At that time we described Jones's site Infowars as a "crackpot conspiracy site" that "has been one of the loudest anti-TSA voices." Digging a little deeper, a Google site search on Infowars.com for "tsa" turns up over 12,600 hits. This is kind of a capital-t Thing for Jones and his followers, in other words.
So what do you think happened earlier this week when Jones had to fly to New York to do an interview with Piers Morgan?
If you answered "he probably antagonized TSA screeners so he could create an incident, which he then used to insist that TSA is part of a government plot to take away all our rights," you win. Jones refused to take his shoes off, and the screeners told him he had to take his shoes off, then there was lots of shouting. Someone from Infowars was on hand to take pictures. So more or less a snoozefest.
What makes the incident a Teachable Moment for us here at Jaunted is that in addition to having picked a fight with TSA agents, Jones has added a lot of details that don't quite ring totally true. He claims that TSA agents all knew him by sight as an agency critic and some addressed him by name. He claims that the TSA agents cursed at him when they threatened to arrest him. He claims that TSA agents "set the metal detector off themselves, possibly by order of the officer, so that they could harass Jones further." Unlikely.
There's this weird way of telling stories about TSA that's becoming kind of a genre, where officers misbehave in exactly the worst way possible according to whoever is telling the story. You saw it with that Playboy model, where she implied she wasn't given an opt-out option because she was just so hot agents had to grope her. You saw it with the deaf rights activist who was coming back from a deaf rights conference, and who declared that TSA agents called him a "f-cking deafie," stole his candy and laughed at him.
In both cases we expressed skepticism, because life rarely confirms people's worst self-referential suspicions. And in both cases, tapes bore out the TSA accounts that, actually, their agents behaved professionally. Which makes sense: agents sometimes act unprofessionally, but rarely in exactly the most unprofessional way to exactly the wrong person.
Jones is now threatening to sue the TSA for discrimination. Suffice it to say that, here too, we're skeptical.
[Photo: TSA courtesy of Infowars]