Tonawanda News

April 11, 2014

LEFFLER: 'Need to know' a double-edged sword

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The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — I’m inquisitive by nature. 

No. Strike that.

Inquisitive doesn’t begin to describe me. I must know everything. About everything. I hate being in the dark. I guess that’s what makes my career choice so very obvious. I think “must know everything” is at the top of most journalists’ trait lists.

It’s not only journalists who have a need to know everything, of course. I’d say that society as a whole — or at least a very large portion of it — falls into the same category. Which is why the media exists, I suppose. If it were only journalists who needed to know everything, who would pay our paychecks?

Here we are more than a month removed from the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 and the 24-hour news channels are still on top of it — 24 hours a day. The fact that an airplane went missing and we can’t explain it is killing us. I’ll admit, I’m befuddled by its disappearance and I continue to watch the “Breaking News” alerts, thinking that eventually one of them is actually going to be breaking news, as opposed to what we’ve been getting, which is not breaking news.

In the grand scheme of things, the Malaysian airplane disappearance is fairly recent. We could go back a lot farther for things that we’re still trying to get to the bottom of. What really happened at Waco? Who killed JFK? Where was Barack Obama born? OK, I jest on that last one. But you get the gist.

The fact that there are facts that we’re not privy to or that we can’t piece together to make a clear picture bothers us. And yet, when you really step back and think about it, does it matter that much? Waco, JFK and Obama becoming president are all history. No amount of information is going to change the facts that we know. And no black box is going to bring back the passengers of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. It’s a sad reality that information doesn’t change the facts.

On another topic entirely, I read a story by the Associated Press the other day about a man serving life in jail for a crime he committed when he was 13. He’s up for parole — again — after being denied parole in 2012.

Obviously the brutal murder he committed in 1994 — the killing of a four-year-old — can never be undone. And there’s no real way to atone for the death of another, but I think 20 years in prison for a crime committed when the culprit was a teenager is enough — no matter how heinous the crime itself.

I know that I’m not the same person as I was in 1994. I can’t imagine that Eric Smith, the man who, as a boy, murdered Derrick Robie, is either. In other words, the person in prison right now isn’t even the same person that committed the crime.

Is he a better person or a worse person? Sadly, I think the odds are that prison has made him worse for the wear.

over the last 20 years, but that’s another problem to solve on another day.

Scott Leffler is thankful for Twitter, where he can learn everything about everything -- even if the things he learns aren't true. You can follow him there @scottleffler and hope the things he says are true.