The US is often regarded as the home of impeccable customer service – where no trouble is too much for accommodating shop owners. However there are limits, as New Jersey couple Heath and Deborah Campbell have found: their local ShopRite supermarket has refused to sell them a cake inscribed with a birthday message for their son – who believe it or not, is called Adolf Hitler Campbell. Apparently the store thought this was an inappropriate use of an icing bag. It’s hard to know where to start…
Poor Adolf’s father is apparently a big Nazi fan – his house is adorned with swastikas, and he stomps around in a pair of Nazi jackboots. In fact, such is his devotion to the cause that he’s called his eldest daughter JoyceLynn Aryan Nation Campbell and his youngest Honszlynn Hinler Jeannie Campbell (which is apparently redneck for Heinrich Himmler). However, just in case you were all set to leap to any conclusions about Heath, he insists he’s not racist, claiming that some of Adolf’s best friends were black: ‘If we’re so racist, why would I have them come into my home?’ he cried plaintively.
Campbell, who apparently chose the name because it would be unique, claims he can’t understand why his child is being singled out like this. ‘It's not fair to my children’, he moaned to the local paper – which is a bit rich from a man who’s given his kids Nazi names... What’s more, the bakery department also turned him down two years ago when he wanted a cake covered in swastikas, so we doubt it was a complete surprise. Perhaps it’s all just a tawdry publicity stunt to fool gullible business news outlets (doh).
Some might argue that this could be a slippery slope: businesses are there to provide products and services, not to cast moral judgements on people’s tastes (however appalling). Regardless of the rights and wrongs of this particular case, what if this censorship ends up extending to religion, or politics? On the other hand, the store was perfectly entitled not to serve him: its policy allows it to refuse anything it deems to be appropriate, and you can see why it thought this fell into that category…
Anyway, it’s the children we feel sorry for. How is anyone supposed to get through life branded with a name (let alone a set of parents) like that? In fact we were originally going to call this a Little Ray of Sunshine – but the more we think about it, the more it seems tragic rather than comic...
In today's bulletin:
John Lewis online record as confidence rebounds
The Lehman broker, the PR exec, and a $5m trading ring
Hitler birthday cake meets with icy response
MT's Week in 60 Seconds (in verse)
Christmas at work, with YouTube