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“Speechless,” Special Olympics PSA, stuns viewers August 13, 2012

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The Special Olympics has started airing a new public service announcement (PSA), titled “Speechless,” featuring Special Olympics athlete and golfer Susie Doyens. Doyens, who was mostly mute during her childhood, speaks about how her experience in the Special Olympics helped her deal with social anxiety, and evolve into a confident adult. Doyens went on to win over 180 medals in 26 years after asking her parents if she could participate in Special Olympics events. With millions of others hoping to participate, Doyens hopes to help others like her conquer their fears.

To see “Speechless” yourself, watch the following video:

Discussion Questions:

1.  What does the Special Olympics hope to accomplish with its new PSA?

2.  What is the main strategy that the organization uses by featuring Doyens? How does narrative captivate audiences?


Like the Special Olympics? Obama’s latest gaffe requires swift cleanup March 25, 2009

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While appearing on “The Tonight Show” with Jay Leno this past week, Barack Obama committed one of the most insensitive gaffes possible. Resorting to self-deprecating humor to describe his bowling, Obama compared one of his more recent scores to something one might see in the Special Olympics. Even before the show aired, Obama called Special Olympics Chairman Tim Shriver to apologize. Though critics like Gov. Sarah Palin pounced on Obama for what was a rare show of carelessness, leaders defending the Special Olympics and its participants from harmful slander accepted the President’s apology and seemed pleased that it would be the last time he spoke in similar terms.

To see Obama’s interview and gaffe yourself, watch the following video:

Discussion Questions:

1.  How could Obama’s gaffe have been detrimental to his ethos?  More specifically, do you think that had he not responded he could have suffered a crucial blow to his reputation in a time of crisis?

2.  Was Obama’s response satisfactory?  If so, what did he do right?  If not, what did he do wrong?

3.  Have presidents in the past made similar mistakes?  Which come to mind?  Did those mistakes ever harm the reputation of the president?