Yesterday morning, I saw this status from the National Post in my newsfeed on Facebook and tapped the link (on my phone) for reading after I had a moment to sit down. What did it say?
‘[Santa] doesn’t go around killing kids. He doesn’t leave them bombs. I just think starting to rewrite and revise all of our history leads to something even more meaningless than even Disney’
Oh yes, clickbait for sure, right?
The actual headline of the article is:
After 200 years, Santa kicks a bad habit: Publisher, activist edit Twas The Night Before Christmas, take away St. Nick’s pipe
Now THIS is progress, don’t you think? For nearly two centuries we’ve been damaging kids with these words and mental images of jolly, old St. Nick with his pipe standing beside the Christmas tree propped up with dozens of presents. The article is accompanied by this picture:
Yes, the part of the picture that kids are paying attention to is the pipe, especially with the exaggerated cloud of smoke circling his head. In reality, most pictures of Santa don’t even have a pipe, and the ones that do - like the one to the right - certainly don’t make it a centerpiece of the image.
I don’t like smoking, so I don’t. I wish other people didn’t and I’ve made my fantasy of a cigarette ban well-known. But the fact is that what I want isn’t even close to realistic - not as things currently stand. While I have expressed frustration at being forced to inhale second hand smoke, I honestly try not to berate, belittle or otherwise condemn smokers for their unfortunate and unhealthy habit. But I am not anti-smoker, I’m anti-smokING.
That doesn’t change the fact that it is a habit that affects others and I will always maintain that quitting is the best thing you can ever do for loved ones. Many smokers realize this and it is a constant struggle to quit, one that grows more and more difficult the more taboo it is to smoke in society.
So, of course it really helps smoker shame for Pamela McColl to remove Santa’s pipe. Because pipe smoking is such a common problem. I see pipe smokers everywhere. Don’t you?
Will she re-write Frosty the Snowman and take away HIS corncob pipe?
As much as I dislike smoking, I like the smell of pipe smoke. I always have. I have fond memories of going to a few different houses of family friends growing up and listening to their stories as they smoked a pipe. It was rare. I don’t remember their names or why we were there, but I remember liking the pipe smoke. It was better than the smell of cigarette smoke (other than my grandmother’s cigarettes - somehow hers smelled good. How do grandmothers do that?)
This classic Christmas poem has been in the public domain for quite a while and these kinds of revisions are permitted as the rights have expired (along with the author). The problem is that it’s an unnecessary. How many people do you know who’ve taken up pipe smoking because Santa influenced them?
This sort of revision of a classic that generations have grown up with is ludicrous. It’s erasing a portion of history that kids generations from now should learn about.
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” (George Santayana, Life of Reason I)
If we ever get to the point that kids don’t know what smoking is (please, please!), would we actually want to omit that lesson from their knowledge banks only to have them “discover” the joys of smoking again? That would be such a shame. Just as it’s a shame that Ms. McColl is wasting time and effort thinking about a poem that isn’t even about smoking. If kids walked around quoting that stanza, I’d possibly have a different view. But that’s not my experience.
To me, this is a waste of time, money, effort and smarts that could be expended in a far more useful way to give help to people struggling to stop smoking.
It’s just one more case of political correctness going too far and highlighting a non-issue in a way that may not accomplish what she intends.