Skepticism

AI: Kony vs Trayvon

Over the last few days, the story of Trayvon Martin's death has sparked outrage, making headlines everywhere… weeks after he died.

And the outrage comes not long after the world decided that KONY 2012 was our number one mission.

Which has left a lot of people asking, why does Kony matter while the Trayvon Martin murder almost went completely unnoticed?

Trayvon was a black teenager, living in a gated community, who went for a walk in the rain while wearing a hoodie then was gunned down by a neighbor for being suspicious. Trayvon was armed with a bag of Skittles. Weeks after his murder, people took notice… maybe a few million.

Kony is a war criminal in Africa. A bunch of white guys told some Ugandan kids that they were going to save them from him. So they made a video about how everyone needs to see Kony's picture and now hundreds of billions of people have watched it and everyone you know has a Kony t-shirt and bracelet.

I can't say I disagree with the frustration over white people feeling a sudden and impassioned call to do something about the man who has hurt so many children in Uganda… while turning a blind eye to the way we treat black children here in America.

On one hand, I understand that Kony is carefully crafted marketing for an activist campaign. Invisible Children, the organization behind Kony 2012, made a 30 minute video to create a sense of urgency in the matter. They told you what the problem was. They told you what you could do. They told you when and where and how to help. Then they told you to tell your friends. 

Whereas Trayvon was a news item. Just a story of "this is what happened". No instructions. No manipulation of your emotions to maximize your desire to get involved. And no context for why this is something that should matter to all of us. Even white people. Even people who don't live in gated communities. Even people who do live in gated communities without rogue neighborhood watchmen. There was never an action item instructing people to make Trayvon go viral. He was just a headline… just a senselessly dead kid and the not-charged-with-any-crimes man who killed him.

But should there be a difference? Should we have less passion for Trayvon than we do Kony? People are mad, but should they be madder? Is this a matter of too-close-to-home? Do we like fixing the broken people far away because it's easier than facing our problems at home? Why do people have such a hard time admitting that race and gender and sex are still real issues in 2012 America when it seems so hard to ignore? Is this too much to unpack on a Tuesday Afternoon? 

 

The Afternoon Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Skepchick community. Look for it to appear Tuesdays and Thursdays at 3pm ET.

Elyse

Elyse MoFo Anders is the bad ass behind forming the Women Thinking, inc and the superhero who launched the Hug Me! I'm Vaccinated campaign as well as podcaster emeritus, writer, slacktivist extraordinaire, cancer survivor and sometimes runs marathons for charity. You probably think she's awesome so you follow her on twitter.

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54 Comments

    1. Ah!  You've stolen my comment! 
       
      I'm much more upset/passionate about Trayvon Martin's murder than I am about Joseph Kony.  Don't get me wrong, Kony needs to be brought to justice for what he did but so does George Zimmerman.  The difference?  We know where George Zimmerman is and the state of Florida could arrest him today – but they haven't. 

  1. Hundreds of billions, eh?  I didn't realize Kony 2012 had been forwarded through time and/or to other inhabited planets.
    The Kony "problem" is simpler, more remote, and much more supervillian-ish.  Significant populations identify with the fear and xenophobia Trayvon's alleged murderer probably felt, and the details have only been trickling out about how egregious the crime actually was.  Cognitive dissonance is protecting Zimmerman, no-one in a position of power wants to admit they assumed Trayvon was the aggressor.
    Hardly seems surprising to me.  I long ago gave up expecting any wisdom of crowds on social justice issues.

    1. Hundreds of billions, eh?  I didn't realize Kony 2012 had been forwarded through time and/or to other inhabited planets.

      I may have rounded down. It's probably at least 100 times my conservative estimation.

          1. Never mind, I was hung up on the idea that there is a different billion in the US – plus I'm being particularly thick at the moment.

  2. When there are any two problems that might need to be addressed people will forget that it's not a zero sum game. Supporting one cause isn't the same thing as taking support away from another. If someone wants to make chasing war criminals their thing, that's their call. Someone else might care more about the injustice at home. Both things need attention.

    1. I think her point is that MORE people seem to care about Kony than they do about an example of blatant racist violence and systemic racism in our own backyard.  Sure, they can both use attention.  But one seems a little more urgent (and better understood) than the other (which has a lot of people who live IN Uganda saying the campaign is inaccurate and possibly counter-productive).

  3.  
    “Do we like fixing the broken people far away because it's easier than facing our problems at home? Why do people have such a hard time admitting that race and gender and sex are still real issues in 2012 America when it seems so hard to ignore?”
     
    Going to University has meant getting involved with upper middle class people (mostly white), as they seem to dominate in these institutions. I’ve not been around this certain class of people most of my life, and it was quite a learning experience.
     
    I have noticed that among many in these groups (keep in mind that I'm not free from bias, nor am I saying it’s everyone) is a great concern for animal welfare (which I agree with full heartedly) tempered with an almost complete ignorance of cultural and systemic inequities that occur, in many cases,just on the other side of the train tracks. 
     
    I think for many people, working with animal rescues and adopting strays is just easier. Animals are always grateful, they don’t talk back, and you can impart your will on them without getting any lip. If something is to be blamed for animal suffering, its usually individual owners. 
     
    People, on the other hand, especially ones that live in your city, are going to make you face the stark reality that you live in a culture and society where the poor, minorities, disenfranchised groups etc are being screwed over. And this same society benefits you because perhaps you are white, able bodied, documented, were raised in an upper middle class family etc. By helping people you are going to need to confront reality, not so much with doggies and kitties. 
     
    I think it’s similar for many, though not for everyone, when they become passionate about helping people in far off places. They don’t have to think about how they may be contributing or benefiting from the problem outside don't shop at store X, or product Y.  For many folks, it’s just easier this way.  
     

    1. I also think that a racist sense of superiority plays a role in the Kony case: we enlightened USA-ans will give those poor primitive African natives the benifit of our morality, our know-how, and our military might and set things to right.

      (Just like we did in Vietnam, in Somalia, in Iraq, ….)

      By contrast, Zimmermann, with his racial paranoia, are too much like the white, middle-to-upper class, educated people who usually drive such causes.

      Anybody remember the Goetz case?

      1. Methinks it's fine to feel frustrated at people who don't take notice of problems they may be contributing to and/or benefiting from. Being frustrated at people who are very concerned with poor folks from far away places but don't stop to think about the people scrubbing their toilets, or picking their fruit, wasn't an attempt at shaming, it's just pointing out an unfortunate reality. The fact that it's usually people of privilege (whether it be white, or upper middle class folks etc)  who sometimes benefit/contribute to social inequities shouldn't be ignored either.  I'm sorry if I made any white folks uncomfortable by pointing these things out, but please consider just how uncomfortable it is to be a woman/ minority/ undocumented etc. 

    2.  

      People, on the other hand, especially ones that live in your city, are going to make you face the stark reality that you live in a culture and society where the poor, minorities, disenfranchised groups etc are being screwed over. And this same society benefits you because perhaps you are white, able bodied, documented, were raised in an upper middle class family etc. By helping people you are going to need to confront reality, not so much with doggies and kitties. 

       

      This is a great point.

       

       

       

       

      1. I think, scratch that, I know that the NRA is strongly in favour of "stand your ground" laws in general and I also know that they are strongly in favour of the specific Florida "stand your ground" law that is the primary reason that no arrest has been made in this case. So yes, by supporting (and lobbying for) the laws that allow these wanton, pointless murders the NRA is de facto in favour of them.

      2. Yep, I'm sure that the NRA expresses support in practice for "wanton, pointless murder" in the sense that they support laws that encourage it, and oppose laws that seek to prevent it, while creating an environment of violence and paranoia.
        I say this as a skeptic AND as a gun owner… the NRA goons are bugfuck. 

        1. Yep.  I like guns.  I'm pretty liberal (okay, really liberal), but I really like guns.  And I think it's important that citizens should have access to them; when only the government has access to firepower, it's just not a good thing.
           
          That said, the NRA is … scary.

          You can be pro-gun AND pro-gun regulation.  I also really, really wish that more people took real safety and self-defense classes, so they know how to actually handle a gun, especially in high-stress situations.

          1. Exactly. Unfortunately, a lot of the classes in place today include section on how to convince the police to not even charge you, and what to avoid saying to convince a jury of your innocence, NRA-supported and NRA-supporting magazines contain the same sort of "helpful" articles every month. 
             
            The good news, such as there can be, is that on the gun forum that I sometimes frequent, the general concensus seems to be against Zimmerman. Many gun owners DO understand that you can't get out of your car, chase someone down, confront them, and then claim self-defense if they push or punch you after you've provoked them. 

      3. "Now would be a good time to make use of a skeptical mindset."

         
        That's not at all a condsending comment!  Not at <i>all</i>!

         
        I like how you assumed that he wasn't being skeptical.  What did we say back in the early 00's?  Oh, that's right:  Pnwd.

          1. I'm impressed that a civilised debate touching on gun control can be had on this site. It says a lot for the rational Skepchick community.

  4. Racism is the short answer, white shame/privilege is the more complex answer (the recent Ted Talk by Brene Brown touches on this very briefly). The Kony 2012 video was actually quite racist (it's been discussed elsewhere in depth why the simplistic "white savior" meme is highly problematic and denies Ugandans their own agency). There are many long answers, they range from the fact that the Kony 2012 video was actually an exercise in narcissism and stealth Christian evangelicism to the fact that clicking "like" on Facebook is much easier than confronting everyday racism within ourselves, the system and people we know, and questioning the myth of American equality.
     
    The Kony 2012 video was both an exercise in malignant narcissism by Jason Russell (something that seems to be supported by the psychotic break Russell had once the false messiah image he had constructed was confronted by critics and reality) and more general narcissism for the people who bought into it (YOU can save the world by having a postering party on 4/20 and buying a $30 action pack, and if you have faith/believe hard enough). It was expressly constructed to be emotionally manipulative and there was never any discussion of conflict minerals that are used in electronic gadgets, blood diamonds, gold or the oil fields on Uganda's border. Basically the Kony 2012 video was about subverting altruism for commercial gain (the Invisible Children organization seems to be all about financing the founders and rather large machine). 
     
    Looking at the murder of Trayvon Martin and actually doing something about it means looking ongoing systemic racism in the eye and also truly acknowledging the history of racism (and the lingering effects of slavery) in the US. It's exactly the same thing that the Kony 2012 video avoided looking at, our own complicity in the repression and deaths of others and historical and contemporary white privilege. The Brene Brown Ted Talk, while it deals with none of these issues directly, mentions in passing the shame associated with privilege. It's well worth a watch and listen (as are the many intelligent, critical articles about the problematic nature of the Kony 2012 video and Invisible Children by many Ugandan writers, genuine activists and aid workers). 
     
    http://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_listening_to_shame.html

    1. I agree that systemic racism and issues or privilege are very problematic and complex. However we all know that calls to action, or even an appeal to give money, are unlikely to be successful if they jump in the deep end of the historical, psychological, political, economic, and philosophical pool to explain why you should give up some money or time for a cause. It would be nice the folk behind Kony 2012 were more thoughtful (stable) and had done their homework better. Perhaps there is a need for a group that reviews causes and global issues that could give advice to charitable groups or organizations before they start a campaign. And thanks for posting the link to the TED talk, I'm looking forward to watching it this evening!

      1. Jacob – I think the particular issues with Invisible Children go much deeper than simple naivete on the part of the organization (or one of the founders having a personality disorder). There's ignorance (which can often be quite innocent and due to naivete) and then there's willful ignorance (specifically ignoring or rejecting reality/the truth). Invisible Children very much seem to be the latter and more of an ongoing evangelical con than a real effort at charity. There is some video footage of Russell and one of his partners talking about using "stealth evangelicism" at Liberty University, IC has taken money from American religious hate groups that promote homophobia (evangelical Christians have been very involved in drafting anti-homosexual hate legislation in Uganda) and then there are the reports from on the ground in Uganda that are less than flattering. And, while not quite a crime against humanity, there's this… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QWACLKaOC08    Some things really shouldn't be forgiven! You can start to see why Russell needed a charity to get his films made. There's also this interview (just to bring home how crazy these people actually are and it's not simply a matter of Russell "going rogue" – quite a few people in the very large IC organization have corporate backgrounds). http://pmc-mag.com/2011/02/jason-russell/
         
        You're entirely right that people who really care about other people – about doing good out of compassion and empathy rather than merely wanting to look good – tend to be active within their own communities and already dealing with the real complexities of individual and collective suffering, social inequality and generally trying to create a more sane and caring society. I'm not sure that people who opt for white/pink or greenwashed versions of the issues we collectively face (or turn away from, as the case may be) actually care at all. There's a big difference between wanting and trying to do good, which always leads to dealing with complexity because compassion requires understanding, and wanting to be seen by others (or oneself) as good. The latter, wanting to look good, usually requires demonizing someone else so one can see oneself as all good. And, obviously, this simplistic good vs evil is a large part of evangelical/fundamentalist religions. It's not surprising that kids (who IC specifically target as they build their own army of children) fall for this but it's a bit sad so many adults seem to want to perpetuate this childish view of the world and themelves. 

        1. I agree, and you should do your research. I will plead ignorance about the background of the Kony campaign but I doubt the information you mention was readily available when the video initially went viral. I still contend that it is important to simply get people concerned with social and justice issues. And the notion that only the truly and accurately informed should be engaging social issues and problems because there have been well intended failures in the past is absurd. The religious will attach their theological bent to the issues they care about; however I hope that any skeptic will not dismiss out of hand the tremendous amount of good work many religious based charities engage in around the world. And that a person who is involved in a charity has a diagnosed mental health or neurological condition should preclude their involvement is frankly a regrettable and ill informed opinion.

  5. I’ve been taking care of throw away kids, screwed up families and confronting issues of social justice in a community just like yours for nearly 30 years. And the bottom line is that most everyone doesn’t want to do a damn thing about anything most all the time. There are exceptions and they are the ones that make a difference; and there are a few more that actually give of their time and money to improve their communities and society. However most people just want to know someone else is taking care of things so it won’t bother them. And historically caring meant you voted for people who’d fund the necessary services or the needed foreign aid or you’d write a check to the United Way. Whenever I see a good quality social awareness campaign or call to action  I'm encouraged that it can draw people to act in their own communities or just reach in their pocket to give, or even protest government in/action. I agree with what apfergus stated above, its good that people take action when they are moved to do so and it’s not about comparing who’s cause is more worthy, just do something.

    1. Jacob – While I very much respect your perspective and your personal efforts, I do have to take issue with the following statement because I think it requires further conversation (particularly on a site that promotes skepticism). "I agree with what apfergusstated above, its good that people take action when they are moved to do so and it’s not about comparing who’s cause is more worthy, just do something." We do need to think critically about our actions and our desires when those actions and desires effect others. Does our emotional need to do something, anything, really trump the damage that we can do via our own ignorance or innocence? Sometimes that something we need to do before we act in ways that effect others is to educate ourselves and listen to the people who we believe need our help. That way we can be sure that our intentions and actions are aligned and we're not being used for an agenda that may actually be opposed to what we really desire. 
       
      Propaganda, which is essentially what the Kony 2012 campaign was, can be very dangerous. (The video was a form of stealth evangelism that promotes all kinds of lies, as well as actions that evidence has already shown can cause more suffering.) Propaganda is designed to bypass critical thinking by using emotional manipulation so that people act out of emotion rather than being rational, it's often used to incite people to do horrible things. There was actually quite a bit of information about the situation in Uganda, Kony and child soldiers (as well as Jason Russell and Invisible Children) available online if people were simply willing to think critically and a bit of research. There are much more reputable charities, with transparent agendas, that one can support. Also, as a general rule, one should always be skeptical of any organisation that tries to emotionally manipulate us rather than give us facts, and any charity or non-profit that isn't transparent about their agenda or financing. Rule number one of a con, if it seems to be too good to be true, it probably is!

      1. fifilamour-  Lets count how many charities do not use an emotional appeal when raising funds……………… .

         
        Quite often, in my experience, facts have been known to evoke an emotional response. Should causes avoid potentially emotion evoking facts for fear of appearing propagandistic? And I think you’re operating with an insufficient and narrow a definition of propaganda because many skeptical organizations and individuals in the skeptical community engage in disseminating propaganda on a regular basis. Letting people know about your views, opinions and ideas and providing illustrations and stories to help people understand why your point of view is important is propaganda. Goebbels did not invent the word.  

  6. I have been angered by world events this month, I also heard a girl committed suicide after being forced to merry her rapist, and a transgender activist was torchered in murdered in Mexico (to which a friend of mine informed me not only happens all the time but goes unnoticed). So yea the world really sucks.
    I don't care to compare whose cause is worthier, or which angers me more, I think what matters is if I actually do something to make a positive change when the opportunity presents itself. Unfortunately I'm like everyone else, just angry. What I want to know is can I do anything about this shit?

  7. In some cases, doing "something" can actually be more destructive than doing nothing. Our own desire to act is not more important than the effect of those actions. There's a reason why we have sayings like "the road to hell is paved with good intentions" – how we feel is not more important than what we do and how those actions impact others. It's why compassion requires love and understanding to be compassion, and why history is littered with atrocities done "for their own good". This is particularly germaine when talking about places or people who have already suffered under colonialism "for their own good" (our ideas of race are integrally linked to colonialism, there's an excellent BBC series Racism: A History that's available on YouTube that's well worth watching and which discussed how and why race was constructed in the way it was/is).  

  8. koren – What we can do is support change and help people in our own communities, and when we can support those who are fighting for change in their own communities. Activism isn't magic and one of the biggest problems with the Kony 2012 campaign is that it promotes magical thinking. Making changes is not just about the power of belief or some magical "awareness" – often it's about looking more deeply and critically at ourselves and our own actions. It can be hard, sometimes even dangerous, work since it usually involves speaking truth to power and delving into the messy work of helping people heal themselves and being able to sit with both our own suffering and that of others. Of course it can be joyous, life affirming work too. A great deal of the meaning in life comes from connecting with others and dealing with the complexities of being alive and human. Mostly it's about sharing and caring, about allowing ourselves to be vulnerable so we can be empathetic and compassionate to others and ourselves, and not expecting the world to magically become less complex or like a fantasy utopia (much as those can be fun to think about, ideologies seem to more often be a problem than any sort of solution). 

  9. Chastising and shaming people, especially singling out a single group, 'white people', for not knowing about every injustice that happens in the world, or correctly prioritizing and categorizing those injustices in order of magnitude of appropriate outrage is ridiculous.  No, I did not know about the Trayvon Martin murder in a gated Florida communtity until it exploded into the public consciousness in the last few days.  I'm sure most of you wouldn't know about a horrible rape that happened to a NA woman here in South Dakota.  Does that make you morally bankrupt people for not knowing or caring enough about that woman?  No.  That makes you human.   Feeling strongly about one injustice or even taking some sort of action on behalf of that injustice doesn't mean you have used up your compassion quotient.  If you give money to the ASPCA it doesn't mean you are taking money away from domestic abuse shelters.  Caring about people in the Sudan doesn't mean you don't care about victims of hurricane Katrina.   People are moved by other people's stories of woe, but sustained indignation is fickle.  We often want to help, but rarely can in a meaningful way.  How do you take another person's pain away with a cash donation or a letter writing campaign?  Think of all the injustices that are not highlighted on the local NBC affiliate or picked up by some well-traficked website.  the world is full of bitter injustice.  The best we can do is care about the injustices that cross our paths and take action when our conscious demands it.  Do-gooders often cause more pain and problems than they fix, but to rebuke others for their honest compassion is always wrong.   Our emotional responses are biased by our personal experiences.  For us in America, racial injustice will always be a struggle for us to overcome.  Ask an Afghani who is worse:  a local suicide bomber who blows up a market killing 50 people or one American soldier who kills 16 sleeping civilians?   They both are equally guilty of  taking innocent lives, but the American soldier represents something more unjust to them.  Is the killing of a black youth by a white? neighborhood watch vigilante so much more senseless than the killing of a black youth by another black youth?  We can't take back the injustice; we can only control how we as a society responds to it.    

    1. You seem to be responding to a lot of things that no one actually said.
       
      I, for one, cannot find any news items about a recent rape in SD of a NA woman.  I don't think we can fault anyone for not knowing something that isn't widely reported.  That's not something that Elyse or anyone else has said.  We also haven't said that no one has the RIGHT to be upset about Kony.  What many of us are taking issue with is WHY so many people are upset (ZOMG THE CHILDRENZ!) despite the facts (the campaign is problematic and many Ugandans are pissed about it, and this campaign does not, in fact, help THE CHILDRENZ).  We seem to agree that it's because Kony is EASIER to care about, or to SHOW how much you care.
       
      It's harder for people to want to get involved in a case about systemic racism in our country because, unlike the Kony campaign, we can't just "Like" it or give a bit of money and then wipe our hands clean.  We as a country should feel a sense of urgency to wipe out the systemic -isms that lead to some groups being less protected and having fewer rights than others who are supposed to be their equals under the laws of the land.  Yet more people are expressing outrage about the Kony issue than about a 17 year old who got killed by a racist nutbag.
      This is also happening in the context of our history when it comes to media coverage of crimes and POC: white people who have violence done to them, particularly children, are far more likely to have widespread coverage about their case and victimization compared to POC.  Martin's case is yet another example to add to a very long list.
      Because of that context, Elyse's piece pretty clearly reads as "This shit all sucks, but here's yet another example of privilege affecting justice".

  10. Praetor, I highly suggest that you watch the Ted Talk by Brene Brown on shame to understand a bit more where I'm actually coming from. White privilege is a real thing, it's not something made up to make white individuals feel ashamed. Like sexism, it's something people need to be called out on when they're engaged in it – that's how people become aware and can change their own beliefs and actions (or decide to remain willfully ignorant if we so choose, which some people do). If you personally feel ashamed if white, colonial or gender privilege is brought up or pointed out, you may need to unpack your backpack of cultural privileges (meaning take a look at how privilege functions in your own life and effects your beliefs about others). One can recognize privilege without feeling personally ashamed, in fact one of the ways out of shame related to privilege is recognizing how privilege functions and working on a personal and political level to help create a more equal society. If you feel ashamed, perhaps it would be more constructive to address feelings of shame than simply deny privilege exists so one can avoid being vulnerable and examining where those feelings of shame come from. 
     
    It's also not about competing needs. There's a very direct connection between the racism that leads to a young black man being hunted down by a neighbourhood vigilante and the kind of racism that was exhibited in the Kony 2012 video, it's only once we get beyond defending ourselves from feeling shame or looking at ugly truths that we can start to see that all human rights are intrinsically interconnected. At the other side of confusion and complexity there is a great simplicity that is not simplistic, just easy to understand. It's worth the journey if you really do care about doing good rather than creating an identity as a "good person". 

  11. Elyse:

    I think that your point:

    On one hand, I understand that Kony is carefully crafted marketing for an activist campaign….

    Whereas Trayvon was a news item.

    pretty much explains it. Especially that Trayvon was a local news item. “White man shoots black man” is not seen as national news, any more than “dog bites mail carrier.” (How many people outside Westchester County ever heard about the black plainclothes officer who was killed in White Plains by his — white — fellow officers last year?)

    There’s also the way that most newspapers have a corporate culture which still contains racist attitudes, even when most individuals in the company would not agree with them. So if a newspaper has a culture of not considering the shooting of a black man “newsworthy,” it’s going to be hard for individual reporters to get a lot of column inches for the story.

    As for those of us who aren’t newspapers: I first heard about this in the past week or so.

  12. The Kony problem is really complicated. 
    One of the most worrying things about Invisible Children's approach is they want to assist the Ugandan Government by sending American expertise, guys with guns. But the Ugandan Government army is also involved in atrocities, and may be deeply implicated in what Kony has been up to for the last 20 odd years. So giving guns and expertise to bad guys to catch a probably badder guy… not necessarily a good idea.
    Anyway, if giving them more guns and sending US folks over to black Africa with guns was going to fix the problem, then a lot of Africa would be "fixed" by now. Funnily enough, it's not.
    The definition of stupid is repeatedly doing the same thing over and over, but expecting different results.
    http://or1noco.wordpress.com/2012/03/17/kony-2012/

  13. I guess the question could be asked this way:
     
    Where the f*** is the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence? If you check their tax records, most of their money goes towards paying themselves giant paychecks to do nothing of any value. 

    1. Unfortunately most cause based organizations have whole missions based on unproven conclusions.  I.E. "If people all had guns we'd be safer", therefore, there's no need in their minds to take a deeper look at the issue of preventing gun violence than all citizens owning one.

  14. I think the author here is presenting a false dichotomy here to bring forth the issue of people caring more about a social issue when they don't have to point the fingers at themselves.  Namely the two choices were " KONY 2012 has millions of views and Travyon Martin has only news articles to highlight his injustice, therefore the American public doesn't care about the Travyon Martin case"  
     
    Basically, yes, I'd hypothesize that the public does about things that don't bring out their own prejudice/privelege, but the argument the author presented are presented more or less in a 2 choices format, when there are things at work here that could explain why KONY 2012 got more hits/concern than Trayvon Martin. 
     
    Regardless though of the method used to get to the conclusion though, I agree with it, people in the US have a hard time bringing admitting that their own privelege and prejudice causes sex and race based injustices.  Even in communities we consider liberal, sexism & racism persists, allowing people to oppressed (and sometimes have violence brought upon them) in every corner of society.  I hope Travyon's case does actually help look this issue square in the eye.  It's just so sad that it comes at the expense of his life.

    1. I think the author here is presenting a false dichotomy here to bring forth the issue of people caring more about a social issue when they don't have to point the fingers at themselves.  Namely the two choices were " KONY 2012 has millions of views and Travyon Martin has only news articles to highlight his injustice, therefore the American public doesn't care about the Travyon Martin case"  
       
       

      It's not a false dichotomy. I'm comparig two scenarios. Why do people care SO MUCH about one but not as much about the other? I think it's odd that the conclusion you come to is that I think everyone cares about Kony and no one cares about Trayvon. 

      1. Alright, just to be clear before we get into this, we agree: people don't WANT to care as much about things that require them to acknowledge their own racism/sexism/etc.
         
        However, where's your proof of this statement: "Why do people care SO MUCH about one but not as much about the other?" – well #1, do they not?  It's on the front page of every news site and outrage seems to be growing and #2, KONY 2012 was a well-crafted marketing video with a marketing team behind it, so acknowledgement of it Skyrocketed up.  So I challenge your assumptions behind making the conclusion you did, and I did so because I focus partially on making online game products popular for a living, so my hypothesis is that if a similar video with similar good marketing was put behind Trayvon, there might be similar outrage.

        1. What conclusion are you challenging? I didn't come to any conclusion. I posed a discussion question based on the discussions that were already happening about how people wished Americans cared as much about Trayvon as they did about Kony.
          And, to be clear, this was written two days ago when the Trayvon story was just beginning to attract headlines, almost a month after his murder, and had barely been touched by MSNBC or Fox News. Today people are talking about it as much, if not more, than Kony… that wasn't the case Tuesday morning when I wrote this.

  15. I've been noticing this as well, and since I've blogged about both, I've got people screaming at me via email that 'm doing it wrong.
    Here's my take on it:  Somepeople like mashed potatoes, some people like peas, some people like them both on their plates but separate, some people mix them together. 
    But nobody is realy saying that if you have peas you can't also have mashed potatoes. 
    We are not in dire straights because two things are being disucssed at once. 

    1. It's a good take. Also a bit like elevatorgate in some ways.
      Of course we should all be concerned about both issues.
      Equally I could be criticised for commenting on a US blog when there are serious issues at home – like the mistreatment of Australian Aboriginal people for example.
      To which my answer would be, the level of debate here seems to be quite exceptional, and in fact sharpens the mind to tackle issues closer to home.
       

  16. But wasn't the Kony thing, like, pretty quickly debunked and mocked as a shameless "white saviour" marketing scam?
    Also it seems weird to say that the Kony reaction was "quick", since Kony has been out there being horrible for decades.
    I've been following Trayvon Martin but the story didn't really break until the 911 tapes came out. Now it's definitely a national story that seems to have much more momentum than the Kony scam. 2,000 people didn't march in NYC against Kony. They marched for Trayvon Martin. (Well, except the bit of OWS co-option, but that's another matter.)
    Really, I don't see a good comparison between the two issues. But I think they're getting the levels of attention they deserve.

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