The concept of a mythical judge has been incorporated into virtually every metaphysical system of beliefs. The jackal headed Anubis would weigh the hearts of dead Egyptians, in Hinduism it is believed that Lord Yama records and judges the earthly deeds of men and of course the all-knowing God of Christianity will judge you based on your sins and your contrition. For those who celebrate Christmas there is Santa Claus, the omniscient watcher who is aware of all your actions and places you on a list of either naughty or nice depending on your behavior throughout the year. Those who do good will receive a bounty of gifts and those who run afoul of Santa will suffer through another holiday with only lumps of coal to warm their heart.
The problem with Santa is that, unlike the other mystical judges, Santa does not have an apparent moral code that can be followed to make his so-called naughty or nice lists. Face it; we simply do not know much about Santa's value system. What you may consider to be a good or nice action may actually conflict with Santa's moral code and land you on the naughty list. Maybe Santa is a Zoroastrian, a skoptsi or an existentialist. Maybe Santa's idea of nice is burning an inverted crucifix into your chest with nitric acid and his definition of naughty includes helping an old woman cross the street. These scenarios are unlikely, but to help you prepare for the possibility of Santa's adjudication I have constructed five hypothetical Santas.
Moveon.org Santa is crazy liberal and he is plugged into the blogosphere grassroots Internet movement. He gets 95% of his information about the world from forums and IRC rooms devoted to liberal conspiracy theories. His sleigh is covered with peak oil bumper stickers and he probably has a Che Guevara shirt stuffed into his closet. He was really into communism in college, but it just hasn't been given a chance. Moveon.org Santa wants you to know that the healthcare is better in Cuba than in the United States, just ignore the ultra-conservative free speech stance of Castro.
NAUGHTY NICE Believing in the freedoms granted by the Second Amendment. Believing that every gun owner is a bloodthirsty killer moments away from a rampage through a Borders Bookstore. You believe that the events of September the 11th were unfortunate but nearly unavoidable. You believe that Flash movie you saw that said the Pentagon was shot with a missile. You shop at Wal*Mart for your everyday goods. You infiltrated a Wal*Mart and attempted to form a union among the sub-literate pregnant highschool dropouts, the mouth-breathing teenagers and the elderly people trying to supplement their Social Security. The Wal*Mart closes, the community's economy collapses and you celebrate another victory against capitalism by treating yourself to a nice clove cigarette and a new piercing. You run a blog that once made fun of a hippy. You run a blog that contains thousand word rants about how much you hate NASCAR and why the new Pope is a Nazi. You buy hamburgers from Burger King. Your diet consists entirely of uncooked fruits, vegetables and nuts and you advocate raw foodism as a quasi-spiritual means of cleansing your body at every possible opportunity. You support big tobacco and poison those around you with second-hand smoke. You douse yourself in patchouli at every opportunity and wear clothes made out of hemp. You've been drinking beer since the day you turned 15. You've been drinking wine since the day you saw "Sideways."
Libertarian Santa believes that taxation is one of the greatest evils perpetrated in the world. Taxes should exist only for the purposes of national defense and to finance a very limited judicial arbitration system. The Federal government should be all but powerless and all rights should be fundamentally based on property rights. In Libertarian Santa's world all morality is essentially replaced with a value system that favors wealth and possessions over any sort of governmentally-enforced individual liberty. Laws should be set by an individual community. If you do not like the "no blacks" rule in your current community then you are free to go find another community, hopefully one consisting entirely of blacks. Libertarian Santa describes himself as socially liberal, but you'll never actually hear him championing a socially liberal cause.
NAUGHTY NICE You think the publically-funded fire department should put out that chemical fire. You think the community should band together and have the charity fire brigade put out that chemical fire. You're worried that the government might not be adequately prepared to deal with a flu pandemic. You're worried you don't have enough shotgun shells to fend off looters in the event of a flu pandemic. You blame the local, state and federal government for failing in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina. You blame the poor for failing to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and buy a magical helicopter to whisk them out of the path of hurricane Katrina. It drives you crazy to see a black man turned away from a job on the basis of his race. It drives you crazy to see a black man admitted to a college even though he was half a point below normal GPA requirements. You move to Canada because Canadians enjoy greater freedoms than Americans. You move to New Hampshire because the taxes are lower. You're socially liberal and economically conservative. You're economically conservative.............................................. and socially liberal. You disagree with the idea of abortion because a baby is a human life. You disagree with the idea of abortion because it intrudes on the property rights of the embryo. You stole a washer from a store to fix the faucet in your invalid mother's house. You killed a trespasser who accidentally wandered onto your secluded woodland property. You spent the year in poverty and your family still has not managed to pull itself out of debt. You spent the year in luxury even though you have not worked a day in your life.
Neoconservative Santa used to be a democrat, but following the September 11th attacks he has become extremely hawkish and has abandoned seemingly all of his former democratic ideology. Neoconservative Santa likes the Bush administration, but he is in it more for Dick Cheney than George W. Bush. He embraces the rhetoric of fundamentalist Christianity and feigns interest in its politics to garner the support of ultra-conservative Christians. He has friends throughout the upper-echelons of the corporate world and he is not afraid to bend a few rules or twist a few arms to help them out.
NAUGHTY NICE Hurting the troops by asking a question. Being the last person in the room to sit after "Proud to Be an American" finishes playing over the American Legion PA system. Getting mad when a pharmacist won't sell you medication because it is not specifically mentioned in the Bible. Refusing to ring someone's over-the-counter pregnancy test at the checkout because only God and Santa should know the reason why they missed their period. Playing the "blame game" with all of your investigations and official inquiries. Signing off on a 280 million dollar no-bid contract to CorpCo, Inc. to provide food services to the troops stationed in Iraq even though you know that CorpCo, Inc. will outsource all the food service work to a Somali warlord with a truck full of rats and rice and a thousand slave laborers who happen to look really snappy in a paper hat shoveling ratshit onto a cafeteria tray. Using the politics of personal destruction against upstanding members of the Senate Armed Services Committee who just want to have sex with top-tier escorts on their yacht in exchange for favorable treatment of a military conglomerate during budget hearings in peace. Counter-protesting because protestors are systematically destroying America. Being concerned about the environmental damage caused to humans by mercury emissions from recently deregulated factories. Being concerned about the economic damage caused to companies by mercury scrubbers once required at recently deregulated factories. Hating America. Hating France. Praying for peace. Praying for victory. Being a homosexual giving a speech about intolerance. Being a homosexual giving a speech about being cured by the 700 Club.
Racist Santa is a member of the master race and he wants you to know it. If you're Jewish, black, Mexican or pretty much any other non-white race then you are virtually guaranteed a place on his naughty list. Even you white people had better watch out because Racist Santa is constantly on the lookout for race traitors.
NAUGHTY NICE Appreciating racial diversity. Yelling "nigger!" at a Popeye's Chicken and then screeching off in your Camero. Crying at the end of Schindler's List when the actors wheel the survivors past Schindler's grave. Timing your masturbation to ejaculate right as the black guy does in "Forced Interracial 19: Wives Caught in the Act" Laughing at a Boondocks comic. Dragging a black man behind your pickup truck until his head falls off. Listening to a John Coltrane CD. Starting a panzercore industrial group called Hitlerfaust and using samples of Hitler speeches you can't understand that turn out to be a recording of Hitler complaining about the coarseness of toilet paper at the Eagle's Nest. Donating a hundred dollars to the NAACP. Donating a hundred dollars so that Gene Wilkenson, Reichsfuehrer-SS of the greater Boise area, can buy a new uniform since the last one got powdered sugar all over it from the donuts Propaganda Minister Luanne Wilkenson brought to the last Hate Conference. Complimenting a Chinese man. Getting pulled over for DUI and screaming "SIEG HEIL!" when asked to recite the alphabet. Writing a letter of apology to the Jewish Defense League for making a comical reference to Sammy Davis Junior's conversion to Judaism. Spray painting swastikas and ZOG on the house of a local schoolteacher who you mistakenly believe to be Jewish (he's actually Mormon) as a means of showing your solidarity for Palestinian resistance to the Zionist oppressors. Spending Hitler's birthday visiting the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. Spending Hitler's birthday saluting a framed color photocopy of a Hitler portrait while your hot pocket is in the microwave.
Solipsist Santa is not sure that you exist or that he exists as anything more than a lens through which the light of consensus-reality passes. He carefully records each and every thing you do but he can't place a whole lot of weight in your actions because he cannot rule out the possibility that he is imagining you and all of the things you have ever done.
NAUGHTY NICE You watch the news and are horrified to see the number of Americans in Iraq being killed by IEDs. Even if you could taste the smoke of an IED you cannot rule out the possibility that they do not exist. You ate an entire pie. You may have eaten an entire pie or you may simply be a brain contained in a vat of nutrient fluid being given false sensory impulses through the medium to make you think you ate an entire pie. You fall in love with a beautiful woman and you marry her. You feel a chemical attraction to the information stream of a woman and you accept that, though she may not be real, within the context of consensus-reality her blowjobs are amazing. You have a dream about a boat. Or maybe your dream is the reality and the world is the dream. It is impossible to make the distinction because they are both equally complex. Your favorite time of year is Christmas. Linear time is an illusion enforced by the human-like figments of your imagination.
These five hypothetical Santas are only a glimpse at the full spectrum of Santas. The best advice I can offer to someone trying to find their way onto the Santa list is to try to picture Santa as having your exact moral code and follow that. If you like buying pornos for 13 year olds and throwing rocks through the windows of a hospital's cancer ward then just go ahead and assume Santa considers those to be good things. Santa is unknowable and capricious, so do not try to please what you cannot understand.
It is standard procedure for the White House to have a synthetic. But it sometimes malfunctions...
This VR game has become sentient and is killing us one by one. But is it art?
If you think Hitler was good, you've got another thing coming.
The Something Awful front page news tackles anything both off and on the Internet. Mostly "on" though, as we're all incredible nerds.