Not Just Useful but Dangerous As Well: Safety Comes First With a Knitting Needle
September 11, 2001 has made officials for Transportation Security Administration hyper-alert for any possible risk to flights. The TSA has periodically banned and allowed various ambiguous items onboard of airplanes. In August of 2006, liquid explosives were reportedly involved in the failed terror plot to have affected as much as 11 planes, prompting bans of any kind of liquids. The security issue has also affected the common knitting needle, as objects that can be potentially used as weapons are being subject to dissection.
Using Common Sense and not Panicking
As someone who's surrendered such object as tweezers and nail files to authorities at the airport, I understand the confusion and annoyance passengers get when security officials paw through my bags. The danger of a knitting needle is real; as are the dangers of things such as plastic knives, nail clippers and Emory boards, however panicking and overreacting is exactly what we cannot do when dealing with airline safety.
Common sense must prevail, because while a knitting needle is a potential weapon, an imaginative mind can make anything a weapon (I learned that the hard way, when babysitting and having a toddler hurl a Stephen King book at my face). It has to be up to the judgment of the security official to decide whether taking away your grandmother's knitting needle will ensure the safety of the craft.
The Face of Terrorism Changes
The example of a grandmother having her knitting needle taken away is important, because even though we want officials at our airports to behave with good judgment, assuming that there is a "type" who would be a threat to the flight is dangerous and potentially offensive. We live in a country that's extremely diverse and that also means that the population that wants to harm the country will be diverse, as well. The wide range of creeds and ethnicities in this country is a gift, and we must treasure it - in light of our diversity, the only fair thing would be to subject grandma and her knitting needle to the same scrutiny as anyone else.
The TSA has put the knitting needle in the "permitted" items list, though there are individual airlines that will still refuse to allow a knitting needle onboard a flight. The ban by some airlines is a mild controversy in face of making sure that the skies are safe and the passengers are comfortable.