On Thursday evening, I received another letter threatening a lawsuit, summarized with “please be informed that absent the immediate removal of your writings from the Internet . . . a lawsuit will follow.”
We live in a nation where we each have been promised the inalienable right to free speech. I’m exercising this right. And now—for a third time, I am being told, by a private citizen who seems hellbent on reminding me (through his legal counsel) of his (ostensibly) ongoing power and authority (bestowed upon him from his former role in town) that what I wish to publish is forbidden and, in his opinion, is actionable. I disagree.
So that everyone is clear: I am not removing anything. In fact, I am not only not removing anything, but I’ve also decided that if and when I am served with, what I believe will be deemed by a judge to be “frivolous,” that I intend to—in effect—live steam the litigation. You know, IRT (“in real-time”) as our younger generation might say. This will be published in the very same place where you have been reading GINNED UP. And here’s my pledge to you: a front-row seat as I tell you all about the lawsuit under the title “IRT: GINNED UP.”
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Back in the spring, when I decided to put my work out for public consumption, I thought that my notion of a “community memoir” would be exciting and inclusive. But now, with this threat of a lawsuit, I’m thinking that even more people will take interest in what’s happening, you know, IRT.
What’s ironic about initiating a lawsuit is the fact that in trying to shut me up, a lawsuit will only bring more attention to all of this. And what’s inane, in my opinion, is that I have come to the reasonable conclusion that EVERYONE ALREADY KNOWS (or believes they know) what happened.
In many ways, I’m not sharing anything that hasn’t been discussed, dissected, analyzed, and speculated over. And now, even in the face of these ongoing threats, I’ll continue having my say, undeterred.
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And while some have gotten the facts right, most haven’t had the benefit of my perspective on the events in MY life.
GINNED UP is my work. My writing is my work. It has both informed my understanding of the town I live in and who I am in this place of ever-shifting loyalties. Right after my resignation from the Board of Selectmen, the best way I saw to understand the events of those many years ago was to write about it, to look hard at what occurred, and think deeply about all of it.
To that end, I wrote a 220,000-word novel. (For reference, Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky clocks in at 211,591.) I wrote it all down just weeks after I ended my service to the town, back when it was all still very fresh in my mind. At the time, I channeled my devastation into writing.
I’d not planned on publishing it, not until recently, not until it became clear that the rumors and speculation about my past actions were still on people’s minds–years later: specifically in June 2019 and during our town’s last local election cycle in the spring of 2021.
Both times, I thought, “Why can’t they move on?” And it dawned on me that (maybe) they can’t move on because I haven’t “moved on” from it either. I think about those months more than what may be reasonable or rational.
This time in my life was a shining example of what happens when someone with all good intentions crashes and burns. My memoir is an offering of disclosure. It’s my effort to show how I went from “winning by a landslide,” as I was told, to resigning under a thick cloud of suspicion.
And for reasons that will soon become clear, I couldn’t have risked saying anything back then, even if I had wanted to.
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But can you even imagine what reading GINNED UP will be like if, contemporaneous with what I’ve committed to doing week after week, there was a lawsuit unfolding, IRT, for you all to read about?
That would be EPIC.
So epic that this project might be the very thing to launch my literary career. While I’ve always harbored the quiet desire for a Pulitzer, I might just find plenty enough satisfaction in cranking out episode after episode, week after week, for all of you to (I hope) enjoy with the added benefit of watching a lawsuit unfold as described by yours truly. This lawsuit will be a present-moment reportage, augmenting my memoir of the events of those many years ago.
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I can’t help but conclude how a lawsuit like this feels like continued interest (expressed via legal pleading) in the entanglement itself. To that, I roughly quote Nietzsche, “AMOR FATI.”
And how far will I take this AMOR FATI philosophy?
Good question: I’ve come this far, and it might be fun to get the old gang together, even if it’s in court.
Some may wonder, “Is this a hill you’d die on?” It’s as good a hill as any because freedom of speech is an American right, a right that this potential plaintiff also has. In that light, I might suggest that instead of suing me, write your own memoir. If it’s any good, I’ll consider letting you guest post at GINNED UP from time to time.
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I’ll be sending subscribers Episode 11: WHAT HAVE YOU DONE? On Monday at 8:00PM.
If you wish to subscribe, go to: jennabrownson.substack.com.
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Final note: In the event that GINNED UP gets optioned for a Netflix miniseries, I hope Reese Witherspoon plays me—primarily due to her penchant for playing roles where her naïveté is exploited at every turn; and I hope John Hamm plays the chief—primarily for the glint in his eye.