Are books dangerous? A new Transport Canada ban on almost all airline carry-on items would seem to indicate just that.
The new measures were put in place as part of a massive security crackdown following the Christmas Day terrorist attempt. According to The Edmonton Journal, “U.S.-bound air travellers were forced to stow all but the bare essentials in their checked luggage Monday as Transport Canada issued a new ban on almost all carryon luggage.”
The prohibition is intended to get planes running on schedule after time-consuming new security measures introduced on Saturday caused lineups, delays and cancellations across North America, spokesman Patrick Charette said.
And while keeping to schedule is laudable and passenger safety is everyone’s first concern, there is a place where common sense can go out the window. Here is that place:
Transport Canada issued a list of 13 items that are exempt from the new policy. Passengers can still carry-on small purses, coats, laptops, cameras, musical instruments and baby-care supplies. Medication, crutches, canes, walkers, medical devices, special needs items and containers carrying life sustaining items are also exempt.
“Technically, if it is not on the list, it is not allowed,” Charette said.
Surely books are less potentially dangerous than laptop computers and cameras? And, sure: you could theoretically clobber someone with a book, but that’s certainly true of canes, crutches and walkers, as well.
Edmonton International Airport spokeswoman Donna Call said the new rules mean all backpacks and rolling suitcases must be checked. Books, magazines and even children’s toys must also be checked, she said. Finally, even exempt items will be limited, which means that a single passenger cannot carry-on a purse, a coat, a laptop and a diaper bag.
So while you’re checking that potentially dangerous book or magazine, the Journal points out that “small electronic devices such as iPods and portable DVD players will be allowed on board … and passengers are free to purchase books, magazines, snacks and water once they are through security.”
The news about what will be allowed on flights to the US from Canada (and perhaps from other countries) is appalling — no books, it seems! There should be a vigorous protest from book lovers, publishers, writers and everyone concerned about the life of the mind — or who just likes a good story.
Sorderstrom is right. What sort of message is being sent? And how did this even happen? Yes, safety is important. But cameras? Laptops? iPods? And not books? This is the oddest book banning I’ve ever heard of, one that, as Soderstrom says, should be protested and noted by all of those who love books. If nothing else, as one entry on the Facebook group notes, what are book lovers going to do on flights if they take away our books?