Google canceled a People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals event at the companys California campus after employees complained the animal rights group compares animal abuse to racism, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.
Google employees invited Ingrid Newkirk, co-founder and president of PETA, to discuss her view that animals and humans are subject to similar levels of prejudice. Other employees claimed the topic was offensive to humans who face racism. The event was canceled after the employees protested.
“Google has these values, and with our talks, we have to align with these values,” a Google employee told Newkirk, according to a transcript of a phone call the two shared. “Googlers For Animals” invited the PETA president, whose talk was later squelched when members of the “Black Googler Network” complained.
Newkirk planned to show a video in which a member of the Wu-Tang Clan transforms from a black man into an Asian woman and eventually into a bear and a chicken. “It doesnt matter if we have fur or feathers or fins, the length of our nose or the number of legs,” hip hop artist RZA says in the video. “Were not different in any important way.”
The talk is an example of internal political strife roiling the tech company. Google received withering criticism from conservatives after the company fired former engineer James Damore in 2017 for writing and internally sending a memo criticizing the companys diversity policies. Conservatives are not the only group complaining about Googles culture. Liberal groups are targeting other liberal groups for supposedly being intolerant.
“Activists at Google” organized protests directed at President Donald Trumps policies, according to the WSJs report. Also, employees associated with “Sex Positive at Google” are concerned that explicit content is being nixed from the companys sharing software.
Google created another group shortly after the PETA incident responsible for reviewing speakers in advance to determine if their content will offend so-called Googlers.
“There was, like, a sort of outcry in response” said Google employee David Barry, referring to Newkirks proposed talk, according to the WSJ. “And the last thing that Google wants, that we want to do, is to make people, like, feel alienated, or hurt people, like, who voiced concern over this talk,” he added.
The incident struck Newkirk by surprise. “Its the most anti-racist talk youll ever hear,” she said.
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