Since the story of Karen Klein broke two days ago, many have focused on the victim and the abuse that she suffered. Rightfully so, many have been outraged by what she went through, and there has been an online effort to raise money to send her on a vacation as a way of making up for the abuse. But no one has focused much attention on the kids themselves. Why would they do this? What environment and culture leads to kids being so cruel? Those were the questions Glenn wanted to know the answers to. But some have taken to his description of the kids being "dead inside". Is Glenn off base in his description of the children's cruelty - or are people succumbing to the same rationalizations that allowed this to happen?
The debate came to the forefront during the radio show this morning when a listener called into the show and tried to blame Glenn for any fallout that may occur as a result of the story.
"Glenn, I think this story might be your downfall. I think that money's going to ruin that woman's life and these kids that you've exposed and called dead inside are getting death threats. This should have been a situation handled entirely where kids learn and grow and show remorse and move on, but now you've blown this thing all out of proportion and this money's going to come in, family members are going to come out of the woodwork. They're going to take that money from her," the caller (Chris) said.
Glenn responded, "I didn't start the fundraiser, I had nothing to do with it and personally I like the fact that people are banding together and they are trying to do something good, I don't think that's a great solution at all. But if that's what people want to do, that's what people want to do."
"I don't have an agenda," Chris tried to say. "I just saw you calling these kids dead inside. Kids do stuff like that that parents never even hear about half the time."
"This is a situation that these kids can mature and grow out of," Chris added. "And you've turned them into monsters. I just think it's a bad thing."
"So Chris, tell me what you did as a child that you've been carrying around that you didn't tell anybody about," Glenn asked.
Chris fired back, "I've said bad things and nasty things as a teenager that I would never say now and fully regret. I've cut down people but maybe never to that degree, but you'd be surprised what some of, quote, the good children out there are capable of saying and doing when they're young teenagers. That's when adults step in and say, hey, what you did is wrong. But you don't go on national TV and call them dead inside and start criticizing them as horrible parents. "
"Hold on just a second," Glenn said, "What is the problem with calling them dead inside? Would you call them when they don't see humans as humans anymore?"
One of Glenn's primary critiques of the whole story has been that these kids did not see the elderly Karen Klein as a person anymore. He has said the kids saw her as a YouTube video in the making, and their lack of empathy is a symptom of a larger problem.
" I've never been this way as a kid, Chris. I was never this way. I did stupid things. I did cruel things," Glenn said. "I said cruel things as a kid. I've said cruel things on the air. I've had my share of bad things, too, just like you did, Chris. Just like you did. However, I have never in my life seen anything like what happened on that bus. That's 30 kids. Nobody said a word. No adults said any word. No one said anything. And then in the press conference, the adults come out and say, 'Hey, my kids suffered enough.' Bullcrap. They're dead inside because that's the kind of society that we are living in now. It's changed, Chris. It's changed," Glenn said.
After the break, Glenn continued to address some of Chris's points.
"You know, this last call, I don't know what his problem was. Maybe he's, you know, a decent guy who just disagrees," Glenn said.
"Sould I be cruel and mean, you know, in my drinking days when I wanted to be? Oh, yeah. I mean, I picked a guy up by a tie and told him I was going to eat him for F'in' breakfast," Glenn admitted. "I've done some cruel things in my life. I could be a cruel man if I wanted to be. I've never done 10 minutes. I've never said I was going to F'in' knife you."
"The reason why they're dead inside is because they refuse to see this, they refuse to see this woman as a human. They're not seeing her, they're not seeing their effect. They're seeing her as a YouTube video. They're seeing her as a vehicle for entertainment or stardom. This is the video game or video culture that we're in. And, you know, if you are ‑‑ if you're my age or around my age, you have to understand, what our kids are being brought up into, new things have been introduced and old things have been ejected and rejected. So the entire world is different now. You can't judge the kids today and what they are thinking and doing based on what you thought or did in your day. It's not the same. It's just not the same. And because there's virtual. We didn't have virtual. People were people."
"Look, here's the deal. You have something hard to say? What's your first instinct? To go over to their house, to call them on the phone, to write a nice e‑mail or text them? If you could get away with saying hard things in a text with a little smiley face, you would. You would. Because it's the easiest way to communicate. It's the easiest ‑‑ it's just meaningless. Our kids are so far removed from actually having to look someone in the eye and have the ramifications of what they say actually hit them. And because of that virtual disconnect, they stopped seeing people as people."
Stu added, "And, you know, call them dead inside. At that moment they are dead inside. That doesn't mean that their whole life they have to be that way. That doesn't mean they can't learn from this and turn into a good person."