KONY 2012 – A Scam or Not?

Edit (22 March): In the past week Jason Russell has been arrested for lewd public behaviour. Here’s an update from Jason’s family on the issue.


The past two days have made me realized just how many cynical people there are in this world. There are people who are really behind this good cause, and there are others who sit on their high horse and ridicule the first group of people. Worse still, they try to dig up all the reasons why Invisible Children is not a credible organization – all along, not doing anything to help the cause.

kony 2012 poster

Well, here is a defense piece written by Invisible Children to address all your cynical concerns. Like someone mentioned on Twitter – this is about the children. So let’s make them the priority.

If everybody wants to play the “I’m too cool to care about such causes because it won’t make a difference anyway” game, then NOTHING will ever change. The children will still be in a dire state 20 years from now. It’s not about spending your money on an organization you don’t trust. Nobody is forcing you to part with your money. You don’t have to donate or buy the merchandise. But don’t you have any emotions for the kids who have to go through what Kony did?

Let us not forget that this is for actual human beings who have been kidnapped, raped, murdered, forced into killing others. And the point of this entire campaign is to create awareness that these despicable acts have been done. And that we have to stop it. Whether or not Kony is still in Uganda, there might be others who are still doing it to children. If we, the rest of the world who are fortunate enough to not have gone through such dire circumstances, do not care – who will?

Of course I’m aware that there are always two sides to every story, but there’s also a reason for everything.

Let’s go through some main “accusations” that caught my attention:

1) Only 32% went to direct services, with much of the rest going to staff salaries, travel and transport, and film production.

Which charity organization gives 100% of donations to their causes? Isn’t there administrative overheads that have to be covered? In the case of Invisible Children, they have to travel to Africa, create videos to raise awareness and also cover staff salaries. Of course. This only makes sense right? They are trying to make a difference, and we need to help them.

Also, the fiscal report is there for all to see. Why would an organization who is being dodgey with money be so open about their finances? Think about it.

invisible children finances

2) Jason Russell is doing it for the money – Especially with the merchandise

I can’t believe people would actually think this about Jason Russell (guy who made the video). He is one individual who wants to make a difference and is actually brave enough to go ahead with it. Yes of course the merchandise are not going to be for free. You don’t complain that the sale of band tshirts and movie merchandise are forms scamming DO YOU? Like I said earlier, you don’t have to buy the merchandise if you don’t want to, nobody is twisting your arm to do it.

And did you watch the video? He involved his son in it. Why would any parent involve their son in anything that’s less than honest? This is a good cause, and I can’t imagine Jason Russell putting Gavin through anything dodgy.

3) Photo of Invisible Children Founders with guns

invisible children founders

Invisible Children has explained that this was a bad idea of when they were youths. You haven’t had any foolish photos that were clearly the result of bad ideas? Well just take a quick look at your Facebook profiles.

Quoted from Jason Russell:

Let me start by saying that that photo was a bad idea. We were young and we got caught up in the moment. It was never meant to reflect on the organization. The photo of Bobby, Laren and I with the guns was taken in an LRA camp in DRC during the 2008 Juba Peace Talks. We were there to see Joseph Kony come to the table to sign the Final Peace Agreement. The Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) was surrounding our camp for protection since Sudan was mediating the peace talks. We wanted to talk to them and film them and get their perspective. And because Bobby, Laren and I are friends and had been doing this for 5 years, we thought it would be funny to bring back to our friends and family a joke photo. You know, “Haha – they have bazookas in their hands but they’re actually fighting for peace.” The ironic thing about this photo is that I HATE guns. I always have. Back in 2008 I wanted this war to end, like we all did, peacefully, through peace talks. But Kony was not interested in that; he kept killing. And we still don’t want war. We don’t want him killed and we don’t want bombs dropped. We want him alive and captured and brought to justice

Which brings us to the next point:

4) Military intervention will be used to invade Uganda if this goes through

It’s already mentioned that there will be no bombs dropped. Therefore it’s safe to assume that nothing too violent (that might harm others) will be carried out.

5) Kony is no longer in Uganda

Which is exactly why we have to have this campaign. We don’t know where he is. And just because he’s missing in action, doesn’t mean he’s off the hook for what he did. Correct me if I’m wrong.

6) So what if Kony is captured?

There are some opinions that even if Kony is captured nothing will change in Africa. The kids will still be in such bad state, and they will still be treated as such. But how do you know this for sure, if it hasn’t happened? Why don’t we have a bit of faith on how the future will be changed for the better?

That being said, I believe in respecting other people’s opinion and it really upsets me that some people are putting down those who are supporting a good cause.

Whatever it is, we need to think of the children, because this campaign is just for them, above and against all odds.

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  • Sha on Mar 10, 2012

    Thanks Matt! A little blind faith can go a long way, at least that’s what I feel :)

  • matt on Mar 10, 2012

    Totally agree… and sincerely uphold your argument in defence of such a noble cause

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