As a bit of fun, at the end of last year we were asked to write a 3-minute speech on a given, open-ended topic. I chose "Kept in the Dark", and went on to be runner-up in the Patricia Burgoyne cup.

Essay by stella8h8changHigh School, 10th grade June 2005

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Although society has moved on into the twenty-first century, there are still suppressed groups in our society. Despite the fact that we have live in a free, democratic and socially supportive world, there is still a silenced population which resides amongst us all. The forgotten are still being kept in the dark, a primordial society where every day is a fight to survive.

They are the goldfish.

The way we treat our goldfish, despite the fact that their names imply wealth and luxury, is morally wrong. Look at their accommodation, daily care, public image, and what happens when we say goodbye.

Take a peek into the average goldfish's home and you will see a dim, dingy bowl, fake plants, gravel polluted with detritus and murky, acidic, nitrate-rich water. The human equivalent of such squalor would be confinement to a single furniture-lacking room, sewage mixed with scraps soiling the floor, and everything layered in dust.

Of course, there would be a window, not sufficient to keep the room bright, but large enough for the inhabitant's privacy to be invaded 24 hours a day.

What happens every day in a goldfish's life? Well if they're lucky, they get fed with some kind of synthetically prepared formula. If not, they may be forced to sift through the gravel and re-digest their own waste products, or yesteryear's leftovers. Some days, goldfish tanks are cleaned out and the water is changed. But this is seldom; they confine their mess to their tank only, unlike a dog, which messes your whole house; it's so easy to forget about fish...

...which leads to my next point. Everybody knows the insult, "you've got the memory of a goldfish!" But, many goldfish have good memories - eg, mine learn the times for feeding as...