Joseph Kony: 2012

By Kelly North
Asst. News Editor & Photography Editor

Jason Russell was taken into custody and hospitalized after neighbors reported him running nude throughout the streets near his San Diego home while shouting incoherently, making sexual gestures, and pounding his fists on the sidewalk.

Jason Russell was thrust into international spotlight earlier this month after his charity organization, Invisible Children, released a documentary about Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony. Police who responded to several calls took Russell to a mental health facility for an evaluation. A statement issued by the chief executive of the organization, Ben Keesey, said Russell was suffering from exhaustion, dehydration, and malnutrition and is receiving medical care. The breakdown, Keesey stated, was most likely due to the response to the Kony 2012 video, which was uploaded to YouTube on March 5, 2012 and since then has had more than 80 million viewers.

Joseph Kony, according to the Kony 2012 video, is the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army, a rebel army that terrorized the country in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s.

According to the Invisible Children website, Joseph Kony took over leadership of the LRA in 1987 and has since then used cruel tactics to gain support. However, when Kony began to run out of people to serve in his rebel army, he began abducting children, encouraging them to rape, mutilate, and kill civilians.

The film intended to gain support to capture Joseph Kony, to put an end to the use of child soldiers in the rebel war, and to restore the communities in central Africa that have been negatively affected by the LRA. The videographers involved a claim to support the Kony 2012 movement, which will ensure funding for 100 US military advisors to be sent to train African armies in order to find Kony.

The video became an instant internet sensation. However, with that popularity came extreme scrutiny towards the Kony 2012 movement.

Kony 2012 was examined by critics who insist the thirty-minute film overgeneralizes the issue, misrepresents the country of Uganda, and uses inaccurate facts. Among other things, critics said the video misstated the facts about the current level of violence in Uganda, Kony’s current whereabouts and the strength of his militia forces. Critics say that Kony is not actually in Uganda but spread across the jungles of neighboring countries as of six years ago.

Dr. Beatrice Mpora, director of a community health organization in Gulu, a town that was previously the center of the LRA’s activities, expressed that the information in the video is totally wrong, and there has not been a member of the LRA in that area since 2006. Javie Ssozi, a Ugandan blogger, stated that suggesting more military action might make Kony abduct more children or take an offensive action. Others say that the video simply paints an inaccurate picture of Uganda.

According to Russell’s wife, Danica Russell, he took the negative feedback extremely hard due to the personal nature of the film, and the negative criticism received by the video and Russell’s instant fame greatly contributed to his public meltdown. The meltdown has been diagnosed as “brief reactive psychosis” as a result of exhaustion, stress, and malnutrition. Russell is expected to remain hospitalized for a number of weeks.