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Can I be alone in thinking that for someone to die of a self-administered dose of heroin is his or her own fault, deserving condemnation rather than a frenetic flood of adulation?
I had never heard of the film personality Philip Seymour Hoffman who recently killed himself with drugs and attracted so much publicity, but he seems to have been a talented actor. It is said that his portrayal of Truman Capote was exquisitely authentic, and anyone who could do that must be verging on genius. Yet, gifted and prominent as he may have been, is he really a desirable role model for existing or future generations? Was he an exemplar of all that is admirable in living life to the full, in enjoyment of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?
On his death there were emotional comments by other film-world celebs : “Philip was a true genius” ; “I feel so fortunate to have known the extraordinary Philip Seymour Hoffman” ; “He was such a wonderful guy”; “Phil was a leader in the greatest sense of the word” — the maudlin guff went on and on and on, to the background rustle of heroin bags, muffled syringe squirting and criminal counting of millions of drug-sale dollar bills.
According to the BBC, Hoffman “was found dead at his home on Sunday with a syringe in his arm. Among the drugs found were several packets stamped with the ace of hearts, as well as the ace of spades. Both are said to be brand names for heroin.” The LA times reported a spokesman for the US Drug Enforcement Administration saying that heroin use in America has “reached epidemic proportions.”
Face it, people: this man, Hoffman, was a terminal drug addict whose example in sucking-in vast quantities of illegal evil muck should be condemned. This would not be speaking ill of the dead. It wouldn’t be denigrating a Nelson Mandela or a Mother Teresa of the world of ritzy movie-making — it would be stating a simple and most obvious fact : that the man was an utter failure as a human being. To be sure, he should be pitied, as a societal as well as a personal disaster ; and sympathy for his relatives and friends is absolutely reasonable. To die alone, helpless, mentally shattered, collapsed on a bathroom floor with a drug-spurting syringe stuck in your arm, is a truly dreadful way to go.
But mushy, slushy adulation for such a broken travesty of mankind is absurd. To call him “a leader in the greatest sense of the word” is illustrative of the Alice in Wonderland outlook of the people who ignore the appalling effect that addictive drugs are having all round the world.
Aged 46 when he died, Hoffman had three children under eleven. How can it be “wonderful” to leave them fatherless at such an age? Didn’t he owe them rather more in life — like seeing them through to adulthood and setting an example of decency on the way? Had he been such a great leader, as claimed by one particularly stupid person, he would have led his children to the uplands of hope and exciting vistas of a life to be savored and enjoyed, rather than sliding off, with a sagging syringe in his vein-jabbed arm, to hideous tortured oblivion and leaving them with the memory of a father who failed.
Even his most adulatory supporters could not claim that he was sensible to indulge himself in drug addiction at the moral expense of his children. Hoffman paid large sums of money to criminals to buy mind-destroying substances that killed him. Anyone who does that cannot possibly be described as “wonderful” or “a leader.”
The illegal drug industry thrives on sad and wretched fools like Hoffman, although it would prefer that its victims remain alive for as long as possible, to keep them paying out, rather than keeling over at age 46. He seems to have been a talented actor. But this cannot possibly excuse him from being acknowledged as a criminal. There is no doubt he bought quantities of illegal drugs, as it was reported he “had close to 50 bags of heroin inside his Manhattan apartment when he died and more than 20 used syringes, according to law enforcement sources, who have now launched a city-wide search to catch his drug dealer.”
So, because one addle-headed celeb died of a self-inflicted dose of some expensively exotic heroin derivative, there was a “city-wide search to catch his drug dealer.” What about the all the unknown wretches who die every day from drug overdoses? Are their deaths not worth “city-wide searches” to bring to justice those who sell the drugs that killed them? No: of course not. It’s only when prominent idiots die from an overdose of drugs they’ve jabbed into their arms or sniffed up their nostrils that there are special searches for the people from whom they willingly bought their addictive muck. In order to appease the media and show how caring they are the New York Police picked up three alleged drug traffickers. Be assured the book will be thrown at these people, who, if indeed they were involved in providing Hoffman with illegal drugs, were but the last trivial link in the vast chain of the multi-billion dollar drug industry. Why doesn’t the New York Police Department go for the big guys — those powerful tycoons who control the drug trade? Or is this a rerun of The Godfather?
There are thousands of mega-millionaires in the US and world-wide whose wealth stems from the pockets of drug-hooked morons, rich and poor. The globe echoes with gunfire and flows with blood because it is so lucrative for countless millions of people to indulge and compete in producing, smuggling and selling addictive drugs. The growers, gangs and goons, from the Golden Triangle of Asia to the chaotic anarchy of South America, via the US warzone of Afghanistan, make a rich living from millions of miserable addicts in their own countries, but mainly from rather richer addicts in the US and Europe — and now Russia and China, which are becoming justifiably angry about the explosion in Afghan production.
Profits from drugs fuel the insurrection in Afghanistan, and thousands of Afghans — mainly the Taliban and the northern warlords — make vast amounts of money from the colossal opium market. Thank you, Mr Hoffman, and all other pathetic druggies, worldwide. It’s good entrepreneurial stuff, of course : where there’s a demand, there will always be a supply.
In the late 1990s Afghanistan’s poppies supplied about 70 per cent of the world’s heroin, but a very astute United Nations team contacted the Taliban leader, the bigoted, vicious Mullah Omar, and suggested he declare poppy growing for heroin production to be unIslamic and should order that it would be punished.
He did; and it was; and poppy growing almost ceased, which shows what can be done if it suits the people in power. And if Washington had joined in at that time and provided cash, know-how and markets for alternative crops the world would be a better place than it is now.
But then came the US attack on Afghanistan in 2001, and the Taliban government and the deal collapsed. The evil Mullah Omar realized that his Taliban thugs would make lots of money by encouraging poppy growing. Suddenly it wasn’t unIslamic. (Flexibility is a principle of war but it seems that it’s also a principle of Taliban-interpreted Islam. What a bunch of humbugs.)
After a few years of occupation the US and Nato realized that heroin was a grave problem and produced some half-baked ideas about how to combat the menace. None of them worked, of course, and last month the US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, the detested (because honest, truthful and straight) Mr John Sopko, told the Senate that “expanding cultivation and trafficking of drugs is one of the most significant factors putting the entire US and international donor investment in the reconstruction of Afghanistan at risk.”
In 2008 Britain’s Royal Society for Chemistry recorded that “This year’s opium harvest in Afghanistan will be ‘shockingly high’, according to figures released this week by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime. They estimate that the country now supplies over 90 per cent of the world’s heroin.” And the Society went on to recommend consideration of a solution proposed by the Senlis Council, which stated that “the Afghan opium crop could be used to relieve a global shortage of opiates — and become a source of affordable analgesics, particularly within the developing world.” The Council had “developed a Poppy for Medicine model for Afghanistan as a means of bringing illegal poppy cultivation under control, and building support for the international community’s counter-insurgency mission in an immediate yet sustainable manner.” In other words, let poppy be cultivated, while encouraging and subsidising alternative crops, and pay farmers a decent amount for it, then use it for medicinal purposes. The entire illegal trade could be reduced dramatically, given effective international action costing a fraction of what the US ‘war on drugs’ soaks up.
But nothing is being done. Nothing at all.
Certainly, only a small amount of Afghan heroin reaches America — but the vast production in Afghanistan means that South American drug cartels find it easier to corner the US market and thus make staggering amounts of money. US, European and Russian drug gangs, the Godfathers of ungodliness, make countless millions destroying people by their trade.
Addictive drugs are evil, make no mistake about it. But human beings will continue to use them in spite of knowing full well that in their personal fleeting pleasure will lie their own inevitable and probably horrific suffering and destruction. Nothing can be done about human nature, and there will always be addicts. So why not acknowledge this, and provide heroin in measured doses to those inadequate people who are addicted?
Make it a government monopoly. The main thing is : get rid of the drug trade, because when it disappears there would be few — if any — more addicts created, but there would be many fewer deaths around the world from the effects of drugs and, more especially, from criminal carnage. The chaotic years of US prohibition of the sale of alcohol are now almost forgotten, but it should be remembered that the well-intentioned but catastrophically stupid banning of booze created vast empires of criminal barbarism, just as prohibition of drugs has done.
The BBC reported that “The lights along theatre marquees on New York’s Broadway were dimmed on Wednesday in honor of Hoffman.”
But the lights everywhere should be dimmed. Not in honor of the poor pathetic druggie celeb who died alone in mind-shattered misery with a syringe stuck in his arm, but in memory of the thousands who die because of the evil world-wide criminal drug trade that all these clever governments refuse to destroy, when they could do it so easily.
Brian Cloughley’s website is www.beecluff.com