Student explores 'Ethics of Advocacy: KONY 2012'

Phenomenally popular film, related campaign, target African strongman

The 30-minute video “Kony_2012” has attracted unprecedented popularity – more than 100 million online views by late March. Yet the viral campaign has also drawn criticism, raising questions about the ethics of advocacy in today’s digital and connected age.

For the latest installment of the monthly online series “Ethical Inquiry” produced by the International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life, Leah Igdalsky ’14 researched the range of opinions on some of the questions that have been touched on in the current controversy surrounding the KONY 2012 video and campaign.

Produced by the organization Invisible Children, a San Diego-based non-profit, the film focuses on Joseph Kony, head of the Lord’s Resistance Army, a Ugandan guerilla force that has also operated in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic, Sudan and South Sudan.

Kony is accused of organizing the kidnapping of tens of thousands of children, turning the boys into child soldiers and the girls into sex slaves.

Critiques of KONY 2012 include questions about the Invisible Children, its goals and its methods, and about whether the campaign can really make an impact toward its stated goal of having Joseph Kony captured and brought to the International Criminal Court.

On the Brandeis campus, students are expressing opinions both in support and criticism of the campaign. (For example, see the “Brandeis Talks Back” video from student newspaper The Justice, and a column in The Justice titled “Kony video misleads, manipulates its viewers.”)

Read more about the controversy in “The Ethics of Advocacy: KONY 2012,” currently featured on the Ethics Center’s website.

About Ethical Inquiry: Every month a Brandeis undergraduate student, graduate student or alum tackles another of the most vexing ethical questions of our time in “Ethical Inquiry” – a paid opportunity. Explore the full series. And contact the Ethics Center to become a contributor.

Categories: Humanities and Social Sciences

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