London, Oct 25 (ANI): A children's book publisher has outraged the American literary community for editing a 18th-century Christmas poem by omitting any mention or image of Santa puffing on a smoking pipe.
Canadian publisher Pamela McColl changed the poem 'A Visit from St. Nicholas'-which is better known by its first line, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas,' which was written in 1823 by the late American professor Clement Clarke Moore, to "save lives and avoid influencing new smokers," she claimed on her website.
McColl's new version of the poem cuts two lines that describe Santa smoking: "The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth, / And the smoke, it encircled his head like a wreath."
McColl's version also clips the classic illustration of Santa holding a pipe between his teeth. The edited the poem is printed in a book that McColl published through her own publishing company, the Daily Mail reported.
The American Library Association has cried foul, saying that the changes amount to "an act of censorship that denies the audience access to the author's authentic voice."
"Such censorship misrepresents the artist's original work and relies wholly on the idea that children are incapable of critical thinking or that a parent's guidance and training are meaningless," Deborah Caldwell-Stone, deputy director of the ALA's office for intellectual freedom, told the Guardian.
McColl defended her work on her website, saying that the omissions do not change the "material intent of the author nor do they infringe on the reader's understanding or enjoyment of this historically-rich story."
"I think these edits outweigh other considerations," she said.
"If this text is to survive another 200 years it needs to modernize and reflect today's realities.
"I want children to celebrate the spirit of giving and to reflect proudly on the holiday traditions that shape their childhood, and the best way to honor Santa and this story is to make him smoke-free," she added. (ANI)