Steven Green, aka “Vodkapundit” is my favorite of the rotating cast of guest-bloggers on Instapundit. I have been particularly entertained by his “drunk-blogging” of the presidential debates because let’s face it, it takes a pitcher of martinis or several drams of good scotch to get through any of them at this point.
In his latest piece, he is lamenting the demise of the common pocketknife, against the backdrop of the Cal State Long Beach fiasco/non-incident this past week where a student’s somewhat innocuous knife use led to an overreaction from
delicate snowflakes students. (granted, one can reasonably question the knife-carrier’s timing and possible disrespect shown by cleaning his nails in class).
Steven, like many of us, has carried a knife virtually every day since he was 10 years old. The knife is more than a tool, it represents the attitude of preparedness and self-sufficiency that has declined along with the pocketknife’s ubiquitousness.
Eleventh birthday, 1980, I got my first pocketknife. The models have changed some since then, but the closest match today would be the Swiss Army Explorer. And it was mine.
By that I mean, it didn’t get stuck in a out-of-reach drawer or locked in a safe or anything like that, to be taken out only on special occasions. Instead it went wherever I put it. My knife was on my desk when I was building a Star Wars model or working on some other project where it might come in handy, it was in my hand when I was outdoors whittling or whatever, and the rest of the time it had a comfy home in my right-front jeans pocket.
Not an altogether different scenario than many of us experienced. Green continues:
“Of course I learned the obvious lessons like how not to cut myself, and the importance of keeping my knife clean and sharp. You know those kids who are always losing stuff? I was one of those — but I never lost the little toothpick or tweezers that came with my Swiss Army knife. The most important lesson though might have been just how much better a person is at the simple business of living, when they have a couple of blades, a screwdriver, a saw, and all the rest, always within easy reach…
…As a grownup with a house full of tools, I usually don’t bother with a big Swiss Army knife or a multitool — but thirty-plus years later you’ll at least find a little penknife occupying my right-front pocket. There’s a small catchall next to my bathroom sink filled with various pocketknives and penknives, and each morning I slip one in my pocket as the unofficial final step in getting dressed. The process is about as automatic as picking out socks.”
It is sad that Steven, and all of us by extension are the exception rather than the rule. It was not that long ago where a pocketknife would not have drawn the kid of reaction that was exhibited at CSLB.
Back in my university days — there I go again! — if a professor had asked for a show of hands for who was carrying a pocketknife, some men (typically but not exclusively men) would raise their hands. Some wouldn’t. But the point is that nobody would have really thought much of it one way or the other. I’d even be willing to wager that in some parts of the country, a man might feel a small bit of shame if he’d forgotten to grab his knife that morning. I know I feel naked without one — and next-to-useless, too, if I find I need one and it isn’t there.
But on campus today this handy little tool, suitable for most anyone with wits enough to blow out ten or so birthday candles, is a dangerous weapon. It’s a threat. A menace. And anyone carrying one is automatically suspect, worthy of investigation by university officials — officials who are presumably grownup adults.
Who are these adult-sized children, and what turned them into such cowards?”
Steven’s article does not contain anything earth-shattering, or particularly unfamiliar to readers of TTAK. However, it is an eloquent defense of the importance of knife-carry by a writer whose style I very much enjoy.
(h/t James and Instapundit)