Civil Liberties

In Praise of the Pocketknife, In Not-Praise of TSA

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Over at Splice Today, Russ Smith goes to bat for the increasingly out-of-fashion pocketknife, whose demise has doubtless been helped along by post-9/11 security:

In truth, I've carried around a pocketknife since first acquiring one as a Cub Scout, and would no sooner leave the house without it than my watch or set of keys. Not long ago, at Reagan National in Washington, D.C., I'd stupidly forgotten to pack my knife in the checked baggage and it was confiscated during the security check, accompanied by a mild dressing down by the fellow in charge. (By the way, I've passed by the guards a number of times, knife undetected, ample enough evidence that the vigilance at airports is, charitably, spotty at best.)

More here.

BTW, if you had kinda-sorta-gotten used to the Transporation Security Administration, get set for this:

Starting in August, the TSA will ask all airlines to provide names, birth dates and genders.

More here.

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  1. I had to laugh when my promotional 2″ pocketknife* was confiscated at SDF, but I boarded with my 4′ aluminum-tipped ultra-stabby umbrella.

    *stamped with “Paxil“, funny enough

  2. I had an officer ask me about my pocket knife while riding the train. He asked if it was a knife. I said yes. He said you really aren’t supposed to have concealed weapons on the train. I said you want me to hold in my hand unconcealed. He said good point. Smiled and went on with the rent-a-guard checking tickets.

    I’ve long thought there is a market for an airport service that will mail your confiscated or not allowed item to your home for a nominal fee, or hold it for you if you are returning to the same air port. A business model based on regulation wouldn’t be the top of a list for good business models, but heh if ya can’t beatem make money off em.

  3. “Starting in August, the TSA will ask all airlines to provide names, birth dates and genders.”

    What, they going to check our horoscopes for “will highjack plane today” or “today is a good day to become a martyr”?

  4. Yo, fuck the TSA.

  5. Don’t thank me, thank THE KNIFE – Dr. Hibbert

  6. My dad has mailed his pocket knife back to himself from airports at least a half dozen times and has gotten it through security at least as many.

    TSA = Security Theatre, but SHHHH! they get angry when you tell them that!

  7. I’m with Russ Smith. I’ve carried a pocket knife since I was a boy scout (a wenger swiss army knife that was a gift of my grandmother. I recently replaced it with an identical model so I won’t have to worry about losing the gift one).

    To me, it was never a weapon, always a tool. (I recall that as a scuba diver, we called the dive knife a tool as well. Hmmmm).

    I recall when I wiped it out at work about 20 years ago to cut open some boxes, that some of my co-workers reacted as if I had wiped out a huge bowie knife, or an automatic weapon.

    I guess if we got away from the idea that one carries a gun for self protection, I supposed the next idea to go is of carrying a pocket knife as a useful tool.

  8. How can you not carry a knife? After car keys it is the most important thing to have in my pocket when I leave the house.

  9. Starting in August, the TSA will ask all airlines to provide names, birth dates and genders.

    Southwest Airlines, March 15, 1967, Judging by the miniskirts of old, Female.

    Oh, you meant passengers’ names, birth dates and genders.

    (where’s the Oxford comma?)

  10. Since 9/11, you have to empty your pockets and go through a metal detector to enter the Old Post Office Building in Washington. Once, when I was trying to get in, the guards told me I couldn’t bring my pocket knife into the building. Because they appeared to be both stupid and humor-impaired, I had to stifle the impulse to ask them if they were afraid I might hijack the building and crash it into the White House.

  11. I always chuckle when I see dudes with the swiss army knife that has the nail file. I carry a box cutter. Hardly ever use it for anything.

  12. Tool is the correct word for it. In addition to the small blade you’ve got both types of screwdrivers. I would hate to use a non-locking folding blade for a weapon.

  13. MBrown: I recall when I wiped it out at work about 20 years ago to cut open some boxes, that some of my co-workers reacted as if I had wiped out a huge bowie knife, or an automatic weapon.

    LOL, I’ve had similar experiences. Once in an office in D.C., a co-worker asked me in a trembling voice “H-how did you get that in here?” as though I had brought in a live grenade.

    Heck, when I was a kid I carried my pocket knife everywhere, including school. Even the most school-marmish teachers knew and were unconcerned, to the point of asking “Which one of you boys has a pocket knife? Would you please open this package for me?”

  14. Another former Boy Scout.

    My pocket knife is in a drawer at home. When I started travelling regularly, it became problematic. So I got out of the habit of picking it up in the morning.

  15. I’ve long thought there is a market for an airport service that will mail your confiscated or not allowed item to your home for a nominal fee, or hold it for you if you are returning to the same air port.

    FedEx (or maybe it’s UPS) already does this at Honolulu International. Costs about $7 per pound, IIRC.

  16. That’s why I drive everywhere. If I ever have to go to Europe, I’ll find a way to drive, dammit!

  17. I got caught with the pocket knife in my brief case in London in 2000. The security agent was brutally polite in the English sort of way. He patiently explained that my 3 inch, locking blade was contraband, and that if I didn’t want to give it up, he would gladly call the armed security guards over to explain it to me.

    I got to put it into an envelope and mail it back to myself.

    This was prior to 9/11 and I carried it through security in the US on my way to Ireland, with a layover in London. For some reason, the English were far pickier than the US at that time.

  18. Drive a boat. Or, drive across the bering strait somehow when it is frozen.

  19. U.S. Government to citizens:

    We prefer you unarmed. That is all.

  20. After I had a very nice folding knife confiscated by a security dickhead (who probably carries it to this day; its got to be the nicest thing he owns. Asshole), I stopped carrying one.

    Now, I have them scattered around my turf – car, office, home, etc.

    For some reason, the English were far pickier than the US at that time.

    They still are. Because they’re pussies, is why.

  21. If a man doesn’t have a pocketknife, he might as well be a Canadian.

  22. I brought my pocket knife to school in 4th grade and got snitched on. I was a Cub Scout and the knife was just this awesome thing i took with me wherever I went. Certainly not a weapon. I had to go talk to the principal.

    Fortunately this was pre-Columbine so I didn’t get expelled or suspended or even get my knife confiscated. I just wasn’t allowed to bring it to school anymore.

  23. During my first tax-payer funded trip to Iraq, we’d stopped at JFK to refuel. A lot of the smokers got off the plane to have a smoke. I went for some fresh air. However, we had to go through the security checkpoint. So I volunteered to act as a knife guard, for if the smokers went through the checkpoint, they couldn’t bring their knives & multitools back. Because they might use them to hijack the plane… filled with other soldiers and machine guns…

    mmm… Logic.

  24. I go with a leatherman. Now that is a tool, but if you wear it on your belt, you are the tool…

  25. I’ve long thought there is a market for an airport service that will mail your confiscated or not allowed item to your home for a nominal fee, or hold it for you if you are returning to the same air port. A business model based on regulation wouldn’t be the top of a list for good business models, but heh if ya can’t beatem make money off em.

    $18 at MCI (Kansas City), and the TSA will stick it in the box for you.

  26. I would hate to use a non-locking folding blade for a weapon.

    FTFY.

  27. “Starting in August, the TSA will ask all airlines to provide names, birth dates and genders.”

    I can see providing names and birth dates*, but just how does one determine the gender of an airline.

    *I assume that would be the date of incorporation.

  28. I go with a leatherman.

    Just be prepared to cough it up the first time some security douche decides he wants one.

    I live in Texas, but I’m pretty much to the point where I won’t fly anywhere if I can drive there in less than 12 hours. Mostly because of the security theater, which I. Cannot. Stand.

  29. For some reason, the English were far pickier than the US at that time.

    Everywhere in Europe was far pickier than the US at that time (pre 9/11/01).

    It it wasn’t just out of pussiness, either. Several airports had had major terrorist shoot-em-ups. They weren’t taking any chances.

    One of the first things that struck me in Airports like Frankfurt, Rome and Amsterdamn was the level of hardware carried by the airport cops.

    Pre-2001 a someone my daughter knew had a two-inch pocket knife confiscated in Portugal (IIRC) before boarding a flight to Canada.

    The pre-boarding ritual my girlfriend at the time and I went through at Schipol in 1997 consisted of going through metal detectors to a separate waiting area (after going through metal detectors to get to the general boarding area), handing in pasports and ID cards (they accepted US drivers licenses as equivalent to a Euro-style ID*) and waiting they had all been inspected – compared to lists, I imagine.

    They then returned the passports and ID ran us through metal detectors one more time and put us on the plane.

    *At that time you didn’t need a “picture ID” to travel. Your passport was enough for international travel, for domestic travel you just said who you were.

  30. I carry a Gerber Multi-Tool and a small Gerber clip lockblade, a Victorinox Swiss Army Knife (Tinker) and the black lock blade that they discontinued, with a saw and a 4″ blade. Oh, I also have a Victorinox SwissCard Lite in my wallet. They are all razor sharp and well maintained, suck on that TSA.

    I don’t plan on flying commercial ever again, even though I really enjoyed flying places before 2000.

    Carried a pocket knife since I was in the 3rd grade.

  31. Most EU countries do not allow locking blades or single hand opening knives to be carried in the country.

  32. On the other hand, I bought your confiscated knife, and about fifty others, for ten cents each in bulk.

    Thanks.

  33. What gets me is, does anyone think a plane will EVER be hijacked with knives ever again? After 9/11, the rules of the game changed. No longer is a hijacking simply a redirection to a foreign piece of runway, ending in the release of the hostages, perhaps ending with a few deaths. Now that planes are being flown into buildings, it’ll be Flight 93 every time. No one is going to let a few cuts and some blood deter them from taking down hijackers. And like people have said, they wouldn’t use those non-locking blades for anything. A hijacker would be just as likely to chop his own finger off as cut an attacker.

    But I suppose we had to Do Something.

  34. “_ Data for names that are a potential match for the watch list are held for 7 years.”

    Potential match? Well, I suppose *everyone* has potential.

    “_ Information for names matching a watch or “No Fly” list will be held for 99 years.”

    That’s ill-considered. Many people are living to be centenarians.

  35. Hey guys, are any of you aware of this?

    http://www.kniferights.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=76&Itemid=150

    I guess post-Heller, they decided that if they can’t take away our guns, they’ll at least try to take away our knives…

  36. “Most EU countries do not allow locking blades or single hand opening knives to be carried in the country.” -hmmm

    I guess that means the 4″ sheathknife I took with me from the states is probably contraband. (No problems going through customs btw)

    I will just start carrying around a meat cleaver instead, just to be on the safe side of the law.

  37. I’ve always carried a pocket-knife and a lighter (don’t really smoke except the occasional cigar). My grandfather told me that a person can survive indefinitely with a knife and a means to make fire.

    When I was in law school, we had to go to the federal courthouse several times and I absentmindedly forgot to leave my knife (swiss-army mini-champ) at home. Solution: put it in my empty travel mug and slide that through the metal detector.

  38. You can’t be a dad without a tool to open the battery compartments of toys.

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