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Kevin Siers

SPEECH HITS SOUR NOTE FOR SOME
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Section: BUSINESS
Page: 1D
JEFF ELDER, Staff Writer
Column: JEFF ELDER - THE INSIDER


A top executive tells a large crowd what is intended to be an entertaining story about two men with Down syndrome having fistfights.

This is the kind of thing that makes PR professionals very nervous.

H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler, president of Lowe's Motor Speedway, told such a story Wednesday to a large crowd at the Public Relations Society of America luncheon. It didn't go over well. The crowd seemed uncomfortable, and several people told me afterward they found the story odd and offensive.

Wheeler related an anecdote from Belmont, his hometown, about two men with Down syndrome who hated each other and got into fights regularly. One of the men's prized pencil was broken in one of the melees, and the town doctor comforted him by fixing it with a small cast.

Wheeler said he told the story to illustrate the doctor's compassion. He then suggested that honoree Peter Gorman, chief of CMS, shows just that type of kindness and creativity.

"I've told that story 20 times," Wheeler said, when I told him the story made some people uncomfortable. "I've told it at national conventions. It's never, ever offended anyone. I must've told it wrong this time. I apologize. I certainly didn't mean to offend anybody."

Ken

If a caption has to be explained, then perhaps it shouldn't be there; though I recognized the very recent story here. I've seen other winners with somewhat obscure references for which it was assumed that an informed reader would recognize.

Kevin Siers

I'm assuming an informed reader will recognize this reference as well. I'm just adding the background this time as sort of an experimental public service.

LT

I like the winner with or without the explanation. Lee Baber was on his toes !! While I appreciate the currentness of the Dumbledore caption, as well as the LOL it provided for KS, perhaps it should have been stored, and brought out of the closet for a more appropriate cartoon. Looking forward to the next challenge !!!

CH

I think that this is a great caption. Posting the story that it references will help more readers appreciate it, especially if they are browsing the archives sometime in the future and they have forgotten about the speech.

Kenneth Irving

Very funny winning caption, just wish I'd thought of it. When you don't understand the caption, do a little research ( hint, GOOGLE) then you'll laugh, and you'll learn.

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