I’m going to take a moment away from random recording/mixing updates & such to do one of my occasional tangential rants about whatever’s on my mind lately. Proceed at your own risk: this could get long/ugly.

 

I was out for a run today and looking at all the lawn signs for the upcoming vote on water fluoridation in Portland. It’s amazing how divisive and polarizing this issue is in Portland, since most of the country seems to just accept fluoridation passively and without complaint…take Washington, for example. We just can’t help it, can we… we have to be different. Part of what makes Portland Portland, after all, is our radical independence… our defiant uniqueness.

When it comes to water, it’s always a big deal for us. Just when we thought we were safe after defeating the federally mandated covering & treatment plants for our water, we now face another showdown for changes in the water supply…one that’s been rejected in votes time after time after time. City Council tried to squeak it by us with nobody noticing, but whoops! Nice try guys! Now at least we get to vote on our own water.

All the signs “for” say “EVERYONE DESERVES HEALTHY TEETH,” and the “against” all say “NO CHEMICALS IN OUR WATER!” It’s been acknowledged in print and online that there are wackos and extremists on both sides of the debate, but perhaps more so on the “no fluoride side.” Apparently there’s been a lot of so-called “pseudo-science” and radical claims that fluoridating will cause bone diseases and birth defects… it will probably jump right out of your faucet and bite you if you’re not careful. This makes me a little embarrassed because, ¡spoiler alert! I’m anti-fluoridation.

WHAA??! How could an educated, liberal-leaning, generally rational native Portlander side with these weirdos that think fluoride will give children cancer, or whatever? This is my attempt to explain my opposition, in as few words as I can manage.

First, I want to say that I belong to that category that is the political-analyst’s worst nightmare. I am a pain in the ass because I vote ideas and issues, not parties… I vote for candidates on my own grounds for my own reasons, etc. My views are widespread, and some even may seem incompatible to those who tow party lines, but fundamentally, I think of myself as a centrist. I am the dreaded “independent swing vote” of campaign talk. Obviously, these days I can’t call myself a republican because any rational person can see that it’s ridiculous to pick something arbitrary like “no new tax revenue,” and hold the entire government hostage for it… or to say that “I believe in liberty & freedom… not government!! We gotta get the government off our backs so we can be free! That is, except for the gays, not the gays…they’re not the same….OH and neither are the immigrants & hispanics… women, well that’s problematic too…OK I guess I’ll just say that all rich white guys should be free to do as they please!”

I think it’s a fairly safe statement to say that the “conservative” party of American politics has entirely lost the plot, and we all know it. I’ve voted mostly democrat for my young life because they’re more centrist in response…they’ve got a good head on their shoulders and a broader perspective on America… but that doesn’t mean we always see eye to eye. “Fine fine, but what does all this have to do with fluoride,” you say? I think with the fluoride question we have a classic conservative v. liberal dichotomy: where does the government get to intercede in personal choice? This also happens to be where die-hard liberals and I butt heads.

The very statement “EVERYONE DESERVES HEALTHY TEETH” is something I take issue with. Since when are your teeth a protected constitutional right? Where does it say you’re entitled to “life liberty and a brilliant, winning smile”?? It’s a classic liberal trap to fall into: our values are everyone’s values, and by creating more government involvement in people’s lives, what we’re actually doing is working for social justice.

It’s a nice idea, but how and where are you going to draw the line? Sure scientists agree that fluoride in water leads to healthier teeth… but they’d also agree that banning soda and cheeseburgers would make Americans substantially less obese. Wouldn’t we want everyone to be less obese? Can’t we all agree that many studies show that minority groups who are already at a disadvantaged access to heath care and health education are more likely to be obese? What about the so-called “food deserts” of suburban America? What about Wal-Mart? EVERYONE DESERVES A HEALTHY WEIGHT. See what I did there?

We’ve now outlawed coca-cola and cheeseburgers with the very same argument that the pro-fluoride camp is spouting, and it disturbs me, to say the least. While we’re at it, let’s go back to temperance and make alcohol illegal! That worked well! Yay, No more drunk driving, or AA! Lets outlaw cigarettes! Less cancer! Yay! Lets outlaw fast cars and cholesterol! Ok, you get it… I’ll stop.

Don’t. Legislate. Choice. It’s as simple as that. You want the government to decide for you what you’re eating and drinking? You want them to decide how many parts per million of additive X to put in water or food? I think you’re crazy, and I think it’s a stupid fucking liberal pathology to abdicate personal responsibility to the government. BRUSH YOUR FUCKING TEETH. Public schools hand out fluoride for free. Campaigns have advocated teeth health for years! Fluoride is cheap and it’s everywhere! It’s in every store, every corner… there’s no access barrier or whatever liberal gibber-gabber you wanna call it! I voted to pay $35/year so kids could have ACCESS to arts, because I genuinely believe they deserve the opportunity to see/hear & experience it, and believed they weren’t getting it…access is one thing, slipping stuff in the water is different, and problematic. There is a time & place for government to intercede on behalf of public safety…for example people that sell stuff in packages need to be held responsible for the contents. If, on the other hand, you just couldn’t be bothered to brush & floss it’s not the governments job to fix it for you.

It doesn’t matter that I grew up here with our “dangerous,” fluoride-less water and I’ve never had a cavity. It doesn’t matter that many of us have more cavities than places with fluoridated water. It doesn’t matter if fluoride is a “toxic biproduct” promoted by pork-barrel industry lobbyists, or a cheap, naturally occurring element with many benefits. For me, it’s the goddamned principle of the thing. I’m a Portlander, I love to drink our crystalline, pure, delicious water right out of the tap, and I hope we stay fiercely, problematically independent. Let’s vote down fluoride for the umpteenth time and take responsibility for our own health.

 

…cough…

 

ahem.

 

Excuse me I’m just going to quietly step down of this soap box and maybe use the contents to wash my mouth out for all that liberal heresy I just committed.

 

 

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