Offensive Names

Here’s a headline which stopped me in my tracks:

Princess Michael of Kent IS still expected to attend Prince Harry and Meghan’s wedding – following controversial claims she named her two black sheep Venus and Serena

Here’s my question, and it has nothing to do with wedding invitations: are Venus and Serena Williams Black? If so, who could possibly object to someone naming their (black) pets after two well-known Black athletes?

The latter question is rhetorical, or rather, it should be. The sad fact is that in today’s hyper-sensitive world, the simple act of naming one’s pet after someone may be sufficient cause for social ostracism. I could perhaps understand the opprobrium if said Princess had called her two black sheep “Nigger” and “Jigaboo” because Black people seem intent on giving other people the power to offend them by using outdated epithets — but this wasn’t the case, here.

In the interests of full disclosure, I should point out that I once owned a pitch-black cat whom I named “Othello”, and another cat whom I named “Rhona Barrett” because she had a big nose and, duh, the names were appropriate. I also had a snow-white cat named “Pig-Pen” because he was always rolling in the dirt and looked scruffy, and once had two ginger cats named “Rusty” and “Ginger” — and in today’s world, if I’d named them “Harry” and “Carrot-Top” I’d probably be accused of a hate crime towards redheads. I’ve never owned a Siamese cat, but if I did and called him “Chop Suey” or something like that, no doubt there’d be calls for my crucifixion (despite my atheism).

And returning to the Princess above: I can think of many words to describe the Williams sisters, but I have to say that “sheep-like” is not one of them. To anyone who’s ever watched them demolish their hapless opponents on the tennis court, “wolf-like” would be more appropriate — unless by making a lupine allusion, I’d be guilty of denigrating their femininity somehow.

Do you see how stupid this all is? And FFS: can’t we all just lighten up a little?

I’m unlikely ever to own a pet again; but if I do, I’m almost certainly going to name it something offensive, just because. Animal types and suggested names in Comments, please. (The more offensive, the better.)


  1. No doubt someone would get on your case for using the word “denigrating” in your next-to-last paragraph as well. Just like the Congresscritter (IIRC) who objected to the science term “black hole”. I wonder if that was the same critter who worried that Guam would capsize when a larger contingent of Marines was sent there.

    My experience with cats is that you don’t name them, you figure out what their name is. For instance I had an all-black cat who adopted me (literally, he crawled into my lap while I was taking a break from yard work), I named him Bompy, an expression my Dad used for a hobo. One of the friendliest cats I’ve ever known.

    I knew a guy who had a cat named Asshole. And several guys who named dogs after former girlfriends.

    1. Let’s not forget the hooraw over a Congressman’s perfectly appropriate use of the word “niggardly”.

      Why the uproar over “Venus” and “Serena”? Were these names never used before the Tennis Sisters?

      And as regards cat names, my friend had one named “Dammit”. When I asked her about it, she replied “Because that’s what he answers to.”

  2. Can I just throw in my personal objection to the uni-sexification of names? “Princess Michael”? Really? That’s almost as bad as the singular “they”, or the redundant “or she”.

    And don’t get me started on the fashionable, make-believe pronouns…

    1. No you can’t. 🙂 Her husband is Prince Michael so she is formally styled ‘Princess Michael’. In her own right she is Baroness Marie Christine von Reibnitz.

  3. Long gone to the other side as ham, sliced bacon and other delicious meaty bits, but the pet pig of my youth was “Snotgobbler”.

    Also the house cat called “Spastic” maybe because of its walleye.

  4. I once had a couple of goldfish. One was a regular fantail goldfish. The other was a black telescope, commonly called a black moor.

    Their names were Desdemona and Othello, respectively.

  5. Had a friend who’s cat was called cooking fat – as in “the cooking fat has shit in my shoe – again”

  6. My 1st grader inherited two cats from a deceased relative. Nice kitties; no idea what their gender was. He named them Chris and Pat.

  7. Well, since Venus and Serena might possibly be considered black sheep racist or something I am think it should be balanced out with a couple of black, wooly, rams named Amos and Andy.

    1. Holy mackerel there, Catfish! I do believe we done got ourselves a winner!

  8. Kim, you need a parrot. Then you can teach it to talk. Swear at liberals, the whole nine yards.

    My parents had three of the things. My father taught them to whistle, pause, then say, “Dumb dog.” And their dog fell for it every time.

  9. Well Land Sakes, so many opportunities, so little ink!
    von Reibnitz – AKA “RIBBIT”.
    Once knew an ever charming Asian lady named Serena who took very much to heart the admonition “if you can’t sell it, sit on it”. Somewhere in a legendary if not truly phenomenal career she acquired the nickname “Dragon Lady”. Fu Manchu’s craftier sister, she was known non-verbally by a hand extended as a hooked claw.

  10. Denigrating their femininity? Have you seen the steroid enhanced biceps on that creature?

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