That KONY 2012 video went viral, and lots of people were briefly passionate about bringing a bad man to justice, it was exciting. But, then there was criticism of the organization that produced the video, and about the idea it presented. It turns out the world is a complex place, and bringing a bad man to justice isn’t as easy as “liking” a video, or putting up posters, and just as quickly all that passion evaporated. That’s a shame.
The International Criminal Court, which prosecutes individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes, issued arrest warrants for Joseph Kony and a few of his comrades in 2005. They put him on a Most Wanted list. Do such things matter? They should.
Anyone can make a list. The internet is full of them. If a Most Wanted list by the ICC has the same impact as a blog that lists, “Top 10 Biggest Jerks in the World”, then the ICC stops being relevant.
Do we support the idea of identifying people who are doing terrible things, and bringing them to justice. I think we do, but making that a reality is complicated. It’s not the movies, you can’t just phone up SEAL Team 6, and have them parachute into the jungle to get the bad man. Finding and capturing a man, who is an expert at hiding in dense jungle, and who uses child soldiers as bodyguards, is going to be extremely difficult, and messy. Is it the right solution? That’s a complex discussion, but it’s one worth having.
The organization that produced this video, Invisible Children, has opened itself up to criticism, much of it valid. Is producing movies the right way to spend a charities money? Is it the right way to address war crimes? Should a charity be promoting violence as the simple solution to complex problems? Will arresting Kony solve the deeper underlying problems of the region? These are all good questions, and this video is why they are being asked.
I’m working with teenagers who are among those who were briefly passionate about a war criminal and international justice. That’s astounding. This video is unlikely to accomplish it’s goal, Kony’s arrest, but it did get millions of people interested, and at least partly informed, on a dark subject that had little chance of standing out on the internet, or capturing the attention of a an audience used to consuming videos of cute kittens and hilarious prat falls. That’s an accomplishment that should be applauded. Shining a light on the ugliness of the world is one of the things the internet does best, and I believe it makes a difference.
If the video inspired you, but now you’re disenchanted with the whole thing, and don’t know what to do, donate money! Money makes a difference, and you have it, yes you, the one reading this on a high tech device. If you want to help Uganda, or child soldiers, or just war torn shit holes in general: