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The nation seems shocked at the treatment bus monitor Karen Klein received by a bunch of unruly school kids.  But why are we so shocked at these kids behavior when our society does the same thing, day in and day out.  Is our concern just big fat hypocrisy?

How COULD they??? Are you KIDDING????

A viral video of grandmother Karen Klein being bullied has apparently shocked us so much it is making MSM (main stream media!)  That is not the reason for my incredulity!  The real surprise to me is why are we so shocked when a group of ill socialized kids mimic the values they have heard their entire lives!  The question is not how could they, but why the hell have we taken so long to finally wake up to the abuse?

As a disclaimer let me say I am more analytical and less emotional than most people on this issue because 1) I researched weight stigma for my master’s in sociology and 2) as someone who has been fatter than average since birth, that kind of abuse was a constant in my life from K-8th grade.  Being fat, Polish American, the smart kid, the kid raised by a grandmother from a different generation and an introvert who always wanted to keep to herself made me a popular target for bullies.  There was not a week that went by that someone didn’t make an unpleasant comment and prolonged, center of attention abuse like the bus monitor experienced happened to me regularly.  So when I saw the video, it didn’t make me an emotional wreck, but almost downright violent there is such a disconnect between how we act on a daily basis and the outrage we feel when we see others do it!

Don’t get me wrong.  I am not defending those mini ruffians, (or Joan Rivers wanna bes) although I do give them credit for apologizing.  But an undeniable fact is that kids absorb whatever values society indoctrinates in them!  How many people shocked by these boys laugh when Leno, Letterman, or any number of other comedians pull out the fat jokes on a regular basis?  How many snark along with the gossip columnists when a celebrity gains weight? And no one has to even get fat to be mocked. Let any famous person go from Hollywood emaciated to average human sized and it gets more headlines then the unfixable nuclear reactors at Fukushima!  What rock can we crawl under to avoid fat bashing?  Fat people are lampooned in sitcoms, villainized on the big screen, stereotyped on talk shows.  Even if we turn off our t.v. sets, who can go to the supermarket without noticing those in your face tabloids about best and worst beach bodies?

What is really sad is that we don’t demonize fat because it is inherently bad.  Historically and culturally, other societies have been neutral or even revered fat.  So much of the legitimized abuse is about profit, pure and simple!  The purpose of media is to help sponsors sell products.  Here is a clip everyone should watch, Frontline’s The Persuaders.  (If you don’t want to watch the whole thing, go to #3 Times Are Changing)1 There are agencies in Hollywood whose jobs are to review scripts and find places to insert product friendly propaganda.  This clandestine marketing is not always as obvious as your favorite character drinking a particular brand of coffee or driving a particular type of car.  Often it doesn’t recommend a specific product; it simply reinforces the need for it.  So that sitcom plot about the fat blind date from hell may have just been created because a weight loss sponsor commissioned it.  Still not convinced?  Ever hear of Ed Bernays?  He was Freud’s double nephew and father of modern public relations.  At one time Bernays persuaded Arthur Murray to publicly proclaim fat people are an embarrassment on the dance floor2. Why?  Because Bernays was working for big tobacco at the time and smoking was seen as a form of weight control 3. Imagine that!  How many mothers have passed on body hatred to their daughters?  How many women let the scale determine their self worth? How many people pass up plump but practically perfect potential partners? All because some PR hack thought of a clever way to sell cancer sticks!

It is not just entertainment that is the problem.  More “credible” (said with a grain of salt and a choking noise) sources also demonize fat for fun and finger pointing.  
All those pharma sponsored health scare studies that tell us obesity is driving up health costs! (Pretty clever of those fatties actually, to both die early and drive up health costs!) Laughable studies tell us fat people are contagious! (Take away their friends and they will make new ones at Weight Watchers!)  The White House tells us  fat kids are a drain on their communities!4 (Never mind those innocent bankers and the global economic crisis!  And I am sure it was pure coincidence that on other obesity related topics they included affirmations in the comment section from the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation, close allies of Johnson & Johnson who make weight loss products.)  Lets not forget global warming, yet another academic sell out from the UK claims obesity is responsible!  (Forget about the oil companies who have been suppressing alternative energy for years!)  When every institution in our society conveniently blames fat people for every conceivable social ill, just why are we so surprised when kids treat them like public enemy number one???

Lets also not forget that abuse against fat people is legitimized as a motivational factor to “help” them lose weight.  School kids are admonished not to bully, but they read stories about fat kids who respond correctly to teasing by losing weight and “getting healthy.” (Real healthy except for the years of therapy required to de-stigmatize!)  Infamous diet Dr. Atkins advocating shaming people into slimming!  One reason I almost put my fist through the t.v. when I heard Brian Williams ask “How Could They?” is that NBC is responsible for one of the most destructive and disempowering shows of all – The Biggest Loser.  Contestants desperate for attention and approval undergo all sorts of pathetic, unsafe, and counterproductive weight loss methods for an audience who would rather sit back on the couch and watch someone else’s transformation than work on their own issues.  Dysfunctional all the way around!  Any contestant who questions a trainer is portrayed as rebellious and self-sabotaging, no matter how legitimate their point is.  The message that is carried away - your condition is all your fault and until you diminish, shut up and take what we dish out.  Since bullies always go for the weakest target, why wouldn’t they pick on fat people who are discouraged from ever fighting back!

Some may be shocked by the sheer fact that this was an elderly woman and respect for seniors should trump all else.  No, fear of fat trumps all else.  Consider a Jenny Craig commercial that was played after 911.  I don’t remember it exactly, but the gist was that the ad’s spokesperson went to Jenny Craig because after 911 she realized she was too out of shape to get her family out of her home safely in the event of an emergency.  The emotional manipulation in that commercial was sickening.  Virtually NO other company would have dared exploit 911 that soon after it happened.  Imagine a security company or an energy drink trying to use the same dynamics.  There would have been a public outcry!  But fat stigma is so effective at turning off our reasoning, so efficient at disabling our defenses, so expedient at returning us to our wounded inner child they got away with it!

The biggest tragedy in Karen Klein’s case is that airing this video over and over again will drive many people to more of the same.  Many will flock to the diet products, but because their own sense of self worth is so conditional, they will never achieve the power they think getting thin will give them.  Even if they do manage to beat the odds and keep weight off, their stomachs will still turn, their knees will still go weak, their heart will still beat faster when they see this kind of thing!  Real protection does not come from diminishing the outside, but reinforcing the inside!  We need to stop letting ourselves be manipulated!  Period!  Take small steps.  If someone tells a fat joke on late night, change the channel!   If you see an article unfairly scapegoat fat people, post a comment under it!  If a friend or co-worker nags you, tell them your body is not public domain!  Most importantly, stop buying diet products.  Stop using your own money to feed the very forces that keep you oppressed.  This will not change until WE change it!  Not just for the grandmas who have endured years of abuse, but for all the young children who can be free of the obsession to do so many more important things with their lives!

Poll

Have you seen the video of Karen Klein being bullied?

52%56 votes
47%50 votes

| 106 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  There was a lot more than her weight (18+ / 0-)

    1.  The kids told her that her family should kill themselves-her son had committed suicide.
    2.  The kids were mocking her working class background-she was ridiculed for getting her purse at Wegman's which is a local grocery chain.  They were asking her where she lived as the bus pulls pass a nice middle class neighborhood.  She refuses to tell them.
    3.  They wanted to defecate on her.
    4.  She was old and that made her target for the ageist comments.

    Sure fat has always been an easy target for bullies but with this woman I think her biggest difference was that she was poor and she was old.  I doubt that she really wanted to be working but needed to work.  I think this is a wake-up call on how we treat older people. They are no longer given respect as elders and are a subject of ridicule and derision.  They try to get by on tiny pensions and tiny social security.  The medical system is absolutely a mess yet they have to navigate from doctors and medicine hoping that insurance covers it ir choose what bill to pay if there is no insurance.  I think what people saw was their own grandmother and this is what shook people.  So I am sorry you were a target of bullies but there is more to this video than a weight issue.  This is what happens when the young prey on the old.

  •  Righteous rant! There is some emerging (3+ / 0-)

    science that may show that not only our genes and how our hormones work, but perhaps the environment we grew up in and even our gut flora influence how much we weigh.  

    On the other hand, it may be that being a couch potato of any weight may be bad for health; larger people who exercise regularly have similar health outcomes on the average to smaller people who exercise.

    ...Son, those Elephants always look out for themselves. If you happen to get a crumb or two from their policies, it's a complete coincidence. -Malharden's Dad

    by slowbutsure on Fri Jun 22, 2012 at 05:11:03 PM PDT

  •  We no longer encourage mutual respect or values (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chimene

    Kids and parents are too poor and too clueless due to the forces of the media that over-hypes everything to understand.      The media role has become to dumb down society so that their masters can steal from society without any question.    The banker role is to rob us.  

    I was thinking the other day how my young niece has 2 kids out of wedlock and 2 ex-husbands and her future and outlook is not too bright for her.   But she made her bed.  

    Society has lost its desire to create a respectful society where kids are born to married mothers and fathers.    Fifty years ago this was unacceptable because the father of the mother to be had a shotgun.      This pattern should be unacceptable today.   If you can't afford a child then don't have one.    Don't ever expect others to pay for or raise them.  

    Victims of bigotry are the poorest, least influential members of society.......never the wealthiest, most educated, most overrepresented in high levels, and most influential. Bigotry hurts the least influential. To claim or say otherwise is absurd.

    by dailykozzer on Fri Jun 22, 2012 at 05:16:06 PM PDT

    •  Are you trying to say that (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      chimene

      shotgun marriages 50 years ago brought about a culture of mutual respect?

      •  What it helped to do was create a society (0+ / 0-)

        that disapproved of out-of-wedlock children, whose cost was often paid for by others, and too such a situation assured poverty for the mother.

        Victims of bigotry are the poorest, least influential members of society.......never the wealthiest, most educated, most overrepresented in high levels, and most influential. Bigotry hurts the least influential. To claim or say otherwise is absurd.

        by dailykozzer on Fri Jun 22, 2012 at 08:11:28 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Sounds like RW rhetoric to me (0+ / 0-)

          liberal bias = failure to validate or sufficiently flatter the conservative narrative on any given subject

          by RockyMtnLib on Sat Jun 23, 2012 at 06:12:54 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yeah young unwed girls having babies (0+ / 0-)

            on the public's dime is a pathway to their success and it strengthen's the national social fiber.    

            That's not RW rhetoric its an outcome that validates the stupidity of opposition of some to Planned Parenthood and abortion.    

            More importantly how did we the public ever come to condone or socially accept  unwed young girls having babies?   Once something is accepted as a norm it becomes a pathway to more of it.   That's the difference between the 60s-70s and today.  It wasn't accepted then.  Today it is regularly shown by the media as the values of Hollywood?    

            Victims of bigotry are the poorest, least influential members of society.......never the wealthiest, most educated, most overrepresented in high levels, and most influential. Bigotry hurts the least influential. To claim or say otherwise is absurd.

            by dailykozzer on Mon Jun 25, 2012 at 05:11:05 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  For your information my godson (0+ / 0-)

              has a single mom. She isn't wealthy but is very good with her money and has more than enough to provide for him. She works her ass of at the psych ward at Denver General but still tries to make time for her son whenever she can.

              Would you disapprove of couples that don't officially get "married" but have more of a common law marriage and still have kids?  There are all kinds of families. Gays can't legally get married but some of them have raised excellent kids.

              Sorry, but your response still looks like RW rhetoric to me.

              liberal bias = failure to validate or sufficiently flatter the conservative narrative on any given subject

              by RockyMtnLib on Mon Jun 25, 2012 at 06:33:33 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  Too poor? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      expatjourno, buffie

      Some of the meanest, most aggressive, most vile children and adults come from wealthy and extremely affluent families.  In fact, there's research that proves they're more selfish.
      http://open.salon.com/...

      It's not a far jump from "selfish/lacking in empathy" to "lacking in compassion" now  is there?

      So the heck does being poor have to do with "lacking mutual respect or values"?  

      That's rather a fascinating attitude you hold right there, since we're noticing such things....

      © grover


      So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

      by grover on Fri Jun 22, 2012 at 11:47:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Rmoney and Bush are rich, from rich families. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      buffie, RockyMtnLib

      And by married parents. Yet both lack character, both were bullies growing up and neither has the slightest compassion for the less fortunate.

      So I think you can stick your theory about married parents with financial means right up your ass.

      Barack Obama: Gives people who tortured other people to death a pass, prosecutes whistleblowers. Change we can believe in!

      by expatjourno on Sat Jun 23, 2012 at 12:53:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I had a run-in with some neighborhood kids (6+ / 0-)

    a few years ago. Their total lack of filters and respect for an adult was jaw-dropping. There was absolutely no innocence to their behavior whatsoever; it was intentional and malicious. I see this more and more when I'm out and about. It's disgusting.


    Not this mind and not this heart, I won't rot • Mumford & Sons

    by jayden on Fri Jun 22, 2012 at 06:02:02 PM PDT

    •  In so many cases (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jayden, luckylizard

      kids raise themselves. Parents, even when they are available,  are disengaged, and think it might stifle the kids' fragile egos to be supervised.

      •  Some of the most maladjusted kids (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        chimene, PinHole, jayden, buffie

        I ever taught were from upper middle class families.  These kids did every activity that was available, had every gadget known to humankind, and were attending parochial school.  The only thing they lacked was parents who had a clue.

        I wanted to blame the parents, but in many cases, they really thought they were doing the right thing for their kids.  Slamming down fast food in the minivan between dance lessons and soccer practice was their idea of quality time.  Theses same parents did know that their kids were out of control but had no idea how to prevent that.  Instead, their first reaction to the crap their kids did was to blame others, teachers, kids, coaches, anyone else.  By the time I had these kids in class, they'd been living this strange reality for 12-14 years and there was no undoing it.  

        I miss teaching, but am not sad to be out of that particular situation.  I liked teaching poor kids a whole lot better.

        -7.62, -7.28 "Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly." -Langston Hughes

        by luckylizard on Fri Jun 22, 2012 at 06:28:33 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Parents are exhausted. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jayden, RockyMtnLib

        Parents today are time-starved and away from their children as never before.

        And there are few full-time, stay-at-home parents. The need to have two incomes, plus the need for both parents to have their own careers working long hours outside the home, has lowered the quality of parenting. Meanwhile, the schools are asked to shoulder more and more of the child-rearing burden with too few qualified teachers to do it.

        In a saner society, mothers and father would not have to work such long hours and would not have such long and tiring commutes by car. There would also be high-quality schools, including pre-schools. That saner society exists in most of Europe and in Scandinavia in particular.

        Barack Obama: Gives people who tortured other people to death a pass, prosecutes whistleblowers. Change we can believe in!

        by expatjourno on Sat Jun 23, 2012 at 01:03:31 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Words worth remembering... (0+ / 0-)


    Not this mind and not this heart, I won't rot • Mumford & Sons

    by jayden on Fri Jun 22, 2012 at 07:04:36 PM PDT

  •  Gay And Lesbians Kids Have Had To Endure (0+ / 0-)

    bullying for decades.  And still do.

    The excuse by the bullies is "they deserve it if they are going to be that way"

    With the bullies totally supported by society

    Absolutely no support for the gay kid.

    They were on their own.

    No one to turn to, not even their parents or any relative.

    Total isolation.

    Isolation was (often still is) totally acceptable.

    It was criminal that public schools starting in the 1950's and 60's presented "educational" films to school children that homosexual means pedophile.

    No wonder that adults today who grew up with that kind of indoctrination have a hard time separating how they were indoctrinated as children from reality.

    Although it is changing.

    It still goes on.

    http://www.youtube.com/...

    The Republican Party is Simply a Coalition of Greed and Hate

    by kerplunk on Fri Jun 22, 2012 at 09:10:34 PM PDT

    •  So have fat kids, new kids, kids with different... (0+ / 0-)

      ...religions, kids with different skin colors, etc.

      Barack Obama: Gives people who tortured other people to death a pass, prosecutes whistleblowers. Change we can believe in!

      by expatjourno on Sat Jun 23, 2012 at 01:04:45 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Very True. The Difference Is That Gay Kids Often (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        expatjourno

        times had no one to turn to.

        If you are bullied because of your race, you could go home and get support from your parents knowing they probably experienced something similar because of race.

        If you are bullied because of your religion, you could go home and get support from your parents knowing they probably experienced something similar because of religion.

        If you are bullied because of being gay, you could go home and get kicked out of the house by your parents.

        The Republican Party is Simply a Coalition of Greed and Hate

        by kerplunk on Sat Jun 23, 2012 at 06:51:20 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  According To The Mainstream Media Every (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PinHole

    thing is fine now that Karen got a jackpot of $500,000 (and climbing) to "go on vacation".

    That now is the main focus of the reporting.

    Apparently everyone can get over subjection to bullying by being given money.

    The Republican Party is Simply a Coalition of Greed and Hate

    by kerplunk on Fri Jun 22, 2012 at 09:15:56 PM PDT

  •  Good diary (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lu3

    The responses have been interesting thus far. I can't wait to see the rest. "it's not that she was overweight, you see..."

    Amusing and sad.  Even when tapped on the shoulder and told "this is a problem," folks don't want to acknowledge that overweight and obese people are treated abysmally every day in America in big ways and through a million tiny cuts.

    You should step into a diary about Chris Christie sometime. The hatred the flies in those is so thick. It's all horrid fat jokes, but when called on it, the jokesters reply that they're not really fat jokes.  Ah, yes... I see... I'm trying to think of the last time anyone made snide comments about the food John Boehner, Marco Rubio, or another politician consumed, much less how much. But they're not fat jokes. Sure.

    Tipped, recd, and my thanks. We cannot say we stand for human rights when too many of us consciously or unconsciously despise people simply for the way they look.

    © grover


    So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

    by grover on Fri Jun 22, 2012 at 11:35:44 PM PDT

  •  Correction to your diary - (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    buffie

    Living in upstate NY, this situation has been very much on the local news.  

    First, as of Friday night, only 2 of the kids have apologized through Anderson Coopers 360, via the police.  None have had the decency to offer a face to face apology.  One father did.  A little groveling is in order.  

    According to the Greece NY school district, all 4 have "accepted responsibility."   HA!  We know how much that means.  

    Several posters to local media have pointed out that if the bus driver stops, calls for back-up, the bus runs are interrupted and the multiple schedules are thrown off.  They then get reprimanded and maybe fired.

    It seems several of the boys have been ganging up not just on Mrs. Klein, but other students, with parents only now speaking up.

    Not living in that community, and not really being friends with too many with kids that age, I still know of two sets of parents locally who will not allow their kids to ride the bus, due to this all too typical bus behavior.  One has to drive 12 miles each way (X 2) to drive her kids back & forth from school.  She does it not only because of bullying, but because she doesn't want her kids learning by example.  Her husband is a local physician so they have the money so she can work at home a little.  

    Another fed up bus driver posted that the troublesome kids don't get denied bus transportation, because the district looses state reimbursement money for every day a kid is not on the bus.  

    The verbal abuse over weight is just symptomatic of a general lack of respect toward adults.  These kids went on to trash just about everything else their imaginations could come up with. Having to put up with that, it's no wonder Mrs. Klein self medicates with food.

    The $12,000 - $15,000 a year she earns being a monitor probably pays her grocery bills.  Plus being a district employee, gives her some medical coverage to supplement Medicare.   Being that it was almost the last day of school, she probably thought, I'll just sit here and take this and next week these monsters won't be part of my life.  

    The district needs to help such people and the bus drivers, who put up with a lot of sh*t, by reinforcing strict behavior standards on buses.  Maybe in the past she has been more pro-active about trying to stop the misbehavior, and has basically given up.   And too many parents can't be bothered, and offer no consequences.

    Just like those who suffer with being sexually abused, the trip to Disneyland, while very nice, doesn't excuse the abuse.  

    I hope these monsters (and their parents!) loose bus transportation privileges for the entire coming school yr (this district is in the snow belt!) and show up at Mrs. Klein's house to mow her lawn all summer, taking direction from her and answering, "Yes, mam," "What can I do for you today after I mow your lawn?"  

    And of course be parted from their cell phones.

  •  Thanks/Correction (0+ / 0-)

    Thanks for all the input. Also, I suggested the wrong Persuaders segment.  While #5 is very interesting, #3 The Times They Are A Changing is the one I wanted to recommend. It is the one that talks about product placement and beyond.

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