A new version of ’Twas the Night Before Christmas removes these two lines: “The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth/and the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath,” in order that children not be encouraged to smoke. But in my USA Today column, I look at how this kind of editing could prevent children from learning important lessons about morality:
However, what McColl’s revisions will cause is a dumbing down of children’s moral intelligence. The point of stories — even children’s stories, which appropriately tend to be simpler and less complex than young adult and adult fiction — isn’t to present completely sanitized scenarios, where everyone is either completely good or entirely evil.
If that was the case, beloved childhood characters as diverse as Harry Potter (who sometimes uses an invisibility cloak when breaking rules) to Madeline (the little French heroine who recklessly walks — and falls off — a high bridge ledge) should also face censorship.
My colleague Charlie also wrote about this earlier this year.