The sad state of liberty: handcuffs, fingerprinting and mug shots

Posted By on March 12, 2012


Ever since I can remember I’ve carried a pocket knife … in part because the first one was given to me by my grandfather when I was 5 years old. Yes … FIVE … and I can vividly remember cutting ants in a sandbox (where was Peta?). Although it was a small single blade tourist keychain knife (said “Florida” on the sticker) and only about 1” long (think I still have it somewhere?), I carried it with pride and valued it immensely. Eventually my Grandpa Bluhm gave me his heavily sharped (worn out) two bladed pocket knife with a pearled handle — I carried to school everyday. Then in the short couple years preceding his death in 1969, he gave me a variety of others knives not all pocket only type knives. There were those he taught me to throw at targets, others that would spring open (switchblades) and thin, sharp fillet knives that we used to clean fish … wheelbarrows full of yellow perch from Lake Erie that we packaged up for the freeze. It is amazing the impact a grandfather can make on a 9 year old boy. He died before I turned 10.

To this day, I carry a pocket knife because of him, more for utilitarian purposes, but in part out of respect and memory. I do prefer a Swiss Army models from either Victorinox or Wenger and carry a more petite model for convenience on most days. My family, and particularly nephews, joke about me and my “McGyver knives” and laugh about the time I gave them all a Swiss Army knife for Christmas – of course one of them cut his finger a few minutes after opening the gift. (keep your eye on those questionable uncles!)

But this brings me to the point of our changing culture … and over zealous sensitivity to items that I’ve neverwengerswissarmygiant given much thought too, except more recently in dealing with the TSA and to wisely stow my pocket knife  when traveling plane. While I understand the urge to protect the public, it does seem we go way overboard. Here’s an example of a couple high school lacrosse players who are facing the tolerant [sarcasm] school administration in Talbot County and the local police state force. 

CBS reports:

Talbot County schools are under fire for suspending two Easton High School lacrosse players over equipment they kept in their bags to fix their sticks.

Laura Dennis’ son Graham had a pen knife and a Leatherman that school authorities found while they searched a team bus before it headed to a game. He now faces jail time and damage to his permanent record.

Doug Edsall’s son Casey had a lighter he also used to fix his lacrosse stick.  The school classified it as an explosive device.

So we have a pen knife, a Leatherman, and a Bic Lighter.  The police have classified those as deadly weapons and an explosive device (the lighter).  Most sane people would classify those as useful devices that serve to aid humanity.  Not so with our terrorist police organizations, who see lighters and multi-tools as a direct threat to their authority.

“A police officer came and took him away in handcuffs and they said ‘Give us 40 minutes, we have to process him,’ Laura Dennis said. “So they did mug shots and they fingerprinted. I was able to pick him up from the police department 45 minutes later.”

That’s right.  For the crime of carrying useful tools in their gym bag, these kids are now facing the wrath of the almighty terrorist police state.

Make no mistake, the kids are terrified.

“I’m just really terrified of what could happened, and it’s just been real emotional for myself and Graham of what we’ve been through,” said Casey Edsall, suspended student.

Thinking of my past and my pocket knives in school … and others who brought shotguns to school for show-and-tell would have been lock up and the keys thrown away. Come on … handcuffs, mug shots, fingerprinted?


  • Meanwhile, I can sew a pocket onto the side of my shirt, and then carry my swiss army knife (a low-end small one, but it has the tools that I typically need without being too heavy or going too overboard – if I need more tools, typically they’re way too big for a swiss army knife) straight through a TSA checkpoint without any interference:

    And, when I was in K-12 school, knives certainly would’ve caused a huge stink (although, from 3rd grade to graduation, I went to a school that, among other things, dealt with behavioral handicaps – and that’s an environment where knives SHOULDN’T be), but if someone really wanted to, a weapon could’ve easily been improvised – pencils, pens, CDs (I’ve personally witnessed a fight involving a shattered Windows Me CD – finally, someone found a (rather humiliating use) for one), and if a kid really wants to cause trouble, break a window and use a shard of glass. Blunt force could be done with books, cans, etc., etc.

  • Gary

    Believe it or not, TSA, in their infinite wisdom, recently confiscated my P38 (a very small military issue can opener that i have carried every day since 1972) from my key chain as a potentially lethal weapon…ugh!  On that note we are now driving to SC and FL along with a vintage P38 (my last one) which is firmly attached to my key chain.

    • Ouch … one never knows what TSA finds offensive. Hard to believe a collectable P38 lighter sent them over the edge, but then again Taylor tried to board with his credit card “grooming kit” that fits in a wallet … and it was confiscated by the TSA — probably should have known as it had a nail file and tiny scissors. Brenda was pretty frustrated to have had no problem with her lip balm and face creams for several flights, only to have them tossed on another. I didn’t have the guts to argue that number of ounces were within guidelines fearing that we would all end up strip searched and missing our flight. About the only thing we can do at this point is to pack conservatively and “zip lock bagged” and bow to the all powerful TSA.

      As for attempting Eric’s secret pocket trick … I’m not sure I’m ready to get caught trying to smuggle lip balm, face cream and my tiny Swiss Army Knife onto a plane! (BTW, great link Eric, Thx)

      Have a safe trip Gary and Lynne (are you will the guys?)

Desultory - des-uhl-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee

  1. lacking in consistency, constancy, or visible order, disconnected; fitful: desultory conversation.
  2. digressing from or unconnected with the main subject; random: a desultory remark.