Here I was thinking the rules about what you can and can’t take onto an airplane couldn’t get any sillier after they banned fingernail clippers when I come across this story about a Florida teacher named Kathryn Harrington who was arrested because of a fancy bookmark:
“It was a bookmark,” Harrington said. “It’s not a weapon. I could not understand why I was being handcuffed and put into a police car. I cried for hours.”
A month after airport police arrested her on a charge of carrying a concealed weapon – the bookmark – it appears Harrington, a 52-year-old special education teacher from Laurel, Md., could be clear of a potential $10,000 fine.
A spokeswoman for the Transportation Security Administration said Thursday the agency, a branch of the Department of Homeland Security, is likely to drop Harrington’s case as early as next week.
“I think at this point we’ve decided not to pursue a civil penalty,” said TSA spokeswoman Lauren Stover. “But it’s not a decision that can be made on the spot. These are things that require an investigation.”
The fact that it took the TSA a month to figure out this wasn’t a dangerous weapon or that Harrington isn’t a dangerous terrorist tells me that they must only hire people with very tiny brains who have trouble not drooling on themselves as they fill out their government forms in crayon. It’s a fucking bookmark, folks. I suppose if you got really lucky you might be able to give someone one helluva bump on the head with it, but does anyone really think that you could successfully hijack an airplane with one? The rock hard stale muffins they hand you on those flights are more dangerous than that stupid bookmark.
Part of the problem, aside from the tiny brain issue, is the fact that even if you follow the guidelines about what is and isn’t permitted in the way of objects as listed on the TSA website *PDF file you could still end up in trouble because the TSA screeners pretty much have the final word on what is and isn’t OK even if it’s listed as acceptable according to the TSA’s own guidelines. The website only says that screeners will make judgments about items not on the list, but the list allows you to carry the aforementioned fingernail clippers in your carry-on luggage as well as friggin’ corkscrews(!) yet many states are making a decent chunk of change by selling these and other confiscated items on eBay.
California’s 337 online auctions, which include bulk sales of up to 100 pocket knives at a time, generated $62,000 for its self-funded surplus program.
Washington state, which has picked up 11,000 pounds of prohibited items from Washington’s airports in the past nine months, has donated much of it to other entities.
“The fingernail clippers and fingernail files go to the homeless shelters, and then we donate the Swiss Army knives to the Boy Scouts,” said Doug Coleman, manager of Washington State Surplus Programs. “We let the fire departments and the police officers go through the tools. We sell a pair of scissors or a pocket knife for 25 cents.”
So there’s no guarantee that following the list of approved items is enough to keep your ass from being charged with a crime (at worst) or having your item confiscated and then sold by the state (at best).
Does anyone else find it incredibly bizarre that it is once again legal for you to own an AK-47, but take a weighted bookmark into your local airport and you could be arrested and potentially charged with a crime??