Friday, April 13, 2012

Answering the Unanswerable

Well, I've been trying to figure out what to do all week now. It's been surprisingly difficult.

I've read quite a bit of not-great stuff written about me this week, and I have to say, what's been most shocking is how much of it is built upon half-truths and suppositions and assumptions and guesses. A tower of assumption upon assumption upon assumption can't stand for long, right? I don't know. Maybe it can.

There are some things I don't want to go unanswered, and it's difficult not to want to correct every error I've seen, when I think I'm being wronged, and my friend, too, and even my husband.

But I've seen this show before. I know how the plot twists and how it ends--first a correction, then a counter, then the inevitable degradation into semantics and psychologizing and more character accusations. It's a tired worn-out plot device and I want no part of it.

So why am I even bringing it up? I guess because I can't stand to allow it to go completely unanswered, if not specifically, then at least generally. I need to say: there is a hell of a lot of misunderstanding going on, and a healthy dash of half-truths and insinuations, too. And a near-complete lack of assuming positive intent. If you care, I can explain in person. Though I'd like to hope that if you care, you can already see this stuff, too.

I don't know. I've been searching for a way to handle my moment in the tabloids with grace and aplomb. I guess there's really no way to handle it, really, since I have neither the time nor inclination to devote to correcting all of the inaccurate things that have been written. And since I'm not willing to handle it directly, then I am choosing to let it go for now.

I have a fun weekend planned; I plan to have it.

I have a fun life planned. Again. Gonna go ahead with that plan, too.

I guess that's all I really wanted to say. There is Wrongness on the Internet, but I am choosing not to correct it right now--possibly ever--because I've got better things to do.

And as far as the things I'm choosing to do in the world, to paraphrase Zoe Washburne: I'm not so scared of making a mistake that I ain't gonna try to do what I think is right.


Burgess Laughlin said...

Thank you, Jenn.

Whatever differences in conclusions we have reached on particular issues, I have never doubted your honesty, your integrity, and your courage.

I wish you the best in life. It is very short. I have found that selectivity is one of the keys.

John Drake said...

Good for you. I've tried to avoid reading whatever the latest gossip going around says, as most of it is a waste of my time. In fact, I have no idea what people are saying about you. Nor do I care to find out. As with you, I have better things to do with my time. The more I dig into the he said/she said, the more depressed and despondent I become. Is this really the most important thing they have to talk about?

I know you. And as Burgess noted, I know you are honest, courageous, and full of integrity. Keep being awesome.

William Green said...


What you have achieved in Atlanta is such an inspiration to me. Getting to know you personally has been tons of fun. I'm looking forward to meeting rest of The People in just over a month.

The praise of many of these people would matter just as much as their scorn.


Kelly Elmore said...

I'd rather be dragged through the mud with you than be dragged through perfume with anyone else! :)

Seriously, I couldn't have dealt with this without your support.

I'm choosing to view this as part of our hero's journey, like in Joseph Campbell. They all have to descend into the underworld or go into the dark forest or something like that, and the modern day underworld is Facebook, apparently. We will emerge from this sea of monsters, like Odysseus, even better than before, kill all the uninvited houseguests (wouldn't that be fun?), and reclaim our island (the island of awesome).

Rereading that, it sounds super cheesy, but it makes me feel better.

Trey Peden said...

Awww... Jenn, I know the feeling and I've come to the exact same conclusion.

You're doing an amazing job both on the internets and out in the real world, so try not to sweat the internet badguys.

The weather is nice and there are people you love all around. Enjoy your values!

Diana Hsieh said...

I wish that I didn't understand your frustration quite so well. I've said the last that I want to say on this lunacy. Yet when I see more lies more distortions -- and people lapping them up -- I find it really hard to say nothing.

The only solution is to doggedly ignore these people, and go about the business of your life, doing what you think right and important. Oh, and know that you have friends who think that you're awesome -- friends who know that the crap that random people spew about you on the internet is complete crap.


Speaking of real values, I've been catching up on the "Cultivating the Virtues" podcasts lately -- and I can't wait to see you at AtlosCon!

Kelly Thompson said...

Hey Jenn,

I hate that you are going through this... Please know that we are super proud of you and your family and we always enjoy seeing what is going on in your life. :)


Hanah said...

Don't care, have never cared, have actually managed to avoid finding out what this one even is.

Santiago Valenzuela said...

Just remember - you guys are awesome. Nothing other people say can change that.

John, Ansley and Charlie said...

I have no clue what this is about, but to know you personally and read your post tells me that it must have been really bad. I wish I could give you a big hug right now.

Kevin McAllister said...

Thankfully I have no idea what sort of nonsense is being written about you. I can't imagine there are folks out there that take time to engage so relentlessly not in ideas and productive work but in discussing opinions and rumors about other people, but clearly my imagination is limited.

Please know there are those of us who judge people on our first-hand knowledge. I think you are great, and I have a great amount of respect for you and your work.

And as Paul Anka famously said, "Just don't look."'t_Look#Lyrics

Jenn Casey said...

I appreciate all of the support, including from those with whom I disagree about some of the particulars. Those of you who have no clue what this is all about--trust me, you are probably better off!

I can't say it enough--thank you! I know Kelly appreciates the support, too (and I definitely recommend showing her some love, too!).

Stephanie Ozenne said...

I'm not in whatever loops this is happening on, but I'm sorry you have to go through it. One of the sucky things about the internet (and human nature, perhaps).

One thing that may or may not be interesting... I listen to some podcasts with comedians who interview various (usually minor) celebrities - they *all* talk about haters online. What surprised me was how much they universally seem hurt by it. The most typical response is to simply avoid the negative stuff - they try to ignore it completely and just keep it out of their life. Who needs that crap as input, you know? I'm sure it's harder when it's factual matters that are being lied about - performers mostly get variants of "you suck!"

I think you're handling it well, and I hope you can keep it out of your head for the most part.

Paul Hsieh said...

Thanks, Jenn, for all that you do!

Dealing with unjust criticism is a pain in the behind. But take strength from the respect and admiration you've earned from your friends. Having had the pleasure of meeting you in person last year, I regard you as one of the most thoughtful, honest Objectivist thinkers AND doers out there. We need more people like you!

Plus the fact you're receiving tabloid-like attention is a perverse badge of honor. As the great NY Yankees baseball player Reggie Jackson once told a fellow player, 'They don't boo nobodies!"

So stay strong. We look forward to seeing you and the rest of the ATLOS people next month.

(Speaking of which, I guess I should start working on my talks...)

-- Paul

Tim said...

Reading this post just made me sad. You don't deserve to have to deal with this.

I'll be honest, I haven't been following what this is all about but I can draw some conclusions. Know that I plan on showing my support not through passive aggressive rants, but by being a friend and showing up at your event. I am super excited about ATLOSCon and really couldn't give two shits what anyone else thinks! =)

More importantly, I'm excited to see my Atlanta friends (and out of towners!) and happy to consider you all some of the nicest people I know.

Atul Kapur said...


I am clueless about what happened. But I can imagine how hard it is to choose not to answer, especially if the falsehoods are being written by people you believed to be on the side of truth.

You remain an inspiration. Can't wait to meet you at ATLOSCon.

Unknown said...

Jenn, you've done something great starting ATLOS. And Kelly's done something great starting ATLOSCon. And you both do a heck of a lot of work keeping these going successfully, providing something very fun, informative, and valuable to us in Atlanta and elsewhere. ATLOS and ATLOSCon are appreciated and would be missed dearly if they ceased to exist. Thank you both for your efforts and initiative and for creating such a great group and conference.

It pisses me off to see the flock (herd? murder?) of haters denigrating the group, the conference, and at their lowest, even each of you personally and by name. Creating an awesome conference or group is a lot harder than 'creating' snide remarks and condemnation. I'm appalled at those who want to tear down something successful. I'd love to have at them online, but really that's not what will show them anyway. That will happen as ATLOS and ATLOSCon continue to be a hit and enrich peoples' lives, while what the haters create will, well, I suppose take up bits on a Facebook server somewhere.

I'm proud of you Kelly and I'm proud of you Jenn. I'm sorry others attack and try to bring you down, but they are not the important ones. Thanks so much for what you've created.

Stella Zawistowski said...

Don't know what's being said, don't care to find out. But I DO care to meet you next month, FINALLY, because based on my *first-hand* observations of what you say and what you've established (OGrownups! ATLOS!) I think you're pretty awesome.

Not to mention, this Outlaw thing has made you not only awesome but badass as well.

That is all.

John Cox said...

Jenn - I just wanted to let you know how much ATLOS means to me. As I've mentioned before, prior to meeting you and Brendan that Saturday afternoon a few years ago, I had never met another Objectivist in person. I'd spent close to a decade studying it, familiarizing myself with it, integrating it into my thinking and my life and communicating with people online about it. I knew there were other people out there who were Objectivists, but I never had a group of people that I could socialize with and get to be friends with that truly understood my deepest values.

I didn't realize until after I met you guys and the rest of the Atlanta Objectivists just how isolated one can feel knowing that no one around you shares your beliefs and values (excluding Ansley, obviously). Some of the lightest and happiest moments I can recall were the drives home with Ansley after a few of our earliest get togethers with the group (before ATLOS was even around), talking about how amazing it feels to be around people who REALLY get me and the core of my values.

ATLOS only expanded those opportunities and ATLOSCon gave me the opportunity to meet those I had interacted with online with for some time, but never in person. ATLOS, and the people who make it up, are among my highest values. Yours and Kelly's (and the rest of the groups) tireless work is appreciated tremendously. I am proud to lead a discussion group at this years ATLOSCon, and to have done so the prior two years as well.

Thank you.

Monica said...

I must have all the right people blocked on Facebook, because I honestly haven't seen a thing, and if I did it would only make me cackle at this point. These people are fools. What Diana said. Ignoring them is the best strategy. (Actually, I think making fun of them is a pretty good strategy, too, as has recently been so excellently done by some. Something about the metaphysically unimportant and all that.)

In the meantime, keep being a w e s o m e!

aanchalsharma said...

No no.. This is really very nic stuff..thanks for sharing..

Earl3d said...


I managed to miss out on the particulars but I can (I think) imagine what's happened/happening.

Thank you for at least taking the time to write this up. When I read your formulation, "first a correction, then a counter, then the inevitable degradation into semantics and psychologizing and more character accusations" I got a lot of clarity for myself about much of what has been going on lately.

Also, I really appreciate all that you and Kelly have done and continue to do with ATLOS and the 'CON. I'm proud to be attending this year and speaking!

I thought I posted this yesterday, but apparently it didn't go through. Hang in there, and keep up the good work.

Amy said...

I have no idea what caused this, but I'm sorry to hear that you are being attacked in some way. If it's anything like some of the other "disputes" going on, I think you are wise to answer as minimally as possible.

Elisheva Hannah Levin said...

Dear, dear Jenn:

I have no idea what all the fuss is about, and I have never had the honor of meeting you in person. But ever since I stumbled across your blog among homeschooling blogs six years ago, I have learned a great deal from you and enjoyed you and your family from afar. I delight in knowing through your positive parenting entries that some of us are really making progress in parenting our children to grow up to become independent, competent adults. Even though my children are well raised, it was more trial and error in my day.

So enjoy your weekend and have that terrific life you have planned. As for what the naysayers think, let 'em think. It might just exercise their brains. Or we can say this:

For the naysayers, let there be no hope . . .

But for you abundance and abundance flowing from all of the awesome deeds you have accomplished.

Some of us love to "shep naches", which means that we enjoy observing the wonderful sight of a human being coming up in the world.

Thank you very much for sharing you with total strangers!

Kelly McNulty Valenzuela said...

I missed it too, but I'm sure you're guilty by association, if nothing else. lol! Wishing you all the best, keep up the excellent work (I know I will be a better mother for having known you and Kelly E.) and hope ATLOSCon goes great once again! We look forward to being there next year with our 11 month old! (Wow!)