The TSA vs. Public Schools: Whose Safety Rules Are Dumber?

a789leatherman2 600x400 The TSA vs. Public Schools: Whose Safety Rules Are Dumber?

Having lost several pretty nice pocket knives at
airports over the years because I forgot to leave them at home or
put them in a checked bag, I was pleased to hear that I do not have
to worry about that anymore, thanks to the Transportation Security
Administration’s latest
decree concerning what you may and may not carry onto a plane,
which Scott Shackford
noted here yesterday. But then I checked the fine print: The
blade of your knife can be no longer than 2.36 inches (six
centimeters). I am looking at my Leatherman Juice S2 right now, and
I have a ruler, but I still am not sure whether it will pass
muster. Although the actual blade of the knife is almost exactly
six centimeters, I am a little worried that a persnickety TSA agent
will count the additional centimeter or so of unsharp metal at the
base of the blade. Do they seriously plan to measure the blades of
pocket knives, or just eyeball them? (“Yep, that looks like six
centimeters to me.”) And not to rock the plane now that the TSA,
after more than a decade, has finally come to its senses on this
issue, but the blade on my newly permitted pocket knife is about
twice as long as the blade of my still-prohibited box cutter.
I would also welcome the decision to allow souvenir baseball
bats (no longer than 24 inches, please) in airplane cabins, except
that I did not realize until now that they were banned. Also OK as
of next month: actual, full-size billiard cues, ski poles, hockey
sticks, lacrosse sticks, and golf clubs (limit: two). Again, not to
make trouble, but if real baseball bats are still banned because
they can function as weapons, it is hard to see why these other
long, hard objects, some of which people actually have been known
to use against home invaders or fellow bar brawlers, are now
considered unthreatening. Does the TSA have something against
America’s Pastime? (That is what they call baseball, right?)
I was planning to write a tongue-in-cheek
post mocking the new TSA policy, but two things stopped me: Andy
Borowitz
already did that, and I read about the 7-year-old who was

suspended for two days from Park Elementary School in Anne
Arundel County, Maryland, last Friday for allegedly saying “bang,
bang” while holding a government-distributed, Pop-Tart-like pastry
that he had chewed into a shape vaguely resembling a gun. As
The Washington Post ;explains,
there is some dispute about exactly what happened:

[William "B.J."] Welch [the boy's father] said an assistant
principal at Park Elementary School told him that his son pointed
the pastry at a classmate—though the child maintains he pointed it
at the ceiling.
“In my eyes, it’s irrelevant; I don’t care who he pointed it
at,” Welch said. “It was harmless. It was
a ;danish.”

The Post notes that the boy’s suspension is the latest
in a series of questionable disciplinary decisions by school
officials in the Washington, D.C., area (and
elsewhere) who are determined to enforce a zero-tolerance
policy regarding gun-related whimsy. Other highlights include the
arrest (!) of a 10-year-old boy for showing his friends a toy gun
while riding on a school bus and the suspension of a 5-year-old
girl who
talked about shooting a classmate…with a bubble-blowing Hello
Kitty gun. ;So for those who complain
that taxpayers do not get much return for the money they keep
pumping into public education, here is something amazing that
government-funded schools are accomplishing: They are making the
TSA look sensible.
Addendum: Katherine Mangu-Ward was first to

blog the gun-shaped pastry, followed by the Reason 24/7

mention I noted and a
post by Jesse Walker. Look for a special issue of
Reason ;devoted to the subject next month.
[Thanks to Ron Steiner and Mark Lambert for the links.]

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The TSA vs. Public Schools: Whose Safety Rules Are Dumber?


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