Pocket Knives Matter

Today I was denied entry to a hospital while my wife was in the emergency room because the security guard would not let me through with my pocket knife (It’s a Gerber Dime; the blade is about an inch long).

When I protested, she said “Weapons aren’t allowed inside.”  I responded that it’s not a weapon, it’s a tool, and she said, “Neither are tools”.

This is not the first time this has happened to me.  I had a pocket knife given to me by my father confiscated at an airport in Peoria, one time.  I was barred from entering a municipal building where I needed to serve jury duty until I walked outside and hid my knife in the bushes.

Today, I offered to leave the knife with the guard, or leave it next to the door, where I’d get it on my way out.  She, and then her supervisor, refused, saying that someone could just take it.

I eventually had to make a 20 minute round trip back to my car to drop it off–while my wife was in a gurney in the emergency room.

This trip took me back through the hospital, just not through the Emergency Department.  So, to be clear, to prevent me from bringing a knife into the hospital, he sent me back through the hospital to put my knife back in my car.

I have a lot of respect for the rights of businesses.  I think there’s a good case to be made that most private businesses be allowed to deny service to whomever they want.  I can understand why a hospital might not want people openly carrying guns around in it.

What I can’t understand is the effort to infantilize a culture.  Me having a screw-driver and a way to open a blister-pack is not a weapon.  It poses no danger.  It only serves to make me more helpless in a variety of circumstances.

A pocket knife is a way to say to the world, “I can survive.  I’ve equipped myself.  I’m prepared.  I can help.”

But our society does not want these things.  It wants people unable to fend for themselves, unable to help ourselves.  It’s the Life of Julia, where we’re expected to call someone to change a lightbulb, screw in a wall-sconce for us, or unclog a toilet.

This is not the America I want.

It is not an America that can survive.