Now, I think naming your kid "Adolph Hitler" is extremely offensive, for obvious reasons. And of course, it will doom the child, regardless of whatever his own personal beliefs end up being, to a certain ignominy even if he manages to get the name changed. However, if the names are really the reason these kids were taken away--one of his sisters, who were also taken, is named "Joycelynn Aryan Nation"--then we are approaching some seriously slippery ground. Yes, I think society at large can agree that these names are not only distasteful, but all-around offensive. But can we use the state's coercive power to enforce public taste and decency, and when? When do we run the risk of moving further toward a tyranny of the majority, a totalitarian democracy that demands not only compliance with laws sanctioned by popular will, but also with popular taste?
One other note. This story that I found about the earlier birthday cake affair contains a interesting tidbit, from interviews on what locals thought about the whole thing. "'I hate it! I hate it, but how can you say they aren't allowed. If you are going to allow these freedoms that are in our constitution, sometimes it goes against what we believe,' said shopper Denise Ackley from Easton." The Constitution contains no freedom to have a store decorate a cake any way you might want. Actually, the store has the constitutional right not to serve you if they don't want.
More interesting: "'If his parents named him Jesus Christ, I'm sure they would put Jesus Christ on the cake,' Lambert said." I'm not sure what he's saying here. Is he saying that naming a child "Jesus Christ" is just as offensive as naming him "Adolph Hitler"? Or that printing it on a cake would be just as offensive? Anyway, interesting reactions all around.