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.