Oh, Russell Brand. He’s got a lot of political ideals, many of which I either vaguely or heartily agree on, but sometimes he says stuff that just… eh, I dunno. It rubs me (and MANY people, I’m sure) the wrong way. His latest claim is that drug laws and the stigma against addicts caused Philip Seymour Hoffman‘s death last week from a heroin overdose. In a sense, I get where he’s going. We’d have been much less shocked if someone like Miley or Justin fell victim to their wild lifestyles; it would almost have been morbidly expected. Someone like PSH, who was a widely-respected actor whose lifestyle was kept private and never sensationalized, was a more unlikely victim of this awful fate. With you so far, Russ.
Here’s a bit of what he wrote for The Guardian:
Whilst routinely described as tragic, Hoffman’s death is insufficiently sad to be left un-supplemented in the mandatory posthumous scramble for salacious garnish; we will now be subjected to mourn-ography posing as analysis. I can assure you that there is no as yet undiscovered riddle in his domestic life or sex life, the man was a drug addict and his death inevitable.
A troubling component of this sad loss is the complete absence of hedonism. Like a lot of drug addicts, probably most, who “go over”, Hoffman was alone when he died. This is an inescapably bleak circumstance. When we reflect on Bieber’s Louis Vuitton embossed, Lamborghini cortege it is easy to equate addiction with indulgence and immorality. The great actor dying alone denies us this required narrative prang.
Addiction is a mental illness around which there is a great deal of confusion, which is hugely exacerbated by the laws that criminalise drug addicts.
If drugs are illegal people who use drugs are criminals. We have set our moral compass on this erroneous premise, and we have strayed so far off course that the landscape we now inhabit provides us with no solutions and greatly increases the problem.
People are going to use drugs; no self-respecting drug addict is even remotely deterred by prohibition. What prohibition achieves is an unregulated, criminal-controlled, sprawling, global mob-economy, where drug users, their families and society at large are all exposed to the worst conceivable version of this regrettably unavoidable problem.
I do think drug laws are useless when they apply to the user rather than the cartels that make millions selling misery and death to addicts, but we can’t just go and make everything legal. How is that going to halt addiction? While addicts may not be deterred by anti-drug laws, making it readily available on every corner is only going to make it more easily accessible and that certainly isn’t a recipe for getting clean. I’m not saying I have the answer – I certainly don’t, and it’s a complicated issue. Clearly Russell Brand, who has battled with all kinds of addiction for decades, knows a bit more about it than I do, but I just can’t say I agree.
What do you guys think?