"That Charlie Sheen still has a career at this point is vivid proof of the triumph of hope over experience," writes Mary Elizabeth Williams at Salon. The prolific actor, known for his work in everything from TV's "Two and a Half Men" to the original Wall Street, has been splashed across the gossip pages after an incident at the Plaza hotel early yesterday morning involving a prostitute, cocaine, and a trashed suite. (The Daily Beast dubs it an "epic... bender," The New York Post calls it a "coke-&-hooker rampage," his agent calls it an "allergic reaction.") Sheen's travails forces the question: When do we give up on a person? Many celebrity addicts, from Lou Reed to Russell Brand, "eventually come back from the abyss." But, "heartbreakingly," says Williams, "there are those who, it seems, can't." Here, an excerpt:

...nearly all of us have been affected by the actions of substance abusers at one time or another. The relative who calls in the middle of the night asking for money. The lover who turns mean. The coworker whose messes we have to clean up. And the question that comes up again and again is – when do we cut them off? Are there some people who are just beyond redemption?... Sheen's continued presence on television — and his heavy compensation — are ridiculous at this point. But should he be written off entirely yet? There are four children under the age of seven who call him Dad. As Denise Richards said Tuesday, "My daughters are five and six years old. And they're at an age when they can start to understand." It's one thing to cancel a sitcom; it's another to give up on your father.

Read the whole story at Salon.