The boy who knew too much: a child prodigy

This is the true story of scientific child prodigy, and former baby genius, Ainan Celeste Cawley, written by his father. It is the true story, too, of his gifted brothers and of all the Cawley family. I write also of child prodigy and genius in general: what it is, and how it is so often neglected in the modern world. As a society, we so often fail those we should most hope to see succeed: our gifted children and the gifted adults they become. Site Copyright: Valentine Cawley, 2006 +

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Blaer and the right of self-expression in Iceland.

Blaer is the chosen name of a 15 year old girl in Iceland. It is the name her mother chose for her. Yet, in Iceland, this name has been forbidden because it is not on the official list of permissible names. Young Blaer is now having to sue her own government for the right to be called by her own name.

This might seem like a minor matter, but I find this case very unsettling. It seems to me that a government has no place interfering in the expressive choices of parents and children alike, when it comes to their own names. In Iceland, not even grown adults are allowed to choose names for themselves outside of the official list. This smacks of a kind of repression George Orwell would have remarked upon, had he known about it.
The right to self-expression, as long as it does not harm others, should be basic to all peoples everywhere – without exception. A government attempting to curtail and control the expressive choices of its people, is a government that has gotten out of control. If I were Blaer I would do something very direct to protest this matter, when I grew up: I would emigrate and make the reason for emigration into a news story, internationally – for that would assuredly embarrass this daft little government.

Apparently, Germany and Denmark also restrict name choices. Again, I see no justification for doing this. The reason given is that it prevents parents naming children with embarrassing names. That seems a rather slight justification since if a child has been given a silly name – that child should then be able to change it, later in life, to something more acceptable to them. At no point, is there any justification for the curtailment of expression, by these arguments.

When my wife and I came to choose the names of our children, we chose each with great care. Though others will not know it and we are not going to inform them, each of our children’s names has a personal and a universal meaning. They are literally little stories or descriptive phrases that we have related to each of our children, for personal reasons. They follow a unique schema and consist of a mixture of Gaelic, Arabic, and Latinate names, that has no duplicates, anywhere, on Earth. The names are absolutely unique (though many people now insist on pretending to be one of our children, online...they are not him). Had we been Icelandic, German or Danish, we would not have been granted this freedom. We would have had to select a name common to many others, one without the unique meaning we have written into the names of our children. That strikes me as wrong. The right to express oneself, one’s views, one’s beliefs, ones thoughts, and feelings is absolutely fundamental to the basic freedoms all humans should enjoy everywhere. Those three countries are disallowing those freedoms to their citizens. This is a denial of what I view to be a basic human right.

I do not know if we shall have any more children – but if we do, the names of those children shall tell a tale like no other. They will bear a name that no-one before them has ever borne. Those names shall be created just for them – and that is how it should be. All parents should have the right to name their children, in whatever way they please. If some names cause others offence, then that is an acceptable price to pay for the preservation of a basic freedom of expression.

It seems to me that Iceland, Germany and Denmark have something to learn about the value of self-expression for society. I wonder what other freedoms of expression they control, by means direct and indirect? If you know, please write below.

Posted by Valentine Cawley

(If you would like to support my continued writing of this blog and my ongoing campaign to raise awareness about giftedness and all issues pertaining to it, please donate, by clicking on the gold button to the left of the page.

To read about my fundraising campaign, please go to: and here:

If you would like to read any of our scientific research papers, there are links to some of them, here:

If you would like to see an online summary of my academic achievements to date, please go here: learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, 10, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, 7 and Tiarnan, 5, please go to:

I also write of gifted education, child prodigy, child genius, adult genius, savant, megasavant, HELP University College, the Irish, the Malays, Singapore, Malaysia, IQ, intelligence and creativity.

There is a review of my blog, on the respected The Kindle Report here:

Please have a read, if you would like a critic's view of this blog. Thanks.

You can get my blog on your Kindle, for easy reading, wherever you are, by going to:

Please let all your fellow Kindlers know about my blog availability - and if you know my blog well enough, please be so kind as to write a thoughtful review of what you like about it. Thanks.

My Internet Movie Database listing is at:

Ainan's IMDB listing is at

Syahidah's IMDB listing is at

Our editing, proofreading and copywriting company, Genghis Can, is at blog is copyright Valentine Cawley. Unauthorized duplication is prohibited. Use only with permission. Thank you.) 

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button
posted by Valentine Cawley @ 7:43 PM 


Blogger Jeff Pang said...

I would think that the rule is justified. Even though a child could change their name at later stage in life if a silly name is given (don't underestimate the stupidity of humans), they would have already lived many years with irreparable psychological harm.

The way I see it is that, it is a small inconvenience and price to pay to protect small children. Or are people too self centered to protect the helpless minority?

Yes, I agree that there could be more flexibility or recourse other than legal one in order to use a name that is sensible but outside the list of permissible name. But until someone can think of an idea which is cheap and straightforward to implement. I go with protecting minority children.

11:58 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

I understand your sentiment, but you fail to consider the fact that of the worlds millions of names, the vast majority would be unobjectionable. So, what the Danes/Icelandic and Germans have done is reduce the possible legal name set to in the Icelandic case about 1700 names for girls and about 2000 for boys (or vice versa, I can't recall which way around it was). This means that they have banned MILLIONS of potential names - to stop the abuse of a very small minority. It is a bit of an overkill. What they could have done instead is allow ALL names, but then have a review process to reverse the naming of kids like "Serial Killer" or "Satan" Or "Uglyface" and so on. Objectionable names could be removed later, rather than preventing the use of millions of perfectly decent names.

Had there been a similar rule in South East Asia I am sure that none of my children could have been named as they are - because their names use words from many parts of the world. Sad.

1:34 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape