Fortunately for Transportation Security Administration officials, they have a semi-plausible explanation for the idiocy that emanated from their agency.
They can blame it on the sequester. A TSA spokesman could explain that, due to sequester-mandated spending cuts, the agency was forced to lay off the employees who were in charge of common sense. That would explain why officials who are supposed to be keeping airliners free of 9/11-type hijackers have decided passengers will be permitted to carry small pocketknives.
Only small knives, with blades less than 2.36 inches long and half an inch wide, will be allowed, the TSA stressed.
One wonders, for starters, how the 2.36-inch limit was determined. Did the TSA's research department decide a terrorist with a 2.5-inch blade is potentially lethal, while 2.36 inches isn't?
Let's get something out of the way before we proceed: I carry a pocketknife. The blade is slightly less than 3 inches long. More than once, about to enter a building equipped with a metal detector, I've had to return to my car to stow the knife so it wouldn't be confiscated. So I am not part of the pro-knife control crowd. I understand why some passengers, about to board airliners, wish they'd remembered to leave their hardware at home.
But in part because I do carry a near-razor sharp knife in my pocket, I also understand why many airline crew members are upset about the TSA's decision. Have officials at the agency forgotten that some of the 9/11 hijackers used box-cutter knives to take over aircraft they then crashed into buildings?
Of course, pocketknives may not be a problem. After all, one or two terrorists armed with them would be easy pickings for a plane load of passengers carrying billiard cues, ski poles, hockey and lacrosse sticks, "novelty-size" baseball bats (24 inches or less) and golf clubs. Those items will be allowed as carry-on luggage, if the TSA has its way. Fortunately, the limit on golf clubs is two. Three might be a threat.
This is lunacy or, if you prefer, your government at work.
Kind of makes you wonder whether a "government shutdown" would be a bad thing, doesn't it?
Myer can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.