Fluoride proponents did themselves and their cause no service when they shunned two forums on the topic of fluoridating public water supplies last Saturday. Indeed, their willful decision to stay away was a studied insult to the voters and to the Jeffersonian idea of an informed citizenry making informed public decisions.
Proponents refused to attend the two debates featuring anti-fluoride chemist Paul Connett of St. Lawrence University in Canton, N.Y., because, they said, it would lend legitimacy to Connell and the anti-fluoride cause.
Wow. This is like Al Gore refusing to attend a debate with George W. Bush because doing so would lend legitimacy to the Texas governor’s quest for the presidency. Or, it could be rendered the other way, too. Either way, it shows contempt for the ability of regular citizens to make an informed decision.
Although no one says it, the condescending attitude that one’s political foes are too inferior, irrational or devious to meet in debate raises a more fundamental question: Namely, what do those shrinking violets really think of the notion that regular citizens — people who go to work every day, beget and raise their children and try to make ends meet — actually get to be the ones who make the decision?
A political movement that is so contemptuous of those it disagrees with probably hates the thought that regular, common citizens get to say yes or no to their scheme. They obviously feel that the citizenry can be better nudged to making the right decision — theirs — if they are confronted only with a solid front of proponents, while opponents eager to gainsay them are marginalized and ignored.
It is too bad. Whether to add fluoride to municipal water supplies should be discussed on its merits. The citizens who are to decide should demand this. If fluoride proponents appear too arrogant to confront their foes, voters will construe their hubris as something that should give them pause.