Could ‘Kony’ style campaign work in Kenzo?

In this week's River­ward Rant, colum­nist Joe Quigley looks at those pop­u­lar in­ter­net sup­port cam­paigns - like the re­cent Kony 2012 doc­u­ment­ary - and won­ders if something sim­il­ar could help im­prove con­di­tions in Kens­ing­ton.

Amer­ic­ans really love aware­ness cam­paigns.

They have an aware­ness cam­paign for everything - from breast can­cer to bul­ly­ing to do­mest­ic ab­use - and you can prob­ably see a num­ber of them right now if you log in­to your Face­book page.

Here, users click “like” and share a link which, in turn, will be “liked” by more Face­book­ers, who might even give a “thumbs up” on You­tube.

After awhile, a suf­fi­cient amount of aware­ness will be raised and the prob­lem will be solved…some­how, I think.

Well, what I’m say­ing is, be­sides click­ing around on the in­ter­net, we won’t ac­tu­ally do any­thing about it.

But, show­ing our ad­mir­a­tion for the cause on Face­book and You­tube will cer­tainly force someone to do something.


I’m bring­ing this up in light of the cur­rent aware­ness cam­paign against Joseph Kony, the Ugandan child-en­slav­ing war crim­in­al high­lighted in in­ter­net’s re­cently pop­u­lar “Kony 2012” You­tube doc­u­ment­ary.

(For now, I’ll ig­nore Jason Rus­sell, the doc­u­ment­ary’s dir­ect­or and his strange na­ked tirade, which got him ar­res­ted in San Diego, last Thursday.)

Surely, the doc­u­ment­ary’s mil­lions of views and “likes” will en­sure that elec­ted lead­ers world­wide will do something.

No, not really.

For evid­ence of the ef­fect­ive­ness of rais­ing aware­ness, you don’t have to look for doc­u­ment­ar­ies on Afric­an war crim­in­als. Just look at cop­ies of the Daily News from Decem­ber 2010, when the Kens­ing­ton Stran­gler was still on the loose and the whole city was made aware of the myri­ad prob­lems con­trib­ut­ing to, let’s call it, the “hell hole-ish­ness” of the Kens­ing­ton area.

Be­fore the stran­gler was ap­pre­hen­ded, Philly po­lice put ex­tra of­ficers onto Kens­ing­ton streets to give res­id­ents some se­cur­ity.

Mean­while, Philly res­id­ents who wer­en’t aware of the ex­tent of Kens­ing­ton’s de­cay real­ized that it was su­per im­port­ant that the city lend a help­ing hand to the im­pov­er­ished, formerly-work­ing-class neigh­bor­hood.

They real­ized it was im­port­ant that someone do something.

So yeah, you can see where I’m go­ing with this.

But, then, when po­lice caught Ant­o­nio Rodrig­uez, the so-called Kens­ing­ton Stran­gler, every­one who doesn’t know what “K&A” stands for promptly for­got about the neigh­bor­hood.

And, let’s not kid ourselves.

How many river­ward cit­izens – with the ex­cep­tion per­haps of Rich­ie An­ti­puna and sim­il­ar Kenzo ad­voc­ates – have done any­thing to lend a hand?

I’ll pick on my­self first.

I nev­er once vo­lun­teered at, say, the Cath­ol­ic Work­er Free Clin­ic at Le­high and Jasper, or swept up needles at Somer­set and Helen streets.

To quote PJ O’Rourke: “Every­body wants to save the earth; nobody wants to help mom do the dishes.”

But, that doesn’t mean we all have to go get our hands dirty on Front Street.

The cool thing about liv­ing in a demo­cracy is that we can be lazy about the grunt work.

We can just straight up vote a cer­tain way and force our gov­ern­ment change its policy.

You may or may not agree with the Tea Party or Oc­cupy Wall Street move­ments, but they suc­ceeded in chan­ging our na­tion­al dis­course.

The Tea Party got a cer­tain brand of politi­cians elec­ted and the Oc­cupy Wall Street move­ment re­in­tro­duced the ideas about in­come in­equal­ity and the plight of the work­ing-class.

And all they did was head to the vot­ing booth and show up at a few protests.

That didn’t hap­pen after every­one in the city was stuffed with aware­ness about Kens­ing­ton.

It cer­tainly won’t hap­pen in re­gards to whatever war crimes Joseph Kony is com­mit­ting over in Africa.

If Phil­adelphi­ans can’t co­alesce around a prob­lem that af­fects us dir­ectly, in­tro­duce a solu­tion for it then force our gov­ern­ment to change its policy via vot­ing and protest, then how can we ex­pect Amer­ic­ans as a whole to care about child sol­diers in Africa?

I mean, you could say that we have child sol­diers in Philly right now.

Go up to 17th and Dia­mond streets and af­ter­wards, try to do a Face­book cam­paign to raise aware­ness about the kids there who grow up sur­roun­ded by drugs and vi­ol­ence.

See how quickly that little is­sue gets re­solved.

It won’t.

We’re a lazy bunch when it comes to stuff like this.

Amer­ic­ans think Face­book shares and You­tube videos can dis­arm third world guer­rilla groups and stop the vi­ol­ence in the Middle East.

They can’t.

Un­less you rock out like the Egyp­tians and Tunisi­ans, who re­cently “liked” each oth­er’s Face­book posts about re­volu­tion then went out­side and ac­tu­ally star­ted one. ••

 ldquo;River­ward Rants” re­flects the opin­ions of Joe Quigley, a Fishtown res­id­ent, area nat­ive and writer of the Web site PhillyNeigh­, where he makes cyn­ic­al (and un­censored) com­ments about life in the river­wards. He can be reached at

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