Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Bullies on the Bus

While lately quite a bit of what I've posted here has been gut-reaction stuff, the kind of thing written quickly and without the benefit of a lot of contemplation, the story of Karen Huff Klein deserved more; I knew that almost immediately after banging out my little screed on it yesterday afternoon, one which did nothing to exhaust the feelings I had about watching an elderly woman being bullied from my mind.

My new piece at the Daily Banter, which is up now, looks a little deeper into what happened to Klein on that bus in upstate New York, the anger over it, the backlash to it, the good that's coming out of it, and what it says not just about kids these days but, maybe, about the way certain kids have always been.

Here's the opening:

"I still remember the heartbroken look on his face as he stood at my doorstep in his little green-striped shirt and Toughskins khaki shorts. His name was Doug and he lived up the street from me — and for some reason he desperately wanted to be my friend. He was my age, maybe five or six, and he’d come by every afternoon to ask me if I wanted to play with him since he didn’t seem to have many kids willing to. His eyes would always be fixed on the ground in front of him, as if he were a dog that someone had beaten into a perpetually submissive stance; he was never anything less than a pitiful sight. But I didn’t take pity on him; I didn’t question why his parents never seemed to be around and why I would always see him walking alone to and from the playground at the end of the block; I simply told him to go away, that I didn’t want to play with him and didn’t want to be his friend and didn’t want him in my house. When my mother would show some decency and humanity and invite him in, I’d wait for her to disappear from sight, then press him toward the door and tell him to get out. I’d say those exact words just before slamming the door in his face: 'Get out.'"

Read the Rest at Here


Marsupialus said...

When I was in junior high school -- and this was a long time ago before the internet existed -- we experienced a rash of antisemitic bullying by a few of the Irish and Italian Catholic kids. I don't even know if they understood what calling us Kike and dirty Jew meant but it escalated to some incidents of violence in the gym locker rooms.

The principal pulled these kids into his office, lined them up against a wall and proceded to call them every ethnic slur in the world, drill sargeant style, pacing and screaming into their faces.

"How do you like it?" he is purported to have said.

Apparently they didn't much and the lesson seemed to have taken; there were no more incidents against the Jewish kids.

My point is only that there has to be some kind of consequence for the behavior -- though we see so many examples where bad behavior goes unpunished (the bankers, most every lying Republican politician, the Bush administration). It's not enough to take away their cell phones or ground them. Something more is called for here, something that might produce some measure of civility in these budding sociopaths that might alter the course of their lives -- for the better, we can hope.

doc said...

great piece! i very much saw how she could be my mom in a slightly different universe. my mom lives maybe 90 minutes away from there.

and the guilt of the shit we did growing up. i can see the group think, the pack behavior, the lord of the flies thing. and also kids going along regretfully but thinking 'better her than me'. the worst side of our pack animal nature.

and if kids didnt feel like they have to video every fucking thing, nobody would know. im hopeful that she can retire with that huge nest egg now. if she doesnt get that cash, the people that aet that up better start running now.

Claude Weaver said...

I don't know about them having it easier. Yes, you lived with that guilt for a long time, but you didn't have proof of your effect on that kid archive forever on the internet.

This is a smashup of old vs. new: the same old kids being stupid and cruel plugged into this new "glass house" mentality where everybody put their stuff on display.

We see this even in the older bullies, those who send out racist emails about Obama and think only those like-minded will ever see them. This bubble people are putting themselves into for some reason is kinda creepy, and we really haven't seen all the effects this sort of life is going to have on this generation down the line.

Also, what was up with that Joe Gordon guy? I don't know if he has come after you before (I wouldn't be surprised if he did), but he really has a bee up his bonnet with you being, you know, human.

I mean, "Fuck Chez" is an understandable and at times necessary emotion, but you should really have earned it fair and square, don't you think?


Anonymous said...

I doubt the "easier" too. There is a guy who was on COPS a long time ago thanks to re-runs he & potential employers, etc. get a regular reminder.

I am sure this will be rehashed ad nauseum as well.

Great piece by the way - your intro. paragraph really pulled me in & I probably would not have read the piece otherwise.

rocky said...

That was pretty impressive writing. Very moving. That video was fucking horrible, and I needed some redemption. This was that, after a fashion.

I hope she's okay.

Anonymous said...

SO you bullied someone to their face and you feel bad about it yet all i read here is you're gleeful ugly rhetoric contempt and spite for people who committed the unpardonable sin of having a different opinion than you do. You need to look people in the face and add some years before you think maybe people deserved to be treated with kindness and consideration. Im just trying to get you to see how unceasingly negative you are and how useless and unproductive that is. i dont know you but id bet you burn people out in real life. Well Im sorry if Ive been a troll (hate hate hate) I work in an environment with a lot of people like you and after a few years of it i guess I vented all over you. i wont comment here anymore lest i become like all of them.

Chez said...

You'll be missed. And might I suggest quitting your job as well.