O-New: Now Extinct Website

KORNY2012

Welcome to another You Say Tuesday, where the power is in your hands to make a difference (in O-New’s comment count) by arguing against my incredibly biased claims.

All you have to do is click a button; you don’t even need to think of anything witty or insightful. Just click a button and you’ll have boosted my self-esteem to moderate levels after a crushing math test blow.

Now imagine if, by pushing a button, you could stop a warlord. Yes, a real life warlord – a warlord who’s forcibly recruited over 100,000 child soldiers and sex slaves over the past 26 years. How? It’s simple: by sharing a video, you ‘raise awareness’ of these horrible atrocities, allowing you to lobby the United States government or the Ugandan military to send military forces into the region, apprehending Joseph Kony.

Why will ‘raising awareness’ among Americans solve a problem that people have been tackling for over 26 years? It’s obvious: Americans are the only people that matter. Anything that Americans don’t know about are effectively ‘invisible’, like these invisible children. Never mind their family. Never mind their government. Never mind the dozens of charities already operating in Uganda for decades. They don’t matter. The only people that matter are Americans.

So the KONY2012 campaign is great. It involves the American people, the only people who matter. By petitioning the American government, we, the Americans, will finally be able to end atrocities that impotent Africans have been unable to deal with for the past 26 years. After all, if Africans really wanted to stop Kony, then why did an American make the movie? The answer is obvious: Africans can’t do anything. We have to help them, as the saviours of Africa. Besides, it took us only ten years to capture Osama bin Laden.

Imagine if Ugandans wore ‘OSAMA BIN LADEN 2008’ t-shirts seven years after finding out about the 9/11 attacks. Now imagine if an Ugandan filmmaker persuaded Ugandans to rise up and defeat bin Laden through the power of social activism. Never mind that the Americans have been warring in Afghanistan for years. They’ve never accomplished anything, and the only people who can defeat bin Laden are Ugandans.

I don’t care about any of this. I don’t want to give 20% of my possible donation to administrative details (read: salaries, free movie screenings).

I don’t want to see those free movie screenings.

I couldn’t: today, all students in my school had a mandatory screening of a KONY2012 follow-up film.

I don’t want a brochure inviting me to donate $50 from my credit card (that I don’t want to use) every month so that Invisible Children can make more of these movies (that I don’t want to see) to spread the word (that I don’t want to hear) so that Americans (that I don’t want to join) can beg their government (that I don’t want to elect) to give military aid (that I don’t want to support) to the Ugandan military (that I don’t want to condone) to apprehend Joseph Kony and his 500 starving, untrained child soldiers.

If I wanted to donate, I would donate to an organization that devotes more than 90% of its funding to direct rehabilitation programs for the Lord’s Resistance Army’s survivors and defectors, and I suggest you do the same. At the very least, not to an organization that devotes more than 60% of its funding to management resources, propaganda directing, and pleading Americans to plead with their government to aid the human-rights-violating Ugandan government in capturing Joseph Kony – which they haven’t done for 26 years.

I don’t want to see a movie about an American and his dream, his duty, his destiny to save all those helpless Africans. I don’t want to watch twenty minutes of apologetic denials and heartbreaking stories of one man’s psychotic mental breakdown (read: public naked masturbating) because people were saying bad things about him. I don’t want people shouting in my face that all Invisible Children critics are wrong and that they are Evil Inhuman Beings who care nothing about those poor, powerless African people who desperately need our American help! Obviously, the only way to stop Joseph Kony is through Invisible Children and their YouTube movies. And the only way to help Ugandans is not through rebuilding (something Invisible Children spends 8% of their funding on), but through killing a warlord who’s not even based in Uganda anymore.

I don’t like to have my feelings manipulated by crying African orphans, or mentally-broken naked masturbators, or the assertion that our generation is lazy and that the only way we can compare to our war-fighting grandfathers is by donating to Invisible Children. I don’t like propaganda films. I can appreciate them for their beauty and elegance (Alexander Nevsky, etc.), but that doesn’t mean I like them.

I don’t like Joseph Kony. I don’t like KONY2012. I don’t like people shoving their opinions in my face as truth. These sentences all involve me because these are my thoughts. These thoughts are not the absolute truth.

So, what are your thoughts?

1. Is Invisible Children’s KONY2012 campaign proceeding in the right direction? In which ways is it more successful than previous campaigns? In which ways is it less successful? What is your opinion on their methods, and how would you suggest they be improved?

2. Is it moral to screen mandatory political propaganda films to impressionable people? Should authorities in schools (e.g. teachers, guest speakers) articulate their political views to students as truth? Is it better to create a school where all political bias is banished to encourage individual mindset development, or is ti better to create a school where all political bias is included to encourage synthesis of different mindsets?

11 responses

  1. Well, Aristotle once defined virtue as the “golden mean” between two vices, in other words, the median between neglect and overindulgence. While a deficiency and a complete lack of a positive outlook is a definite negative, it’s important not to go apeshit and spill your pompous splooge all over the place. This also factors into charity and almsgiving: if you give too much without thought, then being you’re nosy and ignoring the consideration of others, and if you contributing nothing to the world as a whole, then you’re probably a selfish dick. Find balance in your life and learn temperance.

    It’s important to find a balance between the two and not to completely prioritize one’s self over the one receiving aid. Although I do often find myself butting heads with Thomas Hobbes over the alignment of basic human nature, some who engage in charity oftentimes do fall into the trap of promoting their own emotional needs over those of the receiver. When it comes to charity (or anything in life, really), make sure you know what you’re doing. If you feel genuine compassion towards a cause, try to do some research into what’s going on. To every argument there’s a counter argument and it’s up to the individual to choose where he or she lies. By marking something as poppycock or sheer brilliance before you’ve actually been exposed to it, you’ve already failed to open your mind and learn. Be careful, be skeptical, but always try to learn. The world begins to exist when the individual discovers it.

    Contrary to popular belief, all or nothing is easy. Moderation, however, is not.

    2012/10/30 at 08:23

  2. That’s deep maaan.

    2012/10/30 at 13:41

  3. redball

    1. Hard to believe that school districts are taking up this cause. I was pretty sure that shortly after the beginning of KONY 2012 these white saviors were lambasted off the Internet. The U.S. sticks its nose into foreign affairs so much that it’s really, really hard to support a cause asking for more. Military intervention and political pressure seem unnecessary at this point, since Kony has been marginalized so much already. This is a situation where someone’s heart is in the right place, but there was a good reason people weren’t listening before the propaganda. I’m pretty happy with the negative exposure this received after some basic due diligence.

    2. Yes, it’s moral to do this, but with a caveat. It stops being moral if those same authorities that force the viewing do not allow any discourse. It’s a great time to speak about this with your fellow students. Perhaps you might find some articles on why this is such a bad idea and hand them out around school. Or, you could just quietly let it pass and refuse to donate anything.

    2012/10/30 at 20:28

  4. You can tell I have lots of work to do when I start coming on here every day.

    I had thought that everyone had already blown off the Kony thing as an attention grab for their own gain. Pretty ridiculous they would make you watch it in school, or that they would encourage taking their one-sided message as the only moral option. I hope they at least had a discussion period where you/others/TEACHERS (they should be the first to notice!!!!) could point out how stupid the whole thing is.
    Kony was a bad man, and finding him is neither our problem nor a good use of our resources/time. They should be showing you videos on reasons why the economy went wrong and potential steps to work towards fixing it. Or perhaps, you know, videos explaining why a great deal of the world doesn’t actually love Americans, or even like them really, and how to go about fixing that. Show those to the government.

    2012/10/30 at 21:44

  5. I completely agree with everything you say. Which is bad, because I wanted to believe that moderation is easy.

    Sometimes I like to feel solipsistic and ask myself: do these Africans even really exist? What if they’re just Americans being filmed as Ugandan child soldiers? What if Africa isn’t even a continent? What if the only habitable place on Earth is Vancouver, and every time I step off a plane I’m really only arriving at a separate part of Vancouver?

    And then I ask myself: will this affect my decision to donate to these people?

    The funny thing is, I find that it doesn’t. When I donate, as long as I feel good about what I’m doing, it doesn’t matter to me what happens later. I don’t try to understand situations or intricacies behind charities in complex regions. All I want to do is feel like I’m making a change. I think 99% of people are like that – something that we desperately need to change. Then again, ignorance isn’t all that bad… let the (I hate this word) sheeple give the money and the charities give the aid?

    2012/10/31 at 07:29

  6. The negative exposure on KONY2012 also aids their campaign by making more people aware of Kony. Dunno if they were thinking that when they made the video, but it’s certainly a case of wrong means to the right end.

    Controversial films and propaganda should definitely be shown in university literary (social? what do they call them?) courses, where independent, strong-minded people have developed keen judgmental abilities. On the other hand, showing these to elementary schoolers would probably change their lives forever in whatever direction the film wanted. High schoolers are between the two – we’ve got basic critical skills, but things that happen right now can still influence us a substantial amount (read: anime ruined my life).

    It was good to see many dissenters (as well as many supporters, whose reasons for supporting KONY2012 extended beyond what they told us), but maybe all the dissenters dissented because I was sitting there grumbling during half the presentation. Of course, all of us were wimps, so when question period came, nobody dared raise their hand to ask our planned (irrelevant) question: “Can I see your president’s tax returns?”

    2012/10/31 at 07:34

  7. redball

    I’ll agree that showing propaganda to high school students is a little iffy, but I still think that it can be an exercise in critical thinking. That there were dissenters at all shows that. High school is odd in that there are children at many stages of cognitive and moral development. This actually isn’t a clear case either way. It’s both true that Kony is a terrible man, and it’d be best to see him captured, and that U.S. interventionalist foreign policy is generally a bad thing that should be avoided when possible. If someone’s moral reasoning is stuck in the pre-conventional stage, or even within the conventional stage should their sense of justice be overdeveloped (a predominantly male trait) then it’s going to be hard to convince them that it’s wrong to push for International intervention to capture Kony. Then again, many pre-conventional reasoners will simply not care because there’s nothing in it for them.

    I think there are good things that can be learned by either supporting or not supporting this cause. If someone supports the cause then they may learn the value of altruism, as in their mind they are likely giving to a worthy cause of which they stand to gain no benefit. Those that oppose will hopefully do so with a full knowledge of why this is a bad idea, rather than simply not caring because it’s not their government that is the target of influence nor is this criminal harming anyone they know or are likely related to.

    Point being, it’s a mixed bag but I wouldn’t go so far as to call it unethical.

    As for your grumbling, that is the way dissent works within group psychology. If there is not someone willing to speak up against the group then it is likely no one will, even if they privately take issue. It is the first person who dissents that enables other dissenters. Now, there’s a bit of reverberation that happens at that point, because the dissent forms a subgroup and surely some will join in out of desire to associate. But it’s important to note that this doesn’t mean that dissent is purely influenced by a leader-follower relationship, the initial dissenter merely enables the rest but if there are no other dissenters then his/her support will be limited or non-existent.

    Finally: http://www.barackobama.com/tax-returns/

    2012/10/31 at 14:04

  8. I’m still wondering who gave the money to whom: did the school pay the KONY folks to come (like people usually do for presentations), or did KONY pay the school? After all, they do spend something like 10% of their funding on ‘management’ (read: school movies).

    Nevertheless, I don’t think the administration should force everybody to watch any movie in an assembly – it takes away from valuable, important education time. The only assemblies I’ve been to in high school were at the beginning of every term, when honour rolls and sports medals were awarded…

    2012/11/02 at 02:58

  9. I totally forgot about the good things about supporting KONY2012! I guess the only evil in this situation is ‘not caring’ (and possibly ‘going with the flow’, which is sorta the same thing), because donating to this cause isn’t a bad thing, either.

    Group psychology is definitely interesting; something similar to what happened there with the dissent is when people thank the bus driver after getting off. When a crowd of people get off and nobody thanks the driver, you won’t want to thank him either. When one person does, you feel morally obliged to not seem like a jerk, and so everybody thanks the driver. Unrelated, but…

    2012/11/02 at 03:08

  10. redball

    I wouldn’t simplify it so much as to say that the only evil is not caring. I think there’s a lot of evil in thinking that might makes right, and in rushing to use force without pausing to use reason. In fact, I think that the initial video is well intended, but it is essentially evil in that it uses an emotional plea without full information to influence people to support an unworthy cause. I don’t know how they’ve modified their message but I can say that they got to the level of notoriety they have by being very dishonest and manipulative.* If they still intend to try to pressure the U.S. into taking some sort of unilateral action, or for the U.S. to push for unwanted military action against Kony, then that is not a cause worth supporting.

    However, if we only focus on the lessons this teaches the children, then there is at least a positive to both action and inaction. There’s also a potential negative to both. My biggest worry with this is that it allows people to enjoy lazy activism where they are both uninvolved in the cause they support (financially or otherwise), and are ill educated on the true scope of the problem and the likely outcomes of the proposed solution. My previous point is that this is partially offset by the benefit of learning to enjoy altruistic behaviors.

    I stand on the side that says this is an unworthy cause and donating to it is a bad thing. I just wouldn’t judge those who do support it and donate too harshly.

    * I have to admit at this point that I haven’t watched any further Kony2012 videos. Perhaps I should before I continue, but something tells me they won’t address my concerns.

    2012/11/02 at 13:59

  11. I really wonder what the administrators were thinking when they brought this video in. Did they have the same mindset as you? Did they have other motivations?

    About the actual video, don’t watch them. It’s a waste of time, although good for some laughs at certain overdramatic segments.

    2012/11/03 at 00:09