Last week, when The Harmon Taproom owner Pat Nagle decided to cancel his Tacoma bar's Tuesday-night "goldfish races," it was because PETA activists had gotten wind of the event, decided it was cruel to the fish, and besieged Nagle's business with threatening calls and e-mails.
Well, Nagle may have just come to the realization that PETA activists aren't the kind of folks who drink at his bar anyway.
Because he's thought better of his fish flop and is bringing back the races.
Nagle tells Seattle Weekly that after he cancelled the event, he received an "outpouring of support" from people who loved the races and wanted them back.
"By popular demand we just decided we would being 'em back," he says. "We made up some new rules to make sure all the little fishies aren't ever mistreated, and we're going to go back to having some fun."
For those who missed the original hubbub, goldfish races are made possible by putting the little 5-cent feeder fish into long canals, then either blowing air through a straw behind them or squirting them with squirt guns to goad them down the troughs.
PETA thinks this is cruelty of the highest order because of rumors that one of the fish may have fallen onto the floor and some drunk asshole may have swallowed one. But even beyond that, PETA doesn't like the races on the principle that it's a race involving animals.
Here's part of the group's statement, released shortly after the goldfish controversy surfaced.
Fish are complex beings who have personalities, communicate with each other, form bonds, and even grieve when family members and companions die. Being handled and subjected to loud noises and bright lights is a terrifying ordeal for such tiny, defenseless animals who have no opportunity to escape and who are viewed by the bar managers as expendable commodities.
Anyway, Nagle says that while they are bringing back the races, there will be some new rules involved.
"The fish will only be allowed to be handled by our handler, and we won't be using the squirt guns anymore. People will be allowed to use straws to blow air to scoot them down the tracks," he says without the slightest bit of sarcasm. "Basically, we're just saying 'hey, we weren't really doing anything wrong in the first place, but we're gonna change things and make sure all the fish are taken care of.' I can sleep peacefully knowing that no little fishies are being treated badly."
Something tells us that PETA isn't going to share Nagle's enthusiasm for new-and-improved drunken-bubble fish sprints.