Russell Brand: Philip Seymour Hoffman's Death Due to Drug Laws, Attitudes on Addiction
Comedian Russell Brand is getting a reputation for his serious dissertations on politics, the gap between the rich and poor and now, in the wake of Philip Seymour Hoffman's passing, addiction.
Brand is a recovering addict, and he leans on that experience for his latest essay in The Guardian. Short version: the illegality of drugs helped kill the Oscar-winning actor.
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.
Brand points to countries like Portugal and Switzerland which offer "tolerant drug laws" that, he says, are reducing both crime and mortality rates among addicts. Until the same happens in other western countries we can expect more sad stories like the ones swirling around one of Hollywood's most versatile actors.
Would Hoffman have died if this disease were not so enmeshed in stigma? If we weren't invited to believe that people who suffer from addiction deserve to suffer? Would he have OD'd if drugs were regulated, controlled and professionally administered? Most importantly, if we insisted as a society that what is required for people who suffer from this condition is an environment of support, tolerance and understanding.
The troubling message behind Philip Seymour Hoffman's death, which we all feel without articulating, is that it was unnecessary and we know that something could be done. We also know what that something is and yet, for some traditional, prejudicial, stupid reason we don't do it.