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Spotlight on Los Alamos: What's in a name?

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By Gabriel Vasquez

Whether the request was frivolous, childish or crude – it was surely one designed to test the limits of the First Amendment.

The New Mexico Supreme Court recently denied a Los Alamos man, whose current legal name is “Variable,” the request to change his name to F--- Censorship.

Bernalillo County Judge Nan Nash denied his petition for a name change on the grounds that it was “obscene, offensive and would not comport with common decency.”

“While it is fashionable to oppose swear words both in and out of courts, I contend that a mere squeamish discomfort with a supposedly bad word is not sufficient grounds to override the constitutional protection of freedom of speech,” Variable said.

The state law, which clarifies the court’s authority to turn him down on grounds of common decency and good taste, was clarified in a 2004 case in which the same petitioner got the go-ahead from the appeals court to change his name to the word “Variable.”

The judges determined that he had the right to call himself whatever he wanted, unless there was fraud or misrepresentation involved.

His name prior to the case was Snaphappy Fishsuit Mokiligon.


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