Robert Downey Jr. deserves our love and protection

By Michael Sragow

By Letters to the Editor

Published November 30, 2000 8:48PM (EST)

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While Michael Sragow's article is a beautiful tribute to Downey (and more than I think he deserves), I totally disagree with his idea that Downey should be given preferential treatment simply because he is "gifted." So what? He did something illegal and stupid, especially considering his precarious position in the entertainment industry.

What Sragow does not even seem to consider is that Downey did something that is against the laws of our country. Someone I love was recently charged with drug possession. He's gifted, brilliant, talented. But will he get a break? Probably not, because he's not famous. Nor should he, really. Just as Downey shouldn't. That man has been given more chances than anyone deserves. I sincerely hope he gets treatment and does not destroy his life.

But that does not change the fact that he did something wrong and that he should pay the penalty for wrongdoing. Otherwise, what sort of society would we live in (do we live in), where people are not punished for wrongdoing regardless of rank and social position? Think about that, Mr. Sragow, before you defend more wrongdoing of celebrities. They're just people, too.

-- Sarah Schmidt

In his article about Robert Downey Jr., Michael Sragow states that "Downey doesn't pretend to be a role model and has harmed no one except himself." Considering that the actor has a son, the attitude reflected in that statement is the saddest part of Downey's addiction. He is a poor example of manhood and cares only for himself -- not for the child who should be able to look to him for guidance.

Have no sympathy for Downey; have sympathy for his son.

-- E. Hermon

I agree with Michael Sragow's article on Robert Downey Jr., but for different reasons. Yes, he's insanely talented and locking up someone with his skills is a crime in itself. It's Downey's sickness that makes his punishment so unbelievable. Here's someone who has everything going for him -- career, status, talent -- who still can't seem to "just say no." Worse yet, his prior jail time did nothing to heal his sickness, as made obvious by his arrest over the weekend.

I wonder when this nation will stop punishing crimes against oneself with jail time. I also wonder why rehabilitation hasn't been bandied about in this week's almost gleeful reports of his downfall. He needs help and the penal system of California wasn't able to provide it the first time around. Why should they be given another chance?

-- Elizabeth Waldrop

I am greatly saddened to hear that Robert Downey Jr. has been arrested again for drug use. It is indeed barbaric that in this country we jail people for using illegal drugs, people who are hurting only themselves.

A Vanity Fair article from last summer had a quote from a psychiatrist who had visited Downey in jail and found he was suffering from bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression. Like many others who use illegal drugs, he has been "self-medicating" and needs treatment, not punishment.

I don't believe that many people in our country support the barbaric drug laws, and I hope that the prospect of Downey going back to jail will inspire people to contact their representatives to put an end to the war on drugs.

-- Jill Frederick

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