L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 338, September 25, 2005
"Listening to the Libertarians Yapping"
In Search of Jonathan David Morris
Special to TLE
I got an email over the weekend from someone who works for Fox News, whose name is Jonathan David Morris. He said he was writing just to let me know that there's another guy in the media who goes by the same name as me. I'm not sure how I feel about this.
Actually, I know exactly how I feel about it. It makes me feel like less of a person.
I don't know about you, but I take my name seriously. I don't understand why any self-respecting human being wouldn't. Without a name, you're an animaljust some mass of tissue and emotional baggage wandering through the forest, looking for food. When I was younger, I used to go by Jon Morris. Back then, people would sneak an "h" into my name and spell it John. I didn't like that. A john is a toilet. In college, I switched from Jon to Jonathan. It's sexiermore distinguished. (Plus it gave me more letters to work with for my autograph.) Nowadays, all those miscreant misspellers skip the "h" and try converting the second "a" in my name to an "o." This is one of my deepest pet peeves. Jon-a-thon? What am I, a fundraiser? Am I a race or something? A test of endurance? I can't stand that. And I can't stand it when people who barely know me think they have a right to call me Jon. A ring announcer once said that every fightereven a guy who's 0-99deserves to have his name pronounced and spelled correctly; if nothing else, at least give him that. I agree. If I introduce myself as Jonathan, call me Jonathan. If someone's name is Sidney, you wouldn't call him Bill.
Anyway, when I first set out to become a writer, I was going to stick with plain old Jonathan Morris (with a moral dilemma when I found out jonathanmorris.com was taken). Then something happened. While surfing Amazon one day, I came across an author by the same name (who had written several Dr. Who books). This damn near destroyed me. I intend to be the greatest writer of all time. If I die without achieving that goal, I will kill myself. But this puts me in a bit of a predicament. Great writers are often imitated, but never duplicated. You think Ernest Hemingway had to contend with another Ernest Hemingway early on in his career? At that point, I had to make a decision. There comes a time in a man's life when he has to stand up and say, "I'm not willing to be one of many Jonathan Morrises." So I became Jonathan David Morristhe artist affectionately known as JDMinstead.
For that reason, though, I always knew this day was comingI always knew I'd cross paths with another Jonathan David Morris. I've had nightmares about it happening for years. I know this sounds like a literary device, but it isn't. And telling you that it isn't a literary device isn't a literary device, either. I'm serious about this. I've had nightmares about other Jonathan David Morrises.
I've been lucky enough to dodge the bullet for a while now, but as it is, I've had too many close calls. Just look up "JDM" in a search engine. Go ahead. I'll wait. You'll see that people all over the world are making good off my name and reputation. Check out jdm.org, for instance. That's the home page of Jesse Duplantis Ministries. Or check out jdmshit.com, one of many sites that sells car parts from the Japanese Domestic Market. My initials also apply to a range of entertainers, such as country singer Jo Dee Messina and Doors frontman James Douglas Morrison. I can't even leave comments on one of my favorite websites, reason.com, because there's already a JDM leaving comments on the blog thereit just wouldn't feel right. It's like that episode of Seinfeld where George asks Elaine if he can join her bizarro social circle, and she says, "We already have a George."
And that's just the stuff for my initials. I've had close calls with my whole name, too. On Men's News Daily, for instance, which publishes my columns, there's a John David Powell and a David John Marottaboth too close for comfort. On AlterNet, there's a writer named David Morris. And whenever I look up my name on Google (not that I... um... sit around, looking up my name on Google), I come across a Jonathan David Morris who was part of some family of politicians in the 1800s in Ohio. Sometimes I get letters from people named David Jonathan Morris, who want to tell me how neat it is that our names are exactly the same, except backwards. To me, it's not neat. It's identity theft. When you steal my name, you're stealing my soul.
That's what makes the email from Fox News's Jonathan David Morris feel like a kick in the nuts by a guy wearing steel-toe boots from Gore-Tex. It would be bad enough if he just had my name, but his full title is Father Jonathan David Morriswhich means he's probably a better person than me, too. I'm at a loss here. Obviously, we're different people. If I suddenly vanished off the face of the Earth, I doubt he could just step in and replace me in some sort of wacky Dave-meets-Moon Over Parador scenario. But still, now that I know he's out there, it's possible folks will confuse us. In fact, it's inevitable. I would basically have to kill him and take his powers just to ensure it never happenswhich I wouldn't do, since killing is wrong and I wouldn't know how to take his powers anyway.
So like I said, I'm at a loss. I'm a young man; I've only been to a couple of countries. But I've seen enough of the world to know that it isn't big enough for multiple Jonathan David Morrises. At this point, I basically have three options:
1. Slit my wrists, so that I can never write again. Granted, it's not the ideal option. It's certainly not the one I want to go with. But you've got to admit, it would solve the problem. The only thing I wonder is, would I have time to slit the second wrist after slitting the first one? Do you lose functionality right away, or does it take a while for your hand to go limp? I'd hate to slit just one wrist. That wouldn't accomplish anything. I'd still be able to write. I'd just be a much slower typer.
2. Proceed as if there isn't another Jonathan David Morris. Realistically, this is only option to go with. I mean, I've basically been operating under the assumption that another Jonathan David Morris existed anyway. Though now that I'm sitting here, discussing my options, that makes me sound about as well prepared as the government was for a hurricane in New Orleans. But whatever. Staying the course is always a possibility. I just don't know what I'll do once I write a couple of best-selling novels and people start to care who I am. "Is that the same Father Jonathan David Morris we saw on Fox News?" "It must be. His novels seem divinely inspired. Let's kill him and take his powers."
3. Change my name to an unpronounceable symbol. I wouldn't mind doing this, actually. I've already got the perfect symbol to do it with: a blank space. How cool would that be? But then I wouldn't get any press anymore, because my name would just slip through the cracks of other words in the newspaper. Plus, I'd have to go back and change my website from readjdm.com to simply read.com, which presents a problem since: (a) you can't use a blank space in a domain name; and (b) read.com is already taken.
So I don't know what to do.
Maybe I'm just being selfish here. I'm sure this other Jonathan David Morris is a terrific guy. It's hard to imagine anyone with such a kick-ass name being anything less than a kick-ass person. It's just that there are other kick-ass names out therelike Corbin Bernsen and John Cougar Mellencampand I wish all those other JDMs and Jonathan David Whatevers would be kicking ass and taking names under a name other than my own.