Thoughts from Dr. Joe: Scrooge and political correctness

I was stuck in a Christmas dream as imagined by the great Charles Dickens, and the further I fell into the soul of Ebenezer Scrooge, the more I pitied him. Suddenly there was a piercing ring. Its persistence caught my attention. A phone that rings in the middle of the night is never a good sign.

My concentration broken, I marked my place in Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.”

I answered the phone. Faintly I heard a whispered, “Dr. Joe, this is Charlie Kamar. I need your help.”

I sensed that I was his last Hail Mary. Charlie is a friend; there’d be no hesitation to help.

“Meet you tomorrow at Penelope’s, 8 a.m. I’ll explain,” he said.

“I’ll be there, Charlie!”

My dear reader, before you enter the web I weave, kindly note that this is a fictional story, a very dark story. Please indulge my poetic license and proceed at your own risk. There is a method to my madness and I can only hope that you will see my point.

I arrived early at Penelope’s and continued my sojourn through the dream of Ebenezer Scrooge. I thought that understanding his situation might help decipher Charlie’s plight.

Literary commentators note Dickens’ political and economic themes as an indictment of 19th-century industrial capitalism. A dominant theme in “A Christmas Carol” is the dismal plight of working families during the Victorian era. Through his characters, Dickens implores the wealthy to recognize the predicament of those driven into poverty by industrialism, stressing that society has an obligation to provide for them humanely. Failure to do so results in a moral dilemma similar to what happened to Scrooge when he was visited by the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future.

It has been almost 160 years since “A Christmas Carol” was first published. However, we’ve made little progress since then. Is it not ironic that the “Occupy” movements throughout America are in solidarity with Charles Dickens, relative to social and economic concerns?

It was 8:20 a.m. when Charlie finally appeared. He had been helping customers at his service station.

“Charlie, what’s going on?” I asked.

Charlie seemed hesitant, but said, “Dr. Joe, I have been wishing customers a Merry Christmas!”

“What’s the big deal?” I said.

“Apparently someone was offended and reported me to the Political Correctness Police,” Charlie said. “If convicted, I may have to attend sensitivity training.”

“Well, shut the front door,” I said. I offered to defend him.

“You’re not an attorney,” he said.

I explained that while in the Marines, I did a few months as the battalion legal officer.

The proceeding would commence in a week. I had to prepare my case. I would need to find a mentor. Although I know many attorneys in La Cañada, I needed to find a street guy, one I could relate to. I would seek the counsel of Vinny Gambini, the lawyer from New York in the movie, “My Cousin Vinny.” Thank goodness for Charlie that I have the CD.

Charlie left Penelope’s and headed to his gas station. I resumed reading Dickens. The answer to Charlie’s dilemma would be found in this book. “A Christmas Carol,” published in 1843, was instrumental in establishing the way we celebrate Christmas today.

As I sipped my chai latte, I wondered what have we done to ourselves under the guise of political correctness. Our freedoms atrophy as the dominant culture is continually held hostage to the sensibilities of a few.

It’s Christmas. And when it ceases to be Christmas, humanity will be degraded and that will be our doing.

Stay tuned until next week to learn if Charlie goes to sensitivity training.

JOE PUGLIA is a practicing counselor, a professor of education at Glendale Community College and a former officer in the Marines. Reach him at

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