Friday, 9 March 2012

2012 Beats Off

By now, most of you have seen the Kony 2012 video. 50 million people have viewed this video, which is a lot, but is still only about 0.7% of the Earth's population, 16% of America's population, and approximately the same number of people who died in World War II.

Most of my concerns with the Kony 2012 video have been effectively raised by the Visible Children blog, which does some pretty solid analysis of why you should raise your eyebrow, and perhaps type "Joseph Kony" and "Invisible Children" into google.

The problem I wish to raise here is one of a lack of foresight. I'm not about to accuse Invisible Children of poor planning, in fact planning has got them very far indeed, but amongst the pang of facebook's poorly researched and poorly informed statuses, and the unbelievably self righteous tone of the video, a simple thought struck me: what about after Kony?

Yes Kony needs to be removed, and when he does, you will celebrate, unaware that at the time of writing, his armed forces are estimated to be 250. He will either fade away on the run, or he will be cornered and his existence made forfeit, provided that some other African nation doesn't start funding him purely out of spite (way to go Sudan). So perhaps my first point is that when Kony does go, maybe the members of Invisible Children can indulge in a little bit of smugness, but you certainly can't.

However Kony is responsible for some horrendous crimes. Crimes of his magnitude leave emotional scars etched across the face of the populace. The arrest of Joseph Kony may decapitate the LRA, and leave them harmless (or perhaps not), but even if Joseph Kony goes, bringing the number of terminated LRA leaders down to three (out of five), what is going to be done about the children that are now murderers, and victims of war? Which organisation will fund the efforts of support, help build the infrastructure to help reduce the consequences of a generation of traumatised children? I know that after Kony is gone, indeed, after the 20th of April, your keen, self righteous, college campus activism will evaporate. Indeed, life will become hell with all those fucking exams you have coming, and man is life tough when you're not sure if that girl (or boy) likes you or not. Sure, focusing on your own life is unavoidable for anyone; you have the life your attached to, and the cause you support, and you can't be an activist all the time, but you probably won't even notice the drift.

And when Kony falls, you will cheer, triumphantly, so glad of what you did to help (yeah thanks for covering all the music event flyers in an excessive amount of Kony posters, assholes), you will rarely ever talk about Uganda again, except when applying for that job with that NGO, and talking about the key role you played in "making the world a better place".

And meanwhile, across the ocean, in a world still far removed, another storm is brewing, built on the back of cause and effect. Thousands of scarified children, trying to find their place in a cruel world, with the tools of murder and suffering etched onto their brains. Kony planted his roots deep, and the damage he has caused has spread far and wide. You want to help? You want to donate? Then simply, go forth, and find a charity that offers to build the support system needed for the disaffect youth of Kony, the victims of the LRA, and the Ugandan Military. The day Kony falls, remind people, what's next?

You want to make a change? Be the first generation with the foresight to see what is need to truly end Joseph Kony, to not just remove a man of evil, but to nurse his taint from the ground, and the stop what once happened from happening again. A historical moment, where a generation finally understands history. Do that, and you'll reach far beyond the expectations of Kony 2012 and the Ugandan people.  

Monday, 5 March 2012


There's this rather swagalicous (now a word) quote from the Star Wars Character Boba Fett, and it goes like this:

"Everyone dies. It is the final and only ever lasting justice. Evil exists; it is intelligence in the service of entropy. When the side of a mountain slides to kill a village, this is not evil, for evil requires intent. Should a sentient being cause that landslide, there is evil; and requires justice as a consequence, so that civilization can exist. There is no greater good than justice; and only if law serves justice is it a good law. It is said correctly that law exists not for the just but for the unjust, for the just carry the law in their hearts, and do not need to call it from afar. I bow to no one and give service only for cause. "

The idea here is perhaps one you are very familiar with. At some point in your life, you've realised that you don't 100% agree with the laws we have. I'm not suggesting you want to kill someone, but you've decided that maybe it doesn't matter if you drink before the legal age, that there appears to be no reason that you can't watch adult movies before you're 18. Do drugs, just don't get caught. Once again, I'm not saying I agree with all these things, however those examples where chosen as they show the laws most commonly broken. Do you jaywalk? You've probably committed some form of verbal abuse, perhaps not with serious intent, but the point stands. 

To ask a more serious question, are you an absolutist about the law against murder? What about war? What if someone was trying to kill you? What about the case of Osama Bin Laden? Technically he was murdered. I'm sure you can all think of instances where you would steal, perhaps reluctantly, but steal nonetheless. Why is the idea of the vigilante so appealing? 

In legal terms the vigilante is merely a criminal. He may steal, trespass, kill, harm and threaten people. He almost certainly breaks the law. Vigilantism is discouraged (illegal) by your local law enforcement, mostly because life is not a movie, but the appeal of this figure represents something very fundamental about our society: There are a set of values we agree on.

To qualify that statement we need to ignore fringe groups. This is necessarily dangerous as it cuts out certain amounts of the population, as we must exclude psychopaths (who, last I heard, make up 3% of the population, but you should fact check that), and people in desperate situations. 

Now I can make a sweeping general comment. It appears that we have something resembling a universal morality. There is a set of values we agree on. Killing is bad. If someone honestly doesn't think that, we put them down as criminally insane. Theft is wrong. Generally. Please raise your hand if you  approve of rape. 

With the exception of rape, these things will change in certain contexts, i.e extenuating circumstances. Now of course you can say "Well isn't everything an extenuating circumstance?" - but that's just a smart ass pseudo intellectual comment. Because how many times in your life, do you come across these circumstances? I'm not saying it never happens to anyone, but there are 7 billion people on the planet. It happens to some people, sometimes. 7 billion is a fuck load. 

We have decided our own laws, we have our own laws. We debate the non-esstianals, and we have our own sense of justice. Laws are for the unjust, because the just do carry the law. Perhaps not in their heart, but the point still stands. 

So next time someone tells you about morals being relative, stab them in the throat and steal their pocket money. Just don't rape them. Cause that's never okay.