Russell Brand: Philip Seymour Hoffman Victim of “Extremely Stupid Drug Laws”
Russell Brand is speaking out on the death of fellow drug addict Philip Seymour Hoffman, writing an essay in The Guardian that suggests the actor’s demise was “inevitable” given the “extremely stupid drug laws” in place in the United States.
“If it’d been the sacrifice of Miley Cyrus or Justin Bieber, that we are invited to anticipate daily, we could delight in the Faustian justice of the righteous dispatch of a fast-living, sequin-spattered denizen of [MTV],” writes Brand.
He continues, “But Philip Seymour Hoffman? A middle-aged man, a credible and decorated actor, the industrious and unglamorous artisan of Broadway and serious cinema? The disease of addiction recognizes none of these distinctions.”
Brand states, “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.”
The reason I am so non-judgmental of Hoffman or Bieber and so condemnatory of the pop cultural tinsel that adorns the reporting around them is that I am a drug addict in recovery, so like any drug addict I know exactly how Hoffman felt when he ‘went back out.’ In spite of his life seeming superficially great, in spite of all the praise and accolades, in spite of all the loving friends and family, there is a predominant voice in the mind of an addict that supersedes all reason and that voice wants you dead. This voice is the unrelenting echo of an unfulfillable void.
Brand then goes after what he deems to be ineffective laws criminalizing drugs and drug users:
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.
The actor and comedian later says:
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.
Returning to the idea that Hoffman’s overdose is a reminder of how “indiscriminate” addiction is, Brand contemplates a culture “that does not know how to treat its addicts” and, in his opinion, may hasten their deaths.
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.
What do you think about what Brand has to say?