Wendy Murphy: And Justice for Some: Mnemonic games: Something about Jim
I’m sure it’s nothing, but after state Sen. Jim Marzilli and state Rep. Jim Fagan made news for – what should I call it – sadistic verbal lunacy (OK Marzilli got physical, too, but stick with me here), I started looking at other Bay State “Jims” to see whether there isn’t something about the name.
Turns out there might be a good reason to name the next bundle of joy Harry or Luke.
James “Jim” Fagan made international headlines after threatening to “ruin” child victims of sex abuse who testify against their abusers. He promised to attack even 6-year-olds with such ferocity, they wouldn’t be able to eat or sleep or have relationships for the rest of their lives.
James “Jim” Marzilli is under indictment for sexual assault and lewd behavior involving four women, and is accused of allegedly committing even more serious sex crimes against several other women.
Around the time Fagan and Marzilli were getting in trouble, a guy named James “Jim” Keown was convicted of murdering his wife by poisoning her with anti-freeze.
Days earlier, James “Jim” Brescia was convicted of murder for hiring a hit man to knock off his estranged wife’s boyfriend.
James “Whitey” Bulger had a run of bad behavior that allegedly led to the murder of 21 people, all while working as an informant for the feds.
Pedophile priest James “Jim” Porter sexually abused more than 200 children and was convicted of molesting 29 victims.
Of course, the number of men named Jim or James who’ve done great things for Massachusetts is certainly greater than the number of jerks, rapists and murderers who bring shame to the name.
For instance, we can lay claim to beloved musician and songwriter, James Taylor.
Then there’s the famous painter James Whistler.
And renowned poet James Lowell.
And let’s not forget Boston Mayor and Massachusetts Governor, James Michael Curley. (I know, I know, he belongs on both lists).
My favorite ex-boss is named Jim and I have two dozen or more colleagues, relatives and friends named James or Jim who are terrific guys.
But after recent events involving the “bad Jims” in this state, I have to believe that a lot of new parents will find it difficult to name their new baby boy “James” for the same reason that I found it impossible to name my daughters “Britney” or my sons “Albert” (Desalvo) or “Charles” (Manson and Stuart).
Names are only labels, but we all know the way meeting someone new can evoke a feeling of either warmth or disgust when we hear that they have the name of someone we once knew, or someone famous.
I like the name Chuckie even though my kids think the name is scary. They saw a movie about a weird-looking doll of the same name that ran around killing people. I missed that film so the only feeling I get is warm and fuzzy because Chuckie was the name of my fourth-grade boyfriend (assuming it counts as a boyfriend that we rode bikes together).
And come on, who doesn’t recoil when they meet a woman named “Lizzie” or a child named “Damien”?
And remember how we blushed when being introduced to someone named Monica during Bill Clinton’s impeachment proceedings?
Sure, a name is only a word – but it’s a word with great staying power, especially when the name is associated with very bad behavior.
Wendy Murphy is a leading victims rights advocate and nationally recognized television legal analyst. She is an adjunct professor at New England School of Law and radio talk show host. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org