Did you hear about the new donut shop called Lou Gehrig Donuts? Come in early and two lovely nurses will feed you donuts while you sit helpless in a wheelchair. Offensive, right? Of course it is. Lou Gehrig’s Donuts is not real. I made it up.
Would you be as offended by a donut shop called Psycho Donuts? If you get there early enough you can “strap yourself into the padded cell and have donuts administered to you by the lovely nurses.” You can even have your photo taken in a stratjacket! Psycho Donuts is real. It is in Campbell, California. The shop’s CEO, who calls himself the “Chief Psycho” thinks it’s a shame folks don’t have a better sense of humor.
“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? We might be insulting the flour inside of that very sensitive donut, but let’s agree on one thing: donuts are not people; and the names of our donuts do not correspond to any opinion or pre-conceived notion about people,” Chief Psycho wrote in his blog.
Why is it okay – even funny – to make fun of mental illness? I have depression, bipolar and alcoholism. Am I supposed to be amused by a donut called “bipolar” with nuts on half and coconut flakes on the other half? Should my friend – who suffered major head trauma last month when a drunk driver hit him – not be offended by a donut called M.H.T. – massive head trauma, decorated with an X for each eye, a frown and a smudge of red frosting (blood) on the side of the face?
Mental health groups are not amused. NARSAD, the world’s leading charity dedicated to mental health research, returned a $50 contribution from the owners of Psycho Donuts yesterday after the “Chief Psycho” advertised on his blog that his contribution to NARSAD shows that Psycho Donuts is a “positive contributor to positive mental health.”
Puh-leeez. A padded cell? A straitjacket? A section of tables called “Group Therapy?” How can that possibly be a positive contribution to mental health?
“While you may not realize it, your store embodies the reasons that so many people with mental illness don’t want to admit their problem,” Joel Gurin, NARSAD’s acting president, wrote in a letter to the shop owners. “We can’t allow NARSAD’s name to be used to justify your portrayal of mental illness.”