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Hi, I'm horror and science fiction author Steve Kozeniewski (pronounced: "causin' ooze key.") Welcome to my blog! You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon. You can e-mail me here, join my mailing list here, or request an e-autograph here. Free on this site you can listen to me recite one of my own short works, "The Thing Under the Bed."

Monday, March 14, 2011

What's in a Name?

Yes, yes, I know, that's the most generic title ever. Must have been a title for an episode of every sitcom ever made. But, hey, what the hell, if the shoe fits, right? (Cliché alert! Ding ding ding!)

Anyway, all that aside...oh, no wait. I do want to make one more caveat. I don't TYPICALLY talk about politics on this blog, although it is my blog so I can talk about whatever the fuck I want. Then again, people will find a way to make EVERYTHING political, like for instance how the First Lady encouraging kids to exercise is a communist attempt to ban dessert. Yeah, I didn't actually make that one up. That's an actual thing. So, anyway, I don't consider the subject of this post to be PARTICULARLY political, but if you do, and you're offended, well, hey, now you know not to visit my other blog.

Anyway, after all that preamble, here's the real point of this discussion. I feel like a sad little person, but whenever I check out a news story on Yahoo I always find myself scrolling down to check the horrible little trollish comments that crop up on every subject. I mention Yahoo specifically because they both display their comments and seem to be the most egregious. MSN also has comments, but you have to click on them and they usually display a marginally higher level of literacy than the Yahoo ones. I suppose it could be worse, of course, but Yahoo sort of pretends to be a legitimate news site, so I've always been surprised by the frankly staggering level of vitriol here.

Anyway, in my utterly non-scientific analysis of Yahoo comments displayed at the exact time that I happen to click on various news stories, I've noticed a trend. I suspect this trend is much broader in the right-wing blogosphere, but I just can't bring myself to tunnel too far down into that rabbit hole. So the trend is this: not calling the president by his name. Most of them are kind of childish and not worth dwelling on (Obummer, for instance, being one of the least offensive examples of me, they get much worse.) But these don't bother me much. There were plenty of Bush = slang for vagina jokes when he was in office.

But there's also this whole thing about the president once being known as Barry Soetoro. So I gather that in the right wing world this is a BIG FUCKING DEAL (yes, that was a Biden joke, I'm an equal opportunity dick, ha ha!) I guess the president was raised by his stepfather whose name was Soetoro, and when he was a kid he went by Barry, so there were probably times, especially in Indonesia, when he would have gone by the name Barry Soetoro.

I guess this all kind of serves as "proof" for the birther movement that the president isn't who he says he is and some random kid who was born in Kenya took the name of a dead baby in Hawaii or whatever the hell it is that they think happened. Anyway, long story short, this strikes me as particularly stupid because the same thing happened to me for instance. My father and I share the same first name but different middle names, so while I'm not a junior when I was growing up I went by a different name from my father. Everyone called me "Stephen" and my father "Steve" to differentiate between us. Now that I'm an adult I go by "Steve" since it's not really an issue if someone calls the house and wants to talk to pere rather than fils.

So, by birther logic I'm trying to hide something because I go by a different name than I did when I was a child. To be frank, though, I may not be a good example, but this very concept is extremely common in my circle of friends. Just off the top of my head I can think of half a dozen. I have a friend who I've always called "Stewart" but whose family calls him "Russell." Him and his father are both Russell Stewart X, but in a reversal of my circumstances he and his father shared a name in the house and went by different names in public. I had another friend in the same situation who was Todd to his 'rents and Steven to us.

Or, here's a slightly more interesting one. I knew a kid of Uruguyan extraction whose name was spelled M-A-R-T-I-N but pronounced (properly, I believe) as "Marteen." So, since we had all known him for the better part of a decade we called him "Marteen." But in classes, when all the teachers had to go by when meeting him was a sign-in roster, he let them call him "Martin" to avoid confusion. Now some day if that young man becomes presidents, people are going to start questioning his morality.

One of my wife's friends was adopted by his stepfather when he was a few years old. So he already had last name Y, had always gone by last name Y, when he became a member of the X family. He could have changed his last name to X, no one would have blame him, but he kept it Y because it was his name. The Xs are his family, through and through. Does anyone question why he has a different name, knowing this story? No, not really. Or, if he had changed his name to Y, would anyone question that discrepancy as a moral issue? Maybe only if you're elected president.

So, my point is, a lot of very ordinary people change their monikers from youth to adulthood, because, in a lot of ways, that's part of the transition to adulthood. Do a lot of people get called just "Junior" when they're adults? Or, if you were DJ (short for Daniel, Junior) when you were a kid, maybe you go by Dan now? I won't even bother going into how, you know, John Wayne and Elton John weren't born with those names, since I assume no one's going to question a stage name.

So, it really comes down to these two points:

a) Who give a shit if the president went by something different until he was twelve? You probably did, too, unless people still call you Bucky.

b) Assuming there really was some kind of plot to cover up the president's past, wouldn't it make ten times as much sense to stick with Barry, which is a rather generic and inoffensive regular "American" name than to change it to Barack, which is the decidedly more ethnic name that calls attention to his heritage? Seems like he was straightforward about it and just being true to who he was, whereas when he was a child he was probably a little more sensitive about having a *shudder* ethnic name.

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