A girl named Metallica

Should Swedish parents have the right to name their firstborn after a thrash metal band?

Published April 5, 2007 4:09PM (EDT)

I'll admit it: Sometimes I worry that we're failing our readers. Sure, we write about politics and women's rights, and faithfully report on health issues. But if you look back at Broadsheet's original mission statement, you'll see that we also promised our readers something else. We promised them "celebrity dish." We promised them "news of Katie Holmes' pregnancy." In other words, we promised them some fluff.

And so, I bring you this: A report from the Associated Press about a young Swedish couple locked in a legal battle over their right to name their child Metallica.

Michael and Karolina Tomaro managed to get their 6-month-old child baptized as Metallica, but now the Swedish National Tax Board is putting up a fuss. While the Tomaros insist on their right to choose (asserting that the name "suits her" because "she's decisive and knows what she wants"), the Tax Board claims not only that the name is a direct reference to the rock band but that it contains the word "metal." According to the AP, the official handling the case "also called the name ugly."

The Tomaros went to the County Administrative Court in Goteborg over the issue and won, in a historic decision that noted that there is already a woman in Sweden with Metallica as a middle name. Take that, Swedish National Tax Board.

Unfortunately for little 'Lica, though, the Tax Board did take that ... straight to a higher court in an attempt to appeal the decision. Now the couple is stuck in Sweden, unable to leave the country with their daughter because without a valid name, she can't get a passport.

A few months ago, I made a derogatory reference to Metallica and learned, firsthand, just how deep Broadsheet readers' heavy-metal allegiance lies. So instead of commenting on the band behind the name, I'll focus on the name itself and point out to the tax board officials that, actually, Metallica isn't all that ugly. In fact, it sort of rolls off the tongue -- and has a feminine "a" ending, just like classics Angelina or Julia.

In fact, anyone who thinks that Metallica is worthy of a court case should come to the United States and spend a few hours watching VH1's show "Awesomely Wacky Celebrity Baby Names." We live in a country where, for better or for worse, people have the right to name their children "Audio Science," "Denim" or "Fifi Trixibell." ("Pilot Inspektor," "Jermajesty" and "God'iss Love Stone" are some of my other personal favorites.) Compared with those choices, Metallica sounds downright beautiful.

By Catherine Price

Catherine Price is an award-winning journalist and author of Vitamania: How Vitamins Revolutionized the Way We Think About Food. Her written and multimedia work has appeared in publications including The Best American Science Writing, The New York Times, Popular Science, O: The Oprah Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Washington Post Magazine, Salon, Slate, Men’s Journal, Mother Jones, PARADE, Health Magazine, and Outside. Price lives in Philadelphia.

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