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Harsh words on addiction

August 07, 2008

Re "Sobering up on Ledger," Opinion, Aug. 1

Eric P. Lucas trivializes not only Heath Ledger's death but the process of getting help for addiction.

It's difficult to envision Ledger's trying to get badly needed sleep using prescription drugs as a "party."

Moreover, choosing to overcome addiction is far from "simple," although Lucas suggests that his own allegedly straightforward recovery decision means that others' are equally uncomplicated.

Yet the most galling aspect of Lucas' article is its callousness. Do all AA adherents see addiction in black-and-white terms?

Ignoring the gray areas reduces the narratives of the millions of recovering addicts (as well as the casualties) to one story, when in fact both the stories and the details are as distinct as the people themselves.

Ledger's story is no less unique than anyone else's.

David Shannon

San Luis Obispo

It's unfortunate that not everyone can be as steadfast and resolved as Lucas believes they must be, and as he obviously believes himself to be.

Where is your compassion, Mr. Lucas? You may have a will of iron, but your self-righteous condemnation of those who sadly cannot match your achievement reveals a heart of stone.

Neil Zevnik

Burbank

According to Lucas' logic, "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night" is an overrated and inconsequential poem because it was written by a "common drunk." "Rebel Without a Cause" should be discounted because its young star engaged in a "fast life of drugs and alcohol" resulting somehow in a car accident -- that was not an accident. And Heath Ledger's groundbreaking performances in "Brokeback Mountain" and "The Dark Knight" are meaningless because Ledger apparently participated in daily "pill parties."

But Lucas misses the point: We don't revere artists because of the way they live and die but because of the body of great work they leave behind. The boys Lucas observes under a Seattle bridge are not emulating Jimi Hendrix by taking sleeping pills and drinking. They are trying to imitate his music.

Michael Duffy

Simi Valley

Congratulations to Lucas for speaking the truth. The hype around possibly giving an Academy Award to Heath Ledger is indicative of a Hollywood gone mad with idolization.

Had Ledger stuck around and developed his craft, he might have risen to the skill of someone such as Jack Nicholson, whose forgotten "Joker" performance exceeds Ledger's, in my opinion. Ledger's death is a self-inflicted tragedy, a loss to his family, himself and his profession. It should not be canonized.

Aaron Greene

Santa Monica

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