On Hoffman’s Death

First, let me say that I was deeply saddened to hear of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s passing, for I always thought he was an amazing actor. But it got me thinking about a couple of things.
Conservatives and libertarians can politicize his death if they want. It can be turned into a message about personal responsibility, and also one about the war on drugs. I don’t believe the government should be sanctioning drug use. But Hoffman’s death is just one more example of how the government can only go so far in preventing people from doing things they want to do. People who want to use heroin and other dangerous drugs will find a way. The government isn’t good at protecting us from ourselves. That’s a reason why personal responsibility is so important.

I don’t mean to imply that Hoffman generally lacked personal responsibility. He was a very hardworking and ambitious man with a family. He also was able to overcome drug addiction at a young age, even though he relapsed later in life. Last spring, he tried once again to help himself by checking himself into rehab. But sadly, it appears he was unable to beat his addiction for good.

It may sound very callous to blame him for his own death. But tweets like this have a point. Although it’s understandable that when someone is an addict they can’t be expected to just stop doing whatever it is they’re addicted to doing, we have to acknowledge the waste of life that it is. As some have also pointed out, the lesson everyone should be learning is to never try drugs in the first place. How many tragedies does it take to get that message across?

However, even if we do admit that people who die of drug overdoses should never have experimented with drugs in the first place, we still must offer condolences to their loved ones, and acknowledge the loss it is to the people who knew them and to society. I certainly feel that Hoffman’s untimely death is a loss to all who admired his work, but even when it comes to the lesser-known, it’s a shame that we won’t know their potential and what gifts they could have shared with the rest of us.
But if the deaths of the “lesser known” are just as tragic as the deaths of famous people, why mourn the famous?

Conservatives and libertarians who hate the worship of politicians may see this as celebrity worship. Why should the death of one person we weren’t personally acquainted with affect us more than the over 100,000 other deaths on the same day?
I’m not sure it’s so wrong to be upset when a celebrity dies even if you didn’t know them. The truth is that fans have lost someone whom they felt they knew enough about to like, someone whom they felt a connection with, someone who entertained and/or inspired them. They’re allowed to miss that. They’re allowed to be sad that someone who once brought them happiness is no longer around to do that.
I don’t believe in “celebrity worship.” I don’t feel the need to follow what a celebrity is doing every day of his or her life, or to hang on someone’s every word. But I can be sad when someone I liked dies. Don’t think you can’t feel bad just because thousands of other great people have recently died. If you knew what they were like, you would probably be sad about them, too.
Just my thoughts.

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