Sarah Triano's Comments to the Campbell City Council about Psycho Donuts
Mayor Kennedy and Members of the City Council My name is Sarah Triano. I am the Executive Director of the Silicon Valley Independent Living Center, a disability service and advocacy organization serving people with disabilities in Santa Clara county.
I'm here tonight on behalf of a coalition of over 20 different local, state, national, and international organizations who have serious concerns about a new business that just opened in Campbell called "Psycho Donuts." The name "Psycho Donuts" in and of itself is offensive, but one could argue that so are the names of many other businesses, including Hooters, the Washington Redskins, Four Eyes. What makes Psycho Donuts different and takes it into a completely different realm of offense is the marketing approach used by the owners, which is based on discriminatory, stereotypical, and incendiary depictions of people with mental and psychiatric disabilities. The store is advertised as a "fun mental institution," a "lighthearted insane asylum"
complete with a padded cell where kids can take photos while wearing a straightjacket, a "shock therapy" area, employees dressed in white lab coats, and donuts named after psychiatric disabilities, such as Massive Brain Trauma.
Anyone who builds a business on the theme of a "fun mental institution" has clearly never been in one and is either unaware of or indifferent to the 58,000 people currently confined in psychiatric institutions in the U.S.
where significant human rights violations are occurring every day. Anyone who would offer children a photo op in a straightjacket has clearly never been in one and is completely unaware of or indifferent to the fact that each year, approximately 150 people with psychiatric disabilities die in institutions as a result of seclusion and restraint practices, with children accounting for over 25% of those deaths. And anyone who would sell a donut called "Massive Brain Trauma" has clearly never had one and is either unaware of or indifferent to the 300,000 troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with traumatic brain injuries and the hundreds of service men and women who are at the multi-trauma center in Palo Alto right now struggling with traumatic brain injuries and mental health issues as a result of their heroic service to our country.
Psycho Donuts in Campbell may not be killing people with psychiatric disabilities, but they are capitalizing on a system that does. And as Martin Luther King, Jr, once said, "Even though morality may not be legislated, behavior can be regulated." Even though Psycho Donuts is not breaking any federal or state law, what they are doing is most certainly morally reprehensible and in violation of Section 5.01.145 of the Campbell Municipal Code which provides grounds for revocation of a business license when the operation of that business is "contrary to public morals." But we're not here tonight to get Psycho Donuts closed down. We're here tonight to ask some tough questions of the city of Campbell, questions like:
- Why isn't a business plan required to obtain a business license from the City of Campbell? And could that have served as a check and balance in this particular situation where thorough market research was clearly not done?
- Who in the City Clerk's office approved the business license for Psycho Donuts and when was the last time that person received disability awareness training?
- Has the economic situation gotten so bad in Campbell that business owners here have to resort to the oppression of other communities to make money? and
- Given the current situation, will the City of Campbell now agree to act as a mediator to facilitate a series of constructive dialogues between the groups in our coalition and the co-owners of this business so that we may achieve a common solution that fully addresses the serious human rights issues raised by "Psycho Donuts"?
Yesterday, I met 1:1 with one of the owners, Mr. Kipp Berdianski, and presented him with a list of 4 demands including a complete change of the business name and theme. While Mr. Berdianski was open to these changes, he was unwilling to make them without direct funding from us for the costs associated with those changes. While we refuse to pay for Psycho Donuts to change, we have put in calls to see if funding from the Mental Health Services Act may be used to assist this local business in doing the right thing. But if funding cannot be found, and Psycho Donuts refuses to change, we have a problem. We have a major problem.
And why is it your problem, you might ask? Whether you want it or not, the national spotlight is now on Campbell, California, and organizations all over this country are watching and waiting to see how the city of Campbell will respond to such blatantly and morally reprehensible behavior against people with psychiatric disabilities. Like Selma, Alabama in the 1960s with its "whites only" lunch counters, Campbell, California is now faced with a choice. How you choose to respond to the civil and human rights challenge posed by Psycho Donuts will ultimately color how your city is viewed in the history books. How do you want to be known?
And closer to home, think about what kind of community you want to create for your children? A community divided by discrimination and fear? Or an inclusive community that values diversity and all human beings? Together, I know that we can deepen the understanding of what it means to be a human being and dedicate all of Santa Clara County to an inclusivity that values the dignity, equality and worth of every human being.
Human rights are inherent to all human beings, including those with psychiatric disabilities - we cannot afford to let the thoughtless actions of some erode the rights of others to live with respect and dignity. Thank you for assisting our efforts to uphold the respect and dignity of all human beings.