Scrooge, the miserly humbugging character from "A Christmas Carol," finally got his day in court Wednesday, but arguments that he's been sorely misunderstood for 142 years fell on deaf ears.
Appearing under the name Willy Nilly Frothingham, Scrooge told the San Francisco Court of Historical Review that author Charles Dickens unfairly maligned him, distorted the facts and forced him to hide his identity. Indeed, he argued, Dickens' inaccurate portrayal in the 1848 novel stirred up such public ire, he was forced to flee the country.Scrooge, portrayed by actor E. Wyman Spalding, presented his case to the 65th session of the court, which regularly debates such issues as whether Santa Claus exists.
Dressed in top hat, tails, red scarf and cane, the ruddy faced Scrooge rejected the popular association of his name with stinginess, greed and cruelty.
"Dickens twisted the whole thing around," he said, "I adore children. Not three days past, I picked up a candy cane and gave it to a child. I have lived this long to set the record straight."
Assisted by attorney Frank Winston, Scrooge contended that he was "always loved by Bob Cratchett," that he was an abused child and that his supposed stinginess was "attributable to the need to save for 142 years of subsequent litigation fees."
Such emotional appeals failed to impress opposing counsel, County Supervisor Angela Alioto, who accused the crotchety character of mistreating employees, ignoring the disabled and not understanding the true spirit of Christmas.
"Sure, he repented for a couple of hours after a night of dreams that would have scared anyone," she declared. "But afterward, he went back to his stingy ways."
An array of witnesses provided additional insight to the Scrooge debate. Columnist and talk show host Noah Griffin recited an original Scrooge-condemning poem, while City Treasurer Mary Callahan, gave an impromptu rendition of "Pennies From Heaven" to underline the existence of avarice in Western culture.
Municipal Court Judge George T. Choppelas handed down a prompt decision.
"This character seems to have convinced his attorney of his right to exoneration, but the court is not impressed," said the judge. "The name Scrooge will forever more be associated with the words skinflint, miser and cheapskate."
There was no word on the possibility of an appeal.