Robert Downey Jr. is in trouble again. Los Angeles police took him into
custody this week for public intoxication, the latest arrest in a long
series of legal problems dating back to 1996 when he was charged with
heroin, cocaine and weapons possession.
While sympathy for the actor may be wearing thin -- his "Ally McBeal"
producer is said to be "furious" -- there remains profound hand-wringing
over what to do now. Should he be treated for his addiction? Should he go
to jail? Do we hold him accountable? And if so, how?
In her commentary on Robert Downey Jr. ("A Decision, Not a Disease,"
editorial page, April 27), Sally Satel demonstrates a cognitive dissonance
between the realities of drug abuse and the failure of the "war on drugs."
She correctly points out that Mr. Downey was making choices when he decided
to again use drugs, but she refuses to acknowledge that, whether she or
society like it or not, they are undeniably his choices to make.
The drug war is the worst, and most expensive, failure in U.S. history
precisely because much of the public, like Dr. Satel, refuses to
acknowledge that the unalienable rights endowed by our Creator, as outlined
in the Declaration of Independence, cannot ever be circumvented no matter
how much we wish we had the power to control the free will of another. This
is the very reason that prohibition of anything has never worked once in
all of recorded history. If someone wants something bad enough he or she
will get it -- something that is aptly demonstrated by the fact of rampant
drug use in virtually every prison in the country.