Is Kony 2012 Worth Your Time?

 

I heard about the Kony 2012 video campaign launched by Invisible Children yesterday through Twitter. A significant number of the people I follow were tweeting links to this video and urging people to take notice. I didn’t get a chance to watch the 30-minute video until today and in a sense, I’m glad I waited.

As a skeptic, I always try to approach everything with a certain amount of caution. As an emotional person, sometimes that caution goes out the window without my noticing it. It’s difficult to remain rational when faced with atrocities committed against children. It tugs at the heart-strings and sometimes skepticism takes a back seat. It’s in moments like these that it’s important to remain skeptical and rational nonetheless.

I watched Invisible Children’s video today after seeing some of the criticism of it. It’s a testament to the filmmaker’s talent that I was moved by it, even knowing the problems with it. The video has resonated with people because it makes the problem and solution seem simple. Joseph Kony is a bad man and he’s hurting people and we should stop him. Simple right? Unfortunately, it hardly ever is that simple. It’s naive to think that you could explain a complicated situation as well as a solution for it in a 30-minute video. You can’t. If this could be solved in 30 minutes, it would have been solved by now. It’s hardly ever as simple as just removing one man, because that man doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Other social, economic, and political issues all have an effect on the situation in Uganda and it’s not simple. Just ask the Egyptians. It wasn’t as simple as just removing Mubarak.

At this point, I think it’s important to mention that I do think that Joseph Kony is despicable pond scum. That might actually be an insult to pond scum. I agree he should be stopped. I just think that Invisible Children might be conveniently ignoring realities that don’t fit their narrative. There are many problems with the way the information is presented in the video and also all the information they ignore. There also seems to be a problem with Invisible Children themselves.

I will put links to some great posts about these issues below. For the tl;dr crowd, here are the highlights:

  • Invisible Children spends only about 32% of their money on direct services.
  • They fail to mention the political climate, and people, that have allowed Kony to go on for about 25 years.
  • The fail to talk about the Ugandans that are working and making progress on the ground.
  • The seem to think military intervention is the only way to go.

I’m hardly an expert on Africa. I had never heard of Joseph Kony until yesterday. Hopefully, these posts will help shed some light if you feel inclined to learn more about this.

Musa Okwonga brings an important Uganda perspective on the issue as well as sheds light on why the Ugandan leadership is also a problem.

Mark Kersten has an insightful post on all this as does Daniel Solomon at Securing Rights.

There’s also a Tumblr about some of the issues surrounding Invisible Children.

You should read them all. They were an education about the importance of critical thinking in situations where we might be tempted to lead blindly with our hearts. The reality is complicated. We need to treat it as such.

On Rush Limbaugh

I won’t spend too much time and energy on Rush Limbaugh because I am pretty sure he doesn’t deserve my time or energy. If you don’t live under a huge rock, you will have heard about Rush Limbaugh calling a woman a slut for making the case for health insurance to cover contraceptives for women (I’m not linking to anything because I’m too lazy to find the link… just Google it, I’m sure it shouldn’t be too hard to find). What I find interesting is how much trouble this is attracting in Rush’s direction. The man has always been a closed-minded, backwards-thinking misogynist so I’m a little perplexed by the outrage. This is right up his alley. Why are people surprised he would say something like this? Why are they outraged? Is this really any worse than some of the insulting things he’s said in the past? I claim ignorance on this subject since I don’t listen to Rush Limbaugh and the only time I’m exposed to something he says is when Jon Stewart or Rachel Maddow bring it up on their shows. But from the limited exposure I’ve had to the things he says, this hardly seems like it’s out of character for him. So why is this instance the one that’s getting him into trouble? I’m actually really curious about this. Is this just the drop that’s made the glass overflow? Is it because the insult was directed at a private citizen as opposed to a politician or other public figure? Is it because Obama got involved by calling the student in question and that’s what made this somehow more media-worthy?

Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great he’s getting in shit for saying what he did. It was a terrible thing to say and from what I understand, he’s not really apologizing and still throwing insults. I’m all for him losing his advertisers and if it costs him his job, I won’t be sad. I’m just wondering what it is about this particular instance that made it the one that brought on such backlash. All hypotheses are welcome.

Welcome!

Hello all. I love reading blogs and thought that I would give this a shot. I have a wide variety of interests so the posts here might cover different topics but I will probably focus mostly on skeptical issues, atheism/religion, and some political commentary. I have a full time job so I will be doing this in my spare time. I am not committing to any posting schedule but will try to put something here at least a few times a week and hopefully keep things interesting. I have only begun to look at all the different WordPress options and widgets so the appearance of this blog might still change and I will be tweaking some of the options over the next little while. Bear with me… I’m still new at this. Let’s see how this goes.