Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Another Case of "You Are Less than Me"

Word is circulating among disability activists about a doughnut shop in Campbell, California. The owners chose to name it Psycho Donuts. The mayor of the city, Jane Kennedy, attended the ribbon cutting for the business.

Supposedly, "The store capitalizes on the theme of a "fun mental institution," a "lighthearted insane asylum" complete with a padded cell where kids can take photos while wearing a straightjacket, a "group therapy" area, employees dressed in medical garb, and donuts named after psychiatric disabilities, such as Massive Brain Trauma and Bipolar. Psycho Donuts' website states that it has taken the neighborhood donut and put it on medication, and given it shock treatment.

Reports are that the store owners have refused to meet with representatives from NAMI and from the Silicon Valley Independent Living Center.

Six comments on one local website reviewing the shop included only one that objected to the name.

Disability activists have organized a petition effort, and signatures may be attached online. The shop itself is also blogging, but the "comments" widget is not available, and the blogger's profile is impersonal.

Will rights advocates' efforts result in the name being changed? No doubt the investors have significant amounts of money sunk into the store motif. They may prefer to simply continue to follow the logic expressed on the blog ...
It's a shame that there are a handful of folks out there (most of whom have never stepped foot inside Psycho Donuts, no less California) who do not have a sense of humor. Follow me here - if our donuts are crazy, does that make us insensitive to the mental health community? Is El Pollo Loco insensitive to Crazy Chickens? Was Patsy Cline being hurtful when she wrote the song Crazy? Is it insensitive to call a donut bipolar?

To me, it's simply more evidence of the human tendency to differentiate and denigrate for reasons that reside in some dark corner of our psyche. We whisper ugly descriptions, and then we look in the mirror and do not see we have described ourselves.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A new blog has started to fight the stigmatization of the mentally ill by places like Psycho Donuts.