My father loves to say, “Believe nothing of what you hear and half of what you see.” Never has it applied more than in the case of Jeremy Henggeler, a Long Island libertarian who was recently arrested after he pulled a knife on News 12 reporter, Virginia Huie.
It started after Henggeler made a Facebook post regarding traffic caused by a funeral procession for a firefighter. It offended the sensibilities of polite society and the post “received a barrage of more than 2,900 comments, most of them negative” (read “negative” comments as death threats). It must have been a slow news day to feel the need to cover a typical day on the internet, so Huie went to Henggeler’s home to ask for his comments.
News 12 has a video of what then transpired. Yes, she knocked on his door. And yes, he pulled a knife on her.
Consider Henggeler’s side of things. There is no question that Huie and News 12 were not coming along to get his side of the story. They were coming to set him on a tee and thrash him for cheap views on the evening news. On top of that, locals were furious at him for daring to question the honor of serving the state, so showing up at his house with a video camera would provide real clues as to where he lives. That is dangerous and inexcusably careless.
It’s absurd to expect Henggeler to be anything but agitated upon seeing a news van roll up in front of his house. I’ve experienced a reporter knocking on my door to get information for a serious event involving my family. Even though the reporter was on “our side,” the way the reporter approached the situation left me furious.
It is an intrusive event.
Let’s get back to the Henggeler incident. Remember what I started with? Only believe half of what you see.
Yes, we do have a video of Henggeler pulling out a knife, but what happened between Huie knocking on his door and the very moment the video resumed with the pulling of the knife? If that all happened within the short period that Huie’s report suggested that it did, why not show it? News 12 should have anticipated people wondering about what happened in between. And what happened before she knocked on the door? Did she attempt a phone call first? Why spend the time driving to his house and hoping that he is home when you had access to his business phone number?
So let us not act as though Huie was just innocently doing her job. She was trespassing. It’s perfectly acceptable to walk up to someone’s front door (unless explicitly instructed not to), but Huie went deep into Henggeler’s driveway and back to his garage. That’s not normal behavior and you should not do that unless you have a very good reason. “Getting the scoop” on a silly story is not one of those reasons.
Update May 4, 2017: I’ve been informed by a friend of Henggeler that his garage is about 70 feet from the street and far away from his front door. Huie didn’t step from from the front door right to the garage.
Furthermore, and more importantly, are we to believe that the missing video didn’t feature Henggeler telling Huie to leave and her subsequent obvious refusal to comply? And if she refused to cease trespassing, is the property owner not in his right to show some threat of force to induce her compliance? It’s clear that more had happened before the knife came out. It is also clear that Huie knew that she was in no actual danger considering she turned her back to Henggeler and nonchalantly walked away. The cameraman also remained admirably calm.
And I know what a lot of people will say, “Yeah, but he shouldn’t have pulled a knife on her. He should have called the police.”
Why would it have been better for the police to pull a gun on her? Moreover, if Henggeler is justified to delegate the use of force to the police to protect his property, why isn’t he justified to use an equal amount of force to do it himself?
Jeremy Henggeler was a victim of trespassing and harassment yet he was the one taken away in handcuffs. Had Huie simply respected his property rights, all of this could have been avoided. But wait, if it all were avoided, then Huie would not have had a sleazy story to run.