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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Why Can't You Bring Your Boy Scout Knife to the Giants Game?

Posted By on Thu, Sep 11, 2014 at 4:29 PM

click to enlarge Giants security measures render thousands of fans easy terror targets in 2013. This photo was taken at the moment of first pitch. - JOE ESKENAZI
  • Joe Eskenazi
  • Giants security measures render thousands of fans easy terror targets in 2013. This photo was taken at the moment of first pitch.

Why did it take an hour to get into the Giants game last night? "Because freedom isn't free," answered the extremely tall man toting two beers while waiting, somewhat patiently, in an endless line snaking through Public House tavern. 

The beers looked good. Smelled good, too; you could detect the hops from six feet away. But, confided the tall tippler, he'd rather be in the ballpark, watching the game we were all missing, and drinking Bud Lite. 

Well. Maybe. 

They've got metal detectors at AT&T Park now, the perfect non-solution to the non-problem of fans toting dangerous weapons into the ballpark. 

Your humble narrator follows the Giants closely. But this was his first trip through the metal detectors this season. Actually, it was his first two: After missing first pitch while standing in a labyrinthine queue, he was told it was impermissible to bring his 2.5-inch Boy Scout knife into the ballpark. This knife — which has been carried into Giants ballparks since 1989 — would have to be surrendered or placed back in the car. (In the olden days, they didn't have metal detectors to ferret out knives. But they did hand out 30-inch bats to teenagers).  

Well, there is no car. So, after stuffing the offending blade into a backpack, which of course wasn't found by security, another 40-minute line was braved, and a knife-wielding maniac entered the ballpark. No one was any safer for all of this, and a ticket-holder missed the first two innings. 

click to enlarge The 2.5-inch, 25-year-old knife in question. - JOE ESKENAZI
  • Joe Eskenazi
  • The 2.5-inch, 25-year-old knife in question.
Now, the Giants can do what they want at AT&T Park. If they want to prevent you from toting in Boy Scout knives or headdresses, or even Dodgers hats — they can do that. Security personnel (very polite and professional, by the way) said there was a notice that knives were not permitted written on the back of the ticket.

But that's not so. 

Nor is it written anywhere on the Giants' website. Team officials said there were no rules — there are "guidelines" —  and directed your humble narrator to the "A-to-Z" guide, which does, indeed, have a "weapons" section.

But it doesn't define what a weapon is. It is unclear if a pepper spray keychain, for example, would be permitted in the ballpark. A fan with malign intent would have a much easier time blinding everyone in section VR 312 than stabbing them with a Boy Scout knife, after all. 

Other teams deploy less nebulous language than the Giants' blanket ban on "weapons of any kind." In Seattle, for instance, you can bring in a knife with a blade of 2.5 inches or shorter (mine is 2.5 inches, by the way). Also, bonus points to Seattle for the nifty 1950s-style font on its "Metal Detector FAQ." 

It's not worth making a federal case out of this. Next time, that knife will be left in an office drawer. But yesterday's experience was more disappointing than it was frustrating. "Security theater" makes us no safer. But it does make everyone that much more miserable, and forces the team's front-line employees to carry out idiotic policies and deal with indignant patrons (apologies, ma'am).

It forces us to turn off our brains and engage in choreographed, ritualized, and needless misery. And it costs a fortune. 

After all, freedom isn't free. 

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.

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