It’s hard to believe Santa Claus hasn’t been canceled yet.

At first glance he seems like a prime candidate to be ejected from society and erased from history. He mistreats animals, he has a toy factory that probably pollutes the environment around the polar ice caps, and he admittedly (creepily) watches little boys and girls year-round in order to judge them either naughty or nice.

But when you step back and take a hard look at Santa’s operation, a clearer picture of how and why he has managed to avoid the outrage mob begins to take shape.

For example, while his system of gift distribution based on certain behavior expectations seems arbitrary at first, a closer examination reveals it’s a reward system that asks for effort but rewards regardless.

Sort of a, “from each according to his ability, to each according to his contribution,” situation.

Under Santa’s set up little Johnny can be a snot all year round – acting up on the bus, in the classroom and at home - and still be rewarded with gifts. Might he have gotten better presents with more effort? Maybe. But then again maybe Johnny has a hard time sitting still and can’t be expected to act the same way as the neighbor kids.

Since Santa’s system is based on the collective well-being of every kid in the world the lofty goal that they should be motivated to work long hours on being nice if they want to receive more takes a backseat to the reality that everyone gets a present regardless of effort.

That leads to very little motivation to be nice - which ultimately doesn’t bother Santa as long as he gets the final say on who gets what.

That’s a lot of power for one guy to have but at this point it might be too late to do anything about it. We are talking about a man who has spent hundreds of years instilling his teachings, doctrine, and philosophies into the minds of millions and millions of young, impressionable minds.

It would be difficult to unplug now, so we all better just get used to Santa’s new normal, which, as one would guess, will include a number of personal restrictions, starting with the very basics as one little boy found that out the hard way on Dec. 6.

A video shot by a distraught mother went viral this week showing one a Santa fill-in at a mall in Norridge, Ill., shooting down her son’s request for a Nerf gun for Christmas.

“No, no guns,” the mall Santa said.

The exchange was uploaded to a social media site and his since been viewed by thousands of people who don’t get their news from Santa’s state-run news organizations.

In the video, after Santa’s helper said no, the boy looked at his mom in disbelief, at which point she jumped in to remind the bearded minion that her son wasn’t asking for a real gun, but instead a toy loved and played with by millions of kids around the world.

His reply to her was blunt and delivered in a tone that suggested that debate and discussion would not be allowed, his mandate clear: 'No, not even a Nerf gun.”

At that point the kid burst into tears and the mother, who has probably since been added to a list somewhere in Washington D.C. (or on a desk in one of Robert Francis O’Rourke’s homes in Texas) tried to reassure him that he would still get one for Christmas regardless of what the man in red was saying.

A Nerf gun, for those of you out of the toy loop, is a gun that shoots foam darts, discs or balls. The kids in my neighborhood spend hours and hours each summer waging war on each other with all kinds of different versions of the toys.

Back in my day we did the same thing but with BB guns. Apparently, those can shoot an out (or close to it, right Lee?) Nerf guns are a lot safer and lot more cartoon looking in appearance.

The boy’s mother, who is no doubt one step from the Gulag at this point, later took to Facebook to condemn Santa’s mouthpiece for telling her child no due to his own personal beliefs.

“My poor baby. This was the first year Michael was excited to go see Santa. It was supposed to be magical but instead I had to watch my sweet little boy fight back tears because Santa told him No because of his own personal beliefs,” she wrote.

She went on to say that she “had to think fast and explain to him that this Santa was just a helper and not the real guy.”

While I applaud her efforts to sooth her son’s pain, let’s face it: Santa’s helpers have been pounding Santa’s message into the heads of America’s youth for a long time now. If the mall version of Santa says no Nerf gun, he’s not getting one.

Remember kids: Santa knows best, so get back in line.

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