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October 28, 2008 - Betsy Bethel
Have you heard about the Fisher-Price baby dolls that seem to spout an Islamic message?
Fox News in Philadelphia had a story a few weeks ago about parents who were concerned that their children's Fisher-Price Little Mommy "Real Loving Baby" Cuddle and Coo doll did more than just coo. This set off the blogosphere and launched the doll to video fame on YouTube.
Somehow, I missed the hubbub. Until yesterday, when a Wheeling mom posted on her Facebook status that she was trying to figure out why her 2-year-old daughter's baby doll says "Islam is the light."
I asked her to bring the doll in this morning so I could hear it up close and personal. And didn't that soft, cuddly baby doll dressed in turquoise jammies with a matching turquoise newborn hat and binky just babble and coo and giggle and blow raspberries and say "Mama" ...
And proclaim ... "Islam is the light"?!
That's sure what it sounded like to me and several of my co-workers, anyway.
It's not that it gives a pro-Islam message that bothers us, we decided collectively, just that nowhere in the marketing or packaging of the doll does it purport to be a Muslim doll.
Not everyone was convinced of what they were hearing, however, nor is everyone on YouTube. Take a moment to check out the links, and decide for yourselves.
I'll wait ....
OK, so can you at least agree that regardless of WHAT the doll actually says, it is "saying" SOMETHING, not just babbling?
But when the Wheeling mom called Fisher-Price to complain, the customer service representative told her she "misheard" the doll. The official line from Fisher-Price is that "the only scripted word that the doll says is 'Mama'," and that if one hears anything else it is due to the power of suggestion and also that sounds are "imprecise" because of the compression of the sound coming through the speaker, or some such mumbo jumbo.
I asked a co-worker who came in later in the day -- and who missed the earlier conversation about the doll -- to listen to the YouTube recording and tell me what she heard. She couldn't pick out anything other than "Islam." Another co-worker listening objectively said, "It could be saying any number of things."
I personally think the most difficult part to discern is the first word.
Fisher-Price and parent company Mattel are standing firm and are not recalling the dolls. They are carried at all major toy, discount and department stores and cost about $20.
A few stores in Britain and some in the U.S., acting independently, have removed the dolls from shelves. Fisher-Price told my friend they'd give her a $20 voucher if she sent it back to them, but she'd have to pay the shipping. She decided to stick it in a closet because, hey, it may be a collectors' item someday. It wasn't her daughter's favorite doll anyway. She'd had it since Easter and it was buried in the toy box.
I'm sure many folks think the brouhaha is hilarious. People who love to watch people squirm are getting their jollies over this one. In fact, that may be just what happened -- a technician working in some Mattel factory playing a practical joke.
I suppose it could be worse. If the techie chose an anti-Muslim message, it could fuel the fire of our extremist foes. Even worse, imagine if it said "Jesus is the light"? It would be the start of a second Civil War.
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