Sunday, 2 February 2014

It would appear that the story

the ABC (in this case the Australian Broadcasting Commission) put out about asylum seekers being "tortured" by members of our navy is beginning to rapidly unravel. There were claims that the men on  board the vessel in question had been "forced" to hold on to hot pipes and had thus had their hands burned. Further claims have been made about these asylum seekers being kicked and beaten by members of the navy.
Now, I do not believe the navy is lily-white. I am quite sure there are individuals in it who would enjoy a good scrap and that, like the rest of society, there are people in it who do not conform to civilised standards of behaviour. At the same time I also believe that, again like the rest of society, the vast majority of navy personnel are ordinary, decent human beings who will do the right thing by their fellow human beings.
I never did believe the story the ABC came out with. "Telling a story" is part of the asylum seeker process. The better the story the greater the chance of obtaining asylum. Some stories are true. Other stories are not true. Some story tellers are good and others are not. You can also be coached in how to tell your story and, like someone acting in a role, you can come to believe in the character for a while. You can even come to believe you are telling the truth.
Talk to navy personnel, talk to immigration officials, talk to others who deal with asylum seekers and they will all tell you that they hear "the same stories over and over again".
Yes of course they do. They hear them for two reasons and on two levels. They heard them because some of those stories are true and because, having heard true stories, others have set out to copy them. They can be told by people who have actually experienced the events they describe and by others who are describing something they have not experienced. Knowing what story to tell and how to tell it is a vital part of the process.
Tell the story well enough and you will be able to sell it to other people. People like to hear about bad things - so long as they do not actually happen to them or anyone close to them. The story does not have to be true but it does need to sound as if it might be.
It is rather like trying to be a writer.


Miriam said...

As I read your post, I thought, "It's rather like trying to be a writer." And then you said it.

catdownunder said...

:)- I got something right/write then Miriam?