Wednesday, December 17, 2008

An asshole by any other name

Perhaps you've read the story of a New Jersey man's struggle to acquire a birthday cake for his child earlier this month. Heath Campbell thinks it's time for people to stop living in the past but isn't that what he's doing by naming his son Adolf Hitler Campbell?

Heath points to the election of Barrack Obama as the bellwether for change and feels that all of the ill will associated with NAZI Germany needs to pass. Heath, meanwhile enjoys wearing vintage boots that once belonged to a member of the infamous SS. One of Campbell's other children, by the way, is named JoyceLynn Aryan Nation Campbell but Heath insists that he isn't a racist. He points out that there were children of mixed races at his son's birthday party and claims that even though he was raised to avoid interacting with people of other races, he's comfortable with his children hanging out with black kids.

It's interesting that the reporter who conducted this interview didn't ask how Campbell felt about Jews, seeing as how that was Hitler's particular passion, but I suppose I'd miss a point or two if I was asked to give this whack job his 15 minutes of fame. This just isn't the sort of story you imagine writing when you're in journalism school.

It's obvious that Heath and his wife, Eva Braun, are using their children to draw attention to themselves. In the past Heath and his wife have harassed the local grocer with requests for cakes adorned with similarly offensive expressions such as swastikas. The local store refuses these requests so the Campbells have to turn to Wal-Mart to fulfill the special order. You've got to love Wal-Mart.

Now the Campbells are upset that they are the focus of a lot of ire. They claim that they've been harassed by angry postings on the internet in response to a local article on their plight. At least they claim to be upset. If you ask me, they're getting exactly what they wanted.

I think most people realize that freedom of speech doesn't mean that you are free from facing the consequences. You can't say controversial things and expect people not to react. When NWA wrote the song "Fuck Tha Police" they did so hoping to provoke a strong reaction. Perhaps they didn't count on Congressional committees forming to address their album, but you can bet that NWA knew that they were going to piss a lot of people off. They were counting on it to help them sell records.

Heath Campbell doesn't have any talent. As anti-Semites go he leaves a lot to be desired so he picked names for his kids that would evoke a strong reaction. He and his idiot wife were probably surprised and disappointed that they didn't draw significant media attention when they signed Adolf's birth certificate so over the next several years they tried harder. If this story fizzles and the Campbell's don't get an all expenses paid trip on the talk show circuit they're going to have to escalate the offensive. Maybe they'll ruffle feathers in local pizza shops before finally turning to Wal-Mart to place an order for an extra large pie topped with bits of smoked Jew. Maybe Heath will have to convert his back yard into a concentration camp complete with a working gas chamber and an authentic NAZI crematory.

That's pretty extreme and it might be cost prohibitive, especially for a West Jersey hick like Heath. No, they're more likely to pop out another kid and hope that they can pick a name that will really get people angry. Perhaps Hans Curb-stomper Campbell will do the trick. Maybe a daughter named Heeb Killer Campbell is the tonic that will rain down national attention. One thing is certain: if you want attention bad enough, eventually you will get it.

The only thing about this story that bothers me is the fact that Heath is going to get what he wants. That's only going to encourage him to continue on this course of action and it will give other people ideas upon which to expand their own schemes. Some daytime idiot like Tyra Banks will invite him to her show. She'll chastise him and the crowd will boo him roundly but he'll be on TV and that's all that really matters. I'm all for Heath being given a healthy dose of consternation--people need to be held accountable for their actions--but they shouldn't be rewarded with national media attention. In today's society the line between fame and infamy is blurred. There is no such thing as bad publicity and thanks to this AP article Heath is about to get what he's been after all these years.


lizardrinking said...

I don't think it's solely about infamy. I think all three kids have names resonant with Nazi Germany. I think there was a tome he read, or 'lecture' he attended, a film he saw at some point which touched his dim little soul and provided him with easy answers for all that was wrong with the world. If the Scientologists had got him, the kids would have had some hybrid of TomKat as monikers. Maybe it's as simple as his 15 minutes of fame, or the free goods he can schlep, but I think he's got some kind of belief system working that might be shallow in terms of his understanding of it, but maybe not so shallow in its influence on his life, even if it has manifested itself in tawdry, tacky grabs for attention.

Park rose

claw71 said...

Great, you mentioned Scientology on my blog. Now Tom Cruise and his minions will stalk and kill me.

RunBarbara said...

this is why if my birth control ever fails or your dad ever succeeds in raping me, i will name my kids simple, easy things that remind me of yesteryear. things like Hezekiah and Ester, or David Lee Roth and Leotard. you know.
classy names.