[F]luoridation is the most monstrously conceived and
dangerous communist plot we have ever had to face. …
It’s incredibly obvious, isn’t it? A foreign substance is
introduced into our precious bodily fluids without the knowledge
of the individual. Certainly without any choice. That’s the way your
hard-core Commie works.
Gen. Jack D. Ripper
Strategic Air Command
Burpelson Air Force Base
Last week, the Virginia House of Delegates rejected Del. Matt Lohr’s bill to allow a referendum on fluoridation in Timberville. So it is a good time to recall Gen. Jack Ripper’s warning in the Cold War black comedy, “Dr. Strangelove, Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb.”
Like Gen. Ripper, the opponents of fluoridation have been something of a laughingstock for about 50 years. That is because the dental profession claims fluoridation has been the most important weapon in the battle against dental caries, or tooth decay. Oppose fluoridation, and you’re a nut. Like Gen. Ripper.
Yet opposing the introduction of a chemical into the water supply, as some folks in Timberville do, isn’t as nutty as one would think.
More than a few serious dental authorities suggest that fluoridation may not be necessary, particularly now, given fluoridated toothpaste, the widespread availability of dental care and the improved dental hygiene of most Americans. Not all of those people who oppose fluoridation are crackpot conspiracy theorists.
Second, no matter what you call it, fluoridation is the introduction of a chemical into the water supply. Whether to fluoridate isn’t a decision of the same order as purchasing new furniture for a council room or hiring a new police officer. Fluoridation affects the health of every single person living in the community. As one commenter at the Daily News-Record’s Web site put it, “just because fluoride is good for our teeth doesn’t mean we should be ingesting it all day long.”
The Timberville council wisely voted to put the issue to referendum. As Councilman Carl Turner explained it, “a possible health-related issue like that should be decided by the citizens and not six people.”
But state law prohibits such a vote. That led Councilwoman Sharon Jones to seek Mr. Lohr’s help with a bill that would have allowed the referendum. The House of Delegates, unwisely, voted no, 50-43.
On an issue such as fluoridation, a referendum doesn’t seem such an outrageous idea. And apparently, many in the House of Delegrates agreed. As do many residents of Timberville. On Thursday, they will present the town council with a declaration opposing fluoridation. They hope to stop the practice.
Del. Lohr was right. The House of Delegates was wrong. Let’s hope the council assembles the available data, including testimony from serious critics of fluoridation, and makes the right decision.