Canned Mosquitoes

mosquito From CPD Webinars 09.02.08:

A woman has been awarded compensation after she was unfairly dismissed from her job for raising health and safety concerns after fleas bit her.
Waitress Maria Moon, 46, was fired from her job at Hafan y Môr holiday centre in Pwllheli, Gwynedd in May 2008. The tribunal accepted that the reason she had been sacked was because she raised health and safety issues after suffering the flea bites in a chalet where she lived.

In May 2008 she was dismissed, allegedly because management found that the coffee shop was overstaffed.  It was decided by the tribunal that although there was overstaffing no-one else was seriously considered.  The tribunal said, it was far more likely that her dismissal was triggered by her having raised health and safety issues.

This reminded me somewhat of that infamous stunt Bill Gates pulled last week at the TED (Technology Entertainment and Design) conference in a bid to raise the profile of his charitable work in third world countries. On stage, he released into the unwitting audience a jar full of mosquitoes claiming: “I brought some mosquitoes - we’ll let them roam around the auditorium. There’s no reason only the poor should experience this…” 

Good ol’ Bill.

Suffice it to say, it didn’t do much to raise public opinion of Gates who was later labelled “a d*ck” on TWiT and probably far, far worse by everyone present in the auditorium. The mosquitoes were allegedly vetted to be free from malaria but who knows what other nasties they might have been carrying. 

A lot of commentators have pointed to the fact that Gates should have been able to find a more acceptable way to get his point across. Interestingly, the debate on TWiT highlighted the fact that it’s illegal under both state and federal law to bring mosquitoes (or other disease-carrying vectors) into the California from abroad. John C. Dvorak also claimed that he knew “2 or 3 people” who have filed complaints against Gates in respect of his on stage antics.  However, this obviously presupposes that the mosquitoes were ‘sourced’ from outside the state.

Worthy though the topic might be, his method was a touch extreme; had I been in attendance and went home with mosquito bites, I’d been pretty darn angry. An analogy was also drawn between Gates’ mosquito stunt and laying on a lavish buffet when, after your guests have gorged themselves, smugly admit you’ve laced it with salmonella as it “shouldn’t just be citizens in third world countries who have to contend with such problems”. Interesting point.


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