In one of the most merciless nonviolent online videos imaginable, a pack of asshole schoolkids in Greece, New York, endlessly taunt their bus monitor, calling her poor, fat, and ugly in a barrage of unfathomable epithets. The victim, Karen Huff Klein, is a 23-year veteran of the school district and can only wipe away her tears during the brutal onslaught. Seriously, don't bother watching the multiple clips, uploaded to YouTube by a concerned third party, unless you want to question whatever faith in humanity you still cling to. But in a rare turn of events, strangers on the Internet are working to win back some points for mankind.
"I was trying to just ignore them, hoping they would go away and it doesn't work," Klein told the Democrat and Chronicle. "Trust me, they didn't go away." On her Facebook, Klein writes, "Still working for Greece, unless I come into lots of money I will continue to work ... I enjoy it also. I have been a widow for almost 17yrs. Still live in Greece ... "
School officials held a news conference on the matter on Wednesday and the local police department is reportedly looking into the incident, which occurred Monday. But that action came only after an uproar online, in which Reddit users and other kind souls took it upon themselves to help Klein, a grandmother of eight.
In a "CALL TO ARMS," Reddit users have banded together to offer messages of support. The D&C reports, "She also received several bouquets of flowers from strangers who were moved by the images." But most notably, a fund-raiser on the website Indiegogo has already raised more than $10,000 in hopes of sending Klein on a vacation or, at this rate, to retirement. (Hopefully our well-worn sense of online cynicism is unfounded and the money will actually make its way to Klein.) 4Chan has also attempted to identify the kids involved (bad idea) and the furor over the issue today may have crashed the website.
The story can be tracked in real-time here, or you can almost definitely catch Klein on Today, Good Morning America, or both later this week.
Update: As of Thursday morning, more than $120,000 has been raised for Klein thanks to the campaign started by Max Sidorov of Toronto. He reports on the Indiegogo fund-raising page that Klein will indeed be appearing on Good Morning America, as well as with Anderson Cooper and beyond in the coming days.
And rest assured, there's too much attention on the case for it to be a scam: "An Indiegogo spokesperson told msnbc.com that the website was in touch with Klein, who will receive all the money raised through its site when the campaign is over, scheduled July 20." Klein reportedly earns less than $16,000 a year at her job as a bus monitor.
Update II: With 30 days left to go in the campaign for Klein, the pot is rapidly approaching $200,000. "It's too crazy to even comprehend at the moment," Sidorov told Daily Intel. "As soon as I saw the video online it almost broke my heart. I had so many experiences with bullying when I was a kid, and I was always the little guy," he said of his decision to start the vacation fund.
Sidorov said he's spoken to Klein's sister and that she is "very excited and very surprised" by the attention (and money). Indiegogo will insert Klein's bank account details, he said, so "the money won't touch my hands at all." But in a questionable twist, there's also been a fund set up for Sidorov, which currently has over $1,400 pledged. "I never expected this. I never wanted any of this," he insisted. "I'm going to take part of my money and donate to anti-bullying groups."