Tasered Balls And No Fly Lists: A Quick, Buzzkilling Reality Check

wonksplainer

I have some news that many may find disappointing. Take a seat if you must.

After the attempted coup last week, a rumor quickly spread that one of the five people who died did so because he repeatedly tasered himself by accident and then died of a heart attack. This was initially reported by independent reporter Talia Jane, who was given the information by other reporters on the scene, but quickly retracted it when it seemed there wasn't any evidence for it.

Soon after, the story morphed into the guy having a heart attack because he tasered his own balls by accident while trying to steal a painting. It's not clear if it originated with Twitter user Karl Hess, whose tweet about it went viral, but by this weekend, it was being repeated like gospel, with new details constantly emerging. Last thing I heard was that he accidentally tasered his balls over and over again because he had the taser in his front pocket and he couldn't get it to turn off.


Well, it turns out that's not true! And last night, Snopes ran an article debunking the whole thing. In reality, while 53-year-old Kevin Greeson did die of a heart attack while storming the Capitol, it was not predicated by any ball-tasering or painting-stealing. He was on the phone with his wife when he keeled over and died.

Snopes spoke with Kristi Greeson, the wife of the late Kevin Greeson, who told us that there was no truth to the allegation that her husband's heart attack was the result of his accidentally tasing himself. Greeson said that her husband attended the Capitol riot but never entered the building. Kevin had told his wife that he was in a safe area, but then he described seeing people pushing a barrier at a nearby location.

"He just stopped talking, and I could hear all the people. That's when he had the heart attack," Greeson told Snopes over the phone. "He died instantly."

This far less whimsical description of the events is corroborated by a New York Times reporter who witnessed the incident. I understand that this may come as a disappointment to some. I am personally okay with it because I am not super comfortable with LOLing at anyone's death, regardless of how terrible they are or how ridiculous their death is. This is not because I am a wonderful and kind person, but rather because I 100 percent believe that if I gloat over someone else's death or ill health, either I or someone I love will be cursed. We all have our things.

This incident is not the only dubious thing people are going around saying because it is very satisfying. There are a lot of videos going around today of people, tagged #NoFlyList, supposedly featuring people who stormed the capitol getting pulled off of planes after finding out that they are on the No Fly List. They are very satisfying to watch!



OK, here are the things that are, in fact, TRUE.

  • These people are getting kicked off of flights
  • They are often vocal Trump supporters and some of them are claiming that they were kicked off "for supporting Trump"
  • Fourteen Alaska Air passengers coming from the coup were, indeed, put on the No Fly List
  • A few days ago, Mississippi Democratic Rep. Bennie G. Thompson proposed to the FBI, TSA, etc. that people who attended the coup be put on the No Fly List
  • Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants union, issued a statement saying "We support the swiftest action with clear consequences and clear rules for keeping these people off planes."

And, here are some other things that are true.

  • These people were kicked off of flights for not wearing masks or for acting like assholes.
  • The Alaska Air passengers were put on the No Fly List after causing a disruption.
  • If it were true that the government could positively identify everyone who was at the coup and get them on the No Fly List in a matter of days, I think we might have bigger problems than these wackos. And I don't say that lightly! It would be really bad! Especially considering how often people end up on the No Fly List by mistake.
  • THAT IS NOT EVEN SORT OF HOW THE NO FLY LIST WORKS. This should be very obvious to everyone who has been on a plane at any time during the last 20 years. They don't let you through security, let your board your plane, and then come and take you off the plane. That would be absurd.

Don't believe me? Well, here's the original screenshot of the first video — the one that appears to offer the most compelling evidence of this No Fly List theory — from the person who originally posted it.

The original video was captioned "Homeboy had a full toddler level meltdown bc he was told to wear a mask."

People are very mad at me on Twitter right now for saying this. Some of those people were just disappointed that it wasn't true, others have insisted that it is absolutely all entirely true and that this is exactly how the No Fly List works. They just let people through security, let them walk all around the airport, grab a Cinnabon, board their plane and then right before the plane is about to take off, they have them escorted off the plane. It only makes sense!

I would also just like to note that I'm not sure it's a great idea to suddenly start being all "Hey, you know what's great? The No Fly List!" — because there are some pretty serious civil liberties issues with it. Bad things are not suddenly good because they happen to people you don't like.

Now look, I hate having to be a buzzkill and ruin people's good time, but if there is anything I have learned these past several years, it is that there is danger in believing in untrue things just because they are eminently satisfying. That's what a lot of these wingnuts are doing, and it's what the people who stormed the Capitol were doing, on some level. They wanted to believe that Trump won the election when he did not win the election because "they stole it from him and rigged it" is a more satisfying answer to them than "He lost because everyone hates him."

We, unfortunately, live in a country where a very large percentage of the populace does not possess any critical thinking skills. We cannot abandon our own.

OPEN THREAD!

[Snopes]

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Robyn Pennacchia

Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse

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