Friday, June 24, 2011
What young boy hasn’t wanted to pretend to be a police officer, a cowboy, a fighter pilot, or some other adult figure leading an exciting and adventurous life? At least that’s the way it used to be. Now, in this early 21st Century, where fear is a component of virtually every public policy — underlying everything from vacation travel to eating a bowl of cereal – the new hero figure being marketed for youngsters is a snooping airport TSA agent.
A few years ago, it was plastic Playmobil figures depicting airport metal detectors that hit the toy stores. Now, in a reflection of the more personal and intrusive TSA activities currently prevalent , the latest entry in this collection of Big Brother toys, is the “Spy Gear Security Scanner,” which mimics the hand-wand used by TSA agents.
In response to seeing this latest “toy” in a store, one parent wrote, “One word: ‘Unbelievable.’ We can now teach our kids early to be TSA thugs.” Ben Popken, managing editor of The Consumerist, notes, “But is it fun? Just look at the box! A cheerful child holds his shirt open for the scanning. His other hand is lofted for a high-five. If that doesn’t spell fun, you might be a terrorist.”
Spy Gear and other companies are providing dozens of toys – from lie detectors to model police surveillance vans (thankfully, toy companies have not yet come out with water-boarding kits) – that promote the fear culture that has become the hallmark of post-9/11 America. These toys fit nicely with official government policies subjecting even toddlers to intrusive body “pat-downs,” and serve to acclimate the next generation of Americans to such unconstitutional procedures.