Karen Klein is indeed a sweet, patient, loving soul.
Not many would have or could have done what the 68-year-old grandmother has done, which is to endure the slings and arrows of four middle schoolers who harassed her on a school bus.
The incident has made national news, courtesy of a cellphone recording of the incident, which took place in Greece, N.Y. A story from foxnews.com summarizes what happened: "Klein is seen in a 10-minute viral video attempting to ignore the verbal attacks by students on a bus operated by the Greece Central School District, near Rochester, N.Y. Children on the bus hurl repeated insults and threats at the grandmother, calling her fat and at one point suggesting that her children commit suicide."
According to another story about the incident on the businessweek.com, one of the students' exact quote about suicide was, "You don't have a family because they all killed themselves because they don't want to be near you."
And yes, profanity was involved.
Klein endured this abuse without uttering a word, probably because she's that kind of loving person, but perhaps also because of this: Had she grabbed one of those little monsters by the throat and given him the choking he richly deserved, SHE'D be the one on the hot seat, not the students.
Klein isn't like some other 68-year-old women I know. The very second the first insult came out of the mouths of one of those students, those women would have gone straight-up Madea on the little potty mouths.
"Madea" as in the Tyler Perry movies with that character's name in the title. Perry, through Madea, seems to have tapped into what many mainstream Americans are feeling. In one Madea movie, an incident occurred on a school bus that was similar to what happened to Klein, who is a bus monitor for the Greece Central School District.
In the movie, Madea was the bus monitor. One student made the mistake of disrespecting Madea the way those four students disrespected Klein. But in the movie, Madea went Madea on the boy.
As in she whupped that heinie. And when she was done, Madea made it clear the boy had more coming.
"I'll see you at three o'clock," she told the boy, who'd been reduced to a weeping, whimpering lump of protoplasm.
The Madea movies are fiction, and it's only in the fictional world that anyone dares to touch a student these days, no matter how offensive, obnoxious or downright dangerous that student's conduct might be.
That's because there are those in society who have moved the rest of us into their own fictional world, the one were all children are just sweet, well-behaved, misunderstood little dears.
The sweet, well-behaved little dear characterization might apply to some children. But others are obnoxious, overbearing, rude, disrespectful, misbehaving little terrorists. And if they're of middle school age, like the ones who tormented Klein, you can bet that description is more the norm than the exception.
If I've heard it once, I've heard it a couple of dozen times from teachers here in Baltimore: They're willing to teach anywhere, they tell me, but middle school. Elementary schools, with their hordes of ankle-biting rug rats running around? Bring 'em on. High schools, with their ranks filled with know-it-all teens? No problem. But middle schools? Well, give those teachers combat pay, a flak jacket and a comprehensive health insurance plan that covers psychiatric therapy and they MIGHT consider teaching in one.
If there's one thing that distinguishes educators of my school days from the ones in 2012, it is this: The ones in my day realized we were anything but sweet little dears.
Karen Klein found that out the hard way.
Examiner Columnist Gregory Kane is a Pulitzer-nominated news and opinion journalist who has covered people and politics from Baltimore to the Sudan.