think words like freedom are jokes
    look behind that war curtain
    and see halliburton
    and think about why that gun smokes

    if we take away votes from the poorest
    does a tree make a sound in the forest
    if lesbians and gays
    fall to tea party way
    we become that which we are supposed to abhor… ssst


  2. Brilliant, Dale! I am off to Medora today for a conference on ethical challenges for psychologists who work in rural and frontier settings. I always thought I worked in a rural area, but now I am told I work on the frontier. I guess rural now means any population base under 100,000 people. I had better check the wagon for supplies and ammo as we cross the dangerous wastes to the settlement in the Badlands. Frontier, indeed!


  3. Rise and Shine Baboons! or with a name change: “Gityer butts outa bed and git busy Baboons!” Which ever Greeting you prefer in the morning.

    I am particularly partial to the Amendment 1 name change protecting the pious and smug. Very nice.

    Social Workers were not called SW’s in the begiinning. Jane Addams and Hull House in Chicago “invented” social workers dubbing them “Friendly Visitors.” Friendly Visitors taught Polish immigrant women how to safely cook and preserve food, the basics of hygiene and personal cleanliness, nutrition, and “moral certitude.” Friendly Visitors did not petition the court to Terminate Parental Rights. However, if the need existed, they placed children in orphanages for the moral good of the children without parents. Which would you rather have around–a Friendly Busybody–er–Visitor or a Social Worker?

    When I got married to the Wasband in 1975, I changed my last name. I did not want to get married or change my name. I wanted to go to the Peace Corps. I wanted to keep my own name., My mother insisted I marry young–it was selfish not to do so. My Grandmother weighed in judgementally on the “Those Uppity Women.” Within 4 years I went to court and hyphenated my name. 9 years after the wedding I left the Wasband. In the divorce proceeding I took back MY name and again felt like my world was properly ordered again.

    A name is significant.


        1. i had a guy i knew named duane fink who was having trouble with his life financially and when he married his wife named julie manseur he said he was taking her name to eliminate his financial problems. i asked how becoming monseur fink would help.


        2. That’s really crossing the line into Monty Python land, isn’t it, especially paired with Duane? Plus the IRS is notorious for its lack of humor.


        3. tim, a friend of ours has a Revolutionary War era ancestor named Preserved Fish. I like to pronounce the final “-ed” as a separate syllable. I wish my ancestral trail was as colorful.


        4. Robin, I found a “Shady Grub” in our family tree. We think she was an Indian of an Eastern Tribe. She married Daniel Stratton and shows up on the LDS records. HMMM


        5. When I married wasband, I took his last name. When we divorced ten years later, I figured it was the only thing I got from him worth keeping, so I did. When I married husband, much to his father’s chagrin, I kept wasband’s last name. Over the years, this has puzzled many people, but when you consider that my maiden name was Pedersen, the first change shouldn’t surprise anyone. By the time I married husband, six years later, I really couldn’t see the advantage to changing from Mazzaferro to Mouritzen, especially considering all the places I’d need to change it, so I didn’t. We get the occasional letter addressed to Mr. and Mrs. Mazzaferro from people who know me and don’t know we don’t share last name; we also get the occasional junk mail addressed to Mr. and Mrs. Mouritzen (most often misspelled); we’re both pretty relaxed about it.


        1. I knew a family with the last Cost. They named their daughter Holly Cost. They shouldn’t have been surprised when their daughter became sort of a rebel.


        2. In my family, my sisters and I are named Robin, Laurel and Heather, surname was Wood. My parents had friends who also led off with three daughters. They named the first two Laurel and Robin, followed by Holly and when they heard my parents were expecting a third child, they wrote “follow that!” But instead of saddling Heather with the name Holly Wood, my folks opted for Heather Wood. So glad for her!


        3. Really a comment on Robin’s… My older daughter’s name is Holly. She used to date a guy whose last name is Bush. However, she eventually married someone else.
          Another interesting thing about names: apparently Holly is a much stronger personality than I am. Either that or it’s just a better name. Especially when Holly still lived with us, I used to get called Holly quite often. (Not so much now that she is grown up and moved away._


  4. Words matter. If they didn’t, the SoS would not be making the changes and the state GOP would not be squawking.

    Groups of people we once considered to be “minorities” are on track to become “The Majority”.

    As some of you already know, I think that given the track record of many high-profile members of the GOP, it is a glaring omission in their definition of marriage as being “between one man and one woman” that it does not also include the qualifier “at a time”.

    When the s&h was but a toddler, I did my best to not define new tasks as “hard”-things could be “tricky” but they were never “too hard”. As Jeeves would say, “there is always a way”.

    I also consciously chose to never describe anyone to my young son by race or disability. It is surprising to me to discover how automatically I described people in those terms, and a good personal challenge to stop doing it.

    He was happy with the results of the 2008 presidential election, but had a hard time seeing what the big deal was.


    1. You’re a good mom 🙂 A very caring and conscious mom. As are Anna and Sherrilee and Chris. Tricky waters to be navigating as young parents these days.


  5. On a small level I am fascinated by how experience changes names. My son spent a lot of his toddlerhood in casts that covered his legs and feet. Once when he didn’t have a cast he said , “My thumb toe itches.” He obviously had a lot more familiarity with terms for fingers than toes. I still call it the thumb toe.


  6. Good morning. Of course, there is a lot of name calling that is not good, especially with regard to race or ethnic background. I do want to use the names for races and ethnic groups that show respect and usually I don’t have any trouble, but there are times when I don’t know what is correct or there may differing opinions on what is correct. I like to use Native American instead of Indian. However, some people use Indian instead of Native American and don’t see anything wrong with doing this.


    1. Agreed, these are tricky waters to navigate. This is one of the reasons I’ve made the choice to avoid those designations as much as possible, at least with people we know who have other identifying features. It’s a lot harder with groups and admittedly, we do have a habit of identifying people by groups.

      I find, as with nicknames, it is ok to ask individuals how they self-identify. Most people are pretty ok with that and understand that you are asking because you want to respect their wishes on this.

      I don’t so much self-identify as White as I do “German-American”, but there is no such box on most forms.


      1. I think that’s a very wise decision, mig. Often when I’m tempted to specify someone’s race, religion or ethnic background, I ask myself, “why is this important in the context?” If it isn’t, I think it reveals a not so subtle prejudice on my part, one that I’m not proud of and that I make a conscious effort to eradicate.


        1. Yes, PJ, these internal dialogues of ours are so very complicated aren’t they? And to think that they flash through our minds in nanoseconds while we’re talking to others.


        2. PJ, I have the same inner dialog. Usually, I feel that it isn’t important in the context. I’m irritated by others who do include it when not relevant especially when the context is a negative comment.
          To my embarrassment, there are times when I wish I could include it against my rules. I don’t know why, perhaps just so the other person can create an accurate mental picture (and usually it’s in the scope of a positive comment).


        3. Yours may flash through your mind in nanoseconds, Robin; mine take much longer and usually shut down my mouth while they’re at it. (I’m not a fast thinker.)


      1. Agreed, Lisa. And no, Edith, I do NOT think quickly on my feet. Lots of random thoughts milling around in my head does not = quick comeback. Don’t usually think of an answer till I’m driving home 🙂


  7. My name is James, not Jim. I am almost always called Jim and that is what I prefer. Therefore;

    You can call me Jim
    You can even call me Jimmy
    I don’t like Jimmy
    but you can call me that
    you can even call me Jimbo
    but please don’t call me James


  8. Are we that easily swayed? Short answer: Yes. Yes, we are. No one would eat a ‘slimehead’ but rename it ‘Orange Roughy,’ market the hell out of it, and, by gadfrey, it turns out to be yummy. Perception is a powerful thing and a name is a powerful perception point.


    1. Personally, I’ve never had a White Castle burger though I’m told they are good. I just can’t get past the term “slider,” doesn’t sound like something I’d enjoy.


    2. Husband and I were talking about that very fish earlier in the week. Unfortunately, they’d have to come up with something that isn’t fish to convince him to eat it.


  9. This question made me remember how confused I was when in the seventies I heard a radio interview with Wendy Carlos (who had recorded something in the 60s called Switched on Bach – on a synthesizer.) I owned that record, which clearly said Walter Carlos. Nobody ever explained it at the time, but now you can look it up on Wikipedia. There you can see that Wendy is quite open about having had “gender reassignment surgery” (now there’s a new name! Didn’t they used to say it was a sex change operation?) Wikipedia reports that she had felt like a girl since she was quite young.
    At the time, I was surprised and puzzled. Probably not particularly upset. But it was sort of a big deal in my mind, enough so I still remember it.
    Changing my own name was a big deal, too. It took me a long time to totally change it. I second Jacque, “A name is significant.”


    1. On second marriage, like others above, I kept my own name (I had re-taken my maiden after divorce), until Joel was about 10. I got tired of having a different name from Child and Husband, but then I had to pay to have it changed, and bring a witness.


    2. Vicky, I just dug through my stack of old LPs and found my copy of Switched on Bach. It too lists Walter Carlos as the performer. Had no idea that Walter has transitioned to Wendy, nor do I care, it’s still a fine album.


  10. A young neighbor and I were having a discussion on ways to avoid processed food and save money. She always buys bottled salad dressings, her favorite is caesar salad. I said that I could show her how to make a caesar dressing and that I even had the anchovies. She said, with a horrified expression, ANCHOVIES! I HATE ANCHOVIES! I said what do you think gives it the distinctive taste? She doesn’t think she will ever again eat caesar salad. I have some work to undo what I have done by naming an ingredient.


    1. i make caesar without the anchovies being a vegetarian and its pretty good. i dont know if it tastes better w the anchovies. i can tell the difference if i ever get caesar instead of ranch or something like that.


  11. Loving this today but scrambling for time. Teenager and I leave tomorrow for our Colorado trip so I probably won’t be commenting, although I might be able to lurk!


      1. Whoo Hoo – we’ll be there! Fellow Boons – it’s not too late to take me up on the invitation to my cabin next weekend. Plenty of room, plenty of food, plenty of pleasure, plenty of fun, plenty of double-mint gum.


  12. A few years ago a guy name Greg Wersel ran for a Minnesota Supreme Court judicial seat and changed his name to Greg Carlson Wersel; supposedly this was a ballot advantage in a state with a large Scandinavian population (and in an electorate that usually knows little about the judicial candidates). He said his wife’s maiden name was Carlson. Lost the election, I believe.


  13. I was know as the Bug Man for a while when I was doing crop consulting. I wasn’t too fond of that name, but I was told that I should be pleased to have a colorful nick name like that.


      1. I didn’t do any exterminating, but I would tell the farmers if they had a bug problem. Sometimes I told them not to treat for bugs because there were not enough of them to justify treatment.


  14. Afternoon-

    Names do matter. I’ve been going through our farm abstract and realized Benjamin Franklin once owned our farm.
    Seriously, *That* Benjamin Franklin!
    Not the famous one from the 1700’s but yes, that other Ben…

    I’m a firm believer that people don’t read signs. ‘Push this button to start the system’ in a big yellow pad on top of the lightboard and people still call and say ‘How do you turn this thing on?’.
    Signs all over say “WET PAINT — STAY OFF STAGE” and a guy walks into the middle of it. “Joe, you’re standing in wet paint!” ‘huh? Where?’ “… right there where you are; where it’s shiny…”

    grumble grumble grumble…
    I’ll take Mr. Ritchie’s titles for $200 Dale.


  15. Not exactly my view of something…but my ability to pay attention: a friend who costumed a number of shows I designed sets for learned early on in our working relationship that if I was heavily concentrated on some set piece or bit of painting (especially if the tip of my tongue was sticking out – indicating that I was super concentrated, it seems) that I would not answer to my own name. But…if she called me by the family nickname (Ria), I would snap to and answer to that. Though sometimes even then she had to call out twice. 🙂


  16. Garrison Keillor was just plain old Gary Keillor back in the day – doesn’t seem to have the same ring…


        1. They were friends weren’t they? Don’t I remember that Jim Ed would drive Tom Keith to the World/Fitzgerald when he performed on PHC?


  17. I have a friend whose given name is John Hancock. When I first met him and he introduced himself I responded: “And I’m Marilyn Monroe.” That exchange is still vivid in my mind 35 years later. John was a big man, in more ways than one. An avid dancer (he enrolled in ballet classes despite his considerable bulk), swimmer, and speaker of the German language; he had such a zest for life, and was always up to something. Last time I saw him, mental illness was ravaging his brain and I’m ashamed to admit I have lost track of him.


    1. I knew/know JC, too. He used to attend my church and sing in the choir (someimes I gave him rides) and I remember dancing with him at our Valentine’s Dance. He used to hand out a newspaper article that was written about the slew of afflictions that kept him down at varous times. He was very proud of having been in one of a series of magazine ads where people who had famous names would be photographed with the caption, “My name is John Hancock and I…” but I can’t remember the “punchline”.
      Last time I saw him (at least a couple of years ago), he was bemoaning the return of some symptoms which required him to up the dose of a medication that cause him to gain large amounts of weight.
      I do wonder what has happened to him.


      1. Small world Lisa, although I have to admit, I’m not entirely surprised that someone in this group would know John. I met him 35 years ago, years before he married, and it was during the breakup of his marriage that the first severe psychotic episode that I was aware of happened. His wife was a veterinarian, a dear woman, he had met at some folk dancing get-together. John had a weight problem when I first met him, and I can only imagine how horrible it would be for him to have medication add to that. He prepared our tax returns for several years, and it was during tax season that we became aware that something was terribly amiss with him. He was the kind of person you’d run into in the most unexpected places, like Rudy Perpich’s inauguration as governor. I recall sitting in the bleachers, and John asking if we wanted some more sandwiches. When we responded that we didn’t want to go stand in line again, he promptly produced a whole stack of wrapped sandwiches which he had squirreled away in the pockets of his jacket. A sweet and gentle soul, I hope
        he’s OK.


  18. My first married last name was “Kuhl” (pronounced Cool). My two sons parlayed this into their very own adult brand. My younger son, who’s launched three successful businesses in whole-house renovations, has many work vans with the logo on the back saying, “We’re so Kuhl” or “Just Kuhl It”. At work sites, his satellite toilets read, “Kuhl Stool”. When searching for a name for my daughter, my mom suggested “Molly”, but “Molly Kuhl” sounded too much like “molecule”. My mom also pushed “Joe” for my son’s names, but I resisted! All in all, it’s been a pretty cool name for all my kids.


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