The Kony 2012 ControversyPosted on the 07 March 2012 by M0derngirl
Like most self-interested young Canadian adults, I started writing a comic book 8 years ago. It never went anywhere. But it did make me think about who I thought were "bad guys." After much consideration, I thought the biggest evil on the planet today would be someone who recruited child soldiers to operate drug trades and fight in a war that served no purpose other than the perpetuate power and destroy natural resources.
I wasn't that far off base. On the international list of the largest war criminals that have been indited but not caught, Joseph Kony is number 1. He's essentially the number one most evil person on earth, right now.
I found out about him, because half a dozen friends on Facebook, plus tons of celebrities on Twitter were sharing a 30 minute video about him today. It's an excellent video. It warms your heart about the spirit of community and global action, and it makes you cry about the horrors that have been done.
And it's not just bleeding heart liberals like me who have been sharing this video. Friends who I would never expect were spreading this message before I had ever heard about it.
It is most definitely, an inspiring video.
I encourage you to watch it. But stick around, because I have a few comments about the video, a few criticisms that people have raised. And I think it's important that you know the whole story.
Now wasn't that powerful? Let's get bracelets, let's paint the town with posters on April 20th, let's email our policy makers.
Well, maybe not the first 2, but definitely the third.
Here's the thing. We should stop Joseph Kony. He's evil. No doubt. Let's get the government's attention and get something done.
But... this not-for-profit group may not be the best "channel" to do it. Right now, some criticisms are circulating regarding the "Kony 2012" campaign.
1. Only 32% of their revenue goes to "action" and "change." The rest goes to salaries, travel costs, filmmaking costs, promotional costs. This may not be a bad thing. Not all charities are meant to be "action" charities. If the purpose behind the not-for-profit is to soley raise awareness, then there's nothing intrinsically wrong with that breakdown of their finances.
2. However, they also haven't have an external audit of their finances, so it may be even worse than that. This led Charity Navigator (a nonprofit critiquing system) to give Kony 2012 a 2/5 star rating. Pretty poor.
3. Perhaps most importantly, Kony 2012 is fighting for military action to be taken. They are not pushing for diplomatic efforts. If the facts in the video are correct and Joseph Kony has used peace talks as venues to launch more abductions, then a non-pacifist approach may be warranted. But military action with undoubtfully mean more war, and more hardship, more strain of resources, and more death to civilians in Africa. So the cost/benefits need to be weighed carefully before governments are pressured into just bombing the shit out of things.
4. Kony 2012 supports giving power to the Uganda military, and to other governmental armies. However, these armies have been known to be notoriously corrupt. They also have track records of using rape as a weapon of war. Perhaps empowering the UN would be a better strategy.
5. Convincing people to wear bracelets and put up posters and talk about issues is great. But that alone will not cause change. Political action, like contacting policy makers will cause change. If wearing the bracelet will be a conversation starter, and might help you to convince a few friends to contact politicians, then fine. But wearing a bracelet and not contacting anybody DOES NOTHING. Let's not make this into a trendy, first-world, fashion trend.
In summary, Joseph Kony is very bad. Let's stop him. Let's tell politicians to pay attention to this issue. Let's share videos online, and tweet about it, and put up posters in the middle of the night on April 20th so that others will also tell politicians about it. But be careful which nonprofits you give your money to. And be careful about what type of "intervention" you encourage.
(Details on the criticisms can be found via this blog by a professor from Acadia University, in Nova Scotia.
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