Annals of taboo avoidance

It’s a mild taboo item, but enough to make city officials unhappy. From the NYT yesterday:

No Joke: Ex-Mayor’s Name Too Funny for Ind. Center

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (AP) — A former Indiana mayor who won four terms in the 1930s and 1950s is proving less popular with modern-day city leaders, who say they probably won’t name a new government center for him because of the jokes his moniker could inspire.

Harry Baals is the runaway favorite in online voting to name the new building in Fort Wayne, about 120 miles northeast of Indianapolis. But Deputy Mayor Beth Malloy said that probably won’t be enough to put the name of the city’s longest-tenured mayor on the center.

The issue is pronunciation. The former mayor pronounced his last name “balls.” His descendants have since changed it to “bales.”

Supporters said it’s unfair that the former mayor can’t be recognized simply because his name makes some people snicker. But opponents fear that naming the center after Baals would make Fort Wayne the target of late-night television jokes.

“We realize that while Harry Baals was a respected mayor, not everyone outside of Fort Wayne will know that,” Malloy said Tuesday in a statement to The Associated Press. “We wanted to pick something that would reflect our pride in our community beyond the boundaries of Fort Wayne.”

Apparently, Beavis and Butthead, snickering, win.

(Hat tip to Michael Palmer.)


3 Responses to “Annals of taboo avoidance”

  1. Andrew Says:

    What about Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls in the UK?!?
    Imagine if he becomes Prime Minister one day. Schoolchildren will be snickering at “Prime Minister Balls” for generations.

  2. Prounced balls « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] writing to friends about my posting on Harry Baals, I repeatedly wrote Baals prounced […]

  3. B.Slade Says:

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