Night of the Short Knives

By Bill Maher

The nation was briefly unified this month when we all came together, Republicans and Democrats, to agree that the TSA is fucking stupid. The idea that they were going to allow knives on planes was roundly ridiculed by everyone. Even though the TSA gave a serious rationale, nope -- they're idiots. Why do you still ban water and make us take off our shoes and inspect our laptop if you're going to arm the passengers with pool cues and pocket knives! That's absurd! From CNN to Fox to rightwing talk radio, we all agreed: it's a dumb idea.

Except...it isn't. It's the government offering to get out of our way just a little tiny bit, and us losing our shit about it.

People like having little Swiss army knives and corkscrews and whatnot in their lives. But if you didn't want to pay extra money and waste extra time in order to check a bag, you just couldn't take them with you. So what's the risk of allowing tiny knives and blunt instruments on planes? Exactly the same as allowing them on a bus. Or anywhere in the world where you might want to play wiffle-ball or open a bottle of wine. There's a risk that someone will beat you to a pulp or corkscrew you...and yet we somehow manage to ignore the risk and let our children play at the park.

What's the additional risk on planes? None, really. The cockpits are now securely locked, and the pilots are trained to sacrifice any number of passengers and crew rather than open the door. A team of al Qaeda ninjas could wipe out a whole cabin with tiny knives and golf clubs (at least in fantasyland), but the plane would still land on schedule and take a frustratingly long time taxiing your corpse to the gate.

And these water bottles and shoes and computers that every wag with a blog kept bringing up as their counter-example? Those things might contain devices that could blow a cockpit door or blow a hole in a plane. Personally, I'm in favor of just accepting the risk from the shoe bombers and getting on with my life, but if you want to keep a plane from being blown up or weaponized, that's the way to do it.

Yes, Islamist terrorists have fetishized planes as a place to make people afraid. But we don't have to agree with them.