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.
Even as kids are being taught through play that personal body searches are fun and desirable, other federal killjoys are teaching children that eating sweets and other foods containing substances on government food watch lists, must be avoided.
The latest icon to find itself in the feds’ regulatory gun sights is the venerable Tony the Tiger, who has innocently told two generations of parents and kids that Kellogg’sSugar Frosted Flakes are “Gr-r-reat!”
Thanks to a proposal propounded earlier this month by the “Interagency Working Group Proposal on Food Marketing to Children” — which involves the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and others – the food and advertising industries are being pressured to conform their products and activities to federally-approved “principles.” Basically, private industry is being warned to not include too much sugar, salt or fats in their products, and be careful how they market products to children.
According to the so-called “fact sheet” released by the FTC, “Principle A” should promote food that “provide[s] a meaningful contribution to a healthful diet,” such as fruit, vegetables, whole grains, fish, and lean meat. “Principle B” seeks to “minimize the content of nutrients that could have a negative impact on health or weight,” including saturated and trans fats.
The FTC proposes that by 2016, “all food products within the categories most heavily marketed directly to children and adolescents ages 2-17 should meet the two basic nutrition principles.”
While these “principles” are not yet formal mandates, and there is no evidence they would achieve the desired results of making kids less fat and significantly healthier, the handwriting is on the wall. As Audrey Hudson notes at Human Events, “[food] industry officials say the intent is clear: Do it, or else.”
Can the day be far off when the only cereal boxes available to parents will contain only the most bland-tasting grains possible, with no hint of sweetness; but on the back will appear a colorful advertisement for a Kiddie Hotline through which the kids can “pretend” to report those they see unlawfully sneaking a bit of sugar with the cereal?
By Bob Barr – The Barr Code