Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Dear Google, living creatures are not decoration

Here at the Top Contributor Summit in San Jose paid for by Google I am having a blast.  I am grateful for the opportunity to not only serve others but also to be recognized for my contributions to others.  However, tonight's party at the San Jose Convention Center in the Ballroom was sadly offensive.  Below is a picture of what I saw.

The issue was the fish that was used as centerpieces for the table.  The primary issue was the inhumane confinement that these fish needlessly had to endure for our viewing pleasure.  In addition to being exposed to colored water, and bright lights and the noise produced by 500 people.  I am not an expert on fish but these people claim to be.  http://www.csh.rit.edu/~tonyl/goldfish/testarea/fishcare.htm  In it they say the water should be room temperature, 30 square inches of tank for every inch of fish, and shelters in the tank for the fish to hide in because according to them, fish do experience stress.

Here is the problem.  The biggest issue I had was the behavior of the fish.  I observed that they did not have room to turn around and they kept head butting the walls of the glass.  The fish were obviously stressed out by the noise, the lights, and the confinement without enough room to turn around.  So I decided it was time to rescue some fish.  I know what some of you are saying, it is just some fish.  However, even lower lifeforms can experience discomfort.  What I saw was unethical.

FYI the same container used to display the fish is also used as a sealed container of water in my hotel room. As you can see from this picture below, it is slightly smaller in diameter than a standard can of soda.  The brand is VOSS artesian water from Norway.  Compare this photo with the picture above, it is the same container, made by the same company.

Now while the meat industry confines it's animals in inhumane conditions as well, at least it can be argued that the animal is not wasted.  By no means am I defending what goes on, but at least the animals serve a purpose.  Here the fish are obviously bred for no other purpose than decoration, then most likely returned to whatever vender Google uses to provide fish.

The first challenge was finding the person responsible for the fish, someone who could make a decision. Each person I talked to sent me to someone else.  Finally I found a Google employee that was willing to take action.  At first I was met with resistance.  I was told the fish are transported in confinement, so in these drinking glasses they have more room than they normally do.  I kept returning to the same point.  Would you like to be confined this way?  It was a hard case to make.  Most people do not regard fish as sentient life. Even I do not value their life as much more than basic organisms living on instinct.  However, I do believe they can experience discomfort and the fish were showing signs of stress.

Eventually I was told the fish would be taken off the tables at the conclusion of the dinner.  I remained insistant that they be rescued now.  I even recruited people near by to echo my concerns of the inhumane treatment and how it goes against Google's motto of Do No Evil.  Eventually I told them that I could no longer be in the room while the fish suffered so I told them I would outside into the lobby and sat on a couch. 

It was this act of protest that led the staff to do the right thing.  To everyone's delight, (that is those who I talked to) the fish were collected from the tables.  I was told that they were placed in a humane container. However, I have no way of verifying if this is true, or if they just told me that.  I was also told that the fish would be given to the convention center staff to take home to their families.  (Translation many would be flushed down the toilet as people forget to feed their fish)

While this batch of fish was spared, I want to make a plea to Google's event planner.  Do not use live animals as entertainment or decoration for your future events.  I have no issue with people who wish to keep fish as pets and treat them well in sanitary and humane conditions.  However, the treatment that Google gave to these fish was far from their motto of Do No Evil.  

If you agree with the message of this blog and were at the TC Summit please share it with your group leaders as this is simply nothing more than constructive criticism to make the next TC Summit even better next time. Other than that, I want to stress that I am having a good time, and I am making good friends.

If you are on Twitter consider posting this link to spread this message around.  http://clicktotweet.com/zgEKo