The topic of naming one's children and the ignorance that sometimes happens in the process has come up numerous times in this blog. I must share with you one more instance of sheer idiocy involved in the naming of children. My Aunt Victoria's good friend has a sister-in-law (brother's wife) who is named Jamie, except that it's spelled spelled Jammie. Jammie has a twin sister named Janie, except that her name is spelled (you already guessed it, I'm sure) Jannie.
Jannie had jury duty with my Aunt Victoria this week. My aunt said that the jury commissioner or whoever it is that calls out names (the one time I reported for jury duty, we checked in by handing to an employee slips of paper that had been attached to the summonses we had received in the mail, but the people who run this backwoods courtroom probably haven't even discovered computers yet and do everything the old-fashioned way, including an old-style role call to determine who among those who were called actually showed up) pronounced Jannie's name the way Jannie it should be pronounced phonetically, i.e. rhyming with Annie. According to my aunt, Jannie was furious and made it a point to approach the front desk from where the court employee was taking attendance and to loudly correct the employee. Jannie said something to the effect of, "Can't you even read simple English?" to the court employee.
The court employee was of Hispanic descent and apparently took Jannie's rebuke as a racial reference, which it may or may not have been intended to be. I haven't a clue as to Jannie's mentality when she said what she said. I just know that both she and her twin sister have been angry about their names being mispronounced for most of their lives. They're equally fired up when the names are misspelled. My aunt says the sister-in-law of Jammie (my aunt's friend) has tried to explain to Jammie more than once that a word containing a vowel followed by two consonants, particularly when the word contains a double consonant, is pronounced with a short vowel sound. My aunt's friend didn't know if Jammie thought she (my aunt's friend) didn't know what she was talking about or if Jammie simply could not grasp the underlying phonetic concept.
Things apparently got a bit testy in the jury selection waiting room at that point. A bailiff or deputy sheriff or someone wearing a uniform and badge, anyway, stepped in and told both women to calm down and asked Jannie to take her seat, which she did after briefly mean-mugging the court employee who had mispronounced her name. When roughly half the group was called to enter a courtroom, the uniformed employee with a badge accompanied the group. He approached the court clerk and spoke with her in hushed tones as he pointed at a paper the clerk had in front of her. My aunt has a relatively keen sense of hearing, and she said the uniformed guy was telling the clerk that Jannie's name was pronounced /ja-nie/, not /jan-nie/ and that the woman would become very huffy if her name happened to be mispronounced. The court clerk's response was essentially, "Whatever."
In that particular courtroom, they had a little metal machine like one of those things used in bingo games. The metal bingo machine contained numbers -- not B10 or G 56, but presumably a number to represent each potential juror. The second number drawn, followed by the court clerk's checking of the list in front of her and calling of the potential juror's name, was Jannie's. The court clerk giggled, my aunt said, as she correctly pronounced Jannie's name. Jannie gave her a mild glare, my aunt said, as she took her place in the box, presumably because Jannie perceived (correctly in this case) that she was being made fun of.
Once potential jurors and two alternates had been seated, the voir dire process began. Each juror was asked by the judge to introduce himself or herself and to tell what his or her occupation was and where he or she was employed, along with the same information about his or her spouse of he or she had one. The judge asked each potential juror if there was an inherent reason the juror could not make a fair and unbiased decision concerning the case, which was a misdemeanor criminal case involving the theft of hogs if memory serves me correctly. The judge referred to Jannie as "Mrs. Baumgartner" or something very similar. I obviously should not use her actual surname here if I don't wish to be sued. I would prevail in such a lawsuit, as everything I'm writing is either objective fact stated truthfully or a matter of opinion. There's no libel here, but that doesn't necessarily stop a person from filing a suit against another, and I don't have time now or in the near future to defend myself against idiots.
As voir dire proceeded, the state's attorney also addressed the woman as "Mrs. Baumgartner." When it was the public defender's initial opportunity to question jurors, it was apparent that she had not gotten the memo that the rest of them had read. She addressed Mrs. Baumgartner as "Jannie Baumgartner," rhyming "Jannie" with "Annie." Jannie was predictably not pleased, and corrected the defense attorney, though not going so far as to ask her if she knew how to read simple English in this case. The public defender apologized and pronounced the name as Jannie had said it. Muffled laughter was heard from among the potential jurors, all of whom had previously witnessed the earlier confrontation between Jannie and the court employee in the jury selection waiting room.
Attorneys approached the bench and consulted with the judge, after which he excused two jurors presumably for cause, thanking them for their service. Two more jurors were called up through the process, who gave their basic info to the judge, told him they had no inherent biases related to the case, and were questioned by both attorneys.
Then the peremptory challenge phase began. The prosecutor excused Juror #9. Another number was drawn, the list was consulted, and the next juror was called and took his seat. He gave his basic bio to the judge, then tried to convince the judge that he couldn't be fair in this case because he had been a member of FFA in high school and had once raised a goat. The judge didn't buy his reason for his supposed bias and gave both sides had the opportunity to question the man. Next was the defense's turn for a peremptory challenge. She used her first challenge to dismiss Juror #2, who was Jannie.
As Jannie was walking down the center aisle of then courtroom, Aunt Victoria tried to hide her face behind a book she had brought along, but her effort was futile, and Jannie recognized her. Jannie loudly said, "Well, hi there, Vicky! I didn't even see you here today." she paused. My aunt said she felt her own face growing hot. Having other people know that this idiot even knew her by name was, in and of itself, sufficient cause for embarrassment for my aunt.
The judge said, "Mrs. Baumgartner, you're excused. You may leave now."
Jannie turned and looked at him, then turned back to my aunt. "Well, I guess that's one way to get out of jury duty," Jannie concluded as she finally walked out the door.
My aunt Victoria felt for some reason that she needed to explain herself, so she pleaded, "I don't even know that woman. Seriously." The bailiff commanded those inhabiting the courtroom to be quiet as the room erupted in laughter. The judge tried to say something to my aunt, but then put his head down because he could not stifle his own laughter. He put his hand over his face. Then the judge composed himself and said, "I don't care. It doesn't matter," to my aunt.
The jury was seated without my aunt ever being called into the box, so that story is history, and I'll presumably never know whether or not the defendant was convicted of hog theft unless my Uncle Ralph happens to read about it in the newspaper. I need to remember to ask him about it, because the trial is probably already over. Still, that's not the important thing here.
There are two points to this. One point is that there should be some sort of qualification process in place before a person is allowed to name a child and to decide how that child's name is spelled or, for that matter, even to create a child. It wasn't Jannie or Jammie's fault that their names were spelled stupidly -- blame for that belongs squarely on the backs of their parents -- although if either one possessed any sign of intelligence whatsoever, they would probably comprehend just why it is that their names are consistently pronounced as they are.
Point Number Two is that intelligence or lack of it is obviously hereditary.