We interviewed Jude Angelini, aka "Rude Jude," for our Face Time column in this issue. One thing that struck us about Angelini was his honesty about drugs.
People who use drugs are often not publicly honest about it. They bullshit, they make excuses, they carry shame, or they talk about being "clean" — which insinuates that when they did drugs, they were dirty.
But are drug users really dirty? After all, you can be brilliant and still use drugs — just look at Philip Seymour Hoffman. Or Heath Ledger. Or Robin Williams. Or ... fill in the blank.
One could argue it was the stigma, shame, and dirty drugs a law enforcement-centered society creates that killed them and continues to distort the conversation about drug use.
Angelini doesn't seem to carry that stigma, or shame. He's strikingly honest about drug use, in both his book, Hyena, and in our interview:
MT: How long you been sober?
Angelini: I'm not sober. I'm not.
MT: So you're still doing ketamine and PCP?
Angelini: No. I'm still doing drugs like GHB and shit. It's hard to get. You gotta find a gay dude or a bodybuilder and shit. That'll be your connect. It's hard to find in the circles I roll in. I'm not gay and I don't look good with my shirt off, so there's that. I quit all the disssociatives. It was starting to fry my brain. The stories in that book that I tell you, I'm dumber since everything I've done in there. There's only so much abuse one's body and head can take, you know? I've watched myself lose IQ points. I can't remember things as well.
I've been off Vicodin and ketamine for about four months. I don't really view myself as an addict, I view myself as "This is what I'm doing today." I never beat myself up for what I'm doing. It's always a choice, and when I'm done, I quit. I'm never doing it, like, "Oh, I shouldn't be doing this. I'm gonna quit tomorrow," knowing damn well I don't want to quit. It just weakens your resolve, and then you beat yourself up, and you feel bad about yourself, and you end up doing more of the same. So for me, it was always like, "I'll do it until I'm tired of it." So I got tired of ketamine. Maybe I'll start again someday. But, to be honest, the shit stopped working, so I don't know. I probably won't.
MT: What about drug laws? Do you have any opinion on the war on drugs?
Angelini: It's just modern-day slavery. Just another way to lock a person up. I don't know much about politics, but I don't need a babysitter, you know what I mean? It's not like the drugs aren't as bad as people getting locked up for years, destroying the family. We got more people in prison right now than in China — and we're supposed to be free, and it's because of these fuckin bullshit drug laws. Just because something's a law doesn't make it right. I could own a person 200 years ago. So, just because it's against the law doesn't necessarily make it wrong. I just obey the laws I see fit.
And just because it's legal doesn't make it right (we're looking at you, legal ban on same sex marriages). Today, it's against the law to even smoke weed in this country, let alone do harder drugs or pharmaceuticals for recreational purposes. Two hundred years ago it was perfectly legal to own another human being — and humans, primarily humans who are poor or with black or brown skin color, are still in chains today thanks to our drug laws.
Angelini is right. Drugs aren't as bad as people getting locked up for years. And we have more than 2.4 million Americans incarcerated — the majority imprisoned because of drug laws. That is more than China.
When people come out of the closet and talk about their drug use openly and honestly, it helps to break the stigma and dispel the shame that surrounds drug use. Before the laws change, the stigma and shame must break-and it breaks when those who can come out of the closet do.