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An image courtesy of the TSA shows the types of knives that airline passengers will be allowed to carry. The U.S. Transportation Security Administration said that travelers can soon bring small pocket knives on board airplanes for the first time since the Sept. 11 attacks, sparking outrage from flight attendants who said the decision would endanger passengers and crew. (HANDOUT/Reuters)
An image courtesy of the TSA shows the types of knives that airline passengers will be allowed to carry. The U.S. Transportation Security Administration said that travelers can soon bring small pocket knives on board airplanes for the first time since the Sept. 11 attacks, sparking outrage from flight attendants who said the decision would endanger passengers and crew. (HANDOUT/Reuters)

We can fly the friendly skies again – feel free to bring a knife! Add to ...

This week, the United States Transportation Safety Administration announced they will allow passengers to carry pocket knives on planes.

Starting next month, knives with blades 2.36 inches long and less than half-an-inch wide will be permitted onboard flights – a victory, I imagine, for the National Whittling Lobby and the American Hobby Letter-Openers’ Society.

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To be fair, it’s reasonable to question how much of a threat these small knives pose as far as highjacking goes when compared with, say, pens, which are already allowed.

But the possible presence of even small knives will make the people whose job it is to cope with drunk or difficult passengers that much more tense. Groups representing federal air marshals and flight attendants quickly protested the loosening of these regulations.

I’m fairly certain most flight attendants don’t approach disruptive passengers thinking, “He’s had a lot to drink and is picking a fight with that nice elderly lady next to him – I sure hope this guy doesn’t have a little tube of toothpaste on him.”

Liquids, gels and bottles of water will still be forbidden on flights because the TSA seems to be governed more by a set of phobias than by reason. It’s possible next year we’ll be able to bring spiders on board, just not birds.

Also I’m pretty sure this thing of asking me to take off my shoes is just a fetish, though I don’t mind playing along. Or possibly we are all just at the mercy of Big Small White Plastic Bin.

Souvenir baseball bats, golf clubs, hockey and lacrosse sticks as well as some other sports equipment will now also be allowed on flights, because the new motto of the TSA is, apparently, “Who’s up for a pickup game?”

God forbid a small child not be allowed to have his now-deregulated toy bat on a plane. However will he amuse himself in the long hours in the seat right behind you?

At this point in history I’m pretty sure people shouldn’t even be allowed to bring carry-on luggage on planes. I feel this is one of those things where humanity was given a long leash and they blew it. It’s like an alley of a medieval market in there sometimes.

Also, in my mind, a lacrosse stick is the very definition of “not wanted on the voyage.” No one needs immediate access to their golf clubs ever and, if you really must carry a knife, Daniel Boone, walk.

Like most people, I have gamely complied with the seemingly arbitrary rules of airport security, mostly just grateful that it’s not my job to enforce them. It is the job of a great many other people. Lots and lots of them. Every time I go through airport security, there are so many people standing around doing nothing, I anticipate road construction to break out.

One now goes through the various airport rituals almost as though through some kind of church mass, willing to believe at least for the duration that there’s some great and wise though unfathomable being behind it all. Perhaps it’s a relief to feel judged only on one’s level of obedience for a while.

The capriciousness of the demands testing us are almost a bonus in such an arrangement, particularly when the evil from which we seek protection, like terrorism, feels equally incomprehensible.

Is my cellphone off? Yes. Why must my cellphone be off? Because I was told to turn it off and I have no idea how a plane works and so with this simple act of faith I buy life everlasting, or at least life as far as Newark.

Were the TSA to have suddenly banned a few new things in the name of our security – maybe wristwatches, clutch purses or the wearing of vertical stripes on Wednesdays – there would have been grumbling, of course.

However it’s this equally free-association-style unbanning, the sudden announcement that you had previously overestimated the danger of sharp pointy objects, that may cause people to question the rest of their doctrines.

It just feels as if Willy Wonka is in charge.

The TSA was, after all, formed as a result of 9/11. It’s a faith born, like many, in response to a crisis, one largely brought about by the presence of sharp, pointy objects – box cutters. It’s best not to undermine your own origin story.

They could have just made those bags of nuts easier to open.

Follow on Twitter: @TabathaSouthey

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