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A champion of Kurtis SP

Joined: 19 Jul 2002
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KONY 2012..a scam?  Reply with quote

There’s a viral video about Joseph Kony, a Ugandan rebel who committed a great deal atrocities, being shared like crazy. Small problem: Though sort of accurate, it’s kind of a scam.

Kony’s a bad dude, no question. But this write-up on The Daily What distills what the problem is with all of your friends and family sharing it is:
The United States is already plenty involved in helping rout Kony and his band of psycho sycophants. Kony is on the run, having been pushed out of Uganda, and it’s likely he will soon be caught, if he isn’t already dead. But killing Kony won’t fix anything, just as killing Osama bin Laden didn’t end terrorism. The LRA might collapse, but, as Foreign Affairs points out, it is “a relatively small player in all of this — as much a symptom as a cause of the endemic violence.”
There’s a lot more at The Daily What about the situation, specifically the EXTREMELY shady organization, Invisible Children Inc., who seeded this video. The short of it: They don’t allow their financials to be audited, they’re rated poorly by some major charity watchdog groups, and only 31% of their money actually goes to helping people according to one financial statement they did release. And Kony himself hasn’t been seen or active in any guerrilla organizations since 2006.
Point being, don’t just fall for for a well-produced video out of white guilt. K?
The video, for your reference, is below.
UPDATE: This Reddit comment, pointed out to us by someone on Facebook, is also a good source with, you know, facts and such.
UPDATE 2: For all the people who still want to believe this video below is legit, look at this quote from an article on the subject from The Globe and Mail. Does this sound like the way a credible and worthwhile social movement takes hold?
“According to YouTube’s own statistics, the video is most popular with girls and young women aged 13 to 24.
Musicians and celebrities were among the first to tweet about campaign to their followers, including Rihanna, Justin Bieber, Kim Kardashian, and Taylor Swift.”
If there’s one place I’m going for reliable social advocacy news, it’s Kim Kardashian and Justin Bieber’s Twitter accounts. EDITOR’S NOTE: Taylor Swift has since deleted the tweet for reasons unknown.
Post Wed Mar 07, 2012 7:00 pm
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Sage Francis
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I have my own thoughts on this matter, and they've been discussed to some degree on my social networks, but Neuro...I want you to tell me in your own words why you think this is a "scam." If possible, don't post links to support your opinion. I want to hear your opinion in your own words. I'm sincerely curious. If you could.
Post Wed Mar 07, 2012 7:06 pm
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A champion of Kurtis SP

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well i saw the video earlier today and thought it was legit, i did kind of question the whole selling the "kits" at the end though,but i also understand thats just another way to help and spread the word too, i had no idea about this matter before the video , just as the video said nobody even knows who this Kony guy is,

so then i just saw this article and it made me just wonder a bit, thats why i didnt post what i thought and just the link to the article, because im just curious about what the article presents VS the Kony 2012 video, its def a serious matter and it would be very sad to find out that this is just another way for someone to earn a quick buck, i didnt see a discussion on the subject here so i thought i'd throw it out there
Post Wed Mar 07, 2012 7:19 pm
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Sage Francis
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OK, I appreciate you taking the time to put it into your own words. Things can definitely get messy when money is involved. One comment I saw someone make had me laughing out loud. They said "Propaganda." That's it. Obviously implying that propaganda is inherently a bad thing. I had my own issues with the video, including how emotionally manipulative it seemed to be. And they made Kony out to be non-human. I also found it off-putting in the way the director put himself and his child at the forefront of the video. I have to assume that he was letting their whiteness be the way he could get mainstream America interested and involved? I don't know, but it definitely came across as douchebaggy to me. I've done some work in Africa, and I was very sensitive to the issue of "white guy trying to be a hero by saving the poor defenseless Africans." That's not what it's about, but it's something you have to be aware of. It leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

Alas, there are more people talking about this issue than I would have ever expected. That wouldn't happen without the "Kony 2012" brand. All I can hope is that something positive can come of this, even if it's just Americans being more aware of what happens outside of their bubble. I've got some more thinking to do about this.
Post Wed Mar 07, 2012 7:35 pm
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Not a scam per say, but an annoying iteration of white man's burden.

Edit:Sorry to sound so glib about it, but invisible children has left a bad taste in my mouth since their first film. something about "feel good about feeling bad" liberal first world guilt, the comodification of activism, the subtle militarism, and the glaring hypocrisy really irks me. this is one of the only places where i feel like i can say this and not deal with people taking my critical thinking skills for "being a debbie downer," so thanks for letting me rant.

We got trouble.

For those asking what you can do to help, please link to wherever you see KONY 2012 posts. And tweet a link to this page to famous people on Twitter who are talking about KONY 2012!

I do not doubt for a second that those involved in KONY 2012 have great intentions, nor do I doubt for a second that Joseph Kony is a very evil man. But despite this, I’m strongly opposed to the KONY 2012 campaign.

KONY 2012 is the product of a group called Invisible Children, a controversial activist group and not-for-profit. They’ve released 11 films, most with an accompanying bracelet colour (KONY 2012 is fittingly red), all of which focus on Joseph Kony. When we buy merch from them, when we link to their video, when we put up posters linking to their website, we support the organization. I don’t think that’s a good thing, and I’m not alone.
Invisible Children has been condemned time and time again. As a registered not-for-profit, its finances are public . Last year, the organization spent $8,676,614. Only 32% went to direct services (page 6), with much of the rest going to staff salaries, travel and transport, and film production. This is far from ideal for an issue which arguably needs action and aid, not awareness, and Charity Navigator rates their accountability 2/4 stars because they lack an external audit committee. But it goes way deeper than that.

The group is in favour of direct military intervention, and their money supports the Ugandan government’s army and various other military forces. Here’s a photo of the founders of Invisible Children posing with weapons and personnel of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army. Both the Ugandan army and Sudan People’s Liberation Army are riddled with accusations of rape and looting , but Invisible Children defends them, arguing that the Ugandan army is “better equipped than that of any of the other affected countries”, although Kony is no longer active in Uganda and hasn’t been since 2006 by their own admission. These books each refer to the rape and sexual assault that are perennial issues with the UPDF, the military group Invisible Children is defending.

Still, the bulk of Invisible Children’s spending isn’t on supporting African militias, but on awareness and filmmaking. Which can be great, except that Foreign Affairs has claimed that Invisible Children (among others) “manipulates facts for strategic purposes, exaggerating the scale of LRA abductions and murders and emphasizing the LRA’s use of innocent children as soldiers, and portraying Kony — a brutal man, to be sure — as uniquely awful, a Kurtz-like embodiment of evil.” He’s certainly evil, but exaggeration and manipulation to capture the public eye is unproductive, unprofessional and dishonest.

As Chris Blattman, a political scientist at Yale, writes on the topic of IC’s programming, “There’s also something inherently misleading, naive, maybe even dangerous, about the idea of rescuing children or saving of Africa. […] It hints uncomfortably of the White Man’s Burden. Worse, sometimes it does more than hint. The savior attitude is pervasive in advocacy, and it inevitably shapes programming. Usually misconceived programming.”

Still, Kony’s a bad guy, and he’s been around a while. Which is why the US has been involved in stopping him for years. U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) has sent multiple missions to capture or kill Kony over the years . And they’ve failed time and time again, each provoking a ferocious response and increased retaliative slaughter. The issue with taking out a man who uses a child army is that his bodyguards are children. Any effort to capture or kill him will almost certainly result in many children’s deaths , an impact that needs to be minimized as much as possible. Each attempt brings more retaliation. And yet Invisible Children supports military intervention. Kony has been involved in peace talks in the past, which have fallen through. But Invisible Children is now focusing on military intervention .

Military intervention may or may not be the right idea, but people supporting KONY 2012 probably don’t realize they’re supporting the Ugandan military who are themselves raping and looting away. If people know this and still support Invisible Children because they feel it’s the best solution based on their knowledge and research, I have no issue with that. But I don’t think most people are in that position, and that’s a problem.

Is awareness good? Yes. But these problems are highly complex, not one-dimensional and, frankly, aren’t of the nature that can be solved by postering, film-making and changing your Facebook profile picture, as hard as that is to swallow. Giving your money and public support to Invisible Children so they can spend it on supporting ill-advised violent intervention and movie #12 isn’t helping. Do I have a better answer? No, I don’t, but that doesn’t mean that you should support KONY 2012 just because it’s something. Something isn’t always better than nothing . Sometimes it’s worse.

If you want to write to your Member of Parliament or your Senator or the President or the Prime Minister, by all means, go ahead. If you want to post about Joseph Kony’s crimes on Facebook, go ahead. But let’s keep it about Joseph Kony, not KONY 2012.

~ Grant Oyston

Grant Oyston is a sociology and political science student at Acadia University in Nova Scotia, Canada. You can help spread the word about this by linking to his blog at anywhere you see posts about KONY 2012.

Please do not email Grant except to provide alternative causes, or with media requests, as I am no longer able to read emails (which I’m receiving at a rate of over 1000 an hour).

Last edited by Confidential on Wed Mar 07, 2012 7:54 pm; edited 1 time in total
Post Wed Mar 07, 2012 7:41 pm
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Plum Puddin'

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It seems like a good cause, obviously. Although most reports say Kony hasn't been in Uganda for 6 years.

Is the plan to assassinate him or capture him?

Once we get him do we go after other dudes? General Butt Naked?

Something about this film maker rubs me the wrong way though too.

Maybe i just don't like his head.

I can't put my finger on it yet.

Post Wed Mar 07, 2012 7:48 pm
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Here's a really great article with some interesting perspective that I stole from Scroobius Pip's FB:

There are a few hyperlinks in the article that I don't have time to put in here, so if you can I recommend clicking the link and reading it on his page, plus that gives the original author more hits. If you can't for whatever reason, here is the text.

"My mother’s family are members of the Acholi tribe, and they hail from Gulu, a town in Northern Uganda. Northern Uganda is a place which has experienced significant ups and downs in recent decades, but all the same I was very surprised to come home last night to find talk of it all over Twitter. And the hashtags continued this morning – #stopkony, #Kony2012, #stopKony2012, #InvisibleChildren, #MakeKonyFamous, #CoverTheNight, #LRA, #Uganda. All of a sudden, my family’s region was famous – or, at least, trending on Twitter. What was all this about?

The previous afternoon, I had received a message from a friend, the Nigerian poet and playwright Inua Ellams, asking if I had seen a video with a very moving message. I clicked on the link that he’d sent through, and what emerged was a painfully familiar tale. The video, created by Invisible Children, an American NGO, tells the story of Joseph Kony, and his horrific activities in Northern Uganda. For over twenty years, he and his Lord’s Resistance Army (or LRA) have been abducting children from villages there – boys so they can fight as soldiers in his army, girls so they can be subjected to rape and sexual enslavement. The video is part of a campaign, coming to a head this year, which aims to use a series of vigils to raise awareness of Kony’s atrocities. In doing so, Invisible Children aim to encourage the powers that be to stop this brutality and blood-letting.

Invisible Children has had some success already: late last year, President Barack Obama committed 100 US troops to provide “advice and assistance” to the Ugandan army in removing Joseph Kony from the battlefield. The President’s move came in part due to the NGO’s tremendous advocacy efforts. Everyone agrees that this a hugely important issue, but Invisible Children’s methods have come in for searing criticism; most scathingly, they have been attacked as “neo-liberal, do-good Whiteness”. Elsewhere, Foreign Affairs has provided some important context on this matter, in relation to Uganda’s strategic importance to the USA. I would also recommend the Twitter feed of Laura Seay, who was moved to comment this morning that “[Solomme Lemma] is tweeting links to great community-based organizations working in Northern Uganda. Give there if you really want to help.

I understand the anger and resentment at Invisible Children’s approach, which with its paternalism has unpleasant echoes of colonialism. I will admit to being perturbed by its apparent top-down prescriptiveness, when so much diligent work is already being done at Northern Uganda’s grassroots. On the other hand, I am very happy – relieved, more than anything – that Invisible Children have raised worldwide awareness of this issue. Murderers and torturers tend to prefer anonymity, and if not that then respectability: that way, they can go about their work largely unhindered. For too many years, the subject of this trending topic on Twitter was only something that I heard about in my grandparents’ living room, as relatives and family friends gathered for fruitless and frustrated hours of discussion. Watching the video, though, I was concerned at the simplicity of the approach that Invisible Children seemed to have taken.

The thing is that Joseph Kony has been doing this for a very, very, very long time. He emerged about a quarter of a century, which is about the same time that Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni came to power. As a result the fates of these two leaders must, I think, be viewed together. Yet, though President Museveni must be integral to any solution to this problem, I didn’t hear him mentioned once in the 30-minute video. I thought that this was a crucial omission. Invisible Children asked viewers to seek the engagement of American policymakers and celebrities, but – and this is a major red flag – it didn’t introduce them to the many Northern Ugandans already doing fantastic work both in their local communities and in the diaspora. It didn’t ask its viewers to seek diplomatic pressure on President Museveni’s administration.

About ten minutes into the video, the narrator asks his young son who “the bad guy” in Uganda is; when his young son hesitates, he informs him that Joseph Kony is the bad guy. In a sense, he let Kony off lightly: he is a monster. But what the narrator also failed to do was mention to his son that when a bad guy like Kony is running riot for years on end, raping and slashing and seizing and shooting, then there is most likely another host of bad guys out there letting him get on with it. He probably should have told him that, too.

I don’t think that Invisible Children are naïve. I don’t think that President Obama was ever blind to this matter either: his own father, a Kenyan, hails from the Luo, the same tribal group that has suffered so much at the hands of Kony. My hunch – and hope – is that they see this campaign as a way to encourage wider and deeper questions about wholly inadequate governance in this area of Africa.

And as far as President Museveni is concerned, my thoughts are these: if thousands of British children were being kidnapped from their towns each year and recruited into an army, you can bet that David Cameron would be facing some very, very serious questions in the Commons. You can bet that he would be grilled on why, years after the conflict began, there were still about a million of his citizens slowly dying in squalor in ill-equipped refugee camps. You can also bet that, after twenty-odd years of this happening on his watch, he wouldn’t still be running the country."
Post Wed Mar 07, 2012 7:51 pm
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They tried to simplify a complicated issue in order to get a clear easy to grasp message across, it worked to some degree.. I mean yeah - I'd never heard about this fella before today, is easy to grasp and thats pretty much why it went viral quicker than a cat wanking off a light saber would... but some of that video was pretty cringe worthy and all a bit saviour like which makes me get my cynical bastard hat out (or maybe im jst a cunt)

They got 8 million and spent 32%? Is that normal for a charity, can their overheads really be that high? I honestly have no idea but those numbers seem a bit crazy to me, gona keep my hat on for a bit
Post Wed Mar 07, 2012 8:09 pm
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Yeah. Just finally watched it and came here to say pretty much what all of you are saying.

Thoughts on the video itself:

"I'm about to tell you exactly how to save the world..." Why don't you just fucking tell me instead of telling me you're going to tell me. Fuck.

And definitely could have done without his stupid kid.

It's all about the kids. Adults don't matter. SAVE THE KIDS.
Post Wed Mar 07, 2012 9:09 pm
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Here are two great organizations to donate to if you want to help the situation in central Africa.

I'll continue to check out others and post them here when I find ones that are really equipped to effect some change in the region. Please post any others that you know yourself to have a strong foundation in the region and the capability of really helping.
Post Wed Mar 07, 2012 9:52 pm
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mancabbage wrote:
They got 8 million and spent 32%? Is that normal for a charity, can their overheads really be that high? I honestly have no idea but those numbers seem a bit crazy to me, gona keep my hat on for a bit

I could be off a bit, but if im not mistaken that's actually on the high side for a charity pulling in a lot of loot. for many of them, i think it's more like 10-20%. you have to consider, it costs a great deal of money flying all around the world to do that sort of stuff. not that many of these big charities aren't overstuffed at the top with exorbitant executive salaries and so forth just like other large, top-heavy just saying. i don't have hard numbers to back that up because im too tired to go looking that up so if someone has more concrete figures...then have at it.

*this is is no way a comment for or against the charity discussed here as i didn't watch the video and have no idea who they are.
Post Wed Mar 07, 2012 10:46 pm
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(found on reddit)
Post Thu Mar 08, 2012 12:12 am
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english bob

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tired of arguing with people about why this is actually a good thing, even if 99% of people who watch the video don't end up doing anything about it. just seems like the 'cool' thing to do is act like they've got some inside knowledge because they read a couple of posts about how shady invisible children may or may not be.

Post Thu Mar 08, 2012 3:48 am
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That thing from reddit is just dumbdumbdumb.
Post Thu Mar 08, 2012 4:16 am
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[quote="FuseONEI could be off a bit, but if im not mistaken that's actually on the high side for a charity pulling in a lot of loot. for many of them, i think it's more like 10-20%.[/quote]

"Charity Navigator for the National Kidney Foundation. You can search other nonprofits of interest at the web site:

Organizational Efficiency
Program Expenses 82.9%
Administrative Expenses 11.2%
Fundraising Expenses 5.8%
Fundraising Efficiency $0.15"

I believe it has to be at least 70% raised goes to help or the IRS looks into it.
Post Thu Mar 08, 2012 7:28 am
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