Wednesday, August 22, 2012

What's Up With Society These Days?

Over the last month and a half I’ve grown more and more frustrated and disheartened by the ethics and scruples of the world of journalism. And also by the lack of empathy that people seem to have for their fellow human beings. During this time I’ve told myself repeatedly that it’s just a result of how much our society has become desensitized to the hardships that each of us faces in life. But that’s really just a nice way to say that society is spawning a bunch of jerks these days.

I would really like to rant and rave against all of these people. To ask the general public why they’re so quick to believe the negative about a person instead of giving them the benefit of the doubt. To ask how they can pass judgment on someone when they have no idea what it’s like to walk in that person’s shoes. And why they want to kick people when they’re down instead of extending a hand to help them back up.

I’d also like to remind a few journalists of a little something called a professional code of ethics, which calls for accuracy and factual reporting. And ask them whatever came of harm limitation principles that advise journalists to show compassion for those who may be adversely affected by their reports. Those same principles also encourage media members to show good taste in their articles and avoid pandering to lurid curiosity. When did those codes of conduct go out the window?

Mostly I have just been disappointed with the reactions people have had. I honestly thought that people would at least give some encouragement to AJ for trying to make the best of a bad situation and learning something from it instead of everyone just focusing on the details of what happened. Since when is making a stupid mistake not worthy of showing someone compassion? I don’t know – maybe it’s just me who is living in an era that doesn’t exist anymore. Or maybe I just don’t have it in me to be that negative of a person.

The biggest thing that hit me in this entire situation was when Jeff Gluck said he felt sorry for AJ fans. That was really surprising to me and instantly made me mad because I don’t want anyone feeling sorry for me. I don’t feel sorry for myself. I really don’t have anything to feel sorry about. Am I sad that I can’t watch AJ race at the moment? Yeah, I am. But I’m mostly sad about that because I know how much AJ wants to be racing and not because I’m out anything.

I don’t feel sorry for myself because I still have someone to root for – AJ! I’m not cheering for him to drive fast in a circle, I’m cheering for him to find some balance in his life and to be happy again. I’m rooting for him to pick himself up and dust off his britches. I’d love to see him make a comeback in NASCAR, but even if it never happens I’ll still be on the sidelines cheering for him in his life. And I truly think the people Jeff Gluck should feel sorry for are the ones who seem to take such glee in other people’s misfortune.

I understand why people don’t believe AJ. I could try and convince everyone that AJ is being honest. I have been lucky enough to make a lot of contacts in the NASCAR world, and especially among those people who know AJ personally. Friends, family, media members, crew guys, sponsor reps, PR people. People who either know the sport or who know AJ inside and out. I could share all the things that those “credible sources” have told me and try to make everyone just as certain as I am that AJ’s being completely truthful. But why bother?

The bottom line is that people are going to believe whatever they want to believe. If you think AJ is lying then you can come up with a dozen “sources” to back up that fact. And if you think AJ is telling the truth then you can come up with just as many “sources” to back that up, too. It all comes down to a basic opinion – you either believe AJ or you don’t. I could talk until I’m blue in the face and it won’t change that basic opinion. Yeah, maybe I’ll make a point or two that could make you think about whether your opinion is the right one. I might even sway one or two people into changing their minds, but to be honest it just isn’t worth the aggravation to me to try and defend my opinion.

Which is the exact same reason why it isn’t worth it for AJ to try and convince people he’s being honest. He has stated his version of what happened – there’s no amount of additional information that will change that. Right now he doesn’t need the distraction of getting into a debate over it. He needs to focus on completing his Road to Recovery program, getting reinstated by NASCAR, finding a job and a sponsor, and oh yeah – that simple little project he’s trying to undertake of turning his life around!

Come on people – what’s really important right now? Is it satisfying your curiosity over all the little details of what happened during this one instance of someone else’s life, or is it more important to show some support to a fellow human being who, no matter what those circumstances were, is trying to face the monumental task of dealing with his own personal issues? I just don’t understand society’s need to rehash everything out there that is negative and their unwillingness to just let it go and realize that sometimes things are just what they seem.

Oh yes, I’ve heard all the arguments against AJ, but most of them boil down to this basic sentiment: “AJ’s story doesn’t sound believable. He sounds just like every drug addict out there who says it was just a one time thing.” And I will grant you that argument – the story doesn’t sound believable. And it does sound just like what a drug addict would say. But doesn’t it also sound like something that a person would say if they really did just naively take a pill one time and then randomly got pulled for a drug test the next day?

The bottom line is that you either believe AJ or you don’t – all I’m asking is for people to look carefully into why they don’t believe him. And realize that in the end, it truly doesn’t matter whether he is telling the truth or lying. Right now what’s important is that AJ is trying to get his life back in focus and doesn’t need the constant distraction of sensational journalists yapping at his heels. I don’t buy into this whole “the other side of the story needs told.” No, it doesn’t. Because there is no “other side” to the story – AJ’s side is the only one there is. Now if there was irrefutable proof that AJ was lying, then maybe I’d agree that it needed told. But the only person who knows 100% what happened is AJ and he’s already told his story. No amount of continued speculation either for or against him can prove anything. Let it be done so the guy can work on getting his priorities straight.

I’ve made it known that I believe AJ completely, but I’ve never said why. And I’m not going to because I don’t need to defend my belief and it sure isn’t my job to defend AJ. People have called me naïve, stupid, illogical, even an enabler because I think AJ is telling the truth. But trust me, I am none of those things. I am a highly intelligent, very analytical, and for the most part a very skeptical person. I have spent my entire life and even made a career out of picking apart every bit of data that I can find and scrutinizing it. So you either believe that through my contacts I have enough information to make an informed decision and that I’ve looked into every possibility before forming my opinion. Or you don’t. But either way – I think people should at the very least try to give someone the benefit of the doubt. Instead of kicking him when he’s down, try wishing AJ the best of luck in attempting to get his life back in order.


  1. Kudos to you for sticking by AJ. The odds that the one time AJ took one pill and that happened to be the time that he got pulled for a ua and was dirty are astronomical. So more than likely this wasn't the first time AJ used drugs but rather the first time he got caught. Journalists write articles on their opinions all the time. Those are called editorials. Journalists are also allowed to have an opinion. Jeff Gluck feels sorry for AJ's fans because AJ let them down. Either by being dirty or not respecting his position or his body enough. I feel sorry for you too. It's a shame a bright kid threw it all away.

  2. Not so astronomical about using one time and getting tested. Happened to my husband with the same medicine that he got from our daughter....long trip and had to work next does happen.
    I don't think it is up to any one to believe AJ. It is up to NASCAR fans to hope for the best for him and any other driver. We need to support anyone that makes a mistake, admits it, and tries to do better. Hopefully AJ has not thrown anything away, just a stumbling block that will lead to firmer ground and a better future.

  3. I have 1 question: When you are on the top of the world in stock car racing and made it to the biggest of big shows, on a reputable team, why would you do something so stupid?

    If you have that little respect for what you have and what you worked so hard for, then maybe you don't deserve it.

    I'm sick and tired of people like you bashing anyone with an OPINION. Just like a saint by account commits murder and people claiming that saint would have never have done it intentionally justifying it.

    AJ is an idiot. He did something outrageously stupid for a person who had so much to lose and little to gain from it. He ranks right up there with most other pro athletes who make stupid decisions because they can't handle or respect the bright lights.

  4. Here's my issue with all this - we are talking about a real live person. Last I checked real people aren't perfect. We all make mistakes. Some are mild, some more extream. Regardless, mistakes and errors in judgement happen. AJ doesn't owe anyone an explanation but his family. I am disappointed in his decisions (whether it be once, twice, or a regular thing). I'm disappointed that he put himself in such a crappy situation. However, it's his life. As a fan I have two choices: support him or walk away. That's my decision. "credible sources" have nothing to do with my decision. I'm fed up with all the speculation and the! Amazing how happy some people are to attack when a person is down. It's like they are so jealous about someone else having more/better that they turn into animals at a slaughter when there's the slightest crack. I'm disgusted with the "medias" speculation. I don't need to know anything. My reality is that I'm a fan of AJ's. What he does in his personal life isn't my business. I'm sad it's effected what I like watching him do but oh well. He's a real live person. That simple. I hope he makes it back into NASCAR but whether he does or not, I'll still be watching him race on whatever it is.
    I had to sign this anonymous because I don't have a google account or whatever the other options are. However, my name is Jamie and I'm still proud to say I am an AJ Allmendinger fan. I will support him through the good and the bad.

  5. Fortunately not everyone is in to bashing and kicking AJ while he is down. AJ made a mistake which he has admitted to. He is human and all humans make mistakes, have errors in judgement or what ever you want to call it. To the world it looked like AJ as well as all the other drivers have the best life in the world. The fact is the majority of us don't have a clue what their life is like including the pressures and demands they have. The money is great but that doesn't buy happiness. We don't know how AJ was feeling, dealing with, life challenges, etc. Yes, I'm sad that AJ is not racing but more importantly I hope that he has learned from this mistake and is utilizaing whatever resources he has available to focus on himself and his life so he can be a healthy and happy person that moves forward with his life. I hope more people will be less judgemental and become more supportive towards AJ. When going through difficult times people need encouragement and support so I choose to do that with AJ. I wish him the best and hope to see him in a race car soon.

  6. I'm with you. I'm an AJ fan 100%, and NASCAR has not been the same since his suspension.

    Now I know not all AJ fans will be open to this, but I have found for myself it was a good idea. The last two weekends I have followed Landon Cassil on my Trackpass, since I didn't want to let it go to waste, and I've found Cassil and his crew to be very interesting and fun to listen to. Last week they had a transmission failure, and the entire crew just congratulated each other on a fine effort, as they ran in the top 20 most of the day.

    I'm not saying follow Cassil, but find a temp. driver to cheer for, so when our #1 driver AJ comes back, we won't A) have to rekindle our love for the sport and B) you'll have another driver you can cheer for if AJ has a bad night. I don't know, just an idea for true NASCAR fans.

    Can't wait for AJ's return.