A children’s book author has made furious the American literary members for modifying the 18th-century poem ‘A Visit from St. Nicholas’ – better recognized by its first line, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’ – by removing any mention or picture of Santa puffing on a smoking pipe.
Canadian writer Pamela McColl modified the poem, which was created in 1823 by the late American professor Clement Clarke Moore, to ‘save lives and avoid influencing new smokers,’ she stated on her website.
McColl’s variant as well cuts the original demonstration of Santa smoking a pipe. The modified poem is written in a book that McColl published by means of her own publishing firm.
The American Library Association has protested, stating the modifications to ‘an act of censorship that denies the audience access to the author’s authentic voice.’
Deborah Caldwell-Stone, deputy director of the ALA’s office for intellectual freedom, explained to the Guardian newspaper that such censorship deforms the artist’s primary work and depends fully on the concept that children are not capable of critical thinking or training is useless.
McColl protected her work on her website, telling the edits and omissions do not modify the ‘material intent of the author nor do they infringe on the reader’s understanding or enjoyment of this historically-rich story.’
McColl added that these changes offset other factors. ‘If this text is to survive another 200 years it needs to modernize and reflect today’s realities. She said that she wants kids to enjoy the spirit of giving and to reflect happily on the holiday traditions that shape their childhood, and the best method to respect Santa and this story is to make him smoke-free.