Thursday, February 6, 2014

request for response: powerful commentary on the death of philip seymour hoffman

Introducing a new feature of the course:

Request for Response

Every once in a while I will share an essay that is, IMHO, well-written and thought-provoking.  I will ask you to comment with an observation on each of those perspectives.  Both are designed for you to demonstrate your abilities in the core skill areas associated with Expository Composition.  Offering your views on the writing and reasoning will show your ability to analyze a nonfiction text.  Responding to strong perspectives with articulate, well-organized arguments will show your critical thinking skills and your ability to collaborate through dis/agreement.  The way you write about both topics will show your ability to communicate effectively.

The reason I am calling this feature "Request for Response" instead of making it mandatory is that you are all working independently now, which makes you seem more like colleagues.  And when I want a colleague to do something I ask.  Nicely.  Please share your thoughts.  I look forward to reading them. 

Please Note: The texts do contain some mature subject matter.  The first is an article by Russell Brand in The Guardian discussing the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman and drug policy.  The link is after the jump; clicking "Read More" indicates you've previewed the topic and want to read the text.



  1. The essay was unquestionably well-written, and it packed a strong emotional appeal. I will even go as far as to say that I agree that our current drug policy is severely flawed. I don't, however, agree with Brand's reasoning. Calling drug addiction an "unavoidable problem" is selling us pitifully short as a society, and as individuals. While it resembles a disease in many respects, and, by definition, it could even be considered one, drug addiction is not spontaneously contracted beyond the afflicted's control. A person CHOOSES what he/she puts in his/her own body. You may say: "Well, you're not a drug addict! You don't know what it's like!" No, I have no idea what it's like because I chose, and continue to choose, not to do drugs. And, believe it or not, I know plenty of other people who also don't do drugs. I'm desperately trying to view this through the user's perspective right now, and I simply cannot procure any justifiable reasons for starting drugs in the first place short of being taken into captivity and having them forcefully administered. But we all make mistakes, I suppose, and one transgression should not have to be the beginning of an irreversible, downward spiral. Again, it is obvious that the current approach to combating controlled substance abuse has failed miserably, and I am glad that Brand has decided to take a stand. Just because I acknowledge that, in most cases, the drug addict is at fault for his/her infliction doesn't mean that I feel drug addicts deserve to suffer. I am 100% all for any methods (within reason) that may serve to help put an end drug abuse, and I think it is great that Russell Brand is fighting to expose the numerous problems with the hopelessly counterproductive system that is somehow still in place. At the same time, I refuse to sympathize with people who are suffering from circumstances that they themselves created when every day there are children born into poverty-stricken, war-torn, slums--effectively guaranteed a short life plagued by violence, disease, and famine.

  2. I believe that Hoffman chose to associate with drugs on his own, like many other users. Drugs are choice and in some cases individuals are forced to do drugs. I get that, better yet I can relate to that. But we as a society, as a whole can not hide the discrete fact that most users are crying for help. Who are we to deny those in need. Instead of singling out users and deminishing them in their choices, society should help. We should address the fact we can not make choices for people but if addicts are asking for help why deny that? The drug flow in America will never sieze to stop but by giving past addicts a second chance maybe they can do something to change the many viewpoints of Amercian's about drugs. Addicts are still people, they still breathe, have feelings, and can love. Heal the wounds they brought upon themselves and give them a helping hand for a better life. Don't let them die in vain, good people are drug addicts it is just society that kills them in the end.

  3. As a recovering drug addict, it is easy to see why Brand decided to relate to a drug addict. A point that Brand addresses is that todays society is way too judgmental, if people were more open minded, there would be less people who were addicted to drugs. One of the main reasons people use drugs is to escape the pain of reality, if reality wasn't so judgmental, theoretically there would be less drug addicts. Instead of judging drug addicts we should be helping them escape from that life. Most people on drugs are strung out, meaning they can't even ask for help anymore because they don't know what is good, what is real, and what is worth living for. As a society we should start in the schools offering counseling for those in need, whether it be for drug abuse, or depression, depression leads to drug abuse so let's stop the pain early and prevent the next generation from becoming slaves of drugs.

  4. "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."

    That part of the article stood out to me the most because, people do give celebrities and music artists special treatment for doing drugs or being caught with them. They only stay in jail over night.

    This writer does have a point that he doesn't really have room to be talking bad about these people that do drugs since he's going through recovery. So he tries to make you give into consideration of drug addicts actions by stating "...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." In my opinion I think that is complete and utterly ridiculous. That statement did not make me feel one bit of saddest neither guilt for his wrong doings. If you are putting drugs into your body you should know what to expect an know the horrible side affects that will haunt you the rest of your life.

    Yes, this was his fault causing his own death; it was all on him. Yes, he will be missed. He was a very talented person but, I don't think people should feel sorry for his doings. Many people looked up to him and I'm sure he let a lot of people down. He was a very bright and smart guy. But I guess he never showed or let out the dark and stupid side of him until now.

  5. All that was stated in the article was well said. There are many problems with how drugs and the users are dealt with.There is a "system" of how they are handled. But this system is ineffective.And until people become open minded and creative in how to somehow deal with the drugs along with the users the cycle will go on. I'm not saying if there is a system in place drugs will stop being used but a change has to happen. Drugs and the people who use them are not going to all of a sudden vanish.And although I completely understand why this story is getting a lot of press due to the greatness of Philip Seymour Hoffman it still bothers me that just because of the stature of the person it seems to matter more to people. People overdose everyday and it seems to me that nobody seems to realize that. People will keep overdosing and dealing with their affliction until they either die or seek help.

  6. I think this article was written very well. The way we as Americans and our government deal with narcotics and the people who use them, I think, is not the correct way to do it. I'm not saying I have the answer to it but it is clearly not working and we must figure out something that will deal with this issue better. There is no way to completely eliminate drugs and the people who use them but there has to be a better way to deal with them such as decriminalization like in the Netherlands. As far as the article goes, I understand why it was written but I don't understand why people who were famous get praised and missed when they overdose on drugs while any old John Doe is forgotten and only talked about as "that drug addict that died". Regular, every day people need real help or need a system where certain drugs are not as easily obtained. I think if a drug that doesn't have very many negative side effects like marijuana was legalized or decriminalized more people would just buy it from a store and never encounter much more harmful drugs.

  7. So, my response to this article was that everyone has a choice. The feeling the author shows seems as if they pity what happened to Hoffman. The laws in charge of regulating drug use is not strong enough and is now spreading but only noticeable towards people who society thinks is important. What about the poor suburbs? The author states good points but if they could support with more evidence, I would understand what they are trying to imply. Overall the paper is well written, driven by emotion, the style is a little complex but statements are clear.

  8. This essay articulates an enormous point. Why do we keep ourselves in the dark, when we know what can help? Fear and stupidity seem to be our "valid" reasons, but how will that help us with moving forward as a country; as a nation; as a people; as a society; as a community?! Routine can take the middle aged mother over and shield her from creativity or venturing from comfort zone. It can take over a middle-class teenager trying to get all A's and B's in AP classes for a better shot at the "prestigious" colleges. It can blind the 30 year old successful business man who is at the top but strives for more. In fact, we all want more. Even people who know of very little, know that more is better. We are always told "less is more" but then shown that more is more and you have to have more to be better. Well i say no. absolutely not. If we cant even work together as a people to get our heads out of the routine and realize that together we can make things better, then we don't even deserve to think of more. Drugs are what they are. People will never stop doing them. All we can do is set up a system that helps instead of suppresses. After all, things are only what they are. We are only our voice, and that voice is only here for so long. So finding something worth making better is worth it in the long run because you then have found a way to outlive yourself.

    Oh by the way. The syntax and diction of this essay is impeccable. It had me looking up words that i didn't even know could be used that way!

  9. Before i start talking about my opinion to this essay i want to say that it was very well written. the way some words were used, i didn't even know they could be used that way. All in all it was a very good essay.
    Now, we've had many people die from drug overdose, a lot more that we don't hear about because they aren't celebrities. So, why did we wait until now? Do I personally think that we can completely get rid of drugs? No. They're illegal now and yet we have people dying so no, i don't think drugs will ever be gone. Most of the time people who do drugs do it by choice so if Hoffman would of made some better choices he would still be here today. the sad thing is that drug addiction can happen to anyone from a successful business man to someone living in poor conditions and anyone in between.People say that drug addiction is a mental illness right? Well instead of just treating them like complete criminals , why don't we also give them whatever help they need just like other mental patience ?

  10. Well this whole situation to me was a little bit ignored, but rightfully so ! I never kept tabs on Hoffman and really couldn't say a lot for I didn't really see movies he was in. It is a sad thing and in the end has made me think more of actually watching acouple movies he acts in so I could find an appreciation for his work. RIP Hoffman

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  12. My dream about drugs is utopia. If they would not exist -we haven't have problems. Although we do and is killing everybody. I mean - most of us not as real dead - but culture death. Economics. Suicides.Good Music (Kurt Kobain) Small kids, slaves etc.
    People thinks that it's nobody's fault. But we all are connected, We all can blame ourself's that we stand doing nothing. If we all connected -we are part of everything = we are part of this gamble game. However you would think, that you weren't there , you couldn't help. You couldn't ... but is so many times that we can. We can don't borrow somebody money if we now that is for drugs. We can volunteer at sheltes house, we can change law. If we would not be as lazy and busy or not interested in that stuff. If that way of thinking wil be more popular - maybe Hoffman .I know that everybody choose what to do with their own life, but somehow we would not can say thats not our fault. You could help.
    Another thing is that American society wants drugs so much that sometimes they can't stops theirself's. Drugs are one of thongs that are illegal. Exciting , People wants to feel that feeling as they use to when they wee younger.
    For most of people they have no rules to follow as it was in past (stronger religion beliefs as 10 amendment , koran etc. ) Now one rule which a lot of people say "i don't give a f***". They don't care . And thats problem in general.
    In one way its nobody's and everybody's fault.