21 June 2012

Where is Elisha when you need him?


This is the now-famous video of students on a school bus verbally tormenting the older lady who was the bus monitor.  One of the students filmed the harassment and uploaded it to YouTube to show the world how cool they were.

The video was discovered by a Redditor and posted there with a "Call To Arms":
Her name is Karen, and she has been a widow for 17 years, has lived in the same town she grew up in and is about to have her 50th high school reunion in the same school district, and deserves so much better than the actions shown by those in this video. Let's figure out ways to show her that there are still good people out there...
Another Redditor set up an online Indiegogo fundraiser for her in hopes that enough donations could be collected to allow her to take a well-deserved vacation, which was picked up by 4chan and then HuffPo.  The response of the internet community has been overwhelming.

I couldn't watch more than two minutes of the ten-minute video.  Here's a summary, courtesy of Salon:
Over the course of 10 stomach-churning minutes, a group of students from Greece Athena Middle School verbally harass the 68-year-old Klein in a harrowing display of mob cruelty. It goes on and on and on, as the kids on Bus No. 784 call her a “troll,” an “elephant” and a “fucking fatass” with “ugly-ass ears.” When Klein tells them “Unless you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all,” a boy responds, “Why don’t you shut the fuck up?” When they goad her about the tears running down her face and she says, “I’m crying,” one of them replies, “Yeah, you’re probably missing your box of Twinkies.” They poke and prod her, and at one point a kid says, “If I stabbed you in the stomach, my knife would go through you like butter.” Appallingly, one of the boys told her that she’s so ugly, her kids should commit suicide. What he didn’t know was that Klein’s son really did kill himself 10 years ago. And throughout it all, her tormenters just laugh and laugh at their own cruelty, egging each other on.
Warning: it's even worse than the girl-scout-cookie-thieves video in making you want to wreak violence on the kids on the bus.

Addendum:  A hat tip to Aaron Scott for remembering a relevant Bible passage (2Kings 2:23-4):
From there Elisha went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, some boys came out of the town and jeered at him. “Get out of here, baldy!” they said. “Get out of here, baldy!” He turned around, looked at them and called down a curse on them in the name of the Lord. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the boys.

24 comments:

  1. one can only hope that upon watching this again, her tormentors realize the error of their ways.

    i have never been able to understand how humans can treat one another like this. truly awful.

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  2. They should have put that old guy who beat up the punk on the school bus.

    http://youtu.be/DNkcGWjzmz0

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  3. In the Bible, the prophet Elisha was ridiculed by an evil group of children. Two she-bears came out of the woods and decimated them. Makes me think that God holds even these "children" responsible for their evil ways. It also makes me wonder if a child such as this is "salvageable." Are they too far gone to ever be a kind, decent person? I don't know. To pick on one of the most defenseless of persons is to demonstrate a degree of evil that is unusual.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Aaron; I've added the Bible passage to the post and amended the title.

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  4. Considering that everyone over 30 appears to be flipping their hats all over the place about this video, I'm going to assume the school bus was not always like that? Guys, this is EXACTLY what my middle school experience was. EVERYONE on my bus took AS WELL AS dished that kind of verbal abuse. Popular and unpopular kids alike. What IS surprising is that they would hire a bus monitor and give no power to issue referrals or detentions.

    What kind of dream bus did they operate in the 70s???

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    1. "What kind of dream bus did they operate in the 70s???"

      A bus where if you got out of line, the driver made sure you didn't get back on the bus. Our drivers were stern people and I thank them for it now. While much of my school experience was unpleasant, that can't be said for the bus rides to and from school.

      I haven't watched the video because I already know how awful kids can be. Can someone tell me if the driver stopped the harassment?

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    2. The driver was absolutely oblivious for the full duration. I've rarely had a driver intervene on anything below a shriek.

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    3. "I'm going to assume the school bus was not always like that?"

      Let me tell you what it was like in "the old days." This particular incident could not have happened in my era, because there WERE no "bus monitors." Children riding school (and public) buses were expected to be well behaved. If they weren't, the bus driver knew every child's name (and obviously where they lived). He would also know many of the parents. If a child misbehaved, physically or verbally, the bus driver might speak to a parent or more likely to a school administrator, who would then call the parent with a comment that if the behavior occurred again, the student would not be riding the bus for the next week/month/whatever and the parent would have to drive the child to and from school. Incidents did not recur.

      Not only that, children of my youth would not even have CONSIDERED behaving like these kids, addressing an adult in that fashion. They might well make insulting comments about an adult privately or among themselves, but NEVER to the adult's face. It wouldn't even have been thought of.

      This probably sounds like a comment from the Twilight Zone, but that's the way things were.

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    4. I'm 27, and my school bus was not like that in middle school at all. Sure, there were insults and profanity, but never anything overly serious, never anything that drove a child to cry, much less an adult. We did not have bus monitors, either, and the town was small enough for the driver to know the kids.

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  5. I have a hard time believing that the driver couldn't hear any of that. I have driven buses in a variety of circumstances for 15 years, and it is amazing what you can hear from up there. The overall noise on that bus did not seem too overwhelming. In cases like that, you can almost zero in on any conversation that you want to if they are making no effort to hide it. Very heart wrenching to hear the lack of respect for an adult, an authority, and a gray head. However, it is not surprising. Many adults in today's society show little to no respect either.

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  6. Someone on Reddit decided to start a well-deserved vacation fund for the lady in the video, with a goal of $5000. http://www.reddit.com/r/Assistance/comments/vbwh2/lets_give_karen_the_bus_monitor_h_klein_a/

    One day later, it's approaching $400,000. http://www.indiegogo.com/loveforkarenhklein

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    Replies
    1. Well done. Really nice of them.

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  7. I rode a school bus my entire eleven years of public school and never saw anything at all like this. Of course that was in the dark ages (I graduated in 1965), but honestly, teasing each other might occur, but I never personally saw any outright viciousness. I truly believe that the level of mean spirited bullying has very much increased in the world, especially among young people who don't seem to suffer any consequences for their actions. I can just hear their parents making excuses for their vile behaviour. I doubt very much that any of their parents see anything really wrong with what they did. Obviously these juveniles learned to be little sadists somewhere.

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    1. As a fairly young person (I'm 26), I never saw behavior approaching that either. I did see parents visit the wrath of God on bullies. And they were harshest when it was their own kid misbehaving! I suspect it's a rare thing, not a generational thing. We do see it more thanks to the ubiquity of cameras and the internet.

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  8. The hacker community has identified several of kids who taunted the woman. They have posted the names, addresses and phone numbers of several of them, as well as information on their school.

    I expect that there will be much trouble for these kids in the weeks to come, and they deserve it.

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  9. Absolutely incredible and sickening, what is wrong with much of this generation? We seem to have raised a generation of absolutely heartless and incredibly cruel individuals. I'm quite sure this is not an isolated incident. Is this because of the breakdown of the traditional family makeup of having a father and mother in the home? No, I do not hold the children responsible, the poor parenting is to blame.

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  10. This is what happens when you remove the "BOARD of education"

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  11. I'm a young'un at 25, and I went to a well-respected private school. I was a bit of an outsider so I tended to sit by myself on the bus with a Walkman, but some of the behaviour I saw on trips to and from school was horrific. I remember one boy in particular who liked to bully the younger girls - he even hit me in the head with a piece of wood one afternoon. The older girls were the worst though, ganging up and shouting insults at anyone they laid their eyes on. One of them started yelling obscenities at me, calling me a lesbian because I didn't have a boyfriend and claiming that I'd tried to touch her. I was 13.
    That vicious rumour spread, and dogged me for 5 years. I was ostracised and ridiculed because of it.
    All of this at a school that commanded ridiculously high fees, and was considered one of the top in the country. Problem was, a lot of these kids had very rich and doting daddies, and knew they could get away with murder.
    I hated every minute there.

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  12. I have to agree that this kind of behavior is not uncommon among children. It is uncommon towards adults in my experience, though.

    Either way, I am not sure where the bible quote is coming from. While initial rage is understandable, what the bible quote says that it's OK to kill 42 people (by magical means bestowed by a man in the sky who apparently can spawn bears) for being insulted slightly.

    The video shows something worse than what the bible describes, but even that in no way merits killing those children. Just sit back for a minute and think the full consequences through. Yep, it's _that_ bad.

    I get that it's a metaphor, but it's an incredibly, hurtful, wrong, and generally bad one and, quite frankly, I expected better of TYWKIWDBI.

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  13. According to one news report two of the boys involved have apologized. In one case the boy watched the video at home and said that he hadn't realized how horrible they sounded. I hope there is some form of punishment and community service, but it's possible that they are beginning to understand that there are somethings you don't do.

    Also, Southwest Airlines is giving Mrs. Klein and nine members of her family a trip to Disneyland. And donations have passed the half-million mark.

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  14. Reminds me of Stephen, the bully of our junior high. He terrorized 5or 6 of us for grades 7&8 until one day at the beginning of grade 9, my friend Danny said: "hey, there's six of us and only one of him..."
    Two broken ribs and a bunch of smashed-out teeth later, he didn't bother anyone anymore.

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  15. I know it's fairly difficult to take insults such as these without getting emotionally involved. We are all brought up in such a way that we build a conditional self warming up to praise and recoling from rejection. What those kids have done is truly despicable, and what goes around comes around, for sure.

    However, I expected more from Elisha than from the bus monitor. Prophets should be hold to different standards than mere mortals. What if that was a lesson in egolessness for him and he was not up to the task? :)

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  16. It's probably too late to get involved in this conversation, but meh to all of you who said, oh, this never happened in the olden days, in my day kids behaved, etc., blah, blah, blah.

    I went to school in the 60s & early 70s, and I was frequently treated like that woman, both on and off the bus. The kid in my school with the worst reputation for bullying had a mother who, I am quite certain, beat the everliving sh*t out of him, and his siblings, on a regular basis. The kid who was the worst bully (in my opinion) was the teacher's daughter and her mother was just as bad as she was.

    Bullying has always been. It's a part of our evolutionary heritage, part of the dominance and pecking orders and social pressures to make sure everyone conforms to the group. This is in no way an endorsement of bullying, just an explanation. I don't know what the answer is, but I'm quite sure that death threats to the bullies, as literally has happened in this case (http://www.mercurynews.com/nation-world/ci_20916097/boys-get-death-threats-over-their-bullying-bus?source=rss), isn't it.

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  17. I agree with Scheherezhade. The new vendetta against bullying seems just as laughable as the "war on drugs" . While where at it, let's have a war on stupidity. Seems like the definition of futile. Again, not an endorsement of this behavior: I applaud that woman for not gauging each of those little shit's eyes out.

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