Adolf Hitler Campbell, the toddler who first made national news when ShopRite refused him a cake, has an entire article in today’s New York Times devoted to his family and their current legal troubles.
When we last heard, the Campbell family’s custody hearing had been postponed, and the New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services had not yet given a reason for the removal. Confidentiality rules currently prevent Family Services from discussing the case, but the Times found a professor of law willing to speculate on the legal grounds for removal. Laura Cohen, from Rutgers Law School, said: “Looking ahead, you could imagine the state making an argument that the ShopRite rejection is a precursor of things to come,” and that the children may be “subject to lifelong ridicule and harassment.” However, Cohen is uncertain over whether this argument would hold. She says she knows of a New York child named for a venereal disease, and that it may be beyond the bounds of the law to question the parental right to name their child. Indeed, it seems hard to believe that a terrible choice of names would be enough to revoke a parent’s rights, but it looks as though this may have been what happened.
In addition to their legal problems, it seems that the Campbells are also facing eviction. Their landlord has decided not to renew their lease because a relative they frequently argued with had threatened to “firebomb the house.” However, the landlord also said that they were clean and non-destructive, yet still, “enough is enough.”
Perhaps most significantly is the insight into the Campbell’s Nazi sympathizing, which is what landed them in this mess in the first place. While their racist leanings are certainly abhorrent, it appears that the Campbells are not particularly avid (or well informed) white supremacists. The New York Times reports that Mr. Campbell used to decorate his house with confederate flags, and it is only recently that he became interested in Nazi Germany. Mr. Campbell legally changed the names of his children only a few months ago, dropping Adolf Hitler’s first name (he used to be Antonio Adolf) and correcting the spelling of “Aryan” on his daughter’s birth certificate. He holds to his belief that Hinler is the correct spelling of Himmler. Mr. Campbell recently said that watching the History Channel has led him to change his beliefs on the Holocaust. He says he now believes that “[Hitler] did it. It was cruel. But I didn’t name my son for the guy who killed all these people. My son is going to learn to love. None of my kids are going to have a bone of hate in their body.” While none of this makes his actions less disgusting, or his beliefs any easier to dismiss, it does raise questions about his rights as a parent. If Heath Campbell's worst crime was exceptional, mind-blowing ignorance, is that enough to justify the removal of his children?
Naming Children for Nazis Puts Spotlight on the Father [New York Times]