Santa on Trial | Print Version
by Bradley Doucet*
Le Québécois Libre, December 15, 2013, No 317

“Please raise your right hand and place your left hand on the Bible. Do you, Santa Claus—also known as Kris Kringle, Jolly Old Saint Nick, Saint Nicholas, Le Père Noël, Father Christmas, The Fat Man, Big Red, and many other aliases—promise to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth in all matters pertaining to this case, so help you God?”

“I do.”

“Mr. Claus, you stand accused of multiple counts of conduct unbecoming a beloved fictional character. To begin with, we have heard evidence of your insistence that boys and girls be cheerful at all times. To quote, ‘You better watch out / you better not cry / you better not pout / I’m telling you why / Santa Claus is coming to town.’ Would you say that this is an accurate portrayal of your views?”

“Ho, ho, ho! Yes, I would indeed.”

“I see. And what do you have against crying and pouting?”

“Well, Christmas is a time of peace and joy. I want people to be happy. I don’t see what’s wrong with that.”

“You don’t. Did it never occur to you that life is not all smiles and giggles? That sometimes crying and pouting are perfectly appropriate responses to life’s vicissitudes? That by warning boys and girls not to cry or pout, you were encouraging them to repress their negative feelings, to disown a part of themselves? Not exactly the best gift you could give them.”

“I didn’t mean to hurt anybody.”

“Your good intentions are duly noted and will be taken into account when it comes time for sentencing, should you be convicted. Now, moving along: You keep a list…”

“And I check it twice!”

“Yes, so we’ve heard. And when, exactly, were you appointed final arbiter of who’s naughty and nice?”

“I believe it was in 1945, at the very first meeting of the United Nations.”

“I don’t think that’s true. Remember you’re under oath, Mr. Claus.”

“Okay, I may have made that last bit up. Look, I appointed myself, okay? No one was filling the role, at least not properly, so I stepped in. I saw a need and I filled it. Is that so terrible?”

“Granted, your judgment concerning who’s naughty and nice may not be as bad as that of the United Nations, one of whose officials recently condemned the government of Uruguay for legalizing marijuana. But still, that’s a lot of power for one person, however jolly, to hold. Would you really have gotten such a stranglehold on the market without government kickbacks and privileges? It seems doubtful.

“But even more serious, the court has heard that you have quite the watchful eye. ‘He sees you when you’re sleeping / He knows when you’re awake.’ This implies cameras in every home in the world, or at least every home with children. How do you justify this massive surveillance apparatus?”

“Well, it’s very important to get it right, you know. I can’t go giving someone a lump of coal when he or she actually belongs in the ‘nice’ column, can I? I have a reputation to maintain.”

“I see. And what about the whistleblowers who have revealed serious abuses of this surveillance power? Are they being treated fairly? Hiding out halfway across the world, seeking asylum from the Easter Bunny?”

“Fluffy should mind his own business. We have internal procedures at the North Pole for handling such abuses. There’s no need for these whistleblowers to go to the press and jeopardize the important work that we need to carry out in absolute secrecy.”

“And why do you need absolute secrecy?”

“That’s classified.”

“It figures. Next question: All those little tin horns and little toy drums, those rooty toot toots and rummy tum tums—Where do you get the funds to pay for all those toys?”

“Well, from parents, of course, and from other adults as well. The children can’t exactly pay for them, can they?”

“So, a tax then.”

“A contribution, deducted straight from everyone’s paycheck. But they all want to pay it—except for the naughty ones.”

“Of course they do. And why don’t parents simply buy gifts for their children directly instead of getting ‘free’ gifts from you? Wouldn’t they know better than you what their own children want for Christmas?”


“Oh, right: massive surveillance. You know, this racket is starting to make a lot of sense.”

“So are we done here?”

“One final thing: You’re a busy man at Christmas, with ‘millions of stockings to fill,’ though surely it must be billions by now. The question is, then: Why are you hoarding your obviously faster-than-light travel capabilities?”

“Well, if that technology fell into the wrong hands…”

“It could, what, transform society? Allow us to colonize the solar system and mine the asteroid belt? Eradicate poverty, thus robbing war mongers of the desperate young men who make up their armies? Why should such transformative technology be so tightly controlled when it could benefit us all?”


“Your Honour, members of the jury: In light of the evidence we’ve heard today, and given Santa’s inability to provide satisfactory justifications for his actions, the prosecution recommends that he be found guilty on all counts. And as a fitting punishment, the prosecution asks that the entire North Pole region be confiscated, and placed under the care of the Canadian government for safekeeping and mineral exploitation.”

* Bradley Doucet is a writer living in Montreal. He has studied philosophy and economics, and is currently completing a novel on the pursuit of happiness. He also is QL's English Editor.