Panel Talks Viral Video

More than a month ago many young people clicked “share” on Facebook after watching a movie with the intention of and spreading awareness, but they also raised controversy around the world: “Kony 2012.”

On Tuesday, April 17 Amnesty International hosted a faculty event titled “The Facts: An Open Panel Discussion on Kony 2012.” It was held to discuss controversy surrounding the Kony 2012 video and campaign started by Invisible Children on March 5, 2012.

The event addressed the validity of Invisible Children’s claims, as well as the actions taken after the video went viral.  The panel addressed the “manic” behavior of the director, how quickly the video went “viral,” as well as the allocation of proceeds.

Zeverin Emagalit of the Black Studies Department said it was important to “expose the past evils of war and Joseph Kony,” but to also take current events into consideration.

Although Brian Obach, chair of the Sociology Department, said the call for military actions on behalf of the United States was outlandish, the panel believed the campaign was a well thought out, simplification of the large issue and targeted the correct audience.

“I believe that the campaign has been very effective,” Obach said. “It demonstrates the potential to use the web for activist purposes. I don’t necessarily agree with the actions that the group is calling for, but their use of this medium for spreading their message and mobilizing millions of people is truly impressive.”

Another panelist and professor of the Political Science Department, Ilgu Ozler, said Kony has committed such grave crimes against humanity and children that there should be no question about his guilt and the effort put forth to stop him. Ozler said Kony has become a household name and this cannot go overlooked, but the campaign should focus on the entire problem not only one person.

“The fact that the movement is surrounding one person is problematic and this is why it is very important to look at the decision making structures that you decide to become members of,” Ozler said. “I decided to become a member of Amnesty International because it is membership-driven and we debate the template of what needs to be prioritized.”

After the panel audience members asked questions and voiced their opinion. One audience member, English Professor Mary Fakler, said she believed that any activism of this form was a step in the right direction.

Fakler said the Kony video was brought to her attention by her students and the fact that they changed their conversation from the Kardashians to Kony was astounding.

Amnesty International is committed to human rights activism and meets Wednesdays at 7 p.m. in Student Union 416.