A Canadian author has produced a politically correct adaptation of the classic children’s poem popularly known as “Twas the Night Before Christmas,” which scrubs all mentions of smoking.
The cover of the new version, authored by anti-smoking activist Pamela McColl, suggests that an authority no less than Santa Claus himself has edited the poem “for the benefit of children of the 21st century,” reports Southern California Public Radio.
The beloved holiday tale, which is actually titled “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” was first published anonymously in 1823. It’s generally attributed to Clement Clarke Moore.
The two offending lines come in the 11th of the original’s 14 stanzas. They are:
“The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath”
McColl’s new version omits those lines.
The pictures in McColl’s new edition also boast a smoke-free Santa, the Daily Telegraph notes. Throughout the years, the poem has often been illustrated by an image of Santa smoking a pipe.
“I just really don’t think Santa should be smoking in the 21st century,” McColl said, according to the Telegraph. “By removing these words we may save lives and avoid influencing new smokers.”
The American Library Association and other organizations that stand athwart censorship disagree with McColl, Southern California Public Radio reports.
Deborah Caldwell-Stone, deputy director for intellectual freedom at the ALA, has compared McColl’s edit to the highly controversial modifications Mark Twain scholar Alan Gribben made in a version of “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” Gribben changed each of the 219 instances of the dreaded n-word to “slave.”
“Such censorship misrepresents the artist’s original work,” Caldwell-Stone said, according to the Guardian.
“Putting children in an insulation bubble, hoping to protect them from anything their parents may deem harmful, is not only impossible, it is unproductive,” added the National Coalition Against Censorship, according to the Telegraph.
McColl, however, remains unfazed.
“I’ve been called a fascist and a Nazi and every other name in the book,” McColl told the Telegraph. “It is not censorship; it is editing.”
“I think these edits outweigh other considerations,” McColl told the Guardian in a different interview. “If this text is to survive another 200 years, it needs to modernize and reflect today’s realities.”