A new, politically correct version of ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas’ has the American Library Association (ALA) up in arms. Deborah Caldwell-Stone, an ALA official, says:
“This wasn’t a retelling. This wasn’t a parody. This wasn’t an adaptation. This wasn’t a modernization. This was presenting the original but censoring the content. That kind of expurgation that seeks to prevent others from knowing the original work because of a disapproval of the ideas, the content, is a kind of censorship that we’ve always disapproved of.”
What has Caldwell-Stone so upset is a Canadian woman’s self-published edition of the classic story in which she eliminates these words:
“The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth. And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.”
And adds some things to the cover. On the front, this new statement appears:
“Edited by Santa Claus for the benefit of children of the 21st century.”
On the back jacket flap is a letter from ‘Santa’ saying his reindeer can confirm that the jolly old elf no longer wears fur out of respect for animals, especially polar bears.
Pamela McColl, the author and publisher of the book, felt so strongly about her mission to rescue children from the damaging effect of Santa’s smoking that she mortgaged her house in order to spend $200,000 on her revised — or censored — publication. Not that she’s gotten a lot of thanks for the effort.
“I have been called every name in the book. One person said the only wreath they want to see this Christmas is one on my grave. ‘Shame, shame, shame on you’ is the most common.”
Americans aren’t the only ones who are upset with McColl. Canadians are none too happy, either, including professors at the University of Alberta. Professor emeritus Alvin Schrader observes that Santa is a fantasy, not a role model, and the story was written for adults as well as children. Instructor Gail de Vos insists it’s disturbing anytime a classic is rewritten.
A spoof by Canada’s National Post shows just how far such zealotry can go. In part, their version reads:
“He was chubby and plump [fit and trim], a right [left] jolly old [senior] elf [little person], And I laughed [with him, not about him] when I saw him, in spite of myself! A [non-harassing] wink of his eye and a twist of his head, Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.”
But in all of this, no one is expressing concern for the most vital issue: a little (vertically challenged) old (senior) man is being forced to give up a 200 year-old addiction. Does no one fear that the shock of withdrawal will kill him?