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Censoring Santa

Kaitlynn Riely | Friday, November 30, 2007

It’s about time someone told Santa that just because mommy was kissing him under the mistletoe, it doesn’t make her a ho, ho, ho.

That merry man in red, who urges children all around the world to be good for goodness sake, is getting the equivalent of coal in his stocking from a Santa training company in Australia this Christmas season.

In a story picked up this week by the Australian news media, Santas-in-training are being encouraged to trade in ho, ho, ho for ha, ha, ha.

The recruitment firm Westaff told its prospective Santas they should stop accompanying their belly laughs with a jolly “ho, ho, ho” because it could frighten children and may be derogatory to women.

The trainers at Westaff, a company that supplies hundreds of Santas to department stores and malls across Australia, reportedly told the prospective Santas that the traditional greeting of “ho, ho, ho” was too similar to the American slang for prostitute.

Many have spoken out against the policy of saying “no, no, no” to the “ho, ho, ho,” claiming it takes political correctness too far.

Sure, most children who sit on Santa’s lap during the holiday season have no idea that the word “ho” can be used as an insult. And yes, most people old enough to know that “ho” means whore are aware Santa says the word three times as part of his traditional greeting, not to insult women.

That doesn’t mean we can’t rile up some controversy to go along with our gift shopping this Christmas season.

Perhaps, in the interest of giving ourselves a politically correct Christmas, we should commend Westaff for pointing out the derogatory speech that has been hiding in plain sight – or hearing, rather – ever since Santa first invited children to climb up on his lap. Perhaps we’ve been too distracted by candy canes and Christmas carols to hear S. Claus’s critical comments.

So thank you, Westaff, for your bravery in defying generations of tradition. But the Kris Kringle crew has only made one small step toward ridding Australia, and the world, of its politically incorrect language. Once the “ho, ho, ho” debacle of December has passed, perhaps others can work to banish additional uses of the word ho from our vocabulary.

A cursory Google search reveals many hos that need ha-ing. Ho Chi Minh is a city in Vietnam. Ho Hos, the dessert cake, strike twice.

The list goes on. Ho is a city in Ghana and a language spoken in India. Sometimes we feel gung ho, sometimes we go westward ho.

It seems like the North Pole isn’t the only place in need of a politically correct makeover. So perhaps Westaff should give up its campaign and remember that ’tis the season to be jolly, not politically correct.

And nothing says jolly like a belly laugh from Santa and a deep “ho, ho, ho.”