The Daily Whim

The Daily Whim

Sun. May 22, 2005

Drop Those Nose Hair Clippers, Soldier!

My wife will tell you that I’m a person who likes the rules (mainly as a result of her treatment by my alter ego, Nurse Bruno, during her recovery). But the truth is, I like rules … that make sense. And as I wrote recently, “rules that make sense” are in short supply at the U.S. Transportation Security Administration and the Federal Aviation Administration.

But I had no idea.

A reporter and photographer from the Atlanta Journal/Constitution are traveling with the 48th Brigade Combat Team, and posting daily impressions. This is from 5/19/05:

Airline flight attendants wouldn’t be ignored during their pre-flight safety briefings if they could perform like Lt. Col. John King—or at least use his stage props.

Speaking to 280 fellow soldiers before they boarded a chartered DC-10 at the start of their marathon flight from Savannah to Kuwait City earlier this week, King was thunderous, blunt and well armed with an M-16 rifle slung over his shoulder.

“Interfering with a flight crew is a serious crime,” he told them. “Don’t be stupid. Don’t be a moron. Don’t even joke about going to Havana. That’s not where we’re headed today.”

King, who in civilian life is the Doraville police chief, rolled his eyes at the FAA regulation that requires soldiers — all of whom were armed with an arsenal of assault rifles, shotguns and pistols — to surrender pocket knives, nose hair scissors and cigarette lighters.

“If you have any of those things,” he said, almost apologetically, “put them in this box now.”

Like I said, I do like rules, rules that make sense. But this is a form of institutional insanity, and someone needs to do an intervention. When a soldier in full uniform, in the company of nothing but other soldiers, is allowed to retain the bayonet for his M-16 and his M-16, yet has to give up his nose hair clippers, we’ve moved into the realm of scenarios that even the writers of Saturday Night Live would reject as way too lame.

Yet we accept it as government policy, in the name of “security.”

Even the men and women going to risk their lives in Iraq shall be considered “a security risk” in the most inconsequential of ways. They shall be be denied a mere cigarette lighter, when in the World Of Things That Oughta Be, they should be given all the free smokes and booze they want on their way to a year’s posting in Iraq.

And, frankly, that’s about as screwed up as it gets.

Peanut Gallery

1  Harvey wrote:


2  Andrea Harris wrote:

On the other hand, it looks like assault rifles, shotguns, and pistols are okay. So now I know what to pack and what not to pack for my next trip…

Hey, I’m trying to look on the good side.

3  Al Maviva wrote:

Wrong answer, photodude. TSA’s policy is at:

If the link somehow doesn’t work, go to, and type “nail clippers” into the web page search engine. The top document linked is the policy regarding nail clippers.

Here’s the quote from TSA’s public notice regarding prohibited items, just in case you’re browser’s Automatic Fact Checker is broken

“Items permitted in aircraft cabins:

* Pets (if permitted by airline check with airline for procedures)
* Walking canes and umbrellas (once inspected to ensure prohibited items are not concealed)
* Nail clippers with nail files attached
* Nail files
* Tweezers
* Safety razors (including disposable razors)
* Syringes (with medication and professionally printed label identifying medication or manufacturer’s name)
* Insulin delivery systems
* Eyelash curlers ”

4  Reid wrote:

Wrong answer, photodude

Wrong question, Al. This article is has the words “nose hair clippers” in its title, and the quoted article speaks of “nose hair scissors” as being banned.

Nail clippers, as you state, appear to be fine. No one said the soldiers had to give those up. Just those dangerous nose hair scissors. They could scratch the finish on someone’s M-16.

5  Al Maviva wrote:

You’re right, Reid. I’m a complete moron. Mea Maxima Culpa.

I presume that federal agents traveling armed are also forbidden from carrying scissors on board. Perhaps we should argue in favor of an “all law enforcement and military” exception to the prohibited items list.

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