The Perils of Knife Ownership

April 9, 2010 · 3 comments

Shun Santoku

Satisfied that I wouldn’t be returning the Best Client Bribe Ever, I consigned its lovely box to the trash. I retained the info sheet, which has information about the composition of the blade (VG-10 stainless steel clad with 16 layers of SUS410 high-carbon stainless steel), the warranty (lifetime, with free annual sharpening), and the liability disclaimer.

Wait. A liability disclaimer? What on earth for? Here’s the complete text:

The purchase, use, and ownership of knives are subject to a wide variety of local laws and regulations. Certain knife styles, blade designs, and blade lengths are not allowed in specific areas. In light of recent events involving national security, knives may not be permitted in government buildings or on government property (such as court houses, federal offices, national monuments, and airports), and government officials may take the position that knives are “weapons” under applicable laws. Due to the complexity  and constantly changing nature of these laws and regulations, it is impossible for Kai USA ltd., and Shun Cutlery to be aware of every restriction in every location in which our knives may be sold or carried. It is the responsibility of the buyer to investigate and comply with the laws and regulations that apply in his or her specific area. You, and not Kai USA ltd., are solely responsible for any claims resulting from violation of these laws and/or regulations.

In short, “We no longer understand the laws about knife ownership. You may already be a criminal, but it’s not our fault.”

And it isn’t the company’s fault. We already live in an over-regulated society that has probably turned all of us into criminals when it comes to compliance with the tax code and the purchase and distribution of copyrighted materials. Now, it seems, we may be running afoul of hastily enacted ill-defined laws about owning cutlery.

No knives in government buildings? Really? Does that law apply to Cristeta Comerford, the White House Executive Chef? How about the cooks who work in every commissary in every federal building in DC? What about cooks who prepare meals for airlines? How about the cafeteria staff at the Smithsonian, Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone park, or any other national monument or park? Are they all criminals as well? I suppose it’s possible that these workers are all exempt — after all, the law shouldn’t get in the way of a good feed in the Senate Dining Room.

What about the rest of us, home cooks who own some well-honed tools of the trade? Are we caching weapons? I would like to believe that inspection of my kitchen — which would turn up at least a dozen “weapons” safely ensconced in a bamboo knife bock — would result in the common-sense conclusion “He uses them to cook.”

Common sense, however, is in very short supply (an observation from the person who was almost arrested for operating a barbecue grill). My solution is for more of us to become more skilled cooks. If we all owned a few good knives (and you be surprised at how few home kitchens are properly equipped), there would be too many to track.

Perhaps, since knives are used to prepare the food that is necessary for survival, they could be classified as medical implements. We’d all need doctor’s referrals to own knives, which would drive up health care costs. The solution: Decriminalize the knives!

3 comments

Colin Summers April 9, 2010 at 4:47 pm

I had to try to eat a Cinnabon (“You pig!”) on a Jetvlue flight without even a plastic fork. The places in the airport don’t even give out plastic utensils anymore. At least terminal 6 iat LAX.

A terrible way to live.

David April 9, 2010 at 11:16 pm

I said nothing when they came for the sporks…

Lisa Harvey-Mone April 10, 2010 at 12:44 am

I think that is what the pre-diced mirepoix is for… government cooks who aren’t allowed knives….

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