Letter: Different Twist to Fluoride Plot
To the Editor:
As the unannounced votes in the Bradford, Vt., Water and Sewer Commission remind us, putting fluoride in the public’s drinking water can be pretty controversial.
In principle, such conspiratorial arrangements in government is outrageous. But when it comes to fluoridation, at least, it can work both ways.
Back in the mid-1950s, the city council in Charlotte, N.C., a relatively progressive Southern city for the time, took up the proposal and was showered with complaints, including the charge that fluoridation was a Communist plot to ruin the health of Americans. Despite this considerable heat, the city fathers bit the bullet, voting to begin fluoridation in the city water system on a date certain (the following Jan. 1, as I recall).
City Hall was closed on that New Year’s Day, but on Jan. 2, its phones rang off the hook. People made bizarre choking noises, insisting they were being poisoned. Dozens trooped into hospital emergency rooms with the same allegation. Local commercial photographers howled that the fluoride was ruining their portraits in the darkroom process. And on and on.
The canny city manager allowed this screeching to continue for several days. Then, with a straight face, he announced that, due to unexpected equipment flaws, fluoride had not yet been put in the water.
The cacophony of opposition burst like a ruptured balloon, and Charlotteans and fluoridation lived in harmony thereafter.