Cargo-Cult Security

Being a well-trained little sheep, I made sure to place my my clip knife into my checked baggage. Once we landed in D.C., though, I resumed carrying it in my back pocket. It didn’t occur to me, though they’re all on the National Mall and therefore within line-of-sight of the Capitol, that the museums we were planning to visit might have developed their own flavor of post-9/11 paranoia.

At the door of the Freer Gallery, we encountered a guard whose duty it was to search Celina’s purse, using a small dowel to poke about the interior without placing her hands in jeopardy. While she went about her task, I read the sign behind her, which declared that knives, among other things, were barred from the museum.

Wanting to be a good citizen — and, I’ll admit, wanting to avoid being raped right through my pants should I later be found out — I unclipped my knife, held it out to the guard on my open palm, and asked as politely as I could if I might be permitted to check it.

She paused and said, almost apologetically, “Oh, that’s okay, sir — we only check bags.” So in spite of the sign at her back expressly forbidding it, and despite my complete willingness to check it, I would up carrying the knife through the museum, because doing otherwise would have required causing a fuss.

I really don’t know what to say.

One thought on “Cargo-Cult Security

  1. Hmm, now why were you carrying a knife around? You sound like trouble.

    I think they just make those signs with every conceivable “pointy object” included so if someone later does turn out to be a pain in the butt, they have cause to prosecute. If you’ll notice, many of the laws that are passed are wildly overbroad (when their scope is compared against their stated purpose), and yet the prosecutor’s groups still support them. Same thing here I’d imagine. It’s not that they want to arrest everyone that the law, or the sign, targets, its that they want the discretion to do so. Make everyone guilty so that when they decide to act, they know they can convict. After all, they know who the bad guys are, right?

    BTW, I always found it funny that in my state you can carry around a fully automatic weapon legally (provided you paid your ATF tax), a handgun concealed, but under no circumstances can you have a pocketknife with 2” or greater blade in your pocket. Even if you have a concealed carry permit, your not trusted with a swiss army knife in your jeans.

    Never knew my grandpa was a criminal till I read that law.

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