Election Sideshow Update: The city of Wichita, Kansas, is voting on a ballot measure that would, if passed, add fluoride to the city’s water for the first time since the John Birch Society pushed a referendum to ban fluoride in 1964. The measure, which deals with an issue that most municipalities in the country decided fifty years ago, was placed before the voters as the result of a petition drive by doctors and dentists, after the City Council had punted on the matter for decades. Happily, in today’s more-enlightened times, the citizens are discussing the measure solely on its scientific merits, free of the paranoia and hyperbole of those earlier debates. Ha-ha, we are joking — of course people are going bugfuck crazy over this.
The Wichita Eagle, in what is easily the most complete story on municipal water fluoridation we’ve ever read, indicates that the pro and anti-fluoridation campaigners are equally passionate, one side arguing for “the public good,” the other arguing for “freedom of choice.” They talk to a pro-fluoride pediatrician who expresses frustration that it’s 2012 and Wichita still hasn’t taken a fairly basic public health measure, and an anti-fluoride campaigner who has looked stuff up on the internet:
“I’m a very strong believer that the government has absolutely no right to put a medication in my body that I don’t want and in fact that I know is going to cause trouble with multiple organs in my body and probably does no good or very little good for my teeth. I flat absolutely don’t want that…By golly if I want to go out buy a tube of toothpaste and swallow it all and die from it, so be it. My life, freedom of choice.”
So both sides have some pretty strong positions! For instance, there is the worry that fluoride is a byproduct of industrial waste! But if we tried to eliminate all of those, we’d have to give up Hot Pockets, too (this is a science fact). While the article does note that the 1964 referendum against fluoridation included claims that the public health measure might “give the Communists the machinery and the materials to destroy us by simply opening a valve in our water supply,” we were very disappointed that there was no direct reference to this important historical documentary on the subject: