By Joseph E Rathjen – March 24th, 2013 / Lifetimeprint.com
In the 2006 Robin Williams movie “Man of the Year”, Robin Williams plays the character of Tom Dobbs, an eccentric comedian who runs for President of the United States on a whim, but then surprisingly, wins the election and becomes the next President. In that movie “Tom Dobbs” stands on the debate floor and jokes about the idiosyncrasies of airport security checkpoints, and refers to them as “the illusion of security”. Now this is exactly what we have here, only now there is a name that we can officially associate it with, and it’s called “The Transportation Security Administration” or “TSA” for short.
If you’re like me, and you like to use the anagram approach when describing inept and blundering government institutions, you can switch the letters around, but unfortunately, the only thing you will come up with this time is SAT, which is usually reserved for matters pertaining to the scholarly approach, of which obviously, we do not have here, but you be the judge.
On March 5, 2013, John Pistole who is the TSA head administrator, announced a policy change for carry-on luggage. As of April 25th, you may bring aboard small knives, novelty-sized toy bats, pool sticks, ski poles, hockey sticks, lacrosse sticks and two golf clubs. The knives can be non-folding knives no more than 2.36-inches in length and less then ½-inch wide.
Immediately, there was a furor over the new rules and most of it came from airline personnel themselves, like flight attendants, pilots, federal air marshals, insurance companies and politicians, as well as from the CEOs of three-major airlines which were Delta, US Airways and American Airlines. Pistole’s reasoning for the rules was simple, he said, “I have to make sure that TSA’s focus is on those things that are most destructive to the aircraft.” and “We are trying to focus more on terrorist intent.” As for his meeting with the Flight Attendant’s Union Coalition who is publicly and loudly voicing their concerns, his response was, “We agreed to disagree.” Pistole has made it clear he will not back down and reverse the ruling, even after Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., held a press conference and said he intends to introduce legislation to prevent knives of any kind from being allowed on planes.
So now, where does this leave us? Has the TSA and Pistole ever considered what situations such a ruling could create, and whose safety is involved besides the physical aircraft? The flight attendants have said they are worried about their own safety from drunken or unruly passengers which they have to deal with on a daily basis, and rightfully so. Suppose one of those passengers decided to take their 2.36-inch knife out in a threatening manner to a flight attendant, and how about fights onboard between passengers which happen frequently? Some people will argue and say that’s what we have air marshals for and that flight attendants are used to this type of behavior and properly trained for it. But if you were an air marshal, would you look forward to going to work everyday knowing someone you may have to disarm, may resist and try to stab you in the leg with his 2.36-inch knife that the TSA says “has never been used in an assault on a plane before.”? Are we to believe that a 2.36-inch blade cannot do serious, physical damage? And how about pool sticks, hockey sticks and ski poles and golf clubs? Of course there is no documentation they’ve ever been used on airplanes before to attack and maim someone, but why present the opportunity? Granted, ordinary items we carry everyday with us on planes can be used as weapons also, like pens, pencils, eyeglasses, etc., but these are necessary items we need and usually don’t reach for to protect ourselves or attack someone with.
Seriously, folks, do passengers really need to bring their pool sticks, hockey sticks, golf clubs and ski poles into the passenger cabin with them? What’s going on up there, the Air-Olympics at 30,000 feet?
The TSA and John Pistole need to re-evaluate their decision, and learn to listen more carefully to the concerns and protests of airline administrators, airline personnel and passengers alike. Usually when most of the people in the industry you are trying to protect are disagreeing with your decisions, it should clue you in that something with your rulings “just ain’t right.” Prevention is far better medicine then having regrets later, because safety regulations and rules were relaxed to allow for speedier check-ins. Using the logic that “they’ve never been used before as weapons on airplanes” is like saying: Let’s test that new gun that just came out and shot someone, because it’s never been used to kill before!
Joseph E Rathjen is a Freelance Writer and can be contacted at josephrathjen @ aol.com
“Copyright 2013 Joseph Rathjen – All Rights Reserved”