Flight attendants have argued, with reason, that while pilots are now protected behind barricaded doors, they are still the first line of defense against unruly, potentially violent passengers.
But if we want to reduce the most likely cause of violence in the cabin, I would point out that the TSA should ban alcohol — no in-flight drinks for passengers, no pre-flight bars in the terminal and mandatory breath-alcohol testing for everybody at the gate. Surely belligerent drunks cause more trouble aboard planes than all other factors combined.
The bottom line is that if we try to adapt our lives to every what-if scenario we can devise, we might as well go home and hide under the bed right now.
Paradoxically, I think some people are freaking out over knives on planes for the same reason others think all teachers ought to carry guns to school: Their thinking is driven by emotion, by their fear of horrifying but statistically rare events.
It’s understandable, but it’s a bad rationale for public policy. Government’s mandate is to take reasonable measures to ensure public safety — not to promise that nothing bad will ever happen to any of us.
Commercial pilot Patrick Smith, writing in his popular “Ask the Pilot” column published in the Boston Globe, writes of the 9/11 terrorists: “Their plan relied almost entirely on the element of surprise, not weapons.”
Like Fallows, he argues that the surprise was a one-time event and hijackers will never be able to take over an airplane with small knives again.
“We have to remove this discussion from the framework and the emotional weight of September 11,” he writes.
It’s not really about the knives. It’s about that “emotional weight.”
It remains to be seen whether that’s a step we’re ready to take.
©2013 The Dallas Morning News
Visit The Dallas Morning News at www.dallasnews.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services