Caution: debatable word play follows.

  • Newsday: The US Secret Service gave the World Sikh Council a choice: leave your ceremonial daggers at the door or forgo a meeting with the Pope. So the Sikhs will not join a Washington, D.C. interfaith gathering with Pope Benedict XVI in April. The Secret Service considers kirpans a security issue, but Sikhs consider carrying the curved blade one of five sacred duties.

Headlines of nearly every article published in American and British media on this story suggest that Sikhs gave the hand to the Pope. And some continue in their brief summaries to describe the kirpan as a dagger.

I can imagine what editors were thinking when selecting synonyms for kirpan: “hmm, sword, the cutting edge of an enlightened mind, weapon, dagger. Eh, same thing.”

And why is the kirpan still a security issue with the Secret Service? Why hasn’t our work with the TSA carried over to other agencies? How could they not be aware of our panj kakaar when Akal Security provides security services to a range of government agencies including the U.S. Army and the Department of Homeland Security?

The World Sikh Council’s press release is aptly titled “Sikhs To Miss Papal Event, Secret Service Bars Kirpaan.” It has all the elements of a good headline. Catchy. Accurate. Avoids hyperboles. Why couldn’t I have woken up this morning and seen this in the paper instead? Let’s put it this way: if I did you may have been spared from another dull blog post.

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