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Fascination with Kony 2012 video

From the Editor's Notebook

April 15, 2012
by Chuck Hunt - Register Editor (chunt@faribaultcountyregister.com) , Faribault County Register

There is always more to any story than what first meets the eye.

Take for instance this week's story about three Blue Earth Area eighth-grade girls and their quest to inform the American public or at least the public of the Blue Earth area about Joseph Kony.

This is a truly fascinating story on many different levels.

Of course, there is the basic level, that Joseph Kony is the No. 1 wanted war criminal in the world.

But, for me, there is so much more to the story that makes it more fascinating.

As a newspaper editor, I am intrigued by the way the story has been picked up and disseminated.

Newspapers and television shows covered this story but many years ago. It was a relatively hot topic in 2005, when Kony was first put on the International Criminal Court's (ICC) most wanted list.

But, that was seven years ago. And only news junkies and political analyst types probably kept up with the story.

Then along comes this organization called Invisible Children who release a video on YouTube titled 'Kony 2012.'

It was directed and filmed and co-written by a man named Jason Russell.

The film shows a lot of the atrocities committed by Kony, including abducting children, turning the girls into sex slaves and the boys into soldiers who are ordered to kill their own families in some cases.

The film was placed on YouTube on March 5 of this year. Within just a few days it went viral, meaning millions of people were viewing it.

Many of those watching the film were youth. They heard about the film, as did the girls in Blue Earth, through their Facebook page 'friends.'

Suddenly, millions of people were upset about the atrocities occurring in the African country of Uganda.

The problem is, those atrocities were in the past and no longer occurring in Uganda.

Kony and his remaining Lord's Resistance Army had fled the country and moved to jungles in neighboring countries.

The film urges U.S. forces to join with the Ugandan army to find Kony and bring him to justice. That might not be possible if he is no longer in that country.

As with most stories, this one is awash in controversy.

There are those who say the film focuses too much on Kony and not enough on all of the other atrocities being committed on the children of the poor and hungry in other African countries.

Ugandan officials say they have been rebuilding their country for the past six years and the focus should be on that, not on something that ended seven years ago when Kony fled their country.

Then there is the fact that the director of the film, Jason Russell, is said to have had a personal vendetta against Kony because of what he did to one child Russell met in Uganda.

Plus, Russell himself has had a mental breakdown after the film was released and was found wandering naked in front of his home.

The story is, he could not cope with becoming an overnight Internet celebrity, averaging thousands of e-mails and Tweets per day.

But despite the criticism and the controversy, it remains true that this man named Joseph Kony is a very bad guy, who did a lot of horrible things.

He deserves to be found, arrested, tried and given his just desserts.

Russell, who also narrated the film, wants it to be the goal of the whole world to find this war criminal before the year 2012 is over.

And, with the way his video has been seen by so many people in the last month, that may happen.

But, it would be a shame if that would be the end of this story.

So much attention is being drawn to this one part of an ongoing issue of children in need in Africa, that some people fear Kony's eventual capture or death may signal an end to the problem in many people's minds.

I applaud these three Blue Earth Area middle schoolers for their tremendous caring about kids their own age in a land far, far away from their home in Minnesota.

It is amazing to see how much empathy they have for some children they don't know and will never meet.

I hope they can infuse others with this kind of caring. And I hope they can keep on caring as much about other kids in need around the world.

We all need to take a lesson here that there are things going on in the world we should be aware of, care about, and respond to.

 
 

 

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