Friday, December 23, 2011

The Right to Know

Just a few short weeks ago I found myself being called "judgmental" in a comment forum because I stated that as much as some of us would like to know more about the particulars of the recent suicide of channel 4 weatherman Don Harman, we really do not have any right to know anything more about his death than the family decides to release. It is coming up again in the Aisha Khan case, as many feel that due to the work done to find someone that was thought to be missing and possibly in danger, the public has the right to know exactly why things happened the way they did. Again in this case, both family and authorities are being closed mouthed about the details. You might have a bit more of a case here due to the publicity given to a missing person case, but at bottom, especially since neither the family nor Aisha made the initial 911 call. There is no "right" to information here.
Let me give you an example: it's a personal one, but it makes the point. In 2004, my father passed away of sudden death. I was going to say sudden cardiac death, but truly I cannot say even that, because my mother, as his first and most immediate kin, and a competent person, refused an autopsy. (Side note: Apparently in Vermont, there is no requirement to do post mortem examination of outside of hospital, unattended or unexpected deaths. I must admit this surprised me. I believe it would have been required here in Missouri.) Now, I wanted to know, but my mother says she did not want it, and besides "dead is dead." I cannot assert any right to make that decision and obtain knowledge over my mother's wishes not to know. I do not have that right. I didn't have it then, and I don't have it now.
So anyone thinking that I judge those who want more information about the death of a public figure or about the details of an event that is not judged a crime, I do not judge. I understand your frustration. Your frustration however, does not entitle you to the information you desire.

7 comments:

Hyperblogal said...

I may have the desire to know, but there is no right to know... in these cases.

chuck said...

If in fact, the city, the police and others employed by the city, have spent monies and time on a solution to this mystery, then, are we not as taxpayers the right to information?

Just sayin...

Bob G. said...

T.O.:
Well said.

Stay safe out there

The Observer said...

The Khan case is, I think, a little less clear cut, since the police were involved and did spend time and a small amount of treasure on the situation. The Harman situation more closely resembles my personal scenario. I think that if the family had started it with a 911 call or such then the case for wanting more info would be stronger.
It is a difficult issue at times when the public's right to know comes up against the individual's right to privacy. In this increasingly information soaked age, it is something that has to be considered, especially in the light of the fact that stuff on the Internet is forever.

Thanks for commenting and visiting.

The observer

Superdave said...

I feel that a lot of the wanting to know has to do with the feeling we was lead to believe a crime had taken place but then we are told no it didn't, and thats that.

At the same time it appears that maybe some games was played which as well makes people want to know what took place.

So all in all sometimes being open is better than hiding the facts and for sure when the facts look at best to not add up.

The Observer said...

Super Dave:
After Watergate, I came to the conclusion that cover-up is a bad idea and it is amazing to watch cover-up continue to be practiced.

Sometimes the truth is not so bad, and cover up makes it all much worse. Sometimes the truth is horrible, and made even more horrible by cover-up.

Each case has its own parameters and has to be taken one at a time, but I think the scales need to tip towards disclosure most of the time.

Thanks for reading along.

The Observer

john smith said...

I have it on good authority that this "suicide" was actually caused by auto-erotic asphyxiation, kind of like David Karradine.