Thread: Kony Campaign
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Old 03-10-2012, 04:34 PM
Full disclosure, fellas: I was the head staff writer/copy editor at Invisible Children (who produced Kony 2012) from 2006-2008. I've spent time on the ground in Uganda and I've seen the organization from all sides.

Let me be clear: none of that inherently makes my opinion more valid. At all. I'm not saying that. I didn't and I don't agree with every choice they make as an organization but I didn't leave over disagreements either, I left for things that seemed better for me. I'm not pretending I have no biases here.

What I will say is that IC, as an organization, has done great good. To this point, much more good than harm. Could that change? Of course. One choice or a series of bad choice can bring down anything, no matter how good.

Some things that deserve to be cleared up, though:

The claim that "their money supports the Ugandan government’s army and various other military forces" is 100% false. No money goes to the government and IC has consistently and loudly railed against the illegal practices by the UPDF. They do work with some regional government programs in coordinating some programs, but that's a long way from giving money to the army.

The famous picture of the founders holding guns has been explained on the website for years. They don't defend it, but it was a small personal photo meant for family that was a (poor) attempt at humor/irony. That this is what people (not here, but elsewhere) are clinging to is a little silly.

The claim that "only 31% of funds go to helping anyone" is equally false. 70% of the money goes to programs goes directly into programs in Africa or raising awareness elsewhere, and another 10% goes to "awareness products" like T-shirts and stuff (IC tends to to lump those together, and while I think the T-Shirts and stuff are fine, they're still T-shirts). The rest goes to management and such as well as fundraising. It's not like the staff are bringing home big checks.

There is more specific info here: Yes, that's from IC and that fact should be considered while reading it, but they do address the issues directly.

Also, the "2 star" rating by the BBB that keeps getting referenced is simply due to a vacancy on the board. The BBB's own report acknowledges this.

I know that some within the organization had reservations regarding how the new video oversimplified things. Every "artistic" endeavor does so. That doesn't excuse them, but it's true.

There's two issues here: IC as an organization, and the way Facebook et al respond to it.

I completely agree that it's discouraging and silly how people with little to no knowledge of anything jumped on this as if they're now informed based on a sexy video. But to lump IC as an organization into that, as if they haven't been working to make change for nearly a decade, is equally discouraging and silly. There's plenty of reasons to be critical, but to read an article like The Daily What's about it and believe you're informed is equally as silly as watching the video and believing that.

I hope all of this is taken as I intend it: as information to add. I don't desire to convert anyone to my side based just on this, and let me say again that I know my opinion is inherently not unbiased. I don't desire to argue and I'm not coming down on anyone here.

As has been said, ultimately there's a good cause at least within what IC is trying to accomplish, and any meaningful dialogue on that is getting lost.