Doernberg's disgust: How bullied bus lady got Charlottesville boost

The 68-year-old bus monitor who was viciously bullied by a group of New York middle-schoolers has a Charlottesville native to thank for helping push the video viral, a media maelstrom that prompted a half million dollars in donations from viewers horrified by her ordeal.

"Everyone who saw it had a huge emotional reaction," says Wesleyan University senior Ben Doernberg, who first spotted the video of a crying Karen Klein being verbally abused on the social news website Reddit and expected it to quickly become national news.

When it didn't, Doernberg says, he used an online tool called Storify to gather outrage for a posting, and then things quickly went "crazy."

Popular websites Gawker and Mashable linked to his collection, and soon traditional publications including the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal were citing him as well. When the Huffington Post embedded his post in its own story with a link to donations, the money for Klein, which started as a vacation fund set up by Toronto resident Max Sidorov, ballooned from under $2,000 to nearly $650,000.

Doernberg's web hits skyrocketed to 1.5 million.

"I never thought I'd have a post with more than a million hits," says Doernberg, son of founder Dan Doernberg and writer Rachel Unkefer (she the winner of the Hook's 2009 short fiction contest).

Doernberg says he's happy for Klein, who has since received apologies from some of the kids and their parents– and who should be getting one heck of a payday as a result of the public outpouring of support.

As for Doernberg, the college student jokes that he's already peaked as a blogger. "I've set a pretty high bar for myself," he laughs.

Read more on: Ben DoernbergKaren Klein


Can't wait for the next viral bully beatdown that was orchestrated by someone looking for a free payday. You know it's coming...

@copycat. Guess you did not see the video. Or you would know just how dumb you sound about this.

If going viral, by whatever means, mans $1,000,000 is raised for this woman.... she deserves every penny of it and more. What these kids repeatedly did to her is just not acceptable by any standard in this country. Each and every one of these kids needs to be turned over somebody's knees and beat with a thick leather belt. Ohh wait, we can't do this anymore in this country. That's why we find ourselves in the shape we do now.

Getting beat with a leather belt is the best thing that ever happened to me and my brothers!!! And I appreciate both of my parents doing it when I deserved it.

Hey Jimi, I did see the video. If you don't think someone is going to try and use a scam similar to this, you haven't been paying attention to the US and the internet over the last decade. I guess because it's possible you think I'm a rotten, terrible person I should clarify that I in no way condone what those kids did, and think it's absolutely terrible. However, someone (because there are lots of terrible people) will see this and figure out an attempt to turn it into money for themselves.

The only thing I can say about that vid was that it was the most accurate representation of the bullying I went through as a kid that I've ever seen. People hear "bullying" and if they haven't gone through it then they won't know what it necessarily means or involves. In my case it started when I was 9, by my next door neighbor Donna who was 2 years older than me, and decided one day that she didn't like me.........and neither would anybody else. Soon she was telling everybody at the bus stop and on the bus all kinds of who knows what about me, and in your typical mindless "herd mentality" fashion, most everybody just believed her and went along with it. And so five days a week, week after week, month after month, year after year, my experience was what you see in that video. Me, staring out the window "ignoring" the kids (most of whom were older than me) who were trying to outdo each other with the nastiest insults and put downs you can imagine. All of them peering over the seat, around the seat, leaning in, leering and jeering, just trying to outdo everybody else....and not letting up for the entire ride. And again, this went on for years. My parents did absolutely nothing about it, nor did they care, and back then (this was in the 80s) there wasn't all this indignant "Anti Bullying" rhetoric you hear about now. Wish there had been though.

It's weird to think that this woman only had to go through an experience to that level once - then gets over a half million dollars for it. Meanwhile countless kids around the country over the decades have gone through this sort of thing for very long periods of time, received no help, and were treated as if it never happened and expected to just...move on with life.

But that aside, the thing I think about now as an adult is the way in which the behavior that I witnessed of those possessed "kids" is a microcosm of what you see in the adult world. I'm talking about the mindless herd mentality to just go along with whatever somebody else claims about somebody or something. Not questioning what's being said. Not pressing for proof. Being unable to make up one's *own* mind about someone or something and instead just mindlessly hopping on a bandwagon full of hate and spite and going after some supposed "enemy of the state."

We see this every day in America. And the "adults" engaging in it were once the same mindless herd of possessed pawns rabidly attacking whomever the alpha leader told them to as a kid, or at least standing by on the sidelines laughing about it, but doing nothing. They were mindless then, and they're mindless now. Nothing changes. Meanwhile the kids who know what it's like to be the subject of nasty slander, being put on the "hit list" learn that one should always question things, because they've seen how it works firsthand unfortunately.

Oh, and on a parting note I'll say this - any kid who would behave like what you see in that vid is basically a spiritless/soulless human. Let's just call it what it is and rile the feathers of the politically correct police. ;) It's not just "kids being kids." If that were the case then why don't *all* kids behave that way? Many do not. Many inherently have empathy and know right from wrong, without having to be taught. You can't teach something like that anyway. *You're either born with it or you're not.* And it's part of what it is to be souled and infused with higher spirit. Souls can't be grown either. Case in point - one of the nasty bullies who took part in my years-long torment was a guy, three years older than me mind you named Paul, who now as I've seen on his Facebook is a huge fan of black metal/death metal. For those older folks who may not know, that's Satanic metal. It's not just regular rockin' metal. (which I like, among many genres I like.) The guy never had a soul/higher spirit, as evidenced by the fact that he thought nothing of going after little girls younger than him, and he certainly didn't develop one as an adult. Now he's into satanic metal. But all the while looking totally normal on the outside, complete with a list of hobbies and favorite sports teams on his facebook....and a nice career in the military. But that's how these types fool people. There's nobody home on the inside, but hey, the outer looks normal so they must be like you and me....right? Nope. My metaphysical research into this subject has turned up multiple sources all claiming the same thing, that a good chunk of our population at any given time is comprised of a large portion of spiritless people. Anybody who's been a victim of them can believe it, as I've seen in my metaphysical research which has allowed me to converse with people from around the world. The ones who rabidly deny it, scoff at it, or attack those for daring to say such a thing are obviously revealing what they really are.

And there you have it.