Recently a very passionate “refugee advocate” from Australia approached us ( www.circusbazaar.com )about publishing some writing on her experience on visiting an asylum camp in Calais, France. We were interested and open because it is a critical issue that we care about and if she was willing to go all that way to France then we thought she deserved to be having her writing published. The problem is that we have published several experience-based pieces that were similarly heart felt only to bump into zero level of interest by the wider audience. The environment in Europe is such that ones heart felt experience is no longer strong enough to capture any significant attention. Huge political forces are questioning the sustainability of a whole range of not only refugee rights but also civil rights. In many cases I think both a basic appeal to rights of asylum or fundamental freedoms such as free expression have become warn to the point that most are sadly desensitized.
I as the editor contacted her to discus the possibility of her expanding the piece, engaging some expert opinion and using what weight our publication had to help her build a basic network of sources that could help make sure that the piece was more engaging rather than being based purely on her inner thoughts and experience. In an attempt to help her understand, that the reader wants to experience a broad range of opinion and come to their own conclusion on things, I must have used the very common metaphor “opinions are like assholes, everyone has one”. This was part of some broad conversation and not at all, in any possible way an insult to her views, which clearly I respected. It was simply part of a well-meaning effort to give a little feedback on how she, in conjunction with our help, could improve the quality and potential distribution of her writing.
Now, when I now see that this same writer has run off and misquoted/misrepresented our conversation and written about it on a public space, I feel thankful that she, after some standard feedback decided to pull what was little more than a personal journal entry from “publication consideration” and burn our social media connection. See, when you discuss things with people in private and then go write about it in the public space it evokes a deep mistrust with people. Further, without giving proper and honest context to the words your writing fails in what is a basic test of integrity.
Please, if you refer to private conversations would you inform and seek permission in the future first. Also, if you believe this type of thing is good enough for public publication, its courteous to use their public name, affiliation and afford what is also listed among the basic rights of us civil people, “the right of reply”.
Good luck in the future.