I caught an item on the early news just now and I’m ashamed to say this was a Canadian idea.
We’ve all heard of the poem “A Visit from St Nicholas” by Clement Moore, or maybe you know it better by its first line “Twas the night before Christmas”. Some publisher in Vancouver thinks it needs to be updated for the twenty-first century. Her new version omits the following two lines found in the original: The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth, And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath; I would imagine illustrations will also reflect this change.
This poem has been around about 180 years, so why does it need “updating” now? Is this political correctness run amok, or something else? Yes, I know smoking is no longer as socially acceptable as it once was, but is that any reason to revise a poem that has reached icon status? If so, how long will it be before any reference to tobacco is removed from history texts, despite the fact it played such a huge role in the settlement of North America?
If history as we know it is subject to revision at the whim of the god called political correctness, history texts may as well be published in loose leaf binder format because any page could be changed at any time. All it would take would be one person objecting to the way something is portrayed! And as we are aware, all it takes is one person to point out something they personally find politically incorrect and they will have no problem getting supporters for having that banned.
If you’re of a certain age, you may have studied Shakespeare in high school. One of the plays I studied was “Merchant of Venice”. It’s been fifty-odd years and I can still remember parts of Portia’s courtroom speech. To my mind, that speech is still one of the better monologues in all of Shakespeare: “the quality of mercy is not strained …” Today’s students can’t study that. It isn’t politically correct and has been removed from classrooms as being anti-semitic. Shakespeare was only reflecting the general view of Jews that existed at the time he wrote that play, yet because it doesn’t fit today’s modern view, students are being deprived the opportunity to study it. History is the same. Things happened, be they good or bad. We can’t change them. Even if we revise history, we still cannot change the past no matter how hard the political correctness police may want to.
Sorry, got carried away there. As I was saying, changing “A Visit from St Nicholas” is just as bad, just as serious, as attempting to change history because you don’t like how something turned out. Leave it alone. I don’t know of any kids who, upon hearing those two lines, decided to go out and try smoking a pipe because Santa smoked one. Most people don’t even remember those two lines are there.
That lady’s gonna get a lump of politically incorrect coal in her stocking this Christmas.