|One difficulty in distinguishing Ayn Rand (the person) from Objectivism (the philosophy) is that Rand held that one's philosophical premises and convictions were inevitably bound to guide one's actions, whether one intended them to or not.|
In other words:
If Rand's personal life, in every aspect, was a manifestation of Objectivism, then Objectivism is pretty screwy (assuming that even a few of the stories related by members and associates of "The Collective" are true).
If Rand's personal life was NOT in every aspect a manifestation of Objectivism, then Ayn Rand was either not an Objectivist (an argument I think we can reject out of hand), or else she was wrong about at least one implication of Objectivism (i.e. it is possible for an Objectivist's life to not perfectly reflect every jot and tittle of Objectivist ideas at all times without deviation or error).
In my opinion, ARI's problem is that its leaders are philosophical "Fonzies." No matter what they do, they can't just spit it out: "Ayn Rand was wr .... wrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr .... wrrooooooooong" -- about _anything_. _Ever_. _Period_.
From ARI's perspective (a perspective simultaneously created by, and shaping, the conflict between ARI and other Objectivist individuals and organizations), Ayn Rand was (HAD to be) the living, perfect embodiment of Objectivism, and Objectivism implied exactly whatever she said it implied (or by her actions _implied_ that it implied).
Therefore, in order to hold themselves out as Objectivists, they are forced to defend the notion that Ayn Rand was perfect in every way, shape, manner and form -- that she never erred, never evaded, never gave in to any temptation to fake reality, etc. And, of course, to attack, excommunicate ... "blank out" ... anyone whose recollections might give lie to that notion.
Since their portrayal of her -- and sometimes of her ideas or of the importance/relevance of one of her particular ideas -- is at variance with reality, they've painted themselves into a corner. In order to maintain their position, they have to demand acceptance of their portrayal of Rand and of her ideas rather than exploration of the ideas or attempts to understand the person. They have to exclude any competing portrayal. They have to "guide" those whom they approach down "the right path" with a forceful hand -- and throw out people who persist in taking "wrong" turns -- because their arguments can't withstand competition.
Personally, I find the "real" Ayn Rand as I understand her -- a brilliant human being and a great writer, whatever her faults -- more compelling than ARI's plaster saint. Reading _The Passion of Ayn Rand_ and _Judgment Day_ didn't cause me to dismiss her ideas, or even to dislike Rand herself. It motivated me to pay more attention to exploring the ideas. It kept me from _worshiping_ Ayn Rand and allowed me to view her as a human being of incredible accomplishment, which is a much more valuable thing than another God to stick in the closet.